If you have been reading our laser hair removal articles (they’re a ton!) by now, you know that we are big proponents of the laser hair removal method. Yet, what most people haven’t heard is that there’s more than one type of laser. In fact, there are five! Read on to see what they are, what they do, and how to pick the right one for you.
What is Laser?
In our previous post: Laser vs Waxing, we shared that laser is an acronym for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. As opposed to visible light, laser light is monochromatic (a type of light that carries only a specific wavelength). We covered how the laser hair removal method more comprehensively in this post here.
Let’s dive into the different types of lasers!
Ruby Laser System
The Ruby was the first laser system developed for permanent hair reduction. Given that it has been around for so long, there’s a lot of research about its effectiveness and side effects. Still, it has mostly been eclipsed by newer lasers that treat a wider range of skin tones and larger surface areas.
Ruby laser is very well absorbed by the melanin pigment in the hair, making this system very effective for people of skin tones I to III on the Fitzpatrick Scale. However, because melanin is present in the skin as well as the hair follicles, the Ruby laser system is not recommended for individuals with darker skin tones.
The Ruby laser system also has a long pause between its laser pulses, making it one of the most tolerable laser systems. That being said, the slower repetition means ruby laser treatments require more time than other hair removal laser systems. As a result, Ruby lasers have become less popular for laser hair removal in recent years.
Alexandrite Laser System
The Alexandrite laser is the most popular system for laser hair removal. It is also the fastest laser system available. For example, the Alexandrite laser can cover a large area, such as the back, in as little as 30 minutes.
The downside of the fast laser repetition makes it the least comfortable laser hair removal system. The good news is that the latest Alexandrite laser machines have built-in cooling devices to improve comfort during the treatment.
The Alexandrite laser operates at a shorter wavelength (which means it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the skin). This makes it ideal for targeting the melanin in the hair follicles of individuals with light to olive skin tones.
Nd:YAG Laser System
Nd:YAG uses some of the latest advancements in cosmetic laser technology. Besides effective hair removal lasers, this system offers numerous applications, including tattoo removal and laser skin resurfacing for the correction of sun damage.
Nd:YAG laser system does not target the melanin found in hair like other lasers. Instead, a carbon lotion is applied to the skin and then absorbed by the hair. Studies have shown that carbon absorbs light energy better than melanin.
Nd:YAG laser also has a wavelength that is longer than other lasers used for laser hair removal. This allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin, bypassing the melanin (which there is more of in darker skin tones) and targeting the melanin in the hair.
Therefore, it is considered to have the ability to treat all skin types, including tanned skin. That said, it doesn’t work well on fine and light hairs. However, other hair removal lasers can fill in this gap.
Although it is often classified under a laser hair removal treatment, IPL is not actually a laser. Instead of a laser, it uses intense pulsed light (IPL.) that releases thermal energy, which is then absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle.
The advantage of intense pulsed light is that the wavelength, energy level, and pulse duration can be adjusted to match the needs of different skin tones and hair qualities.
While lasers send out a single beam of light, IPL sends out a whole spectrum which means it can treat a larger surface area faster, i.e. treatment is often quicker.
On the flip side, since IPL disperses several short wavelengths of light at once, it can also result in more pigmentation as a side effect.
Diode Laser System
Designed for fair to medium skin tones, diode laser uses high powered semiconductors as its light source.
It produces a long-wavelength infrared light that allows for deep penetration into the skin, epidermis. This makes it safer for darker skin types but less effective for lighter and finer hair.
To make the treatment more comfortable, many diode lasers use vacuum systems that lift the skin closer to the energy source before the light pulse is delivered.
That said, Diode laser is the new kid on the block, which means there is limited research available on its long-term efficacy and safety.
Why SPLENDOR X is Our Preferred Laser Hair Removal Machine
Most laser hair removal technologies on the market use one of two wavelengths to target the hair follicle:
- the Alexandrite laser which is ideal for treating skin tones I to III on the Fitzpatrick Scale (fair and light skin tones)
- the Nd:YAG laser which is ideal for treating skin tones IV to VI on the Fitzpatrick Scale (4 being tanned skin and 6 darker skin tones)
As you might have already guessed, laser machines that can combine these two laser technologies are often the best and most effective to use. And that’s precisely what SPLENDOR X from Lumenis does!
Using a proprietary technology known as BLEND X, this advanced laser machine allows technicians to deliver synchronized Alexandrite and Nd:YAG laser wavelengths. The result is customizable treatment options for patients with different skin and hair type combinations.
This is the laser hair removal technology we use here at Dr Aesthetica. Book your appointment today!