Laser/IPL treatment on Sun Tanned Skin

Can clients have immediate sun exposure after an AW3 Laser/IPL treatment?

To answer this question, we must first look into the 2 different types of systems. Both serve the same purpose of delivering heat to the hair follicles and successfully destroying it. The hair follicles need to be heated to 70 degrees °C to destruct the regrowth and both types of technologies can offer this.

Let’s just call this 1st generation technology and 2nd generation technology. Both technologies utilise heat in different ways but the 2nd generation is able to offer both ways.

There is also a 3rd generation and this is to be discussed later in this article.

The 1st Generation Systems, “The stamping method”

The first generation of Laser or IPL utilises singular high concentration of energy with the control of the parameters, ensuring the heat is kept in the follicle for sufficient time to destruct it. Each individual shot is usually being delivered to the skin at a very powerful pulse. So powerful that it will guarantee to heat the follicle to 70 degrees °C and in many cases above. If not being careful it will destroy everything around it such as skin tissues and shedding or popping the hair shaft immediately which can cause hyper/hypo pigmentation to the skin. Now this doesn’t mean that the parameters or pulse width cannot be set lower, but then the hair follicles may not reach 70 degrees at all. Over set and it will cook it to 90 degrees °C, a burn!

This method is fine; it uses less handle shots however it will wear down the light component efficiency 3-6 times quicker due to higher energy being used. There is no definite way to make sure that follicles do not heat above or below 70 degrees  °C either. The risk of burning clients is high, especially for inexperienced technicians. Blistering and zebra stripes for overlapping or leaving spacing of the head piece is one of the risk factors even with a skilled operator, the probability of burning is higher. The first generation is not a bad technology, just a different one and it is still being used widely. Clients must leave 30 days before and after sun exposure for this method of treatment and extra precaution should always be practiced.

So lets now move on to the 2nd generation and what it is all about.

The 2nd Generation Systems, “The gliding method”

The second generation of Laser or IPL differs, they utilise low heat energy over multiple repetitions in order to heat the follicles to 70 degrees °C and destruct it for good. Constant shots at a higher repetition rate (Hz) are being fired at the skin while the applicator head is being glided up and down the skin surface. Each shot is not as powerful or concentrated, it doesn’t need to be as it allows the user to shoot at the same area multiple times with a lower risk of burning the skin. Unexperienced technicians can almost be careless and the likelihood of risk associated with the 1st generation systems is much lower. Although less likely, if settings are too high and the gliding is too slow, it can potentially cook over 70 degrees °C and cause a burn. You can compare this to a machine gun shooting simultaneously at a target, whereas the 1st generation technology would be a shot gun. 1 shot causes bigger destruction to the whole area with a shot gun.

The disadvantage with the 2nd generation of lasers or IPL is, inexperienced technicians can glide too fast and miss areas/patches of the skin area. Gliding too slow with a high repetition rate will over treat the area unnecessarily. A controversial argument may be that the human hands are not steady enough to carry out such a method and may encounter over treating. Just like a machine gun, give it to an amateur and it will be too fast for the person to control it. However, this is not true and it can be controlled quite easily if you know how to.

Because the handle is shooting simultaneously at the skin the repetition rate needs to be balanced with the gliding motion, with some tips and tricks this is much easier and safer to do than guessing the 70 degrees °C follicle destruction point compared to the 1st Generation.

To eliminate this dilemma, one trick is to glide slowly around and gradually by looking at each flash as it hits the skin or listening to the repetition beeps that some machines have to offer, usually around 6Hz instead of 10Hz for larger areas. Don’t worry as the repetition rate is not faster than the naked eye or ears so controlling this technique is a piece of cake and you do not need to win an award for the steadiest hands of the year.

Another tip can be that the gliding motion starts just slightly before the trigger is pressed so this will prevent over treating initially, and stop just before the gliding motion stops. But it really doesn’t matter if you do over treat slightly using this method as it doesn’t cause a massive destruction compared to the 1st generation.

