Many of us redheads have thick, coarse hair and after years of battling it have decided to opt for laser hair removal. You do your research and make an appointment with a doctor that performs laser treatments for hair reduction. The minute the doctor walks in to see you the response is, “I do apologize. We cannot do laser hair removal on patients with natural red hair.” Baffled, you leave and realize you will have to get use to shaving and waxing for the rest of your life.

Determined to understand why and if this is really true, we spoke with Dr. Margaret Boyse from Southern Dermatology in Raleigh, NC. ” It’s true. Lasers and light sources work best on light-skinned, dark-haired individuals because the light from these lasers is absorbed by the dark pigment in the hair,” says Boyse. “Most redheads have lighter hair and it is more difficult because there is less pigment to absorb the laser light. Thus making it harder to zap away the hair.”

Dr. Margaret Boyse gives 12 tips all redheads should expect when visiting a laser clinic:

1. “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.”

2. “If a natural redhead has a darker tone of red hair or has thicker hair, then the laser hair removal will work.”

3. “Keep in mind that 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.”

4. “These procedures may be offered in informal settings such as shopping malls, spas and walk-in clinics, but it’s important for patients to choose an experienced health care provider. Treatments should be performed by or under the direct supervision of a dermatologist who has appropriate training and expertise.”

5. “In general, five or more treatments are required to achieve permanent hair growth reduction.”

6. “Darker hair responds best to laser hair removal.”

7. “Lighter-colored hair is least responsive, but topical medications can be used in an effort to increase effectiveness.”

8. “The percentage of hairs removed per session varies by location on the body, with thinner-skinned areas (e.g., armpits and bikini area) generally responding better than thick-skinned areas (e.g., back and chin).”

9. “About 10 percent to 25 percent reduction in hair growth can be expected with each treatment.”

10. “Treatments are repeated every four to eight weeks.”

11. “The hair that regrows following treatment tends to be even lighter and finer in texture.”

12. “Patients are instructed to avoid sun exposure and to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher following the procedure.”

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. Find the right doctor and stay patient.

Rock it like a Redhead! 

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