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I promised myself that at some point in my life I would be able to replicate the feeling of fresh sheets against smooth skin every day and laser hair removal got me there.
Hair removal can be a very taboo subject for most but talking about it allows people to become further educated on the best methods of hair removal for their skin type and needs. Like many, I had been an avid shaver and waxer for several years, so as soon as I turned nineteen, I decided I wanted to try a more permanent form of hair removal that gave me long-lasting razor bump-free results. Unlike waxing or shaving, laser hair removal can reduce hair growth by up to 80% which is a total game-changer. As a woman of colour laser hair removal became an even scarier experience for me and that comes from limitations in laser technology and training.
The first thing to note with being a person of colour beginning a laser hair removal journey is to understand the different types of laser devices available and what the Fitzpatrick scale is.
The three most common types of lasers used in laser hair removal are: Diode[808nm] (this is the most common type of laser used in skin clinics, although it is not suitable for all skin tones); Alexandrite [755nm] (a fairly common but not suitable for all skin tones) and Nd YAG [1064nm] (the only type of laser that is suitable for deeper skin tones, this particular laser is not common in every skin clinic).
The most difficult part of beginning a laser hair removal journey is figuring out which laser is suitable for your skin which is why I always believe in having a consultation and patch test.
The Fitzpatrick scale is used to determine which laser is suitable for you, so it is important to understand it. There are six categories within the Fitzpatrick scale and these categories are used to differentiate between the different skin tones. As an example, someone who is a Fitzpatrick type 1 would be a Fenty shade 100 and someone who is Fitzpatrick 6 would be Fenty shade 430.
During your consultation, it is important to establish a good rapport with your technician and ask as many questions as possible to ensure there is a channel of communication. Your technician will then assess your skin tone and decide which category of the Fitzpatrick scale you fit into. Most people with skin tones that fall into category 5 or 6, like myself will have their treatment with an Nd YAG laser. The Nd YAG laser works by targeting the hair follicle with a 1064nm laser and is most effective during the anagen stage (active hair growth). Most people require 6-12 sessions of laser hair removal to target all of the hairs in the anagen phase over the course of a couple of months, this can be impacted by hormones and hair strand density.
Also Read: How to Prepare for a Waxing Appointment?
When choosing a laser clinic and technician for deeper skin tones, the main thing to check for is the availability of the Nd YAG laser and the technician’s experience with darker skin. The risk of forming burns from laser hair removal is higher for those with black and brown skin, so following the correct before and aftercare is vital such as not using retinoids, reducing sun exposure and avoiding skin barrier impair at the laser site. You may be wondering why there are different types of lasers for deeper skin and what would happen if you used the wrong laser, the simple answer is – you would burn. On deeper skin tones a laser with a greater wavelength [Nd YAG] is used to target the melanin within the hair, without negatively affecting the melanin in the epidermis.
In my 3-year laser hair removal experience, I have been fortunate enough to find three amazing clinics that offer laser hair removal for deeper skin tones.
I cannot sing the praises of Laser Clinics UK enough! They are a global brand that has clinics in both Australia and all over the UK and offer laser hair removal at an affordable price without compromising on expertise. If you are unable to find a Laser Clinic UK location near you, I highly recommend visiting Therapie Clinic as a great alternative.
As laser hair removal can be a particularly complex procedure with a long list of contraindications visiting a world-renowned doctor may be more appropriate if you are not feeling confident about your journey or have complex skin concerns. The Esho Clinic has locations across the UK and is the home to Dr Esho, an expert in non-surgical cosmetic treatments, who can provide you with a unique and knowledgeable experience.
Whenever you decide to begin your laser hair journey, it is always important that you feel comfortable and understands every part of the procedure, do not be afraid to ask questions or walk out of a clinic if they do not offer a laser suitable for your skin tone.