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Treating Skin of All Shades: A Guide to Laser and Medical Esthetic Technology

Louis Silberman April 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
Treating Skin of All Shades: A Guide to Laser and Medical Esthetic Technology

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Comfort and confidence are two of the most important principles in your esthetic practice. You want clients to feel comfortable with the treatments they are receiving, and have confidence in you and your team’s ability to perform each procedure safely and effectively. This is especially important when treating clients with darker skin tones categorized as type IV, V or VI on the Fitzpatrick Scale. Some clients may have fears or concerns about treatments that zap away unwanted hair, wrinkles or other skin problems. (See Fitzpatrick Skin Type Classification Scale.) They have often heard horror stories about people getting burned or scarred by lasers or other medical esthetic devices, and they may mistakenly believe that they are not candidates for certain procedures.

This is why it is essential for skin care professionals to be knowledgeable about treating all skin tones, and to share this knowledge with clients so they can learn about safe and effective treatment options that can help them achieve their desired results. Today’s technology offers options for many of the most popular modalities, including permanent hair reduction, wrinkle reduction, scar reduction and skin-tightening, among others. This article will discuss some of the latest and greatest high-tech treatment options for darker skin tones.

Hair removal and permanent hair reduction

There was a time when light-based skin treatments were discouraged for people with darker skin tones. When lasers were first approved for permanent hair reduction in the late 1990s, only a small number of laser wavelengths were available. These wavelengths targeted the pigment of the hair and provided great results for those with light skin and dark hair. If someone had dark skin and dark hair, the limited technology didn’t provide a safe treatment option. Further complicating the issue, untrained technicians tried to perform laser hair removal on clients with dark skin tones, only to leave them with burns, scars and discoloration.

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Fitzpatrick Skin Type Classification Scale

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