Dark skin types
Dark skin types
Dark skin types
If your ancestry is Mediterranean-, African-, Asian-, Middle Eastern- and South European or South American, we have to be extra careful. Darker skin absorbs more heat and as a result the risk of side effects is bigger.
Extra things to do and know:
- Your skin can’t be exposed to the sun LONG before treatment.
- We need to perform extra tests
- Risk of temporary stains
- We will only treat on your face after thorough testing and having familiarized ourselves with your skin. Performing treatments on the face is the exception rather than the rule.
- Thin hair can not be treated
- You will need more treatments
Better safe than sorry!
We have experienced side effects on the dark skin with every type of hair removal equipment, painful burn marks resulting in temporary stains, no matter how low the settings on the equipment. There have been many success stories as well! In the end though, the skin always healed.
However, we don’t want to constantly be worrying about this. This is why we take all these necessary precautions and we may even deny you treatment if your skin doesn’t respond well to the tests.
This is an example of a man with a darker skin type:
Frequently asked questions:
How dark is a 'dark skin type'?
Even though your skin may not seem all that dark, when performing laser treatment we have to be extra careful when treating any non-Caucasian skin type. So if your ancestry is Asian, Arabic, African, South-America, etc., take into account that extra precautions need to be taken before and during treatment. The pigment cells in your skin will absorb more heat due to the higher concentration of melanin in the skin. Because of this, we avoid performing treatment on your face. If you really do want to get rid of hairs on your face, we will only perform treatment after thorough testing on your body, after having familiarized ourselves with your skin and if you’re willing to take full responsibility for possible stains on your skin. These stains are similar to stains that you might have after a small wound, insect bite, etc, and might be visible for a long time (if your skin is prone to getting stains after wounds, than the risk of getting stains after laser treatment is also higher).
If your skin is lightly tinted, for example if you’re from Mediterranean (Moroccan, Spanish, Turkish) heritage, and your skin heals quickly after a small wound without staining, then we can often perform treatment without any side effects. However, we will always be careful.
Are you in doubt whether or not your skin is suitable for laser hair removal treatment, E-mail us and attach a picture of yourself (it doesn’t have to be a picture of your body, it can be a portrait picture), and we’ll look and see if we’re willing to take the risk.
How long before treatment do I have to stay out of the sun?
The skin that you wish to have treated can not be exposed to the sun (or solarium) for 3 to 4 months prior to treatment, and preferably during the entire treatment trajectory. If your skin has been exposed to the sun, then you have to wait at least 12 weeks before we can perform treatment on that area. Make sure that your skin is as light as it can be and as close to your natural skin tone as possible. Cover the area you wish to have treated well!
PLEASE NOTE: ‘Covering an area well’ means sufficient thick clothing. A thin linen shirt, sitting in the shade or applying sunscreen are not sufficient, and definitely not sufficient during the summertime! For example, if you wish to have your legs treated, thin linen trousers are not sufficient, but jeans are.
What can I do to contribute to the safety of my treatment?
Make sure that you’re in good health and relaxed. We know from experience that a darker skin tone is more sensitive to treatment when a person is recovering from a disease (even if it’s just a cold or the flu) or if there’s something else going on in the body. Please cancel your appointment (IN ADVANCE) if you’re ill or recovering from a disease.
If during one of your treatment your skin is suddenly a lot more sensitive than before, please speak up and don’t try to push through. We have to listen to all the signs that your body is providing us with and stop treatment if your skin is oversensitive. Please know that the heat will only be absorbed by hairs and active pigment cells, it will not harm other tissues in your body. Nor will it harm veins, lymphatic glands, etc.
How big is the risk of temporary stains when treating dark skin types?
What should I imagine under 'extra careful'?
We will right away perform two tests instead of one. First a relatively mild test on an inconspicuous area of your body (for example an armpit). After 72 hours we will know whether or not your skin can handle this. Next you will come back for a second test. This time we’ll use higher settings on our equipment to observe whether or not there will be a good result (sufficient elimination of hair). If three weeks after the second test you can observe a significant difference in the amount of hair and if your skin has responded well to the test, we can start planning for the treatment trajectory.
We prefer to use milder equipment, for example, the ELOS. This equipment contains many build-in safety features. (Read more about the ELOS.) If this equipment is not effective then we may use the laser.
During every treatment we will also perform a small test (on an inconspicuous area of skin) using a higher setting. If there are no side effects, we can use this higher setting during your next treatment and achiever better results. Because we will slowly increase the intensity, a person with a darker skin tone may need many more treatments than a person with a light skin tone. We will not increase the intensity any further if we have achieved a very good result.
Can treatment be performed on ingrown hairs?
Yes, this is perfectly fine. The skin over the ingrown hair may temporarily turn a bit darker. However, over time treatment will have a healing effect on ingrown hairs. The heat and subsequent stimulation of blood flow combined with a reduction in hair growth, will cause improvement. The entire area will be soothed.
Why do you prefer not to treat on the face?
The risk of stains on the skin is too big. On the body one can hide these stains with clothing, but on the face this is not possible. If you do really want to have hairs removed on your face, we may only perform treatment after thorough testing, after having familiarized ourselves with your skin and if you accept full responsibility for the possible risks.
Or we might prefer to refer you to a colleague who is willing to take on the responsibility. In the the Hague area Nabila de Winter performs facial hair removal treatments: 071-5012060. . She has a darker skin tone herself, and thus is very familiar with the potential risks. You can email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is treatment more painful on darker skin?
No. Most customers find the pain very manageable. Not fun, but it’s endurable. For reducing the pain you can choose to take painkillers or apply an anesthetic cream. Take a look on the page Pain and Side effects for more information.
Why can't thin hair be treated?
Thin hairs or vellus hairs require a shorter pulse time (10 – 20 milliseconds) than thick hairs, whereas the darker skin can only endure a longer pulse time (30 – 100 milliseconds). There’s even a slight chance that vellus hair will come back thicker and longer.
If you have a fuzz of thin (vellus) hair, bleaching is a better option than laser hair removal.
Why do I need more treatments?
We have to be extra careful to make sure that the pigment cells won’t absorb the heat of the laser. Because of this, we have to use a milder setting on our equipment. This means that you most likely need more treatments, sometimes even twice as many (8-12 treatments)! A nice benefit: Your hairs will have more pigment as well and thus we often achieve a very good result in hair reduction. The amount of treatments will also depend on your personal preferences and when you are happy with the results. Unfortunately 100% smooth is not possible.