What Are the Different Types of Laser Hair Removal?

Female client being treated for leg Laser Hair Removal

Written By:
Kim Bollom, MSN, RN, NPD-BC

Have you been dreaming of a shave-less summer? Ever envy a friend for having mentioned they don’t have to shave anymore because they had Laser Hair Removal done? If you’ve ever considered Laser Hair Removal on your legs, arms or any body hair anywhere, you might have a lot of questions about where to begin. We’re here to answer them!

When you first begin looking into Laser Hair Removal, it’s important to consider which type of Laser Hair Removal machine is most appropriate for you. There are several different types of lasers used for Laser Hair Removal and not all machines are suitable for all skin types. Let us break it down for you.

How Do Laser Hair Removal Machines Work?

A laser precisely emits a light beam to destroy hair follicles that are actively producing hairs. The length of the laser beam–measured in nanometers (nm)–can vary between machines. In order for the machine to be effective, the laser beam must absorb into the melanin of your hair, which makes it important to consider different skin types prior to treatment. Laser beams are only attracted to hairs saturated in brown and black melanin, which is why very light white, gray, blonde and red hairs are not treatable with Laser Hair Removal machines. After finding a Laser Hair Removal location that works best for you (we recommend only trusting places that employ true medical professionals, like Ideal Image–after all, we’ve treated over 20-million clients), your laser technician must consider several factors in order to choose the settings best suited for you. These considerations include:

  • Skin tone
  • Color of hair to be removed
  • Coarseness of hair
  • Number of treatments performed
  • Body area to be treated

What Are The Best Laser Hair Removal Machines?

Alexandrite Laser

At Ideal Image, we only use FDA-cleared lasers. For lighter skin types, we use the Alexandrite laser, which is considered the gold standard in Laser Hair Removal. The Alexandrite laser has a wavelength of 755 nm, resulting in slightly shorter targeting of melanin in hair follicles in light to olive skin tones. Although not common, most irritation caused by the Alexandrite laser resolves within 20-60 minutes after the treatment is completed. The Alexandrite laser utilizes a cooling spray for a more comfortable experience as opposed to the cooling gel the diode laser utilizes (more on that below). Comparison studies showed less pain is reported with the Alexandrite laser because of this built-in dynamic cooling device (DCD) which sprays a cooling agent, called cryogen, onto the skin before each pulse of the laser is administered. Shorter treatment appointment times are also possible with the Alexandrite laser since the spot size (the size of the area treated with each laser pulse) of this laser is larger in comparison to the diode laser. Cold laser enzyme gel is also applied to treated areas immediately after each treatment to provide even more comfort.

Nd:YAG Laser

Historically, darker skin tones were not able to be treated successfully for Laser Hair Removal due to the amount of melanin the skin contains. The laser beam in the Laser Hair Removal machines for lighter skin tones are attracted to the dark melanin in the hair follicle; the lighter skin tone allows the laser beam to safely pass through the skin and surrounding structures and destroys the detected hair because it is darker in color than the skin tone. If you used a diode or Alexandrite laser on a darker skin tone, the laser would not detect the darker melanin in the hair follicle because there are large amounts of dark melanin present in the surrounding skin structures as well. The diode and Alexandrite Laser Hair Removal machines can cause serious skin irritation and burns to darker skin tones.

At Ideal Image, we can treat all skin types. That’s because we also offer the neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) Laser Hair Removal machine. It is the machine of choice for safe and effective Laser Hair Removal for darker skin tones. The Nd:YAG laser has a much longer laser beam wavelength – coming in at 1064 nm! The Nd YAG is not absorbed by the surrounding skin pigment like the Alexandrite and diode lasers. It can target melanin deeper into the follicle and successfully detect the hair. This laser is best suited for darker skin tones but is not effective for lighter skin tones.

Diode Laser

The diode laser is another Laser Hair Removal device used in some medical spas for lighter skin tones. The diode laser has an 810 nm wavelength, which has a slightly deeper dispersion into the hair follicle than the similar Alexandrite laser. That’s the biggest diode vs Alexandrite laser difference in addition to it not having the cooling blast and instead relies on using cooling gel after treatment. Studies have shown those who receive treatments on the diode laser report higher incidences of pain during treatments. For this reason, we do not offer treatments with diode laser at Ideal Image and instead trust our clients’ comfort to Alexandrite and YAG lasers.

Candela Laser Hair Removal Machines

Here at Ideal Image, we use the Candela brand of Laser Hair Removal machines. While different Ideal Image clinics across the country may offer different types of Candela machines, they all have the same Alexandrite and Nd:YAG functions. Candela Laser Hair Removal machines are FDA-cleared and all Ideal Image Medical Professionals are highly trained in Laser Hair Removal.

For more on this, read How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal or visit our easy drop-down list of Laser Hair Removal frequently asked questions. To learn how to get our best prices on Laser Hair Removal, and save on touch-ups if you ever need them, check out our Lifetime Guarantee Membership. That unwanted hair doesn’t have to stay! Save yourself tons of time and money compared to waxing and shaving with Laser Hair Removal at Ideal Image –- in fact, it’s the best hair removal option. Summer is right around the corner –- click here for a personalized quote today!