Will laser hair removal work on white hair?
One of the most common types of unwanted hair is “peach fuzz” or fine, white hairs on the face or body. And luckily—sarcasm—this hair always seems to make itself known at the worst possible times… like when you’re already running late for a date and don’t have time to wax it!
While peach fuzz is usually thought of as facial hair, it can be on any part of the body. The prevalence of this unwanted hair, especially for fair-haired individuals, often raises the question: does laser hair removal work on white hair?
Unfortunately for those who struggle with these unwanted white hairs (not to be confused with blonde hair), the answer is: No. While there are a few ways—electrolysis being the most popular— to remove fine, white hair, laser hair removal isn’t one of them. Here’s why laser hair removal won’t work on white hair.
First, let’s look at what causes hair to be white.
The human body makes melanin, which is what gives our skin and hair their color. Everyone produces different amounts of melanin, which is what causes our skin and hair color to be different shades or tones. The higher your melanin production is the darker your skin or hair will be.
As we age, melanin production can diminish, which is why men and women typically start seeing more grey hairs in various places as they grow older. However, for some, this goes beyond the usual “greying” and the melanin production can diminish to the point that the hair grows in white because there isn’t enough melanin to color it anymore. This diminished melanin production, as well as hormonal changes, is what causes many women to experience the growth of white facial hair after menopause, and it’s why men tend to start seeing white hair in their beards or eyebrows as they age.
Okay, so a lack of melanin is what causes hair to white—but why does that matter when it comes to laser hair removal? Great question! It’s because melanin plays an essential role in the effectiveness of laser hair removal treatments.
Everyone produces different amounts of melanin, which is what causes our skin and hair color to be different shades or tones.
Why won’t laser hair removal work on white hair?
It’s important to understand how laser hair removal works to fully appreciate why it won’t remove fine, white hairs.
Laser hair removal works by delivering a controlled amount of heat directly to the root of your unwanted hair. When the root absorbs this heat it is destroyed, preventing it from growing hair in the future—effectively ridding you of that unwanted hair forever! Sounds simple enough, right?
However, for the laser to deliver the right amount of heat to the root of your hair, it needs a way to find it. That’s where the melanin in your hair comes into play.
The laser targets the melanin or color in the root of the unwanted hair to distinguish it from your skin. This ensures that only the root receives the concentrated energy from the laser light and not the surrounding tissue—which helps minimize any discomfort you may experience during a treatment.
Unfortunately, if the root of your hair has no pigment, meaning the hair is essentially white, then the laser can’t “see” it and is unable to deliver the necessary heat to destroy it. That’s why laser hair removal treatments are ineffective at removing unwanted white hairs or peach fuzz—not to be confused with blonde hair, which is treatable as long as it’s not platinum.
Now, the good news!
While laser hair removal won’t rid you of that unwanted peach fuzz, it will work on just about any other hair color, including blonde and red hair, and can remove hair from just about anywhere on your body! So just because it doesn’t work on white hair doesn’t mean that laser hair removal isn’t an option for you. You can still zap away that unwanted hair—as long as it has pigment—on your legs, bikini area, underarms, face, and so on!