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Which Laser Hair Removal Technology is Right for Me?

Which Laser Hair Removal Technology is Right for Me?


In trying to determine which laser technology to choose for your hair removal procedure, it's important to know which type of lasers are safe and effective for your skin type.  This means that you must first determine your skin type according to the Fitzpatrick skin typing system.

Laser Hair Removal and Skin Type

In the Fitzpatrick skin typing system, there are six skin types, I-VI:

  • People with type I skin are of Caucasian descent.  This skin type is very fair and is usually associated with those of Northern European or Scandinavian descent.  Swedish and very light-skinned Irish are good examples of people with type I skin.
  • Type II skin is normally associated with those of European descent. English, Germans, and Russians are common examples of people with Type II skin.
  • People with type III skin include many of Mediterranean descent and some lighter skinned Hispanics. Many Italians, Spanish, Greeks, and Hispanics from South American have type III skin.
  • People with type IV skin typically include medium-skinned Hispanics, East Indians, and Asians, as well as Persians and Middle Easterners.
  • Type V skin is normally found in light-skinned North Africans or African Americans.
  • Type VI skin is associated with dark skinned Africans.

Once you know your skin type, looking for a laser technology that is appropriate for you becomes much easier.  There are three fairly well-accepted types of lasers for hair removal: the diode laser, the alexandrite laser, and the Nd:Yg laser.

The Diode Laser

The most common laser hair removal device, the diode laser, is used in the Lumenis Lightsheer®. Many practitioners consider this technology the gold standard for laser hair removal as it has the widest use. The Lumenis Lightsheer® is ideal for skin types I-IV, and certain models can even be used on people with types V and VI skin, according to the manufacturer.  While diode lasers are ideal for skin types I-IV, I would advise you to exercise caution if you have type V or VI skin and are looking at a facility that uses only the diode laser.

The Alexandrite Laser

This laser is less commonly used but is very effective for hair removal in skin types I-III. It is not typically used on skin types IV, V or VI because there is a risk of hyperpigmentation (a change in skin color) and blistering. Although these side effects can occur after any laser treatment, the chances of them occurring with an alexandrite laser increases in higher skin types. There are several brands of alexandrite lasers; the Cynosure Apogee is one of the most widely used models.


The long-pulsed Nd:Yg is the most commonly used laser hair removal device for skin types IV, V, and VI. This type of laser has physical properties that allow it to penetrate more deeply than the first two lasers. Because this laser penetrates deeper into the skin, this laser is able to bypass the upper layers of skin that contain melanin, the body's natural coloring that is darker and more prevalent in skin types IV, V, and VI. With the first two types of lasers, the melanin at the surface of the skin competes with the coloring in the hair follicle for the laser's energy.  The Nd:Yg laser, however, bypasses the melanin at the surface of the skin and allows the practitioner to focus the laser energy at the base of the hair follicle, where it needs to be.  There are many long pulsed Nd:Yg lasers available.

In summary, the type of laser used for your laser hair removal procedure can have a big effect on the results of your treatment, as well as your safety.  Before choosing a laser hair removal facility because of location or price, consider choosing one based on how well the technology will work for your skin type and how safe it is for you.

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