Laser hair removal is an increasingly popular means of removing unwanted body hair as the treatment systematically damages the hair until it stops growing altogether.
In the past, this cosmetic treatment was considered safe and effective only for people with a noticeable difference in their skin and hair tones. It was notoriously ineffective in removing blonde hair. The good news for people with fair hair is that things have changed.
This article looks at the advancements in laser hair removal technology and explains how even people with blonde hair can benefit from the treatment today.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work on Blonde Hair?
Laser hair removal is a cosmetic treatment that involves the use of a laser device that heats and damages the targeted hair follicles. The goal of laser hair removal is long-term or permanent hair growth inhibition.
The success of the treatment depends on several factors:
1. Type of hair in the area you want to treat.
There are two types of hair on our skin: vellus and terminal hair. Vellus hair is the short, light-colored, barely visible hair covering our entire bodies except for the skin on our palms and feet.
Terminal hair is the thicker, longer hair that grows on our legs, arms, underarms, belly, and bikini area.
Laser hair removal is ineffective for vellus hair because it is only lightly pigmented. The treatment has a higher chance of success on terminal hair, which contains higher concentrations of melanin.
2. The contrast between your skin and hair tone.
Melanin is found both in skin and hair. Traditional laser removal devices require a pronounced contrast between the skin and hair color in order to be able to target only the pigment in the hair. If both the hair and skin are dark or fair, the laser could mistakenly heat and damage the skin.
3. The laser device model used for the treatment.
Today, laser technology has advanced, and some laser devices can target the pigment present in lighter, softer hair. Such lasers use a longer laser energy wavelength from traditional lasers, which helps to attract lightly pigmented hair. Examples of this technology include diode and Nd:YAG lasers.
Laser Hair Removal for Blonde Hair: Options
If you have blonde hair that you want to remove with a laser, consider the following options.
1. Dye the Hair
Some patients believe that dying their hair a darker color helps attract the laser. This tactic may help in some cases, but dye usually doesn’t penetrate deeper into the follicle, which is where the laser targets the pigment.
However, some lasers have this step incorporated into the device’s mechanism. The device artificially pigments the targeted hair all the way into the follicle before delivering laser energy to the area.
2. Long Pulses
Laser devices with long pulses are proven to be successful at removing blonde hair. They are also safer than traditional lasers with shorter wavelengths.
Here’s why long-pulsed lasers may be the future of laser hair removal:
- Deeper Penetration. Lasers with longer wavelengths penetrate deeper than short-pulsed lasers, bypassing the skin’s surface. They aim directly at the follicle, preventing the possibility of damaging the skin in fair-skinned and light-haired patients.
- Less Need for a Strong Pigmentation. As stated above, long-pulsed lasers aim straight at the follicle, bypassing the skin, so there is no need for a significant contrast between the skin and hair tone.
- Increased Cooling Time. Longer pulses provide a longer cooling period between each pulse. This makes the procedure gentler and safer for the patient.
Laser hair removal requires several treatments. Patients usually notice slower hair growth and weaker hair a few weeks after the first or second treatment.
The number of treatments depends on the patient’s skin and hair tones, the medical provider’s expertise, the laser device used, and the hair growth cycle.
The hair growth cycle has three phases:
- Anagen. In this phase, the hair is active and growing.
- Catagen. In this phase, hair growth is inhibited.
- Telogen. The hair rests.
The laser hair removal treatment is effective only during the anagen phase. However, as little as 20% of all hair is in the anagen phase at any given moment. Therefore, the patient needs to undergo a series of treatments spaced some time apart until the laser has worked on all the hair at the right moment.
For best results, laser hair removal experts recommend treatments every six weeks for the first several treatments and then longer intervals between sessions.
Patients usually require six to ten treatments for desired results, followed by maintenance sessions once or twice a year.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Laser hair removal is considered a safe procedure for most candidates. Doctors recommend that women postpone their laser hair treatment during pregnancy.
The side effects after laser hair removal are rare and mild. They include redness, swelling, and itchiness.
Severe side effects are very rare and include scarring, blistering, skin discoloration, and increased hair growth. If you experience these symptoms, contact your medical provider.
To determine if laser hair removal is the right choice for your hair, schedule a consultation with an experienced cosmetic medical provider for a full assessment of your skin and hair type.
You may need more treatments than people with darker hair, but blonde hair is no longer an obstacle to achieving smooth, hairless skin.