- Health & Science
Laser for hair removal: How to professionally and gently remove unwanted hair
They are blond, red, brown or black. 25,000 of them are scattered over our bodies, while about 90,000 to 150,000 are clustered on our heads. Our hair. While we nurture the hair on our head for a dream mane, some of us would like to gently and permanently remove other unloved little hairs, especially in the summertime. Shaving, epilating, sugaring, waxing or treating with (laser) light – there are lots of methods to get rid of unwanted little hairs. But what has proven to be effective in making hair disappear quickly, permanently and, above all, painlessly? How can photonics help and is laser hair removal the best choice? We’ll tell you., Erik Schneider
From primeval stones to modern lasers: A brief history of hair removal
A short time journey into its prehistoric origins shows that human body hair offered prehistoric man protection, above all in unsettled times: It protected the skin, not only from too much sun in summer, but also from the bitter cold in winter. This protective function is no longer really necessary in today’s modern world, in which we can easily raise the temperature of a room by adjusting the heater or lower it using the air conditioning and the latest high-tech industrial fibres warm or cool the body.
Nevertheless, the desire for hair removal is almost as old as humankind itself. Even people in the Stone Age tried to get rid of some of their hair, for example to keep parasites away. Hair removal was also the order of the day in ancient Egypt, Rome or Greece. And it wasn’t only women – men also wanted a smooth, hair-free and flawless body. Alongside hygienic and aesthetic reasons, status, religious affiliations or purity laws were also reasons for the (partial) removal of body hair. Hair removal methods ranged from stones to waxes, tinctures, pastes, elixirs, plucking and thread techniques, which made it possible to remove the hair.
However, since the beginning of the 20th century, visual and aesthetic reasons have become more important. Driven by a growing ideal of beauty with flawless, smooth skin promoted through advertising, the cosmetics and beauty industry is continuously developing numerous different methods of hair removal – from shaving to waxing and epilating.
Hair & hair removal today: facts & figures at a glance
Today, many women and an increasing number of men rely on gentle and painless body depilation for hair removal. A study from 2017 showed that less hair is more for men and that hair removal is gaining in importance. More than half of the German men stated that they removed their armpit hair, closely followed pubic hair at 43% and from the chest at 28%. Approximately one-third of German men consider untamed body hair growth as unkempt and negative.
Both sexes predominantly use wet shaving for hair removal. In 2018, 34.5% of German men predominantly used this method, with the electric shaver following at 19.9%. In 2019, 51.9% of women also preferred wet shaving for hair removal, followed by an epilator at 10.5% and depilatory cream at 7.4%.
How often men and women resort to various different methods of hair removal depends not only on their personal well-being, but also on the growth and distribution of hair per body region: Thus, with 150,000 hairs on their head, blonds have many more hairs than redheads, who only have about 90,000 hairs. On the other hand, eyebrows on average contain a similar number of hairs for every person – about 600 hairs. Most of the hairs per square centimetre of skin are found on the hair parting on crown of the head with an average of 310 hairs, while about 15 hairs per square centimetre are found on our thighs and only 9 hairs per square centimetre on the chest and lower legs. Beard hair grows most strongly at an average of 2.8 millimetres per week, closely followed by armpit hair at approx. 2.1 millimetres per week. Hair on arms and thighs grows approximately the same rate at about 1.5 millimetres and 1.4 millimetres per week respectively.
With (laser) light against hair: effective hair removal
Shaving, epilating or waxing – there are many hair removal methods to get rid of unwanted little hairs. Unfortunately, the result often doesn’t last very long; the hair grows back after a short time and the treatment is often painful. But what has proven to be successful and how can hair really be removed gently?
(Laser) light is the best choice for hair removal. It is the only way to damage the hair roots permanently and painlessly in a targeted way and to stop hair regrowth. The generated light pulses penetrate the skin deep into the hair root. The pigment melanin contained in the hair follicle there absorbs the light. Converted into thermal energy, the hair follicle is damaged and hair regrowth is prevented.
Hair growth slows down after a few treatments and the daily procedure of hair removal is no longer necessary. Adjustable spot sizes make it possible to remove unwanted hair from very small regions, such as eyebrows, using (laser) light as well as hair from larger areas of the body, such as the legs or back.
A survey from 2017 shows (laser) light treatment is still a relatively new method of hair removal: Just 6% of the women interviewed in Germany said that they had already undergone laser hair removal; 14% of the women were interested in laser hair removal and more than half of the interviewed women knew about laser hair removal.
