laser hair removal treatment at Flycatcher

Laser hair removal for dark skin tones (what to consider)

Maintaining unwanted body hair can be annoying, painful, and time-consuming. For many men, it can be a source of anxiety and self-doubt.
Body hair can be even more conspicuous on men with darker skin tones.
Men with darker skin typically have darker hair compared to men with lighter skin. This is because melanin, the pigment that gives color to our skin and hair, is produced in higher concentrations in individuals with more melanocytes (the cells responsible for producing melanin). Darker-skinned individuals usually have more melanocytes, so their hair tends to be darker.
Darker hair is also typically more coarse than lighter hair. This is because dark-colored hairs have a thicker cuticle (the outermost layer of the hair that serves as a protective barrier). Darker-colored hairs are usually denser and grow slower than lighter-colored hairs.
These genetic characteristics create a challenge for men seeking hair-free living. Fortunately, laser hair removal has proven to be an effective, long-lasting solution for reducing unwanted body hair, even on men with darker skin.
In this article, we'll dive into what you need to know about laser hair removal for dark skin tones.

Let's define "dark skin"

 The Fitzpatrick scale is a numeric classification system used to determine a person's skin color and type. It was developed in 1975 by Harvard Medical School dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick and today is a standard used by aesthetic professionals.
This scale can be used to help predict how someone's skin will react when exposed to certain treatments, such as laser hair removal. By determining an individual’s specific Fitzpatrick score, providers can make educated decisions about the best approach for that particular patient and avoid potential side effects.
A simplified way to slot yourself on the Fitzpatrick scale is by considering these three questions:
1. What is your ethnic background?
2. Do you tan? Or more often burn?
3. To what degree do you tan?
Here's a graphic that can help you:
Fitzpatrick scale light skin to dark skin tones
Type IV, V, and VI are the dark skin tones we'll focus on in this article.

Fitzpatrick Scale Type IV: Refers to individuals with moderate brown and olive skin tones that tans easily and rarely burns. Ethnicities can range from those in the Mediterranean to Latin, Asian, and even some Middle Eastern.

Fitzpatrick Scale Type V: Refers to individuals with light to medium brown skin that tans easily and rarely burns. Ethnic backgrounds can include Asian, Middle Eastern, and African American.

Fitzpatrick Scale Type VI: Refers to individuals with the darkest skin tones, including those of African, Afro-Caribbean, and Southeast Asian descent.

How laser hair removal works

 Laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment in skin and hair follicles. The laser produces a beam of highly concentrated light, which is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicles. This absorption of light leads to heat being produced within the follicle, resulting in thermal damage to the area and, over multiple treatments, preventing future hair growth.
The effectiveness of laser hair removal treatment depends largely on the patient’s skin color and type. Darker skin types, especially type V and VI, can be more prone to side effects or even inconsistent results because their higher melanin content can absorb too much of the laser energy. More on this later. Lighter skin tones with less melanin are able to better absorb the laser's energy.
Coarse hair is usually more difficult to remove by laser than lighter hair. This is because the darker, coarser hairs contain more melanin which acts as a natural shield against laser energy. The thick cuticle of these darker hairs also absorbs more light energy from lasers, making them more resistant to treatment. Additionally, thicker, coarse hairs are often more deeply rooted in your skin which can make it harder for the laser to target them effectively.
If you have darker skin, don't be discouraged by this. Laser hair removal can still be an effective solution, it will simply require more caution and patience.

What about waxing instead?

 Let's talk about waxing for a moment. It can be an option, but it is problematic when you consider the hair's characteristics we've already discussed.
For dark skin types, hair can be more coarse, thicker, have a larger circumference, and be more deeply rooted. Because of this, wax can have difficulty adhering to the hairs and pulling them out, so it takes longer to remove. Translation: Pain!

Is laser hair removal safe for dark skin?

As mentioned earlier, darker skin types can be more prone to side effects or even inconsistent results. This is because their higher melanin content can absorb too much of the laser's energy.
The most common side effects can include redness and mild skin irritation. This typically disappears within several hours of treatment. Burns are possible for all skin types.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pigment changes are a potential risk. Laser hair removal might darken (hyperpigmentation) or lighten the affected skin. These changes might be temporary or permanent. Skin lightening (hypopigmentation) primarily affects those who don't avoid sun exposure before or after treatment and those who have darker skin.
For individuals with type IV, V, and VI skin, it is important to seek out a laser hair removal device that is specifically designed for darker skin tones and to work with a provider who is experienced in treating dark skin.
Our technicians utilize the LightSheer QUATTRO from Lumenis in our practice. This laser workstation can treat the full range of skin types, with settings carefully calibrated to the patient's Fitzpatrick score to minimize the risk of side effects and achieve the desired results.
While it may take more sessions to achieve the desired level of hair reduction compared to individuals with lighter skin tones, laser hair removal can still be an effective and long-lasting solution for individuals with dark skin tones.


Flycatcher has created a comfortable environment and experience that will put you at ease. Located in Spicewood, Texas, just three miles west of The Galleria in Bee Cave, we proudly serve Spicewood, Bee Cave, Lakeway, and the surrounding areas of Austin and the Texas Hill Country.
If you're feeling a little self-conscious about your body hair we'd love an opportunity to discuss potential laser hair removal treatment with you. This starts with a one-on-one consultation and skin analysis with our certified Laser Hair Removal Professional.
Reach us at (737) 239-0112 or request a consultation here.
You can also visit our Laser Hair Removal page for more information, answers to common questions, and a helpful pricing calculator. More in-depth articles on laser hair removal can be found here.

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