Black women may very well use the same hair removal ways to remove unwanted facial hair as other women. Even though skin tone may count in some hair removal treatments, the solutions for black women are mainly influenced by the amount of facial hair and the location of growth.
Just like in the case of women with lighter skin tones, some unwanted hairs may need constant at-home removal, whereas more extensive growth should be approached by professional treatments.
A common issue: hair growth
No matter the race, color or your national origin, the hairs on any woman’s face are mainly vellus hairs: short, fine and most of the time difficult to notice with a naked eye. They do, however, go through the same cycles of growth, transition and rest just like any other hair on your body. Fortunately for us, they don’t grow past a specific length or circumference.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t women out there that experience more excessive hair growth, facing the problem of removing them.
If you’re thinking about what’s causing the hair growth, here’s some useful info to you: it’s the hormonal changes. As estrogen is the main hormone, facial hairs stays in the vellus form. Sometimes though, the androgen levels raise, so vellus hairs may become terminal. As a matter of fact, male sex hormones cause a pattern of facial hair growth just like in man’s facial hair growth. The hairs on the face get thicker, coarse and easier to notice.
Should you ever find in a situation like that, you may use eflornithine which is medication that controls the enzymes that cause the cell division in terminal hairs. You may apply this topical solution on the affected areas to control hair growth for even eight weeks. You should also use tweezing, depilatories, waxing or epilators for removing the unpleasant facial hairs. However, the growth is going to be slower, giving you a hair-free skin for quite some time.
What about the laser hair removal?
Even though most lasers are a better option for lighter skin women with dark hair, lasers do emit longer waves of energy that remove hairs on darker skin tones too. The long wavelengths do go deep into follicles and don’t damage nor burn your skin. They are controlling hair growth on the areas that you treat and chances are you’re not going to worry for three months or so after the treatments.
Stay on the safe side and try not to use at-home a laser kit as the darkness of your skin may cause hyperpigmentation or even scarring.
Laser hair removal stands out as the most effective way to remove unwanted hair and does present its downsides. As laser identifies the contrast between skin and hair so the darker the hair, the lighter your skin, the more efficient the laser is. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use a successful laser hair removal treatment, no matter how dark your skin is.
Some tips when using a laser
If you have your mind set on using a laser for removing your hair, here are some things to consider when starting the whole process.
- Ask the questions
No matter which type of extreme treatment you’re going to use, you need to be informed on the whole process. You should ask which type of machine is used when you go to the salon or clinic for a consultation. You need to be sure it’s a laser and it’s one safe and effective machine as well.
It’s not a bad idea to also ask about the experience of the person working on you. Get informed and know all the pros/cons on the laser treatment.
You can never be too safe when it comes to hair removal, so taking a look at the machine isn’t quite out of the line. Write down the name of the machine and double check to see if it’s a laser or not.
- Choose the right type of laser
Women with darker skin tones may need laser hair removal as it’s the permanent solution for unpleasant hair, especially on the face. This comes with a big downside since they have more melanin in the skin, so the chances for burns are a lot higher.
Technology did advance though so you may find machines nowadays that are safe for all skin tones. They would have to be a Diode or Nd-Yag laser machines, nevertheless.
The laser machines are better than in the past so they’re more specific, safe and far more efficient. Many of the current models come with larger hand pieces so they may be used on large areas as back and legs. Pain isn’t a common problem anymore.
- Ask for a patch test
Should you have a very dark skin, you may want to request a patch test. You should laser a very small area at various energy levels in order to identify the right level for efficient removal, without causing any skin burns. Keep in mind that the zone between effective level and burn is actually quite narrow for the women with very dark skin.
- Forget about the IPL
IPL (Intense Pulse Light) isn’t safe for the dark skin. Even though it may work as similar as lasers, it presents a lower control on the energy emission. A laser is very accurate as it’s very specific in its wavelength. Its effect on the melanin isn’t that strong, especially if you’re going with a diode or a Nd-vag machine.
The Nd-Yag Laser
This type of laser uses a higher wavelength than other lasers, so it’s a better choice for hair removal on women with darker skin. This type of laser operates at a way higher wavelength than any other lasers used for hair removal.
This kind of laser also presents plenty of one-of-a-kind properties which explain why it stands out as the better solution for hair removal in darker color skin tones.
A study on 39 females back in 2012, showed interesting results for the underarm hair removal. The hair counts and evaluations were noted 6 months after the final treatment and they all got 5 sessions of laser hair removal with 4-6week pause in-between treatments.
Almost 80% of the women in the study presented decrease in hair count 6 months after the final treatment and the adverse effects were only temporary. This may be the very first proof that Nd-Yag laser is both efficient and safe for hair removal for darker skinned people.
How to control the side effects of laser hair removal?
Even though laser hair removal is safe nowadays, there are some research papers that give us information on how to minimize the side effects of laser hair removal on women with darker skin.
Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- The active epidermal cooling
Most modern lasers do come with a skin cooling device. This type of device is going to lower your pain, but also side effects from laser hair removal on your darker colored skin.
- Use longer pulse durations
It seems that longer pulse durations are actually safer for patients with darker skin color so you should remember that when using the laser.
- Use a longer wavelength
The Nd:YAG laser is the most popular choice for the darker skin as it does operate at a longer wavelength.
As one using the laser hair removal, you don’t really need to know all of this information, but it’s better to be an informed customer so that you get the whole picture before beginning the process.
The fair conclusion
You shouldn’t be asking yourself if the laser hair removal is a safe solution for your dark skin. Studies have shown that the Nd-YAG laser is the type you’d want to use for your dark colored skin. All scientific studies proved that this type of laser is both safe and effective on dark colored skin. The side effects are minor and go away after some time.
The most important part is that the hair reduction counts is amazing, ranging from 50% at 3 months after the final treatments and even up to 90% at 12 months after the final treatment.
Laser hair removal for women with dark skin is safe and efficient especially if you’re using an Nd:YAG laser. However, you should use an extended pulse duration with a lower fluency in order to get best results out of it.
Don’t forget also that a darker skin is more prone to unpleasant side effects than someone with light colored skin, especially if you’re not doing it the right way.
There are studies that show that a darker skin may absorb as much as 40% more energy when irradiated by a noticeable light laser than a lighter skin, if the exposure duration and fluency remain the same. Therefore, it’s essential for the laser operator to reduce the fluency, extend the exposure duration and only use the right cooling so that the risk for the unwanted effects is minimized. Last thing you want to get is permanent pigmentation damage or scarring from the whole hair removal process.
Do your homework and choose wisely before beginning the laser hair removal so you don’t have to deal with other skin problems later on.