Best home IPL hair removal for dark & black skin(partⅠ)
The ultimate guide to safe home laser / IPL hair removal for dark & black skin tones, plus top devices to choose
Not all home IPL and laser machines are safe for you if you have dark skin. That’s because of the science behind laser and IPL hair removal.
In this round-up, learn why not all devices are safe, why others are, how to check your skin tone, and which devices are safe and effective on darker and black skin tones. Keep reading to find your perfect device for your skin tone.
These safe for dark and black skin home IPL machines are widely available in the UK, Europe, Australia & North America.
First, let’s dig deeper into why not all laser machines are safe for dark and black skin.
Why aren’t all laser & ipl devices safe for dark skin?
It’s down to the science behind laser & IPL hair removal.
Substances in our body absorb light at different wavelengths. We call these substances chromophores. They’re the dark pigment in hair and skin (called melanin), oxyhaemoglobin in blood, and water. For laser and IPL hair removal the target chromophore is melanin in your hair.
The powerful light energy from IPL and lasers targets melanin in your hair to slow and reduce hair growth on the body and face.
Certain cells in your hair follicle (the bit below the skin) contain melanin. This melanin absorbs the flashes of IPL and pulses of laser energy and converts to heat. It damages areas of the hair follicle. The hair then shuts down and enters a resting phase. So, your hair grows slower and weaker, and eventually stops growing at all.
There’s melanin in skin too
Darker skin tones have a higher concentration of melanin.
Our skin also contains melanin. In light and medium tones, there’s just small amounts of melanin. This means there’s a big contrast between the light skin and dark hair with lots of melanin. The light energy easily targets the melanin in your hair and leaves your skin untouched. That’s why laser and IPL work best on light skin tones and dark hair.
However, there’s concentrated melanin in darker skin. Therefore, there’s just a small contrast between your skin and hair. This means, without the appropriate technology and configuration, your skin also absorbs the light energy. It converts to heat and causes pain, blisters and burns. Your skin can also darken or lighten in colour. This side effect is either temporary or permanent.
So, how do you know if your skin tone is safe?
All home-use devices come with a clear, safe skin tone range noted on the packaging and in the user manual. And most brands use the Fitzpatrick skin tone chart to do this.
What skin tone type do you have?
Thomas B. Fitzpatrick developed the Fitzpatrick scale in 1975. It’s used to estimate how different skin types react to ultraviolet (UV) light. The complete scale details skin tone, hair colour and skin response to the sun. But for home laser and IPL devices, we use the skin colours scale only. It helps clarify which tones can safely use a machine.
There are 6 Fitzpatrick types, measured from type I to VI. Type I is the lightest skin and type VI the darkest.
I: Light, pale white skin
II: White, fair skin
III: Medium white to olive skin
IV: Olive, mid-brown skin
V: Brown, dark brown skin
VI: Very dark brown to black skin
Use the scale to see which type you are closest to. Check different body areas because your tone can vary. And remember, your skin tone can deepen and darken in the Summer. So, try to base it on the tone your skin is during the Summer months.
If you’re between type IV and V you can choose a device that’s safe for up to type V.
If you’re between types V and VI it’s best to choose a device safe for ALL tones.