We know that people have seen advertisement videos of super-fast gliding, technically this works too but remember this is only for the purpose to make the video look fancy and doesn’t apply in the real world of quality treatments.

Another advantage to the 2nd generation is that it can offer everything that the first generation can offer, it is able to glide slow or fast without speed restrictions. It is able to offer 1 singular shot of high energy concentration the same way too. For smaller and micro areas this is a great technique.

By putting this theory to the test, apply this technique on yourself and set the frequency at 6Hz. Glide gradually up and down your legs and steadily cover all surface areas to see if you miss out any surface area or not. Definitely not and the results will be amazing. 

So Is the 2nd generation systems, gliding motion method pain free?

Actually, it can be quite painful if the technology is not quite there yet. We must note that not all systems have an effective Crystal Freeze ® Technology which cools down the skin to allow even higher energy to hit the skin with even longer pulse time, reducing the discomfort and side effects of treatment and providing a pain free sensation. But is it really pain free? Well maybe not but it’s certainly not painful either. Customers must feel a little flick to the skin.

With the support of Crystal Freeze ® and bringing better cooling to the actual machine and multiple wavelengths tailored to different skin types, the treatment is not painful. It is utilising low energy hence it is less likely to cause thermal skin damage or photosensitivity, the system is designed so that tanned skin can be treated. This has now put the AW3 systems in an entirely different category of Laser and Light and we can simply categorise this as the 3rd generation of systems.

The 3rd Generation Systems “The gliding Crystal Freeze® method”.

AW3 has many types of Lasers and IPL. These super laser/light models listed below are considered as the 3rd generation systems:

  • Schnelle
  • V Combo Plus
  • Crystal Freeze Diamond
  • Super Combo
  • Bullet S Line
  • Rocket S Line

These super models of systems can be used on UV exposed skin as the laser/light is passed gently and gradually across the area to allow the hair follicles to receive the same desired heat without being too aggressive to the skin or the hair shaft. It is enough to destroy the hair follicle, also with the support of machine cooling, Crystal Freeze® and built-in reflectors for better wavelength transfer. This means that the risk of sun exposure to the area is less than the client treated with the 1st or 2nd generation systems.

The next time someone tells you that they have the most powerful machine, please do not be fooled. None of the AW3 hair removal machines will ever need to use more than ¾ of its full power.

Good results are about having a good machine, correct settings, packed with technological advancements and being able to control it. As well as the operator who can manage their customer’s expectations. But more importantly having the right ongoing support for clinics and businesses.

So can sun tanned skin be treated?

For the avoidance of doubt, remember there are variations on tanning which is listed below. Whilst not the same they can all be treated by using 1 simple rule, monitor your client!

The most important thing you should do is monitor your client by asking them questions about their skin condition. There is not a 1 size fits all. For AW3 super laser/light equipment, usually leave 24-48 hours before or after treatments, but if the skin is still sensitive then customers should wait longer, perhaps 3-7 or even 10 days. Otherwise, in most cases client’s skin is ok after 24 hours then why not have immediate sun exposure and enjoy the summer. Usually with AW3 super lasers/light the skin is not severely sensitive due to the technique and technology used. Only in the event that you carry out the stamping method using a super laser or light to smaller areas then the skin can be more sensitive, which is when sun exposure should be avoided for approximately 30 days.

  1. Active Tan
  2. Sun Exposure
  3. Sun Tanning
  4. Fake Tan
  5. Sun Bathing
  6. Sun Beds
  7. Sun Burnt /Redness (Must not treat with any Laser/Light)
  8. Natural Tan
  9. Tanned Skin
  10. Dark Tan

Case Study Examples

Scenario 1: Someone used to be a skin type 2, after a long holiday in Spain they are now very tanned and look more like a skin type 4. They have no sensitivity to the skin, will the same settings be used?

