New Orleans dermatologist explains why laser hair removal is best when skin is not tanned

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Female beautician using laser machine on customer's leg at salon
At Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology in New Orleans, LA, patients often visit for services such as laser hair removal. While this is a revolutionary procedure that can provide amazing results, it is best done when the skin is not tanned. Additionally, patients currently in the process of undergoing laser hair removal sessions should avoid tanning their skin. The Lupo Center has special lasers designed for skin that naturally has darker pigment, so even dark skin types can safely have permanent hair reduction as long as the skin is also not tanned. Dr. Mary Lupo, our dermatologist, explains why!

What is laser hair removal?

First, it is best to fully understand how laser hair removal works. This method of treatment can provide reduction or removal of unwanted hair anywhere on the body, including the:
  • Face
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Underarms
  • Legs
  • Bikini line
This method of removal far exceeds the results achieved with regular shaving, waxing, tweezing, and depilatory creams. It uses laser light energy to target the pigmentation in the hair follicles, and the heat generated damages the follicles permanently. It only works effectively on the hair in the active growth phase, which means that several treatments are needed for all hair to be removed. However, if fewer treatments are done, the hair in the area will still be greatly reduced. The number of treatment sessions needed will vary depending on the results patients hope to achieve, the darkness and coarseness of the hairs and the skin color of the patient. This is discussed during the consultation appointment.

How does tanning affect laser hair removal treatments?

Now that you know how laser hair removal works, you will better understand how tanning the skin before or during treatment can impact the way it works. Tanning of the skin can cause the skin to have more melanin at the upper levels. Because the laser targets melanin in the hair follicle, this can be confusing for the laser light. The laser light may instead target the tanned skin potentially harming the skin and missing the intended target, diminishing results. This can cause permanent discoloration to the skin. If you have tanned skinned or are going to be undergoing tanning treatments, you are not considered an appropriate candidate for laser hair removal at the same time. This is because it is not optimal for this elective procedure. We always want to optimize results and reduce potential complications for our patients.

What can I do?

The first thing we can do for patients who have tanned skin is to ask them to wait for the tan to fade and to avoid tanning or any other type of sun exposure that could increase their melanin levels. This is the most common request. Because tanned skin cannot be treated with laser hair removal, it is best and more convenient for our patients to have their treatments done during the winter months when they are not enjoying “fun in the sun” as they are during the summer months when bikinis and shorts are the go-to fashion options. This also ensures that they are bikini ready come the summer months when they want smooth, hair-free skin to show off!

How do I know if I’m a candidate for laser hair removal?

Young woman holding her arms up and showing clean underarms, depilation smooth clear skin It used to be that laser devices used for hair removal could only work on patients with dark hair and light skin. However, continued advances in laser technology now allow patients of all skin colors and hair colors to receive treatment. However, tanning can greatly impact the safety of treatments, and patients will be assessed prior to services as to whether they have had substantial sun or tanning exposure. If this occurs, treatment will not be started. Or, if patients get a sunburn between treatments, they will be halted until the melanin levels in the skin drop.

Do you want to discuss laser hair removal with a professional in New Orleans, LA?

We encourage you to make a phone call to the staff at Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology at (504) 777-3047 and speak with our front office team about booking a consultation visit with Dr. Mary Lupo. Her practice, located at 145 Robert E Lee Boulevard, Ste. #302, is equipped with some of the latest modalities to ensure patients have access to high quality solutions for their skin and body. Laser hair removal is just one of many cosmetic treatments available for patients to consider in enhancing their skin. We welcome new patients into our facility for comprehensive dermatological care.


Meet one of the countrys leading experts in the field of non-surgical skin rejuvenation.

Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology
Mary P. Lupo, M.D. - Connect on Linkedin

Our mission at the Lupo Center is to provide patients with innovative, effective and ethical care to make each person look and feel their personal best. To fulfill our goal, we provide state-of-the-art medical, surgical and cosmetic treatments to all patients.

Board certified dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology Mary P. Lupo, MD has been a leader in the field of non-surgical rejuvenation since 1983. She travels internationally to teach her innovative techniques, and her reputation brings in patients from around the country. She started the first formal residency training program for injectables and peels in 1983 at Tulane Medical School and served as past president of Women’s Dermatologic Society, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane and a founder of Cosmetic Boot Camp. Dr. Lupo holds membership in many prestigious dermatology associations, participates in clinical trials for approval of new drugs and devices and acts as an advisor for numerous aesthetic-minded companies.