Which Type of Hair Removal Laser will Work for Me?
Currently, there are three popular types of hair removal lasers made by various manufacturers: Alexandrite, Diode, and Nd:YAG. Intense Pulse Light systems (IPLs) are also used for hair removal.
Some of the more popular brands of devices currently on the market are:
1. Alexandrite: GentleLASE, Apogee
2. Diode: LightSheer, F1 Diode, MeDioStar, Palomar SLP 1000, Comet (w/RF technology)
3. Nd:YAG: CoolGlide, GentleYAG, Lyra-i, Sciton
4. Alexandrite/ND:Yag Combination Devices: GentleMAX, Apogee Elite, Apogee MPX
5. IPL: Palomar Starlux and EsteLux, Harmony, EpiLight, Aculight, Vasculigh, Aurora (w/RF technology)
In order to determine the best device to use, patients need to figure out their skin type using the Fitzpatrick Skin Chart*. In 1975, Thomas B Fitzpatrick, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, developed a classification system for skin typing. This system was based on a person's response to sun exposure in terms of the degree of burning and tanning the individual experienced.
*This tool is approximate
TYPE I: Highly sensitive, always burns, never tans. Example: Red hair with freckles or Albino
TYPE II: Very sun sensitive, burns easily, tans minimally.
Example: Fair-skinned, fair-haired Caucasians
TYPE III: Sun sensitive skin, sometimes burns, slowly tans to light brown.
Example: Darker Caucasians, European mix
TYPE IV: Minimally sun sensitive, burns minimally, always tans to moderate brown.
Example: Mediterranean, European, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian
TYPE V: Sun-insensitive skin, rarely burns, tans well.
Example: Hispanics, Afro-American, Middle Eastern
TYPE VI: Sun-insensitive, never burns, deeply pigmented.
Example: Afro-American, African, Middle Eastern
- Alexandrite lasers are best for skin types I-III
- Diode lasers are best for skin types I-IV
- Nd:YAG* lasers are best for skin types IV and darker
*ND:YAG lasers were specifically created to cater to dark-skinned patients. This is the only type of laser that should be used on skin types V and darker. Using any other types of lasers on this type of skin can result in burns if they are used at settings that disable the hair permanently.