Up until recently, laser hair removal for dark skin had to be done in a doctor’s office. Devices for home laser hair removal, available for many, simply didn’t exist for African American skin complexions because the existing technology was too dangerous. Recently, however, the technology has improved, making laser hair removal safe for people with dark skin.
We searched the internet high and low, but couldn’t find much information. The technology is that new!
But don’t get worried:
We’ve got the in-depth scoop on the latest devices, plus all of the information you need to get started and choose the one for you.
Read on to find out how you can bring laser hair removal home!
- What Is Laser Hair Removal?
- Why Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin Is a Big Deal
- Types of Lasers That Are Safe for Dark Skin
- How to Choose the Best Laser for Hair Removal on Dark Skin
- How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin At Home
- 7 At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices for Dark Skin
- 1. iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA-cleared IPL RF Technology
- 2. me Sleek Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA Cleared Elos Technology
- 3. mē Smooth Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA Cleared elōs Technology
- 4. mē Chic Targeted Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA Cleared elōs Technology
- 5. Silk’n Permanent Hair Remover for Light to Dark Skin
- 6. Me My Elos Syneron Touch/pro Ultra
- 7. SmoothSkin CA00-1151 Gold IPL Hair Removal System
- Possible Side Effects and Skin Reactions
- How Do the Procedures Feel?
- And the Winner Is…
What Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is basically the use of laser heat to destroy hair at the follicle. After several treatments, the hair follicle becomes too damaged and hair no longer grows in that spot.
The early laser hair removal technology used IPL – or intense pulsed light – which worked well on light skin with dark hair.
But there was a problem:
On other complexions, such as fair skin with light hair, or in laser hair removal for brown skin, the laser heated the surrounding skin too much, causing burns. Many other patients experienced permanent changes in skin pigmentation. IPLs were determined to be too dangerous for permanent hair removal for dark skin.
Why Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin Is a Big Deal
As many people with darker complexions will testify, dark-skinned people are often excluded in societies around the world. Even though there were safety concerns, people of color wanted to be included in the technology – especially women of color, who spend thousands of dollars on hair removal. Women with unwanted hair have long lamented shaving, which often results in nicks and cuts and sometimes must be done daily. Waxing, creams, and in-office laser for dark skin hyperpigmentation treatments quickly become costly.
With the introduction of diode, Nd:YAG, and ELOS technology, women of color are finally included and can now safely experience the convenience of at-home laser hair removal!
Types of Lasers That Are Safe for Dark Skin
A diode laser uses radiation at a continuous stable frequency. They’re the same lasers used in CD players, laser printers, and remote controls. While diode laser hair removal results in hair reduction rather than permanent removal, it’s much safer than IPLs.
Nd:YAG lasers use crystals to create laser light. The “G” stands for garnet, and the “Nd” stands for neodymium, which creates ions that react and cause the laser light in the crystal. Nd:YAG lasers can treat cancer and are used in surgery.
ELOS lasers combine IPLs with radio frequencies, making for more targeted treatment. ELOS laser hair removal devices also often have technology that cools the skin while the device is in contact with it.
How to Choose the Best Laser for Hair Removal on Dark Skin
Like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to the new technology. To find the best method for your skin, you should start by reading reviews for laser hair removal products made especially for dark skin. Compare and contrast each customer’s experience, paying special attention to any side effects mentioned.
How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin At Home
Before using your at-home laser hair removal device, you should do the following:
Talk to your doctor to determine whether laser hair removal is right for you. You may need to see a dermatologist.
Double check that your device is approved for dark skin. We’ve rounded up seven devices that are safe for African American laser hair removal at home, but safety is extremely important when administering laser hair removal on black skin. Many devices on the market are misleading, often leaving out whether they’re safe for all skin types; further investigation of the product usually shows that they aren’t. Better safe than sorry!
Cleanse the area you will be using the device on. Each device will come with instructions, but most recommend that you cleanse your skin and keep it free from lotions and perfumes.
Shave any existing hair in the area. For best results, shave your hair before beginning laser treatment. This allows the laser to better reach the follicle. Plus, longer hair increases your chances of burning your skin. It’s important to follow all instructions, but especially so when performing laser hair removal for Indian skin, black skin, and other dark complexions.
Apply a small amount of numbing cream, if desired. Doctors recommend using the least amount of numbing cream possible. If you use too much, you could numb your skin completely and won’t feel if you are burning yourself.
