West Houston Dermatology

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How Easy is it to Zap that Hair?

We have mentioned in previous entries the importance of maintaining a healthy skin tone prior to your laser hair treatments. Remember that there is no skin damage from the laser and no healing process post-treatment. Pure science behind the principle of the laser’s effect on your hair is the only reason we stress you strive for the lightest skin tone possible, refrain from tweezing hair, and keep shaving to a minimum a few days before the treatment to achieve optimum results from your treatment. Let’s discuss the primary factors that are the foundation of why these suggestions are important to your treatment by taking a brief look at how your skin type, hair color, and hair cycle affect your treatment.

Skin Type

Given our expansive experience as a cosmetic dermatology clinic in Houston, we know there are a myriad of skin tones and skin types. For the sake of self-assessment, we will generalize them into three categories: light, medium, and dark skin tones. Here is a perspective on what you might expect from our treatment within these categories.

Light skin tone – You may have suffered from the frustrating sunburns in the past, but you’re in luck when it comes to a laser hair removal treatment. Regardless of your skin’s ability to resist a sun burn, the laser hair removal treatment works best on your skin type. A light skin tone provides the most optimal skin coloration to expose the hair follicle to its route and allow the entire laser light to penetrate the uppermost layer of the dermis thereby allowing the hair follicle to absorb the entire laser light, thus killing the hair route. These skin tones have the most success and will usually require fewer treatments.

Medium skin tone – You’re naturally a bit darker and what I like to refer to as the “olive” skin tone. Your skin tans easily and is resistant to mild sun exposure. This type of skin tone experiences slightly more dependency on the hair color and type to determine the success of each treatment. We will address this issue separately in the “Hair Type” section, but even the best of medium skin tone patients will require one or more treatments on average than those of the lighter skin tone varieties.

Dark skin tone – Dark skin is by far the most resistant to the laser hair removal treatment. The dark pigments in the epidermis absorb most of the light—shrouding the hair follicle from the follicle killing laser light. Don’t be too discouraged, however. This skin type may still see results, just with a few more treatments and a focused application to the area of skin. The darker the skin, the more effort must be put into removing the unwanted hair.

Hair Color

This factor is the second half of the equation in the primary factors guiding the process of hair removal. There are thousands of varieties between hair type and skin tone that ultimately determine the number of procedures required. West Houston Dermatology understands the role that this combination plays in the laser hair removal process for the Houston population. Let’s take a general look at hair color as it play a role in the science behind laser hair removal.

Dark hair color – The raven haired beauty may have always complained about blondes getting more attention, and in the case of unwanted hair might even amplify that emotion, but thankfully for you, that isn’t the case with laser hair removal.  Dark hair, such as black or dark brown, absorbs more of the laser light, transferring the energy down the shaft of the hair to its follicle. This makes the patient the easiest to treat because each darkly pigmented hair readily absorbs the laser light and allows the energy to be absorbed to a greater extent. Darker hair is usually coarser, which also helps the application’s success.

Medium hair color – You’ve got light to medium brown hair, but in certain light the highlights might really stand out. Beauticians might now this category well, because of the complications it gives the colorist when choosing a dye or bleach variety given the underlying highlight tone.  This hair type is going to be easier to treat than the platinum blonde, but may require more procedures than patients with jet black locks. Remember that the coarseness of the hair is also a factor and as all medium color hair is not always coarse, some ranging from very fine to thin, the treatment will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Light hair color – There are many varying degrees of light hair, more than any other hair type. Overall, light hair is the most difficult to treat and will require more time, money, and procedures than candidates with other hair color types. The easiest to treat would be dark or medium blonde hair, with platinum and red hair both being the hardest to treat. This is because they contain phemelianin pigment which makes them less able to absorb the laser light.

White or grey hair – It may be almost impossible to treat those with grey or white hair. It contains no pigmentation and therefore cannot absorb the laser light enough to heat the hair follicle.

Hair Cycle

The third factor that affects the outcome of you laser hair removal procedure is hair growth. Your hair grows in cycles, however, not all of your hair is on the same cycle. Laser treatments are made to attack hair that is in the active growth, or anagen stage of its cycle. Therefore you will almost always need more than one procedure to completely treat one area, no matter how big or small it may be. The more procedures you have the better your outcome will be each time.

So think about were you fit into these categories, call West Houston Dermatology, the premiere Houston dermatology clinic to schedule a consultation and let’s get started on your laser hair treatments.