Getting rid of unwanted hair can be tricky for those with darker skin tones, because some common hair removal technologies may not work as effectively on darker skin. At the same time, darker skin is also more susceptible to burning, discolouration, and even scarring. It also doesn’t help that women with darker skin tend to also see coarser hair.
Do you know what hair removal methods are effective and safe for those with darker skin tones? How best to manage unwanted hair over our face and bodies? Here’s the low-down on what we discovered:
Hair basics 101
Before we begin, notice how you have two types of hairs on your body – vellus hairs, which are short, fine and slightly pigmented, and can be found all over our bodies; and terminal hairs, which are thicker, longer, and much more pigmented and more visible.
Some folks swear by this method. It’s thorough and effective, but oh-so-time-consuming! The good thing is, tweezing removes hair at the roots – you literally yank each strand of hair out one at a time – but what happens if you have hair in abundance and simply too much to tweeze?
If you’re the type who have longer, coarser and a lot of body hair, you will likely need twice the amount of time to achieve satisfactory results, so we recommend this only for removing hair within smaller areas, such as facial hair.
Shaving is an art. Get slightly distracted and oops, there goes your left eyebrow! On a more serious note, we know how gloriously fuss-free and fast shaving is – simply use a razor to remove hair at your skin’s surface. Voila! You’re now date-ready. For some, this may be a god-send. However, do you know that often, shaving leaves us with ingrown hair and causes our hair to grow out looking thicker and coarser?
When our body hair, or terminal hair, is shaved off at the skin’s surface it therefore grows back quicker than if removed from the roots. The not so good news? Hair grows out more blunt than before, and so appears thicker. (The reason is because hair looks thinner at the tip and thicker at the root. When you shave, you “chop off” the thinner tip. When the same strand of hair grows out, the thicker root that was left behind comes up, making it look like your new growth is thicker and coarser than before.)
Ladies with darker skin tone and coarser terminal hair will find it better in the long-term to skip shaving, and leave it to men – for their beards. This method would probably be saved only as a last-minute option.
Think chocolate-scented wax being applied to your skin, all warm and comforting. Until a painful, tear-inducing yank takes you by surprise and leaves you in tears. We know some folks love waxing, and we recommend this method for the following reasons: waxing is gentle to the skin, and works well for larger areas such as our legs, underarms, and bikini areas.
We like how this method works wonders for those with stubborn, coarse and darker hair. The best part? You stay hair-free for an average of three weeks, as unlike shaving, hair is removed at the roots. Don’t we all love when treatments have longer lasting effects? The only less-desirable aspect of waxing is the moderate level of pain when hair is being ripped out at the roots. Waxing sometimes may cause ingrown hairs.
A beautician uses a thin thread, criss-crossed, to twist out hair at the roots for this method. Good for removing facial hair such as when shaping your eyebrows, and getting rid of hair on your upper lip. The thing with threading is that it’s faster than tweezing, which is always a plus for the busy indivudal.
So what’s the verdict for those with darker skin and coarse body hair? We advise you keep a couple of tissues in hand as the more hair you have – and those that are thicker – the more painful it can get.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL)
Don’t we envy those with glowing skin, and a seeming absence of body hair? There’s a high chance these folks have gone through treatments using the Intense Pulse Light (IPL) method.
In IPL, light is used to target the pigment within the hair. The light gets absorbed by the pigment, and the resultant heat then kills off the cells that cause the hair to grow.
The tricky part is that you’ve really got to secure a beautician who knows their stuff. We’ve heard about how those with darker skin types should avoid this hair removal method. So here’s what typically happens when someone with dark skin undergoes IPL. The skin, being darker with more melanin, absorbs more light energy than that by their fairer counterparts. The multiple wavelengths scatter within the skin when emitted, and leave those with darker skin tones at greater risk of getting blisters and burns.
While the technology has improved that caters to individuals with more tanned and darker skin, we’d recommend skipping this method for the peace of mind when it comes to skin health.
In recent years, laser treatments have increased popularity. During laser treatments to remove hair, the laser penetrates the skin thereby generating heat within the hair shaft. This then diffuses inside, and travels down to the follicle. This means that the proteins in the hair shaft will start to coagulate, leaving the hair mechanically damaged.
The risks are significantly higher for those who have dark skin. You’ve got to check if your beautician is a professional as they would need to set a suitable depth of penetration that works specifically for your skin. This lessens the risk of the pigments in your skin over-heating, and being damaged.
We now have better technology when it comes to removing hair with laser treatments. Machines now feature significantly minimised scattering of laser energy within the skin, which is good news as what that means is lower risk for skin damage.
We’ve heard of Electrolysis, and how it works for all skin colours and types of hair. An electrologist uses a fine needle to reach beyond the natural opening of the hair follicle. A small electrical current is then emitted, with the aim of destroying re-growth cells in the hair by using chemical and heat energy.
Galvanic electrolysis, Thermolysis, and a blend of the two are three types of this hair removal method. The first by way of a chemical reaction, the second by heat and the third a blend of the two during which a chemical reaction is heated up.
We like how this hair removal method has proven to cause little to no complications although for the first 24 hours following treatment, we’ve been told that it is best to avoid activity that could irritate hair follicles such as excessive sweating, tanning and prolonged sun exposure or make-up application. This is definitely recommended for those with dark skin.
Hair removal creams
This method uses chemicals to weaken the hair follicle so you can simply wipe the damaged hair away. We like how you can apply the creams in the comfort of your own home, and how regrowth is slower than if you had shaved. People with darker skin tones may find that they require a few applications of the cream for the method to be effective. We hear this causes irritation for some, especially those with more sensitive skin.
We recommend that for those of us with thicker and coarser hair, this method could be used along with another – reducing the risk of irritating your skin with prolonged exposure to the chemicals in the cream.
If you’re still unsure if you should try one of these hair removal methods available on the market, a patch test works wonders. Save yourself from possible skin damage, and be kind to your skin when it comes to choosing which hair removal treatment works better.