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Candela, YAG, LightSheer, Soprano—if you’ve ever stumbled upon a laser-hair removal website, chances are you’ve come across one or several of these brand names. Companies like to name-drop the type of technology they use, but aren’t always so quick to explain what makes one hair-removal laser different from another. This is part of the reason why it can be hard to understand which type of laser would be best suited for your hair and skin type, even after you’ve decoded the science behind laser hair removal.Below, we’ve provided a quick breakdown of four common laser systems used for hair removal, and identified common brand names for each. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it may help you make a more informed decision.Ruby LaserCommon brand names: Palomar E2000, RubyStarThe oldest type of hair-removal laser, it emits a short wavelength that has a higher melanin absorption rate than most other lasers on the market. This makes it effective on even very fine hair, but more likely to affect skin’s pigment. As such, it is generally recommended for those with very light skin, which is less susceptible to discoloration.Alexandrite LaserCommon brand names: Candela GentleLase, Cynosure Apogee, EpiTouch PlusThis laser has a slightly longer wavelength than the Ruby, which enables it to achieve high melanin absorption on a wider range of skin tones, including olive skin. However, there is still a significant risk for discoloration and burns on all but very light skin.Perhaps the Alexandrite’s most important benefit is an increased spot size and repetition rate, which means it can treat a larger area of skin, faster. This makes it one of the quickest hair-removal lasers available.Diode LaserCommon brand names: LightSheer, SLP 1000, LaserLite, SopranoXLOne of the newest and most commonly used laser systems today, the Diode was designed for fair to medium skin types. It uses different wavelengths of light—like the Ruby and Alexandrite lasers, it emits short wavelengths effective at absorbing melanin, but unlike those, it incorporates longer wavelengths capable of penetrating deeper into hair follicles. The longer wavelengths also decrease the risk of skin damage.The main drawback to the Diode laser is its newness, as there is not yet an appropriate amount of data to assess its long-term results.Nd:YAG LaserCommon brand names: Cutera CoolGlide, Cynosure Elite, Candela GentleYAGThe Nd:YAG Laser is the preferred system for darker skin. It uses longer wavelengths than the previous three, meaning it has the most potential to destroy hair at the papilla (the very bottom of the shaft). However, it also has weaker melanin absorption than the other lasers (which is what makes it safe for darker skin), meaning it requires more treatments for similar results. Treatments with YAG lasers can also be more painful and less effective on fine hair.Watch the laser-hair removal process:Read More