Skin Type vs. Skin Tone
Our clients often ask us, “Does laser hair removal work on all skin types?”
The answer is a resounding yes!
There’s a persistent myth that some people can’t do laser, but it’s not quite true. At SEV Laser, we offer laser hair removal for all skin types. Modern technology doesn’t discriminate, so everyone can benefit from this amazing hair removal method.
Laser hair removal is a permanent hair reduction method. The laser machine emits a powerful light that penetrates through the skin directly to the root of the hair. The damage to the hair follicle prevents regrowth. Over time, with a series of sessions, the hair stops growing almost completely.
In this post, we explain how laser hair removal works with different skin types and tones. Before getting into that, we’ll also explain the distinction between skin type and skin tone, and why nurses and laser technicians often use the terms interchangeably.
So normally, in day-to-day life, the term skin tone refers to skin color. Skin type refers to whether the skin is oily, dry, or somewhere in between. In medicine, things are totally different. When dermatologists use the word “skin type,” they’re usually talking about the Fitzpatrick scale, which classifies skin types based on how light or dark they are (also known as phototypes).
How Laser Hair Removal Works for Each Skin Tone
When you book a laser hair removal appointment, one question that might come up is what’s your Fitzpatrick skin type. Fitzpatrick skin types go from 1 to 6, and they’re the most common way to classify skin tones. The right laser technology for you depends on where you fall on the scale.
Fitzpatrick 1: Very Fair
Fitzpatrick type 1 is the lightest phototype, with fair skin that burns very easily and never tans. It usually correlates with having lighter hair, as well, which can make laser hair removal difficult.
Laser machines look for darker hair follicles, so if the hair you’d like to remove is naturally very light, the laser might not be able to affect it. On the other hand, those with very fair skin and darker hair will do well with laser hair removal, thanks to the higher contrast.
Fitzpatrick 2: Light
Fitzpatrick type 2 is a little more pigmented, but still light. If your skin burns easily but can still tan on a rare occasion, then this is your Fitzpatrick type. Normally, this skin tone responds well to most laser machines since there tends to be enough contrast between the hair and skin.
Fitzpatrick 3: Tan
Next, we have Fitzpatrick type 3, which is medium-light skin that is capable of tanning although it can still burn. This level usually does well with a regular laser machine.
If you’ve tanned, you may need to be treated with the same wavelength we would use on deeper skin tones.
Fitzpatrick 4: Medium
Fitzpatrick type 4 is medium or light brown skin that tans easily. This is the range when a regular laser machine probably won’t be effective. At SEV Laser, we use an Nd:YAG laser set to 1064 nanometers. This type of laser penetrates more deeply, past the melanin in the skin. At that depth, the laser can differentiate between the skin and hair follicle, to effectively prevent regrowth.
Fitzpatrick 5: Dark
Fitzpatrick type 5 refers to deeper skin tones that rarely burn. If you wear makeup, you might be one of the 40-50 shades at MAC. With your skin tone, you’ll definitely need to opt for a laser like the Nd:YAG set to 1064. This kind of laser is safe and effective for your skin type.
Fitzpatrick 6: Very Dark
Finally, the deepest of the skin types is Fitzpatrick 6. A lot of laser machines described as being safe for deeper skin tones may still not work on your skin. Thankfully, the Nd:YAG machines we use at SEV Laser have been tested and proven effective on your skin type, so you can still book an appointment with us.
How Laser Hair Removal Works for Based on Skin Type
It’s also worth quickly discussing how laser works based on your skin type, in the colloquial sense. For the most part, laser hair removal works no matter how much or how little oil your skin produces. The type of machine doesn’t matter, either.
However, if you have sensitive skin (which, arguably, has nothing to do with oil production level), you may need to be a little more careful. In general, you can do laser even if you have sensitive skin or eczema, as long as the skin isn’t broken or badly irritated. You might have a little more redness after the treatment, but that normally subsides within a few days.
Who is Not Suitable for Laser Hair Removal?
While your skin type or tone has no bearing on whether you can do laser hair removal, there are still some contraindications. Those include pregnancy or breastfeeding, having an autoimmune disease, and taking blood thinners, immunosuppressants, isotretinoin (Accutane), and antibiotics.
Book Your Appointment
So no matter your skin type or tone, you might still be able to benefit from laser hair removal! We have SEV Laser locations all across the united states, so book your appointment at the spa nearest to you.