There are currently three methods based on (laser) light to effectively remove body hair:
1. Hair removal using an alexandrite laserThis laser-based method by dermatologists using solid-state lasers has become well established in the world of laser hair removal for many years now. Suitable for almost all types of hair, the laser light penetrates the skin at a constant wavelength of 755 nanometres. The melanin in the hair root absorbs the light. Thermal energy damages the hair follicle and prevents hair regrowth.
2. Hair removal by means of IPL for home useDevices for home use often work with the IPL method (intense pulsed light), which uses intense, pulsed light for hair removal at a broad wavelength spectrum of 450 to 600 nanometres. The short flashes of light of the so-called flashlight technology reach the hair root, which is destroyed by thermal energy.
3. Professional, effective and gentle hair removal based on diode lasersModern, professional hair removal with long-lasting results is based on diode lasers. Light pulses reach the hair root, which is permanently damaged by the heat generated. Classical wavelengths of 808 nanometres have become established for laser hair removal, particularly for many hair colours and hair types. But what makes diode lasers so attractive for hair removal?
Diode lasers for efficient hair removal
Diode lasers are extremely effective and ensure gentle, painless hair removal with long-lasting treatment results. The reliable and extremely efficient diode lasers from Jenoptik, in the form of QCW diode laser stacks, have proven their worth in dermatological and aesthetic applications for many years thanks to their robustness and high pulse power. Their small, lightweight and compact design means they can be integrated into almost any size of device and their wide range of wavelengths and long service life are also impressive features.
- Wavelength diversity: The pigment melanin contained in hair plays a decisive role, particularly in the field of hair removal. The darker the body hairs with a high melanin content, the better they can be destroyed by laser light and the better hair growth can be prevented. Whereas the wavelength of 755 nanometres is also well suited for lighter hair, the wavelength of 808 nanometres is suitable for darker hair and the wavelength of 1,064 nanometres for darker hair/skin types. Jenoptik customers can choose from a broad wavelength spectrum in the range of 760–1,100 nanometres to ensure they are equipped to treat almost every type of hair and skin and receive a tailor-made solution for their device and laser treatment. Jenoptik diode lasers can also be optimised for other wavelengths depending on the customer’s needs. Here Jenoptik takes advantage of the flexibility of its own semiconductor production in Adlershof in Berlin, where the basic material for the lasers is made.
- Highest quality and reliability: For its diode lasers, Jenoptik relies exclusively on semiconductor material from its own production, which is manufactured at the Adlershof, Berlin site. In addition to its high efficiency and performance, this material is characterized by its high quality and reliability and long service life.
- Compact design: The sustained trend toward miniaturization of systems and devices in the field of aesthetics makes diode lasers – as photonic core elements – indispensable due to their high power, small size and long service life. Weighing just a few grams and with small dimensions, they are the perfect and extremely lightweight photonic solution for professional laser hair removal devices. The QCW diode laser stacks from Jenoptik have thus made it possible to produce small, compact systems as well as hand-held generations of devices for laser hair removal that are easy to handle during laser treatment. The hermetically sealed housing also offers dust protection and a robust design. In combination with the easy-to-use industrial water cooling system, they can be flexibly and quickly integrated into various different devices and systems.
- Powerful: The QCW diode laser stacks from Jenoptik score with their high performance. Their optimized and intelligent bar design enables effective treatment results due to the extremely high output power. Outputs up to the kW range can be achieved, depending on the operating conditions.
Compact, robust, small and lightweight but with extremely high power – diode lasers from Jenoptik, integrated into professional laser hair removal devices as the photonic heart, ensure gentle and long-lasting laser-based hair removal.
Are you also interested in increasing the efficiency of your device with robust laser beam sources with high kW peak power and reliability for safe and effective treatments for all skin and hair types? Are you looking for powerful diode lasers? Then simply get in contact with us.
* Statistical data have been taken from Statista.com.
About Erik Schneider
Erik Schneider joined Jenoptik in 2011 as Key Account Manager for laser technologies. Thanks to his many years of experience in sales of technologically sophisticated products and solutions, he has a keen sense of customer needs and finds precisely tailored diode lasers for specific applications in medicine and aesthetics. He also supports and advises key customers on laser-based solutions for use in ophthalmology and dermatology.