Laser Hair Removal Wavelengths
What you need to know
Both Laser and IPL (or Photolysis as it is called in Cyprus) work in the same way for hair removal. They transmit light which is absorbed by the melanin (pigment) in the hair follicle. When the light is absorbed it turns to heat and fuses the supply of blood to the follicle. By fusing the blood supply, the hair can no longer regrow, resulting in hair removal.
However, there are significant differences as to how this light energy is produced and transmitted. These differences can have a great impact on effectiveness, comfort and safety of the treatment. Both Lasers and IPL’s have plus points but they are also have downsides.
In this article we will explain everything you need to know about these differences so you can make an informed decision.
Single Vs Multiple Wavelength
Lasers are single wavelength devices – IPL’s are multiple wavelength devices. It is the wavelength the machine outputs that determines which type of skin and hair type and colour the machine is best suited to.
IPL’s being multiple wavelength devices can treat the widest range of skin and hair types.
Lasers on the other hand being single wavelength devices and more suited to specific hair and skin profiles. This is very important when considering a Laser treatment. Does the machine correspond to your skin/hair type?
Although most people refer to Lasers as if they are all the same, there is a big difference in the output wavelength in different Lasers. The output wavelength of each Laser device is measured in nanometers (nm). The nanometers dictate the energy penetration characteristics of the Laser device and therefore it’s overall effectiveness for different skin and hair profiles: being the colour of the skin and hair and the thickness of the hair.
The table below list the most common available Laser Hair Removal machines and their wavelength characteristics, and matched skin and hair profiles:
Alexandrite: (755nm) most effective on light skins and thin hair – not safe on darker skins
Nd: Yag: (1064nm) most effective on darker skin and thicker hair
Pulsed diode array: (810nm) for pale to medium type skin
Argon: (488nm) – no longer used for hair removal – avoid clinics using this machine
Ruby: (694.3 nm) no longer used for hair removal; only safe for patients with very pale skin – avoid clinics using this machine
So, if going for a Laser Hair removal treatment, ensure you know which Laser you are going to be treated by and use the appropriately matched machine for skin and hair type.
Ok, you have correctly matched the type of Laser to your skin and hair type before you begin treatment, great! However, the biggest drawback of Laser devices is they cannot be adjusted during the multiple treatment process for altering skin types and hair type.
That’s right. During a 12 to 18 month-long hair removal program, your skin changes colour with the season and as the treatment works, the hair becomes finer and finer. So whilst you correctly selected the type of Laser at the commencement of your hair removal treatments, things have now changed, but you can’t change the Laser! It’s the Plateau Effect that many people report during a hair removal program on inflexible devices, with good results at the beginning and then ever diminishing results that seem to require ever more treatments.
Let’s say you have dark skin and thick hair so you correctly choose a Nd: Yag Laser. You see great results for the first few treatments, but as your progress through to treatments 3 onwards, you will see the results reaching a plateau, the hair just doesn’t seem to be removed at the same rate as the beginning. That’s because you hair has now become finer and a 1064nm wavelength isn’t so effective at targeting this type of hair.
Also, it is now coming into the winter and your skin begins to become paler. You are now exposing yourself to more risk during treatment, as the Nd: Yag Laser is more suited to darker skin profiles. Therefore you are now over exposing your body to higher treatment energies than is necessary for good results.
Or you had light skin, and correctly choose an Alexandrite Laser to begin with and the summer has come and your skin has darkened. You are now exposing yourself to more risk during treatment.
At Therapolis our advanced Laser-IPL Hair Removal technology is fully adjustable because it combines the best of Laser and the best of IPL technology. In fact, it is the most adjustable Laser-IPL hair removal device in the world. It’s wavelengths cover 580nm to 950nm, to be able to treat all skin types and all hair types, adjusting throughout the whole treatment process to give the most effective and safest possible Laser-IPL hair removal treatment.
Learn More About Laser-IPL Hair Removal at Therapolis