Best home laser and IPL for dark & black skin, and for fair hair

skin tones are measured by the Fitzpatrick skin tone scale. Check your skin tone suitability before buying your device.
s your skin tone and hair colour suitable for at home IPL and laser hair removal systems? Not all home IPL and laser machines are safe for you if you have dark skin. And not all will work on fair hair. So, it’s really important to choose the right device for your skin tone and hair colour.

In this guide, learn more about laser hair removal for black and dark skin, and for fair hair. Check which devices are best for you too.

TIP: there’s no at home laser hair removal device that’s safe for dark or black skin, and they won’t work on fair hair that’s light blonde, red, grey or white. But you can choose from a few IPL hair removal devices to use at home.

In this guide:

 

Does IPL work on dark skin?

Let’s dig deeper into how IPL works to understand why not all machines are safe if you have dark or black skin.

The light energy in Intense Pulsed Light targets dark pigment called melanin in your hair. The light converts to heat which in turn damages the hair follicle. The follicle then goes into a dormant state so preventing more hair from growing.

In light skin, which has relatively small amounts of melanin, the IPL leaves the skin unharmed. But if your skin is darker, it heats the melanin in your skin too. This can cause pain, blisters and burns. It can also cause temporary or permanent skin darkening or lightening.

Therefore, most home IPL machines are safe for lighter skin only.

A few choices for dark skin

But, a few are designed for darker skin too. They use IPL combined with other energies. The combination increases the effect of the the IPL. Therefore, they can use lower intensity IPL that’s safe for dark and black skin. And it’s still effective to disable the hair follicles.

So it’s important to understand what your skin tone is and choose a device that’s safe for it.

What skin tone type do you have?

Most home IPL brands use the Fitzpatrick scale to show which skin tones can safely use their device.

The FitzPatrick scale

Thomas B. Fitzpatrick developed the scale in 1975. There are 6 types. It’s used to estimate how different skin types react to ultraviolet (UV) light. The full scale details skin tone, hair colour and skin response to the sun. But for home IPL devices, the skin colour scale is used to clarify which tones can safely use a machine.

Fitzpatrick skin tone types 1 to 6

As well as the colour chart above, the scale also considers how you react to the sun:

  • Type I: Light, pale white skin which always burns in the sun and never tans
  • Type II: White, fair skin which usually burns in the sun and tans with difficulty
  • Type III:  Medium white to olive skin which sometimes burns mildly in the sun and gradually tans
  • Type IV: Olive, mid-brown skin which rarely burns in the sun and tans with ease to a moderate brown
  • Type V: Brown, dark brown skin which very rarely burns in the sun and tans very easily
  • Type VI: Very dark brown to black skin which never burns in the sun and tans very easily

Most user manuals reference the scale and show which types I to VI are safe. All home IPL machines are safe for up to type IV. A few are safe for up to types V. And just a couple are safe for the darkest type VI.

Some user manuals also advise which energy intensity levels to use on your specific skin tone.

Use the scale to check which Fitzpatrick type you are.

TIPS:

  • Because of sun exposure, most people’s tone deepens and darkens in the Summer months. So, try to base it on the tone your skin is during the Summer months
  • If you’re between types V and VI it’s best to choose a device safe for ALL tones
  • If you’re between type IV and V in Summer, you can choose a device that’s safe for up to type V

 

Keep reading this article for a round-up of all the devices safe for type V and VI

Be careful if you have lots of dark moles or freckled skin. The increased pigment makes some devices unsuitable to use, so try a device that works with darker skin tones.

Is your hair colour suitable?

The darker your hair colour, the better. Dark hair has lots of dark melanin pigment. It’s this that the IPL targets and heats up to damage the follicle and stop hair growth. All laser and IPL devices work on black, dark brown, brown and light brown / dark blonde hair.

If you have fair hair (blonde, red, white or grey), you don’t have all the melanin needed. Your hair can’t attract the light energy so it’s not heated up nor the hair root disabled. Most devices won’t work for you. However, the devices designed to work with dark and black skin use IPL combined with other energies. This increases their effect and so you can get results on blonde, red, white and grey hair.

