The actual deactivation of the hair follicle occurs when the dermatologist shoots the laser's beam beneath the surface of the dermis. This light becomes a heat source that in turn deadens the hair follicle at its core and stops the pattern of growth. Only those hairs that have entered into an active cycle of growth are actually affected by this pulse of light and it is important that the beam is strong enough to travel under the skin so that the melanin in the hair can be reached. Melanin is the element that produces color in both skin and hair and, without it, the whole procedure is rendered ineffective.
The different kinds of lasers utilized during the laser hair removal process are as follows:
- Ruby lasers - Used when laser hair removal first gained popularity, only patients with really light skin could enjoy success following treatment. They can greatly effect the color or tone of treated skin and have been known to alter even lightly tanned people. These lasers are generally no longer used because of the strides made in other available types.
- Alexandrite lasers - Although no longer a popular option used by dermatologists today, the alexandrite beam has an 855nm wavelength and can alter the color of individuals with anything other than pale toned dermis. They remain an occasional option for those with this fair coloring.
- Diode lasers - These lasers are being used to treat individuals with darker complexions and have a longer 800nm wavelength. They are considered a newer form of equipment and can effectively send the beam under the skin while avoiding the skin's melanin and aiming for the color in the hair alone.
- Nd:YAG lasers - Darker skinned patients can finally find laser hair removal relief thanks to the Nd:YAG . These patients who once received mediocre laser removal results at best can now enjoy better outcomes. Unfortunately, these results are usually short-lived but work is being done to improve the length of hair-free results for patients using this laser.
- Intense Pulsed Light - Also know as IPL, this type of beam works on may types of skin and hair. It is not considered a true laser because it utilizes a broad spectrum of wavelengths ranging from 515nm to 1200 nm. Many clinics prefer to bundle this IPL technique in with other lasers when offering services to potential clients.