Test the device on a small patch of skin. To see how your skin reacts to laser treatment, test it on a small area. This will also help you experiment with settings to see which intensity levels on the device are most comfortable for you. (Manufacturers recommend that new users start on the lowest setting and work their way up.)
Other Safety Precautions
Some devices come with protective glasses or goggles for your eyes. If they aren’t included, please consider purchasing a pair separately.
Elōs: What Does It Mean?
Electro-optical Synergy (elōs) is a technology that essentially combines two hair removal techniques – Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF). RadioFrequency energy is electric, whereas IPL is optical.
Combining these two modern technologies, hair removal becomes gentler, easier, and safer for you with dark-skinned to brown skin.
RF on its own as a method of hair removal can be ineffective due to its colorblind nature. This means that your dermis later of skin heats up though indiscriminately. ELOS technology and colorblind RF produce more effective and safer results for darker skin types.
For safe and permanent hair removal at home, it is recommended to use an energy density of 8 J/cm2 though darker skin types require less light. Therefore, if you are dark-skinned and require hair reduction, the energy density needs to range between 2 and 2.5 J/cm2. Dark skin will absorb more light, and thus a reduced intensity is necessary.
How Durable is It?
A friendly home IPL device ideal for V to VI skin types should also be durable. Because dark skin needs more than a single treatment to realize the desired outcome, devices with few flashes are unideal and greatly discouraged.
The primary criterion you choose while considering this is getting a device that has a Quartz bulb. Such a bulb consists of Quartz crystals embedded in the IPL device. This makes it sturdier and of better quality than other IPL devices that may instead have xenon bulbs.
With the quartz component, the device is capable of enduring and withstanding higher temperatures. This is important to the output energy since it mainly targets hair and thus effectively treats it.
For this reason, many customers who use xenon bulb IPL devices report burnt-out cartridges issues despite the number of flashes not being wholly exhausted compared to those using quartz bulb IPL devices. On the other hand, quartz bulb IPL devices have an extended lifespan. This implies that mē ELOS devices are better in treating dark skin and offer a more comprehensive treatment without worrying about burnout.
7 At-Home Laser Hair Removal Devices for Dark Skin
To make it easier for you to choose an at-home laser hair removal device that is safe for dark complexions, we’ve rounded up seven that are currently on the market. Read on to see our picks and our favorite!
1. iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA-cleared IPL RF Technology
The iluminage Touch was the first device to be cleared by the FDA for dark skin. This device combines IPL technology with radio frequency – just like the ELOS laser mentioned above. Not only is it safe to use on all skin types, but the iluminage Touch is also safe for all hair colors.
It comes attached to an octagon-shaped cradle; the iluminage Touch is not a wireless device.
Many reviewers said that it really is as painless as advertised – a quick pinch at the very most.
Several reviewers, though, pointed out that the hair reduction was not nearly as much as they’d expected.
2. me Sleek Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA Cleared Elos Technology
The me Sleek is squared shaped, making it easy to transport and store. Weighing just under four pounds, its dimensions are 9.5 x 9.4 x 4.7 inches. It’s about the same size as most other devices. The treatment wand detaches and fits neatly in the palm of your hand.A reviewer mentioned that treatment was painless except for in the underarm area. Several reviewers used the me Sleek in their bikini area and didn’t experience any pain. To avoid pain or injury, you can start off on the lowest setting or use a small amount of numbing cream prescribed by your doctor.
It should be noted that the same area of skin should not be treated more than once in the same session; doing so can result in burns and scarring.
3. mē Smooth Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA Cleared elōs Technology
Safe for facial hair
The mē Smooth uses “elōs” technology – explained above – that is FDA-cleared. Like the iluminage Touch, the mē Smooth advertises 94 percent hair reduction in treatments over seven weeks. It also weighs just over four pounds.
The mē Smooth is almost mouse-shaped (like the mouse you would use with a desktop computer). It is not portable; it requires being plugged in to function.
Some customers stated that the original cartridge in the device did not last as long as expected. One reviewer mentioned that they seemed to get more mileage out of cartridges after their hair had gotten thinner (after several treatments).
A couple reviewers said they saw better results in hair reduction with facial hair and underarms – areas that typically have less hair.
4. mē Chic Targeted Permanent Hair Reduction Device with FDA Cleared elōs Technology
The mē Chic is FDA-cleared for men and women. The device itself is lightweight, weighing only two pounds. The attachment is stored in a stand. The shape is much like a large stick of deodorant. mē Chic detaches from its stand and fits easily in your hand.
