For a long time, laser hair removal only worked on people with dark hair and light skin. Indeed, the procedure needed a sharp hair to skin contrast to be efficient. And safe. However, new laser technology have changed that.
There is no longer a perfect candidate for laser treatments. Laser procedures work on people with dark skin and dark hair as well as light hair and light skin. To a certain extent however. What about people with ginger hair?
After all, ginger hair is on the blonde spectrum. Even though laser hair removal works on light hair, it does not work on all light hair. Is permanent hair removal an option for redheads? Is permanent ginger hair removal even possible?
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is a fairly new hair removal option. While shaving pre-dates cavemen, laser treatments really started in the 70s. It is a hair growth-reduction treatment and will remove 95% of unwanted body hair permanently.
Approved by the FDA, it does not classify as a permanent hair removal method yet. However, a lot of patients do indeed experience permanent hair reduction. The concept behind the treatment is selective photothermolysis.
A laser beam is used to target a specific object without damaging surrounding tissues. In the context of a laser procedure, that target is the pigment in the hair. Surrounding tissues are the skin. The light energy produced by the laser targets color pigments in the hair.
Once the melanin has absorbed the energy, the latter travels down to the hair follicle where it turns into thermal energy. The heat damages the follicle and stop hair growth permanently. However, the treatment only works on body hair that is in the anagen phase of growth.
Indeed, it is the only time the hair is connected to the follicle. Each hair has a unique growth cycle. Thus, only 20% of all body hair will be in the anagen phase at any point in time. Thus, one laser session can only target 10% to 20% of hair at once.
This explains why patients needs multiple laser hair removal. The cumulative effect of each session will lead to permanent hair removal. Each session must be six weeks apart so that the hair can move into the right phase of growth.
Why laser treatment may not work on red hair.
Laser hair removal is at its most effective when two conditions meet. First, there must be a color contrast between the hair and the skin. Second, the right machine must be used during the session. Each skin tone and hair color will require a different type of laser or wavelength.
To recap, laser hair removal needs hair, pigments and hair follicles. The first one is used as a conduit. The second one is the target and the last one is the final destination. If there is pigment, aka no target, the procedure will not be effective.
It happens often that natural redheads have really light blonde or ginger hair. Thus, it becomes more difficult for the laser to pick up the hair against the skin. This can ruin the precision capabilities of the laser.
The laser may not always be able to pick up the hair with very few color pigments. In addition, the melanin may not be able to absorb the energy. Fortunately, that does not mean that light hair removal is not possible.
We have indeed proved that laser treatments work on blonde hair.
Laser hair removal for ginger hair.
"Laser hair removal only works on people with dark hair and light skin".
This is a myth that used to be true but no longer is. Why? Simply because for a long time, the right technology to treat fair hair or people of color did not exist.
This is no longer the case and therefore a lot of obstacles are gone. ND: YAG and diode lasers have changed the game. The treatment is now efficient on all skin tones and hair colors. What matters is that the right one is used for each patient.
Thus, the secret to using laser hair removal on ginger hair is the wavelength. ND: YAG lasers and diode lasers can both use the 755nm wavelength. It does not rely on melanin too much to get to the follicle. As the energy bypasses melanin to reach its destination, a sharp hair to skin contrast is no longer needed.
It is possible that some hair remains too light to be targeted. However, keep in mind that hair on different parts of the body will have different colors. People with red hair may actually have hair in different shades of red.
Indeed, they even have dark blonde hair or light brown hair. Or dark red hair like cherry red or red brown. Regardless, modern laser hair removal devices are now able to pick up light hair. It just needs to hold a few pigments.
Note that intense pulsed light IPL will not work and will not be efficient at removing hair in this context.
What to expect from a laser treatment?
Ginger hair is not a barrier to laser hair removal. Laser hair removal devices work better with thick or coarse hair. Natural redheads have thicker hair usually, so that works in their favor. Laser procedures may be more efficient than on blonde hair.
Furthermore, people with ginger may exhibit different hair color on different parts of their body. Hair on the bikini area and underarms tend to be darker. Thus, they will definitely be treated by the laser in a very effective way.
The only thing to keep in mind is that red hair is still light hair. Therefore, the laser may still find it more difficult to pick up the hair. The treatment is indeed not as straightforward as with dark hair on light skin.
Thus, you may need additional laser sessions. Infinity Laser Spa always advises a minimum of 6 to 8 sessions to achieve good results. However, you may need up to 12 if you have light hair. We also recommend that you schedule a free consultation to discuss your treatment with a technician.
Laser hair removal is not a painful procedure. It feels like pinching. The sensation is also akin to rubber band snapping very fast at the skin. While it is not the most comfortable, it is tolerable and nothing compared to waxing.
How to prepare for your session.
Laser hair removal is a very straightforward procedure. Session length varies based on the area you treat. Having ginger hair will not have an impact on the duration of each appointment. What you need to pay attention to however, is preparation ahead of a session.
Make sure you stay away from direct sunlight during the ten days before your session. If being in the sun is unavoidable, apply a physical sunblock with a SPF 50. Artificial tanning puts the skin in an excited state that can interfere with the treatment.
Be very careful so that you avoid sunburns. Sun damaged skin is burnt skin. Patients with sunburns cannot in any circumstance undergo laser hair removal on the damaged area. It may lead to irreversible damage.
Shave the night before your appointment so that the skin is not rough and can recover. Clean your skin off any lotion, creams or moisturizers. If you treat your underarms, do not put deodorant. Wear clothes that will cover the treated area whenever possible, i.e. the legs.
After your session is over, stay away from the sun for at least ten days. Always apply sunscreen when you are out and about. Avoid any sweat inducing activity such working out, saunas and hot showers. Indeed, sweat causes bacteria that