Grey Hair, White & Blonde Hair Colors and IPL Hair Removal
Are IPL Devices Effective on Grey Hair, White & Blonde Hair?
Ageing, that inevitable part of life that results in the oft-dreaded grey hair. But whether you own your grey hair, or dye it –it won’t matter when it comes to some methods of hair removal. Whether you are removing hair from your back, legs, under arms, face, or head, a hair removal option exists that will rid you of any and all unwanted hair.
For those rocking grey, white, or pale blonde hair you’ve likely come across in your research on hair removal methods that IPL and laser hair removal works best on fair skin with dark hair. While in the past you may have had dark hair on fair skin, as your body ages you’re noticing that your laser treatments may not be as effective as they have been in the past.
Luckily, as you’ve been ageing so has at at home hair removal technology and now some IPL devices can remove grey hair as easily as they once removed dark hair, with some caveats.
In this post you’ll come to understand different ways to remove grey hairs, why IPL and laser hair removal previously didn’t have a good record for removing lighter hairs, and what has changed with some products to enable IPL devices to work on some grey hair the way it does on dark hair, and when it won’t work.
Methods for Removing White/Grey Hair
For most methods of hair removal, the hair color and skin tone are irrelevant to the method chosen. Whether you are shaving, waxing, or using depilatory creams there are products available to remove all kinds of hair for all kinds of people.
For laser hair removal and IPL hair removal technology, they have traditionally worked best, and had fewer risks for people with light skin tones and dark hair color. Even if someone did try those two methods on their grey, white, or blonde hair, they would have found the results less than satisfactory. The reason laser hair removal and IPL hair removal do not work well as a hair removal system for lighter hair is because of the way the technology works.
How Laser and IPL Hair Removal Technology Works
Laser and IPL hair removal technologies are quite similar in the science they use for hair removal. Both technologies use light energy which damages the sacs within the skin that produce hairs. Both slow hair growth significantly over time, but never completely or permanently remove hair. This isn’t because they don’t work, but because of the way our hair grows in cycles – learn more about this in our hair removal resource center.
The key difference between the two technologies is the light source that they use to emit the heat that ends up removing the hair. Lasers use a stronger light source, which focuses on a very small area, and the light used doesn’t spread out the further it travels. IPL hair removal technology, which stands for intense pulsed light, uses a broad-spectrum, visible light to heat up the hair follicles and slow their growth over time.
Understanding Hair Color
To understand why grey, white, and blonde hairs are more difficult to remove you need to first understand how hair color is determined.
Hair color is made up of pigments, which are natural materials that change the color of transmitted and reflected light. Hair color specifically is made up of two pigments: light (phaeomelanin) and dark (eumelanin). The combination of these two pigments is what results in the wide array of hair colors we see.
Light hair contains less pigment than dark hair and white and grey hair is a result of the loss of pigment in hair.
Why Light Hair Colors are more Difficult to Remove with Laser/IPL hair removal technology
The key reason that grey, white, and light blonde hair are difficult to remove with laser and IPL hair removal technology is because of the method. As explained above, both use light energy to heat the hair, causing damage to the hair follicle that slows hair growth over time.
Also explained above is that hair color is determined by the amount of pigment in the hair. Less pigment results in lighter hair and more pigment results in darker hair.
Heat naturally heats up dark colors better. Think of summer clothing - during the summer wearing light colors such as yellow and white help keep you cooler as they are natural reflect the light. However, when you wear dark colors, like black, they absorb and retain the heat from the sun. This is essentially how laser and IPL hair removal devices work. Dark hair absorbs more of the heat, getting hotter and transferring that to the hair follicle causing more damage and thus being more effective at slowing and stopping the hair growth. Light hair, on the other hand, rarely absorbs enough of the heat to effectively damage the hair follicle enough to stop the hair growth.
Additionally, Silk’n devices look for this pigmentation before they flash, if the device can’t tell the difference between your skin and the hair, or if your skin is too dark, it simply won’t work.
This is why IPL and laser hair removal are more effective on dark hair on light skin.
Effective Hair Removal for Hair with Some Pigment
Hair color and skin tone are important factors when it comes to determining which hair removal method is right for you. Knowing the science behind why your hair color is the way it is, is an important factor in understanding which technology will be the most effective.
Knowing that IPL hair removal technology focuses on heating up the hair follicle and that lighter hair does not absorb heat as well as dark hair explains why historically IPL and laser treatments haven’t worked as well with light hair colors.
While white hair doesn’t work with IPL hair removal technology some salt and pepper hair colours still might. As long as there is enough pigment in the hair, IPL treatments can be just as successful at removing the unwanted salt and pepper hair. This is equally true for people who have light blonde hair with enough brown pigment that the light can target.
Each person is unique so it’s best to try out the device to see how effective the treatments are on your hair colour. Additionally, each Silk’n hair removal product includes a chart called the Fitzpatrick scale that shows skin colour to hair colour effectiveness and compatibility so you can find the product that will work best for your skin and hair colour.
Hair Removal Options for White and Blonde Hair
So what are the options for hair removal if you have white or white blonde hair? Unfortunately, for now, the options remain the same time-tested hair removal methods of the past: shaving, waxing, depilatory creams, threading and epilator hair removal devices.
While they obviously don’t work as well as IPL hair removal, they are still relatively effective options for removing unwanted body hair of any color, on any skin tone.
And just as IPL hair removal technology has evolved to work on grey hair, in the future an at home technology might be developed to meet your lighter hair removal needs. Until then, existing methods are still an option.
Learn More About Hair Removal
Hopefully this post has provided insight into what hair removal devices will work with your hair color. If you’d like to learn more about how hair grows, and how Silk’n hair removal devices work, be sure to visit our Hair Removal section of the Resource Center.
Browse through our hair removal devices and see which device is best for you – we offer a 60 day satisfaction return policy and free shipping in all 52 continental US states.