N.B. You’ll need more treatments on fair hair to see results. So be patient and extra committed!

Hair colour block scale from Black, dark brown, brown, dark blonde, blonde, red to white / grey.

All IPL hair removal devices work on black, dark brown, brown and dark blonde hair. A couple can also work on fair hair. Only one is clinically proven. But you’ll need several more sessions to get the same results as on dark hair.

 

The following six home IPL hair removal devices are safe for darker skin tones. Two of these can work on fair hair (one is clinically proven to work).

The best at home laser hair removal for dark & black skin

The top picks are:

  1. The Silk’n Infinity 400,00 – recommended Best Buy and best value for the darkest and black skin (Fitzpatrick V to VI).
    N.B models in the US & Canada are for FitzPatrick types I to V, so not for the darkest and black skin.
  2. Iluminage Touch – recommended Best Buy for dark and black skin, and for fair hair
  3. Smoothskin Bare – recommended Best Buy for dark skin (Fitzpatrick I to V)

 

Compare them in the table below. Do read the full in-depth review to learn the pros and cons and round-up of the online feedback.

Silk'n Infinity 400,000 Iluminage Touch Smoothskin Bare Smoothskin Muse Philips Lumea Prestige Braun Silk Expert 5 IPL
Score
4.4 out of 5
4.2 out of 5
4.3 out of 5
4.6 out of 5
4.9 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
Price £140 to £220 £270 to £375 £150 to £190 £250 to £399 £269 to £500 £250 to £300
Type IPL & Galvanic energies IPL & Radio Frequency energies IPL IPL IPL IPL
Fitzpatrick tones

UK & Europe: Safe for ALL skin tones (but US & Canada for I to V only)

Safe for ALL skin tones Safe for skin tones I to V Safe for skin tones I to V Safe for skin tones I to V Safe for skin tones I to V
Hair colours Black to dark blonde, may work on lighter hair Black to red, may work on white / grey Black to dark blonde Black to dark blonde, may work on light blonde. Black to dark blonde Black to dark blonde
Skin tone sensor Skin tone sensor activates safe intensities for your skin tone Safe for all skin tones Protects too dark skin Protects too dark skin & selects the best intensity for your skin tone Protects too dark skin & suggests best intensity for your skin tone with manual adjust Protects too dark skin & selects the best intensity for your skin tone
Operation Mains-power, 180 cm cord Mains-power, base unit & applicator Mains-power, 200 cm cord Mains-power, 200 cm cord Mains-power & cordless, 200 cm cord Mains-power, 200 cm cord
Attachments x1 multi-use flash window
  • Body
  • Facial adaptor
x1 multi-use flash window x1 multi-use flash window
  • Curved-in body
  • Curved-out bikini & underam
  • Face
x1 multi-use flash window
Lifespan / Total body area:
  • 15+ years of use
  • 1,080,000 cm²
  • 5 years of use
  • 396,000 cm²
Unlimited Unlimited
  • 15+ year of use
  • 1,025,000 cm²
  • 15+ year of use
  • 900,000 cm²
Intensity
  • 5 levels
  • Max 4 J/cm²
  • 3 levels
  • Max4 J/cm²
  • 1 level
  • 3 J/cm²
  • 10 levels
  • 4 to 6 J/cm²
  • 5 levels
  • 2.5 to 6.5 J/cm²
  • 10 levels
  • 4 to 6 J/cm²
For dark skin Levels 1 and 2 are safe for Fitzpatrick types V and VI Start at LOW and test at each level that's comfortable Safe for skin tones I to V Auto-select safe levels for Fitzpatrick type V Auto-select safe levels for Fitzpatrick type V Auto-select safe levels for Fitzpatrick type V
Proven? Clinically proven, & small study for V & VI tones Clinically proven, FDA-cleared Clinically proven, FDA-cleared Clinically proven, FDA-cleared Clinically proven Clinically proven, FDA-cleared
Speed per leg
  • Advertised: 8 mins
  • Test: 10 to 12 mins
  • Advertised: 10 mins
  • Test: 10+ mins
  • Advertised: 4 mins
  • Test: 4 to 6 mins
  • Advertised: 8.5 mins
  • Test: 10 mins
  • Advertised: 6.5 mins
  • Test: 10 mins
  • Advertised: 8.5 mins
  • Test: 10 mins
Treatment App
Online score
4.3 out of 5
3.8 out of 5
4.6 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
4.6 out of 5
Warranty 2 year (UK & Europe) 2 year (from CurrentBody.com) 2 years 2 years 2 years 2 years
Money back guarantee in UK & Europe 60-day guarantee in US No guarantee 90-day guarantee 90-day guarantee 100-day guarantee o guarantee
Full review Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more
Buy now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now