The acne treatment device for the mē Chic can be purchased separately.
5. Silk’n Permanent Hair Remover for Light to Dark Skin
The Silk’n Infinity device is pod shaped and lightweight, coming in at just under three pounds.
The Silk’n Infinity’s technology uses galvanic and optical energy, which creates a flash using electricity and a lens. Its heat also opens pores to better target hair follicles.
It must be noted that people with dark complexions should use this device on its lower settings. Please refer to the manual for more detailed instructions.
You May Also Like: Permanent Hair Removal – A Guide
6. Me My Elos Syneron Touch/pro Ultra
The Me My Elos Syneron Touch is similar to the mē Touch in appearance and weight (almost four and a half pounds). The manufacturer states that the Me My Elos Touch is the latest generation of previous models. Additional attachments can be purchased, such as an epilator and shaver.
Several reviewers said that the item arrived quickly – even when purchased internationally – and was covered under a two-year warranty. The Me My Elos Touch unit is not FDA-cleared and retails for the price comparable to other FDA-approved devices.
7. SmoothSkin CA00-1151 Gold IPL Hair Removal System
The SmoothSkin laser hair removal device is shaped like an electric razor and weighs three pounds, making it easy to hold in your hand. The small size makes it no problem to navigate harder to reach areas.
Results for the SmoothSkin were taken from an independent clinical study of 50 women. The manufacturer does not mention whether this device is suitable for people with dark skin or if it’s safe for men to use. Please consult a dermatologist before purchasing and using this device.
You can find your skin type here using the Fitzpatrick quiz. Skin type 6 is a deep complexion; people with dark skin should consult a doctor before using this product.
Possible Side Effects and Skin Reactions
Some of the typical skin reactions include tingly red-hot skin. The skin can also feel itchy and dry though this typically wears off after about 48 hours. You can use a cooling water spray, face cloth, ice, non-scented moisturizer, or Aloe Vera gel to ease the skin reactions. If they persist, seek professional help from your doctor.
Though rare, at times, side effects show up. These include permanent or temporary patches of dark skin or light spots, excessive redness, swelling around hair follicles, burns, scarring, and blisters. Seek medical assistance in such instances.
Another side effect, though extremely rare, is Paradoxical Hypertrichosis which manifests on the neck and face. This side effect results in accelerated hair growth in the areas under treatment. The cause of it is unknown though it is more prevalent in users with Mediterranean roots and/or have underlying conditions like hirsutism.
Protect yourself from the sun after sessions by covering yourself up or by ensuring you wear an SPF 30+ sunscreen to shield your skin from the sun. Your skin becomes extra sensitive to the sun after sessions, and there is an increased risk of side effects and skin reactions from sun exposure before the sessions.
How Do the Procedures Feel?
During the procedure, you will hear the whirring of the cooking fan and a click of pop sound following every IPL flash. IPL flashes are typically bright, though harmless against the skin. Protective goggles are unnecessary here, and if the flashes irritate you, you should consider using sunglasses to ease the irritation.
For V and VI dark skin tones, you will utilize the reduced intensity settings of the devices. Therefore, it is understandable that devices with a 2 J/cm2 IPL low are more comfortable. Higher IPL devices, on the other hand, give a slight stinging sensation to some, particularly if you have darker skin type V. Therefore, the recommendation is to use devices that offer more flexibility and extra assurance with gentler sensations and intensities should you require it.
And the Winner Is…
It’s both exciting and fantastic that technology has finally caught up with reality and opened up at-home laser hair removal for people of all skin colors. Though there is now a wide variety of devices, we’ve chosen a clear winner.
The iluminage Touch may be on the more expensive side, but its price seems to be well worth it. It’s FDA-cleared for safety, which is extremely important in laser hair removal on dark skin. Even though it’s rather heavy, we like that its cartridges can be replaced – resulting in endless treatments for smooth, hairless skin. Most importantly, reviewers seem to agree that it’s the most effective device currently on the market.
We hope that you enjoyed this roundup; we did our best for you to get your hands on the best home laser hair removal device for dark skin out there. Any thoughts or questions? Share in the comment section below!
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About the author Jasmin Williams
Jasmin is a beauty journalist and blogger with a specific interest in skincare and haircare for women with darker complexions. Her personal beauty concerns are typical to women with Afro hair type and brown skin tones: from hair straightening, body hair removal, and makeup – to creating a more diverse image of beauty overall.