People with ginger hair are like everybody else. They have hair, sometimes thin, sometimes coarse, sometimes thick. Some hair will show while some other will not. Just like most of us, redheads are also probably tired of shaving and waxing. Can they undergo laser hair removal though? Does laser hair removal work on ginger hair?
After all, ginger hair holds very little pigment and is not strong in melanin. Just like blonde hair, ginger hair is more difficult to treat. Not only that but the procedure could also not be efficient at all. We’ve got good news for redheads: laser hair removal works on ginger hair. It just takes a bit longer.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is a hair removal method invented in the 70s. It grew in popularity in the past decade and became the method of choice for long-term hair removal. Laser hair removal can indeed reduce hair growth by up to 95%. It is very safe, with very few side-effects or contraindications and works on all skin tones and hair color. However, the hair color can indeed impact the efficiency of the treatment.
Laser hair removal uses a concept called selective photothermolysis. It is the matching of a wavelength and pulse duration that will allow to target a specific object without damaging surrounding skin tissues. In the context of laser hair removal, the target is the pigment in the hair and ultimately the hair follicle.
During a laser hair removal session, the light emitted by the laser will target the pigment present in the body hair. Once the melanin in the hair has absorbed the energy, the latter will travel all the way down to the follicle. There, it will turn into thermal energy and anchor itself to the follicle. The heat will damage the follicle by way of cauterizing the blood vessels feeding it and prevent any further growth.
Laser hair removal only works when the hair is in the anagen phase of growth. Indeed, it is the only time hair and follicle connect, allowing the energy to travel from the former to the latter. Since only 20% of all body hair is in the anagen phase of growth, one session will be able to treat up to 20% of hair. That is why patients need multiple sessions six weeks apart.
Why it may not work on ginger hair
Laser hair removal singles out the pigment of the hair root, targeting it so that the surrounding layers of skin do not get damaged as the hair follicle is being heated up and destroyed. When the laser has trouble distinguishing the pigment of the hair from the skin, it doesn’t work as well! This can happen if the contrast hair to skin is very low.
This is why the ideal candidate for laser hair removal was for so long believed to have fair skin and dark hair. The hair-to-skin contrast would indeed be the strongest. As opposed to blonde hair or ginger hair on fair skin and dark hair on dark skin where such contrast is barely existent.
Furthermore, when it comes to blonde hair or ginger hair, the hair itself does not hold a lot of pigments to start with. The problem for redheads is that many of them have very light blonde or ginger body hairs, ruining the necessary precision capabilities of the laser. The energy is not as easily absorbed by the melanin in the hair.
However, that does not mean that laser hair removal does not work on ginger hair.
Laser hair removal for red hair
Improvements in laser technology has broadened the range of potential patients for laser hair removal. Laser hair removal remains a fairly recent hair removal method but still saw a boom in findings and developments. People of color as well as people with fair hair can undergo laser hair removal because machines such as ND: YAG lasers are now available.
ND: YAG lasers use a 1064nm wavelength that does not rely on melanin to get through the skin down to the follicle. It bypasses the epidermis, allowing clinics to treat patients that do not present a big hair-to-skin contrast, like people with ginger hair. However, this does not mean that laser hair removal will be as efficient as it would be on someone with a sharp hair-to-skin contrast.
Does Laser Hair Removal Work On Ginger Hair?Because red hair has less pigment, it will absorb less energy, producing less follicular damage. Redheads will likely need more treatments than someone who has darker hair in order to permanently reduce unwanted hair. Lighter-colored hair is least responsive, but topical medications can be used in an effort to increase effectiveness.
However, redheads do not have ginger hair everywhere. They may have blond or brown hair or even darker red hair. Such hair will hold more pigments and therefore can be targeted by the laser. The treatment will also work on thicker hair on the bikini area and the underarms.
How long is a laser treatment for ginger hair?
There are several factors that will impact the length of a laser treatment. The hair growth cycle is one. The treatment only works when the hair is in the anagen phase of growth. Since only 20% of hair is in this phase at any point in time, each session will only be able to target up to 20% of hair. It is possible that even after six sessions, some hair never was in the right phase of growth, thus requiring further treatment.
Other factors such as genetics, hair removal history, hormone levels, medication, etc may interfere with the treatment and make it longer. For example, hair growth is triggered by hormones. Therefore, high hormone levels caused by birth control, pregnancy or hormone therapy, etc may interfere with the treatment.
As mentioned above, ginger hair has less pigments than darker hair. Therefore, it will absorb less energy and the destruction of the follicle may take longer. People with ginger hair may thus need more sessions to achieve permanent hair growth reduction. Redheads should be prepared to do at least eight consecutive sessions of laser hair removal since extra time is needed to shock off their naturally lighter pigmented hair color.
The bottom line is, it is definitely possible for a redhead to get laser hair removal, but she must know that the commitment will be longer then needed for other individuals.
How to prepare for a session
Laser hair removal requires patients to stay out of the sun during the ten days preceding their session. This is to avoid sun damage or tanning, which will put the skin in an excited state that can interfere with the procedure. Redheads usually have a much lighter skin that is more vulnerable to sun damage.
It is therefore crucial that they stay out of the sun or at least wear a very strong SPF. Patients must shave the treated area the night before or at least three hours prior to their session. Shaving irritates the skin so better leave it some time to recover before your treatment. Make sure to wash your skin of any moisturizer, lotion or cream.
Preparing for a laser session is very straightforward regardless of your hair color. However, they are important steps to ensure the safety and efficiency of the procedure. Should you have been taking medications, you must communicate that to your technician. Some medications like antibiotics can increase photosensibility and make the procedure more painful.
If you were waxing before, you will have to wait six weeks before your laser hair removal session. Indeed, waxing removes the hair with the roots, leaving nothing for the laser to target. Your body hair can take up to 6 weeks to grow again completely.