Laser Hair Removal for Redheads

I am a 32-year-old woman with bright red hair. I recently attempted to make an appointment for laser hair removal and was told "we don't work on redheads." Are there any lasers that treat all skin types that may work for me?

Doctor Answers (6)

Redheds out of luck with laser hair removal (so far)

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Laser hair removal does not work for Redheads
In order for the laser to get attracted to the hair, the hair needs to be dark in color. Patients with blonde, red, or grey hair are out of luck with the laser. Dyeing the hair does not help either because the hair under the skin would still be red. A permanent solution for you will be doing electrolysis but that is a long process and if it’s not done correctly it could scar the skin.


Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Best Laser Hair Removal Treatment

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Thank you for your question. A wide variety of medical lasers and light systems are used to remove unwanted hair, however most lasers are not effective for all skin types and hair colors. The Elos laser hair removal system is designed for permanent hair reduction by combining both optical and radiofrequency energy to deliver satisfying, longer lasting results with less discomfort than previous laser systems. All skin and all hair colors including gray and blonde hair are effectively treated. Faces, backs, arms, legs, faces, and bikini lines can be treated including those individuals with darkly pigmented skin. Treatments are administered every 4 weeks and generally 3 to 5 treatments are sufficient. Best of luck!

Daniel Shapiro, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Laser hair removal isn't great for redheads; might be better off with electrolysis.

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Lasers for hair removal, at least the ones around now, work by targeting the brown color in the base of the hair follicle and hair bulb. This target selectively absorbs the laser energy, and heats up so much that it damages the follicle so hair won't grow well anymore.

Red hair is hair that has a lack of brown pigment, biologically. This really does mean it can't offer itself as a good target for these lasers, unfortunately. There may be lasers developed in the future that use a different target, but it's hard to imagine right now how that technology will be created.

In the meantime, electrolysis works differently, by using an electrical current to directly damage each follicle one by one, and isn't hindered by the color of the hairs. This is why it works for blonde or gray hairs, too.

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

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Laser hair removal on red hair

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This is a difficult problem.  I have performed thousands of laser treatments and feel that the laser hair removal systems will not induce permanent hair removal on redheads.  That is a fact.  If you would like to spend your money to decrease density, there are some options.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Redhead Laser Hair Removal

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Hi redhead,

Laser hair removal for those with red hair is tricky. Depending on the coarseness and color of the hair, you may or may not get good results. For your hair color, we would suggest one of two lasers, the Lumenis Lightsheer or the Cynosure Apogee. We believe these offer the best results because they are designed for lighter skin types.

As for the % of hair removal, it's difficult to say, some of our red haired patients can achieve 90% while others only 40%. This is why the coarseness of the hair matters in addition to the color. We think it's a better option to start with than electrolysis, but find a practice that has one of these two lasers for best results. Good luck.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Laser works best on dark hair

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As long as there is dark hair, laser can be effective, but it doesn’t work on light hair. If you are a red head with dark hair, then you are a candidate for laser hair removal.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.