The truth about beauty lasers on black and brown skin types

LED light therapy may be wonderful, but shine it carefully on darker skin, says Amy Francombe
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Amy Francombe23 February 2024

You’ve noticed the Hannibal Lecter-esque light-up masks on your feeds. LED light therapy is the latest non-invasive miracle treatment offering a range of sought-after effects, including skin rejuvenation, anti-ageing and acne fixes. However, LED treatments (there are three primary types of light used) have largely been marketed towards paler skin, with Black and POC skin types not properly consulted on the various risks and advantages.

“The higher melanin content in darker skin types affects how skin absorbs light, increasing susceptibility to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Clinic Dr Dray’s Dr Michael Moore. “This means treatments that are too intense can lead to adverse effects.”

Green light therapy is most beneficial for POC as it helps to reduce melanin production and combats hyperpigmentation

Dr Divya Veluvolu

That isn’t to say there aren’t treatments that will be of benefit for dark skin. “Red light is great for rejuvenation,” says Dija Ayodele, an aesthetician and the founder of Black Skin Directory. She likens red light to a charger for the skin cell’s batteries. “I use it a lot in clinic post treatment.”

"POC commonly struggle with pigmentation issues and often present with an uneven complexion," adds Dr Divya Veluvolu, a doctor in aesthetic medicine. "Skin inflammatory issues are harder to visualise or diagnose in POC owing to the darker colour of skin." For this she recommends green light therapy. “Green light therapy is most beneficial for POC as it helps to reduce melanin production and combats hyperpigmentation. It is also beneficial for oily skin, which is common in POC,” continues Veluvolu.

However, all three practitioners warn against blue light therapy. “It’s very good for people with acne or who are breakout prone,” explains Ayodele, “but you have to take into account the propensity for someone to hyperpigment.”

Still, there should never be a one-size-fits all approach — even with this guidance. Moore highlights that a pre-treatment assessment is needed to understand each individual’s skin history and sensitivity — while equal importance must be placed on post-treatment care. "Sun protection and gentle skincare, is key to prevent complications like PIH," he explains, stressing that, "Overall, with LED light therapy for people of colour we need to take a personalised, cautious approach."

Luckily Ayodele points out that “fine lines and jowls are not the same level of concern for skin of colour because of the extra collagen bank”. So although caution is required when treating darker skin, there’s also less need to do so.

Still "while POC have more collagen than Caucasian skin types, it is still useful to encourage this for maintenance of skin texture, quality and tone," continues Veluvolu.

Visit for the definitive list of doctors specialising in Black and POC skin.