One of the most stubborn facial hair problems are those fine little buggers you always seem to notice at the worst time. Fair-haired people might see them in more places, but they’re a fact of life for many people of all ages. This raises the question: can these white hairs, and white hairs elsewhere on the body, be removed with laser treatment?

It’s a good question, but it’s one with an answer that not a lot of people want to hear. While we have several ways to remove fine, fair, white hair at our disposal, laser removal isn’t one of them. To understand why, we need to explain what melanin is, and how it makes laser hair removal work!

What Makes Certain Hairs White?

The body produces melanin, a pigment that gives skin and hair their colour, This production isn’t the same for everyone, and those with dark hair have higher amounts. Regardless of your hair colour, laser hair removal is often not a problem, because most body hairs that grow in popular areas for laser hair removal aren’t blonde or white. But many of these issues can change as we grow older.

It’s more than just the stereotypical grey hairs. The amount on your face will increase as you age, all while the melanin production diminishes, The hairs continue growing, unfortunately, but they grow more translucent when there’s not enough melanin to colour it. This gives the hair a fairer appearance. Many women see more white hairs on their chin after menopause, while men can grow white hair in their ears and eyebrows.

Other than the colour, it might not seem like a huge difference, but the lack of melanin in the hairs impacts how we can use the laser hair machine. The lack of pigmentation means white hairs just aren’t suitable for laser hair treatment.

Why Doesn’t Laser Hair Removal Work On White Hairs?

Laser hair removal platforms, like the Alma Soprano XL we use, work because of the melanin in hair, not in spite of it. The concentrated energy in the beam of light is absorbed into the melanin chromophore, or the molecular part that gives colour. Melanin is the chromophore targeted in a lot of different laser treatments, like age spot treatment, because it can be targeted while leaving the other parts of the skin alone.

This targeting is what you want in a painless, damage-free procedure. Focusing on the melanin in the hair follicle lets us get rid of the hair and slow regrowth without hurting the skin that surrounds it. If there is nothing to absorb the heat energy, the lasers can only damage your skin.

Of course, if you have blonde, grey, or white hair, you shouldn’t disregard laser hair removal altogether. If you’re looking to zap hair under your arms, on your legs, in your bikini zone, and in other inconvenient places, you’re still able to come in and have the pain-free procedure!

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