IPL hair removal is a technique of removing unwanted hair with the help of impulse pulsating light. This broad-spectrum light enters your hair follicles, heat them up, and destroys them giving you permanent to semi-permanent results. It is a slightly painful procedure, but with the advancement, there are also at-home painless IPL devices available.
The only concern is the problems with IPL hair removal for dark skin. A device that is not compatible with your dark skin can cause blisters, burns, hyperpigmentation, and scarring. Therefore, it is important to understand IPL hair removal thoroughly to keep yourself safe from these side effects.
How Do IPL Devices Interact with Hair?
You must have heard so many times that IPL hair removal devices do not work for all hair types and colors. Before understanding this, you need to know IPL devices interact with your hair.
The working of IPL hair removal devices totally depends upon melanin and dark hair has more melanin. When an IPL device comes in contact with your body, the light gets absorbed by the melanin in your hair and reaches the hair bulb or hair root. Since hair bulb is highly concentrated with melanin, light energy collects hair and converts it into heat. This heat damages the hair follicles responsible for the growth of your unwanted body hair. In this way, you get a permanent solution for hair removal.
How Do IPL Devices Interact with Skin?
As IPL devices use broad-spectrum light they not only target your hair but also get absorbed into your skin. When the light detects melanin in your skin, it targets the skin as well. The results can be both harmful and beneficial depending on the area the device is targeting. For example, IPL devices can treat age spots or scar tissues by absorption through the melanin in them and breaking them into smaller pieces. These pieces are then carried away from that area by your body.
On the other hand, if the devices target healthy skin with more melanin, a higher concentration of heat in that body part can cause redness, burns, inflammation, and scarring.
Skin Tones and Hair Colors Suitable For IPL
Not all skin tones and hair colors are suitable for IPL hair removal. Let’s see if yours is compatible with the IPL or not.
Skin Tones Suitable for IPL
The Fitzpatrick scale has divided skin tones into 6 categories as shown below.
Skin tone I which is the lightest skin tone to skin tone IV which is olive/moderate brown skin tone are good-to-go for using the IPL device on them. These skin tones do not have enough melanin so the device won’t affect them much even if the light absorbs into these skin types. In contrast, skin tones V and VI are not suitable for IPL because they have higher concentrations of melanin. The reduced contrast between these skin tones and the hair color can misguide the device leading to harmful results.
Hair Colors Suitable for IPL
The most common natural hair colors are black, brown, grey, blonde, and ginger. The rule for IPL is, the darker the hair color, the better the results will be.
As darker hair has more melanin so IPL devices can work best for black and all shades of brown. Unfortunately, ginger, blonde, and grey hair have less melanin so IPL devices will not be suitable for these hair colors.
Hair Removal Methods for Dark Skin
There are only a few IPL devices that are effective against dark skin but these also require care in handling. So, instead of taking a risk, you can try these hair removal methods for a hairless and smooth body.
Depilatory creams work independently of your hair or skin tone and are a completely painless method of hair removal. When you apply a depilatory cream, its chemicals dissolve your hair keratin and make the hair weak. On Wiping off the cream, your hair also gets wiped off with them. So, they are completely safe for you as long as your skin is not sensitive enough to react against the chemicals.
Although a bit painful, waxing can be a good partner for hair removal for those with dark skin. There are hot waxes and cold waxes available for hair removal. They stick with your hair and when you pull off the wax, they pull your hair from roots with them.
In this way, you can stay hairless for 4-6 weeks using wax.
Epilators are electrical devices with tweezers that pull your hair from roots without any cream, gel, or wax. These devices only grip your hair and leave your skin unaffected. So, they are a completely safe option for hair removal for all skin tones.
Moreover, when you remove your hair using an epilator, the new hair can take up to 1 month or more to regrow.
In the past, laser hair removal was not a good option for dark-toned people. But, not anymore because the Nd: YAG laser is now effective against all skin tones. This laser penetrated deep near your hair follicles and gets rid of them without disrupting your skin.
It is a semi-permanent hair removal method giving you years of hair-free skin with minimum or no touchups.
Electrolysis is an FDA-approved permanent method of hair removal. An electrologist uses a thin needle to send current to your hair follicles and damage their roots. These stop the regrowth of new hair permanently and remove the already-grown hair. The method is a bit painful and time-taking but definitely worth it for all skin tones and hair types.
IPL hair removal seems to be a perfect idea for painless hair removal with long-lasting results. The impulse pulsating light of an IPL device targets melanin in your hair to destroy the hair follicles. But, if your skin is dark too, it might target your skin as well causing a number of problems like burns, scarring, hyperpigmentation, etc.
That is why, it is not for everyone and only those with the right hair-to-skin contrast can go for it. As for dark skin, there are some devices available but the results may vary and you need to handle them carefully during your treatment.
Hence, it is best for dark-toned people to visit a professional before undergoing any treatment to make sure the treatment only comes with good results instead of backfiring.