Laser Hair Removal & Your Skin Type

Washingtonian lasers

How Laser Hair Removal Works on Different Skin Types and Hair Color


The effectiveness of laser hair removal is dependent upon several factors including skin type and hair color. Some lesser factors include the condition of the skin, sun exposure, and the cycle of the hair growth.


There are 4 basic skin types:

  • Caucasian European
  • African descent
  • Eastern Asian
  • Middle Eastern / Mediterranean

Each of these four skin types have several things in common, such as the thickness of the dermis (the layer that protects and cushion the body) and epidermis. Also, the number of hair follicles, and the skin’s layered components are very similar. However, there are many characteristics of each skin type that are very different.

Caucasian Europeans have the most varied skin type of all the groups. This group has light skin, with great variation in skin color in these persons, which is also determined by heredity. The persons in this group are the best candidates for laser hair removal. Generally, they will need fewer treatments and attain the best results. Overall, the effectiveness of laser hair removal on individuals from this group is dependent upon a combination of the hair and skin color on the individual level.

Individuals of African descent, with dark brown skin tend to be poor candidates for laser hair removal. This is because the laser light is absorbed into the skin pigment. The melanin absorbs the laser energy, and this can cause possible burns, scars, and keloids. The darker skin causes the laser beam to be drawn away from the initial  target area. This can cause some challenges to arise during treatment.

People in Eastern Asian descent, which includes China, Japan and Korea, generally have the least amount of facial and body hair. They are usually good candidates for laser hair removal because their hair is dark, and they have minimal skin pigmentation. The challenges which may be present due to melanin is absent here.

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean people tend to have the most facial and body hair. Their skin color can very from dark white – almost reddish to medium brown (bronze). Those people with lighter skin generally make better candidates for laser hair removal. Skin bleaching agents, such as 4% hydroquinone, are sometimes used by many persons in this group to lighten the skin as much as possible. This is done to make the laser treatment as effective as possible and reduce the risk of burning the skin. This ethnic group has an increased risk of hyper-pigmentation.

Hair Color Factor

Hair color combines with the skin type to further determine the truer effects of laser hair removal. Black or dark brown hair is usually coarser and contains the most pigmentation. In this case it makea it the easiest to treat because the laser light is most easily absorbed by the dark pigmentation. Lighter brown hair usually requires more treatments than darker hair. The lighter the hair color, the more difficult laser hair removal becomes. Red and light blonde hair contain the pheomelanin pigment which makes light absorption very difficult. Grey or white hair does not contain any pigmentation at all, therefor, they cannot absorb light. The Fitzpatrick Skin Photo-type Scale and the Lancer Ethnicity Scale are used by professional technicians to determine the effectiveness of laser hair removal based on skin type and hair color.

The best combination of skin type and hair color for laser hair removal is light skin with dark hair. These people will have the best results with the least treatments. Your skin can be better…click here to learn more

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