Here’s how they work.
When fired, a laser will emit a beam of light of a specific wave length. Different wavelengths of light are preferentially absorbed by different colors. For instance, things that are red absorb light at a 532 nm wavelength. The hair laser family emits a wavelength of light that is absorbed by brown.
In the shaft of a hair, there are cells call melanocytes. Melanocytes produce pigment and make our hair, and skin, brown. Blondes have fewer melanocytes and people with black hair have the most in their hair.
The way the laser works is that when fired, the light beam goes into the skin, and because of its’ wavelength, it is absorbed preferentially by the melanocytes in the hair. The melanocytes absorb all of the heat energy from the light, and they get so hot that they cause that hair to die.
Now the problem is that if your skin is very dark, the melaocytes in the skin will also absorb the laser light, and this can bleach your skin. Think Michael Jackson. The ideal candidate for laser hair removal is the young version of Elizabeth Taylor…very dark hair and very light skin.
Some newer hair lasers claim to be able to treat all skin colors but I cannot speak to the certainty of this claim.
Lee Corbett, MD
All posts on this blog are presented by Louisville Laser Hair Removal expert, Dr. Lee Corbett.