Laser/IPL Hair Removal Suitabilty

Posted by on Feb 12, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

Laser Hair Removal who is Suitable?

The problem of unwanted hair is a shared problem for many women diagnosed with PCOS and whilst other problems may raise their heads from time to time, often dealing with unwanted hair is a daily task. Our lives are active and finding the time to investigate the most appropriate method of hair removal isn’t always easy. Chris Hart MD of Cristianos Laser Clinic has put together this quick guide to suitability for laser/IPL hair removal treatment.

Hair Colour

Hair removal with light based technology for example Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is ultimately dependent on the hair containing dark pigment. This is because the light is absorbed in melanin, the pigment in hair and skin. The light is then converted into heat within the hair shaft and subsequently heats the follicle destroying its capacity to regrow. For this process to be effective there must be enough dark pigment in the hair. White, blonde and grey hair does not contain sufficient pigment for the treatment to be effective. The darker the pigment the more efficient the process is.

Skin Colour

When laser hair removal first came to the attention of the public, some ten years ago the technology was only suited to the treatment of Caucasian skins. However demand for a solution to unwanted hair for darker skinned individuals led to further research and development resulting in the evolution of Intense Pulse Light technology (IPL).

IPL/VPL systems deliver therapeutic light in shorter packs of energy, interceded by cooling periods, thus making the treatment of darker skin tones attainable. Not withstanding this, the treatments of Afro-Caribbean skins can prove difficult and may run a high risk of side effects.

Hair Diameter

As discussed earlier the therapeutic light is selectively absorbed in the colour in the hair, a process known as ‘Selective Photothermolysis’. Where the hair is thick and coarse more light will be absorbed and the thick hair will have more capacity to hold in the heat. Consequently the treatment of thick coarse hair is more efficient than that of fine hair, as this vellus hair is less proficient at absorbing light and holding in heat.


Some medications can make the skin photosensitive to light. Photosensitivity can range from mild redness, discomfort and itchiness to blistering of the skin.  In cases where medications cause photosensitivity the first thing to consider is whether those medications are being taken on a short or long term basis. In the case of short term photosensitising drugs, for example some antibiotics, treatment should be delayed until a minimum of seven days have elapsed since the last dose. Where medication is being taken on a long term footing for example some anti depressants, the probability and severity of having a photosensitive reaction must be weighed against the need for treatment for the individual concerned.


There is no medical evidence to support the idea that having treatment of this nature during pregnancy can be detrimental to either mother or child, however most responsible practitioners would advise a client to postpone treatment until after the birth.


Any method of hair removal relies up on the hair growth cycle as the germinal matrix of the follicle can only be affected by treatment when in the ‘Anagen’ or growing phase of the cycle.  Treatment schedules need to take this process into account, accordingly the timing of appointments is crucial to success of treatment.