The technology of laser hair removal has seen big improvements in recent years, and more people are making it a part of their beauty regime. While earlier lasers were so limited that many people could not use them, the lasers used today are more versatile and can work on a wider variety of skin and hair types.
To see how laser hair removal works, you must understand that dark colors absorb more light than lighter colors do. A dark color is really an area that is absorbing almost all the light that strikes it, so only a small amount is reflected to the viewer’s eyes. That’s what makes the color seem “dark” to us. This is true with all forms of light, including laser light.
When the laser beam is directed on an area where hair is growing, the pigment in the hair absorbs energy from it. The hair follicles are temporarily damaged, which stops them from growing. While they will eventually repair themselves, the treatment usually lasts for several months.
Four different types of laser have been used for hair removal, and each has its individual characteristics.
Ruby lasers are the oldest kind and are still in use by the EpiTouch or Epilaser hair removal system. They can’t be used on dark-skinned areas because the pigment in the skin absorbs so much of the laser’s energy that it is no longer effective against the hair follicles. It has a small area of coverage and works best on light or fine hair.
Alexandrite lasers are used by the Candela GentleLase Plus hair removal system. This kind of laser has a larger coverage area than the ruby laser, so treatments are faster. It will work on a wider range of skin tones, though it still has trouble with very dark skin and works best where the hair is darker than the surrounding skin. At present, alexandrite lasers are probably the most widely-used form of laser in the hair removal field.
Diode lasers are used in the Coherent Light Sheer hair removal system. Since it uses a longer wavelength than either alexandrite or ruby lasers, it has more penetrating power and is therefore more effective on darker skin tones. Unfortunately, this makes it less effective in the removal of fine or light-colored hair.
ND Yag lasers with long pulsed energy are used in the Laserscope Lyra and Sciton systems. It is the most effective wavelength of light for on darker skin tones, and is also used with a shorter pulse duration to remove tattoos and pigmented lesions. It has a large coverage area resulting in fast treatment time. It is the least effective type of laser for the removal of fine, lighter hair.
There is no evidence of serious harm from laser hair removal treatments, but since the hair follicles are underneath the skin, the laser beam must penetrate below the surface and will touch the nerves, resulting in a brief sensation. Some patients liken it to a gentle pinch, others compare it to the pop of a hot rubber band. Luckily, this sensation passes very quickly and you are left with smooth, stubble-free skin.
Laser hair removal provides quick and effective relief to stop hair bumps and shaving irritation and give you a break from bothersome shaving or other hair removal techniques. Common areas of treatment include the face, underarms, bikini, abdomen, arms, and legs.