Is Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin Safe and Effective?
There is a lot of conflicting information available online on the subject of laser hair removal and its suitability for patients with dark colour skin. Unfortunately, not all of it is up-to-date and correct.
In this article, we give the latest scientific data to answer the question of laser hair removal efficacy for dark skin once and for all.
Firstly, the answer is yes. A certain type of modern laser hair removal device has been proven both safe and effective for laser hair removal in darker skin types. Read on to find out more about this device.
Fitzpatrick Skin Scale
The Fitzpatrick scale is a scale ranging from 1 - 6 that measures the skin tone of a patient. You can use the table below to determine your skin type.
Hair Color (darkest)
White or very pale
Blue, grey, green
Always burns, never tans
Pale white with beige tint
Chestnut or dark blond
Always burns, sometimes tans
Beige to light brown (olive)
Sometimes burns, always tans
Light to moderate brown
Rarely Burns, always tans
Medium to Dark Brown
Rarely burns, tans more than average
Dark brown to black
Historically Laser Hair Removal Was Good For Skin Types I - IV
The early generation of laser hair removal devices were only recommended for skin types I-IV. These lasers weren't able to safely and effectively remove hair from people with skin types V - VI.
This is no longer the case with the introduction of a new type of laser that has properties more suited for use with darker skin tones.
Introducing the Nd:YAG Laser
The Nd:YAG laser has been in use for laser hair removal for around 10 years after scientists did some research on its efficacy.
The laser has a wavelength that's higher than any other laser suitable for hair removal and typically operates at 1064nm.
Scientific Studies Supporting the Efficacy and Safety of Nd:YAG Laser Hair Removal on
Patients with Dark Skin
Laser vs IPL for Hair Removal in Dark Skin (2012)
This study concluded that the long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser can be used to treat patients with dark skin safely and is more effective than IPL laser hair removal as reported by both subjects and clinician.
Long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser-assisted hair removal in pigmented skin: a clinical and histological evaluation (2001)
This study looked at the hair reduction of patients with skin type of IV to VI at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after the last treatment of laser hair removal.
The study concluded that the Nd:YAG laser is safe and effective for long term hair reduction in pateients with darkly pigmented skin.
The results showed a 70-90% reduction in hair 12 months after the final treatment with reports of only minor transient side effects.
Is Laser Hair Removal at Home for Dark Skinned Patients an Option?
There are a number of home laser and IPL hair removal kits on the market that allow customers to self administer hair removal sessions. This can be a cheaper alternative to professional laser hair removal and many people find them more convenient.
Not Currently Available
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, there isn't a safe way for people darker than skin type IV on the Fitzpatrick scale to perform laser hair removal at home using one of these kits.
There simply isn't a home laser hair removal kit that contains an Nd:YAG laser or equivalent such that treatment can be safe for dark skinned individuals.
In fact, many of the home laser hair removal devices have a safety sensor that measures that pigment of your skin. If your skin is darker than IV on the Fitzpatrick scale then the device locks up.
By using a home laser hair removal device on darker skin than type IV on the Fitzpatrick scale you are putting yourself at risk of serious and permanent side effects such as hypopigmentation, burning and scarring.
Where Can I Find more Information?
For more specific information about the Nd:YAG laser, a detailed look into the scientific studies and to learn about the laser settings that should be used for safe treatment then check out our article: The Truth about Laser Hair Removal on Dark Skin.