Which is the Best Laser for Hair Removal on Indian Skin?
We have come a long way since 1998 when the first cosmetic lasers were introduced and approved by the FDA for hair removal.
The early laser machines could only be used without danger to the skin on light skin tones. The whole premise of the laser in hair removal is that it targets dark matter, melanin, in the skin.
The melanin creates the pigmentation in the hair, which means that the darker the hair, the more concentrated the melanin is.
Melanin is also responsible for the pigmentation in the skin, so, in the same vein as with hair, the darker the skin, the more concentrated the melanin is.
Earlier lasers such as the Ruby and the Alexandrite were both ineffective and dangerous on darker skin, but with newer developments there are now options for people with darker skin (skin types V and VI on the Fitzpatrick scale).
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
It is important to remember that when one refers to “Indian skin” this does not refer to one skin tone in general.
Indian skin tones range from light to dark and it is therefore possible that the Alexandrite or Diode lasers will work fine on one person’s skin tone, and the Nd:YAG laser would be a better option for another person.
There is also IPL to keep in mind, a similar treatment that has been cleared for all skin types. It is always important to consult with physicians beforehand to make sure that your skin is treated with the correct laser.
It is important to avoid any treatment performed by a non-physician operator, as there are major risks of serious side effects due to lack of training.
The newest laser on the market, the Nd:YAG has been FDA-approved for all skin types. It works at a much higher wavelength than other hair removal lasers (usually 1064nm) which allows it to bypass the epidermis and aim straight for the follicle.
This basically means that no matter the color of the skin, the laser will not be attracted to the melanin in the skin, but to that of the follicle, at a deeper level. This makes the Nd:YAG the best laser option for Indian skin, no matter the tone.
With earlier lasers the highly potential dangers of use and side effects on darker skin tones included the following: hypopygmentation (patches of lighter skin), hyperpigmentation (darker patches of skin), burns of different degrees, scars and infections.
While there is always a risk of certain side effects with the use of a laser, the development of the Nd:YAG means that the risk of side effects is the same for all skin types.
And again, if treatment is provided by a licensed physician, the risk of side effects should be minimal.
As the Nd:YAG penetrates deeper than other lasers some people seem to find it more painful, so that is something you may want to keep in mind during your consultation.
You can ask your physician for a skin patch test to see how you react and if it is painful you can discuss pain reduction options such as topical anesthetic creams and/or other medication.
While the Nd:YAG hasn’t been around for as long as other FDA-approved lasers, there have been a few small clinical trials to review the efficacy on darker skin.
The trials prove that the laser provides positive results on darker skin tones, with an average of 50-90% reduction in hair growth 6 months after treatment.
Side effects, if any, were warranted as minor and temporary.
While IPL is technically not a laser it is often referred to when discussing laser hair removal treatment as it is similar in process and results.
IPL has been FDA-approved for use on all skin types, so it is safe to use on Indian skin. However, IPL in general is not as effective as laser and you may find that the results are not as high as you are expecting.
IPL is often deemed as less painful, but you also may need more sessions and more touch-up sessions further along the line.
The IPL approaches the treated area in a more rapid manner, so this can be a main factor in making the treatment less painful than the Nd:YAG.
Due to how new the Nd:YAG is compared to other laser types there have not yet been many clinical trials comparing the IPL and Nd:YAG hair removal procedures.
But those that have taken place suggest that while results may be similar, the Nd:YAG is more effective in the long term.
The trials also show a higher percentage of side effects with IPL than with the Nd:YAG.
This is most likely due to the fact that IPL operates at different wavelengths while the Nd:YAG always penetrates beneath the epidermis.
When operated by a professionally trained physician, both procedures should be at low risk for any side effects, even darker skin tones.
IPL side effect risks are the same as those associated with a laser.While IPL is an option for darker skin types, the Nd:YAG has proven to be the better option in the long run due to a higher percentage of hair reduction.