Laser Hair Removal Laser Types

Lasers are widely recognised as the best method of removing body hair. They offer a permanent solution, are relatively pain-free and are cost-effective for both client and salon owner. However, with several laser types available, it can be difficult to know which is the right one for you and your clients.

We take a close look at each type of laser, helping you to make the perfect choice for your business.

Nd:YAG

Standing for Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminium Garnet, Nd:YAG lasers offer the latest advancement in cosmetic laser technology. It has the longest wavelength of the most commonly used lasers, which means that the epidermal layer doesn’t heat up, as it can do with other types of laser technology. This allows the laser to cause lethal follicular damage without affecting the surrounding skin.

What is an Nd:YAG laser used for?

Effective with all skin types, Nd:YAG lasers can be used to treat a range of issues. These include pigment disorders, tattoo removal and skin rejuvenation, as well as permanent hair removal treatments.

Is Nd:YAG laser hair removal permanent?

Like all lasers, the Nd:YAG requires several treatments in order to tackle the stages of hair growth. There are four parts to the growing process:

  •  Anagen – the growing phase
  • Catagen – the transition phase
  •  Telegen – the resting phase
  • Exogen – the shedding phase

Image source: https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-hair-growth

Permanent laser hair removal is most effective in the anagen phase, and as approximately only 20% of hairs are in this stage at any time, a course of treatments is necessary. This allows every hair to pass into the anagen phase, which usually lasts around three months, and be targetted, having the follicle destroyed by the laser. This offers a permanent solution to hair removal.

What is Q-Switched?

Also known as Q-spoiling, this advanced technology produces a very short – typically some nano-seconds long, but extremely high energy, making it ideal for breaking down tattoo ink or skin pigmentation.

Diode

Alongside Nd:YAG lasers, diodes have outstripped all previous types of laser for performance, safety, and cost-effectiveness. In 2020, diode lasers made up over 39% of the hair removal market in the US.

Diode lasers work by heating selected chromophores – the coloured part of a tissue, while the surrounding tissue remains untouched. This precision targeting allows the laser to damage each hair follicle, preventing regeneration, and is perfect for treating areas with thicker hair. Effective across all skin types, it’s a popular choice for men wishing to remove coarse back and chest hair.

For salons, the best hair removal machines employ both Nd:YAG and diode lasers to provide an all-round service for a wide range of clients.

How many sessions are needed for diode laser hair removal?

The number of appointments necessary for diode laser hair removal depends on the area and type of hair being treated. Between six and eleven appointments are generally required, and after the first session, you should begin to notice a reduction of around 10 – 25%.

The Nu TriLaze Plus from British Institute of Lasers uses both laser types to remove unwanted hair and provide effective skin rejuvenation treatments. It also utilises alexandrite lasers and we’ll look at these next.

 

Alexandrite

Although the alexandrite laser is older than the Ng:YAG and the diode, it is a popular choice often combined with the newer technology to offer a well-rounded process.

How does alexandrite hair removal work?

The alexandrite laser works in a similar way to the diode, targeting specific chromophores and heating them to destroy the hair follicle, without affecting the surrounding tissue.

One of the fastest lasers, a back can be removed of hair in as little as ten minutes. Its short wavelength makes the alexandrite ideal for lighter skin tones and it is often used to treat fine facial hair.

Image source: https://www.livsmooth.com/about-laser-hair-removal/

Ruby

The ruby laser was the first hair removal system. Although not as popular as the Nd:YAG, diode and alexandrite, it produces a short, ruby coloured wavelength making it perfect for pale skin tones and fine hair.

Is the ruby laser effective?

Unable to perform rapid pulses, the pause between shots minimises any discomfort but prolongs the treatment, thus it’s best saved for smaller areas. However, on these more limited regions, the ruby laser is extremely effective.

 

IPL

Intense pulsed light, or IPL is a type of light therapy that can be used for several therapies, including hair removal, skin rejuvenation, acne infection treatment, or reducing superficial broken veins.

Which is better IPL or laser?

Although similar to a laser, IPL uses a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths, producing a scattered, unfocused and less effective result.

Described by many as feeling like being snapped by an elastic band, IPL is effective when removing darker hair. The light penetrates the skin, targets the melanin in the hair and uses heat to destroy the hair follicles. Due to the lack of focused light, hair removal by IPL can take many sessions to achieve, and the results are often inferior when compared to laser treatments.

Is an IPL machine worth the money?

The majority of proprietary hair removal kits from your local pharmacy are IPL machines, and these can prove expensive to purchase. Most at-home devices will slow down hair growth, but few actually reduce the hair permanently, making the salon a more effective choice for permanent hair removal.

By investing in a hair removal machine that employs several lasers in one device, you can target a number of different skin and hair types, and carry out a range of treatments, making this a cost-effective choice for your salon.