I’m not the first, and won’t be the last Black woman to tell you that in the land of skincare, not everything will work on darker skin tones. Case in point (and arguably the worst of all): Lasers. These dermatologist’s staples can tighten skin, soften scars, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, and do what the other magical treatments do to zap away what we don’t want on our skin.
But for years, lasers have been exclusively suggested for lighter complexions only, deeming that pigment in the skin would cause scarring and hyperpigmentation from the harsh light. Although this is true, this is still a form of discrimination with the lack of treatments, devices, and lasers out there to treat dark skin.
Breaking down the different machines that work
Now, with better (and TBH, smarter) machines, there are lasers that can safely work on conditions that appear on dark skin tones and put to bed old ways of thinking. If you encounter redness, like rosacea, you can treat this with a Vbeam — pulsed-dye laser that will treat red pigment, the main culprit for unwanted redness.
If you plan to get a Vbeam treatment, make sure you go to a highly accredited location and doctor who will dial down the speed and temperature of the laser, which will make it more suitable for deeper skin tones. You can always patch test this laser when you go in for a consultation, asking for the beam to be done in a non-visible area of the skin to see how you react.
Another laser that works on Black skin are pico lasers, also known as PicoSure, PicoWay, and Pico Genesis. This small laser zaps sun spots (common condition on darker skin tones), scars, and birthmarks by quick and heat-generated pulses. For stretch marks, some board-certified dermatologists use the Palomar 1540-nanometer fractional laser to create columns of light to penetrate a millimeter into the skin.
This service tricks the surrounding skin cells to think they have been wounded — yielding to new collagen production around and below, minimizing the appearance of stretch marks. You can approach this with 3 to 5 treatments or with a 1550-nanometer fractional laser over 6-week intervals. The key is going slowly to produce less side effects, darkening, and scarring.
Lastly, if you want smoother skin, you can use a pico laser as well. You could also try a fraxel laser that will trigger inflammation to little spots throughout the skin, rather than evenly covering the entire surface area — with little harm. Again, regardless of what laser you choose, make sure you have spoken with and are working with a top provider and specialist.
Laser treatments are great for clearing up dark spots if your current fixes aren’t doing the trick.
Photo via Alamy