Words by Marques Harper

Should laser treatments be avoided at all costs or are they beneficial for men of color? Turns out using lasers on brown skin is OK thanks to improvements in laser technology and better training for doctors and dermatologists who treat various skin tones. Still, before you opt for a series of laser treatments to remove unwanted hair, find out the answer to this question: “Has my doctor ever treated the skin of people of color?”

That might mean reconsidering that laser treatment special offers by your local medi spa or your dentist who’s suddenly doing laser hair removal treatments and finding a certified skin professional. After all, laser treatments can be dangerous in the wrong, unskilled hands and cause burns, skin discoloration and scarring. In the right hands, however, they can work wonders for a person’s skin.

“Laser treatments for skin concerns can be incredibly beneficial for men of color as long as the procedures are performed by an experienced healthcare professional with experience treating brown skin,” said Dr. Carlos Charles, founder of Derma di Colore in New York, which offers medical and cosmetic services for skin conditions including acne and vitiligo. (Derma di Colore also has cosmetic services using the Clear + Brilliant Diode Fractional Laser and Candela GentleMax Pro laser.) We recently talked to Dr. Charles about the ins and outs of laser treatments especially for men of color:

Laser up close

Bevel Code: Anecdotally speaking, we’ve heard mixed reviews and stories over the years about lasers being used to treat the skin of people of color. Are there any actual risks involved in using laser treatments on brown skin?

Dr. Charles: Yes, there are risks involved in treating brown skin with laser just as there are risks in treating all skin colors. The most common potential unwanted side effects include superficial burns that can result in hyperpigmentation. However, the technology for laser treatments in brown skin has evolved tremendously in the last several years, and all skin tones can be safely treated in the hands of a skilled and experienced professional.

Laser treatment

Bevel Code: So why should a patient consider laser treatments or a doctor’s recommendation of using lasers?

Dr. Charles: Laser treatments can be performed for a variety of skin issues. Specifically when treating brown skin, laser procedures are commonly used to treat skin changes caused by excessive and/or thick curly hair growth and to help diminish hyperpigmentation while improving skin texture.

Bevel Code: What are the benefits of laser treatments?

Dr. Charles: Laser treatments can diminish the amount of unwanted and sometimes problematic hair. This alone can oftentimes lead to significant skin improvement. Additionally, laser treatments can help improve skin texture, tone and pigmentation.

Laser treatment

Bevel Code: If a patient is concerned about using lasers, what are the best alternatives to these types of treatments?

Dr. Charles: For patients that do not want to have laser treatments for hair removal, I’ll try to optimize their shaving routine as much as possible. For those seeking improvement in skin texture, tone and pigmentation that want to avoid laser treatments, I’ll recommend various topical treatments as well as in-office chemical peels.

Bevel Code: How long does it take to heal from laser treatments? Should people wear sunscreen or protective coverage?

Dr. Charles: There is little to no downtime associated with the lasers that we perform on brown skin. So there really isn’t any healing time associated with the procedures. People should always wear sunscreen irrespective of whether they’ve had a laser treatment.