The best home IPL devices for fair hair

The top picks are:

  1. The Iluminage Touch – the only clinically proven machine to work on fair hair (light blonde and red).
    Although not part of the clinical tests, the device should also work on grey and white hair.
  2. The Smoothskin Muse – Smoothskin advise you may see results on light blonde hair. It may take more sessions to see results than with darker hair. Smoothskin offer a 90 day money back guarantee so you can try for the guarantee period and return it for a refund if you don’t see results.
  3. Silk’n Infinity 400,000 – Silk’n advise you may see results on fair hair. However, there must be sufficient contrast between your skin and hair colour .i.e. it won’t work on black skin and grey hair.

 

Compare them in the table below. Do read the full in-depth review to learn the pros and cons and round-up of the online feedback.

Iluminage Touch Smoothskin Muse Silk'n Infinity 400,000
Score
4.2 out of 5
4.6 out of 5
4.4 out of 5
Price £270 to £375 £250 to £399 £140 to £220
Type IPL & Radio Frequency energies IPL IPL & Galvanic energies
Fitzpatrick tones Safe for ALL skin tones Safe for skin tones I to V Safe for ALL skin tones
Hair colours Black to red, may work on white / grey Black to dark blonde, may work on light blonde. Black to dark blonde, may work on lighter hair
Skin tone sensor Safe for all skin tones Protects too dark skin & selects the best intensity for your skin tone Skin tone sensor activates safe intensities for your skin tone
Operation Mains-power, base unit & applicator Mains-power, 200 cm cord Mains-power, 180 cm cord
Attachments
  • Body
  • Facial adaptor
x1 multi-use flash window x1 multi-use flash window
Lifespan / Total body area:
  • 5 years of use
  • 396,000 cm²
Unlimited
  • 15+ years of use
  • 1,080,000 cm²
Intensity
  • 3 levels
  • Max4 J/cm²
  • 10 levels
  • 4 to 6 J/cm²
  • 5 levels
  • Max 4 J/cm²
For fair hair Wax or epilate first. You'll need more sessions (around 12) to see results It's possible to see results on light blonde hair with more sessions. Try with the 90-day money back guarantee Shave first, fair hair on darker tones will not work
Proven? Clinically proven, FDA-cleared for fair hair (blonde and red) Clinically proven, FDA-cleared (but not for light blonde hair) Clinically proven (but not for fair hair)
Speed per leg
  • Advertised: 10 mins
  • Test: 10+ mins
  • Advertised: 8.5 mins
  • Test: 10 mins
  • Advertised: 8 mins
  • Test: 10+ mins
Treatment App
Online score
3.8 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
4.3 out of 5
Warranty 2 year (from CurrentBody.com) 2 years 2 year (UK & Europe)
Money back guarantee No guarantee 90-day guarantee in UK & Europe 60-day guarantee in US
Full review Learn more Learn more Learn more
Buy now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now Prices & Buy Now

 

Fair skin and dark hair?

Lucky you! Because you can choose from all home IPL and laser devices! To narrow it down, try my Best IPL and laser hair removal guide. These are the top devices available for home hair removal. All are tried and tested by myself and my small team of testers. All are safe for light skin and dark hair.

Best home laser hair removal guide

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  • skin tones are measured by the Fitzpatrick skin tone scale. Check your skin tone suitability before buying your device.

    Best home laser and IPL for dark & black skin, and for fair hair

    I  s your skin tone and hair colour suitable for at home IPL and laser hair removal systems? Not all home ...
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