Answer: Although they should be treated as skin type 2 if this was traditional IPL or laser and having to wait for 30 days. The ideal candidate is always tan free, however with the 3rd generation of super light/laser, you can offer treatments by adjusting a higher repetition rate with a lower fluence. This technique is successfully being applied using AW3 lasers in many hot countries. The same applies to fake tan. Reduce/increase settings if required and monitor the client throughout.

Scenario 2: Someone is about to go on holiday or sun beds, can they have super lasers/light?

Answer: Not on sun bed or sun bathed skin straight away but normal sun exposure is fine as long as there is not sensitivity to the skin area.  This is a normal practice for AW3 clinics in hot countries and many years of treatments with no adverse effects. Sun bathe skin can be treated after a few days, on the condition that there is no skin sensitivity/burn. As little as 24-48 hours. Reduce settings if required and monitor the client throughout.

Scenario 3: Someone just had sun exposure and their skin is still quite sensitive, not burnt just a little sensitive, can they have super laser/super IPL treatment now?

Answer: No they must call back in 24-48 hours to check if the sensitivity has completely gone or not? If not, wait longer until it has.


To conclude, it doesn’t matter what generation of system is being used, stamping or gliding, it is impossible for anyone to know which settings that the laser is hitting the hair follicle at precisely 70 degrees. A little under or a little over is always the case and there is no wrong or right with this. The most important thing to remember is safety comes first over results. Both can be obtained with the right training, support and equipment.

One other factor to consider is, there are 3 stages of hair growth at 1 given time. Anagen, catagen and telogen. Hair destruction works best when the hair cycle is at the anagen stage but we don’t know when that may be hence multiple sessions are required. So no matter what laser or method is being used, it will only work best when hairs are at the anagen stage. Clients should always shave as close to the skin as possible as stubbly hairs of half a millimetre will attract unwanted heat, resulting in immediate hair shedding or popping, including those ineffective hairs in the telogen and catagen stage which also sheds without a purpose.

If not shaved closely, the treatment is more painful as hairs are being synges on the upper layer of the skin. The wastage energy will be scattered to the shaft around the epidermis layer rather than only targeting the follicles beneath the demis layer. Visually, popping of hairs may look fancy but so is waxing. The best laser results are not seen immediately but rather what is happening beneath the skin, which is the destruction of hair follicles at the anagen stage.

Either way, the gliding pain free method still provides a faster treatment session and time matters most in this business; hence the premium price of a super hair removal system.

Additional Information:

Sun tanned skin does not react the same as darker skin types on the Fitzpatrick skin scale. The reason is melanin is a light absorbing compound within the skin. When melanin absorbs UV light, it releases the extra energy as heat. Sometimes UV light causes melanin to react where it hits a molecule that doesn’t dissipate energy like an amino acid. When this happens, the excited molecules can then excite adjacent oxygen atoms turning the stable molecules into reactive ones. When oxygen is excited its uses higher energy states in order to bring it down to its normal lower state. To do this it may collide with other molecules such as DNA which means that the cells get damaged. Whilst our bodies have defence systems to fight against and mitigate the damage done if excess light is absorbed into tanned skin. We can see how easily possible it is to burn the skin, this is why sun exposure needs to be avoided for 30 days with the 1st generation of IPL / Laser.

Note: Sun exposure time can be short or long, mild or extreme. We cannot categorise everyone in the same boat.

3rd Generation of Super Laser/Light uses specific wavelengths and energy to bypass the melanin in the skin and only reach the hair follicles. The Crystal Freeze® technology also prevents the skin from overheating.  Even with this, if clients had a long period of sun exposure, almost as if they are sun bathing, then the skin suffers from sun induced inflammation which can show as a redness on the skin, this can take a few days to subside and the normal tan develops. To give the skin enough time following a lengthy sun exposure, we advise not carrying out treatment for 7-10 days after. If there is sunburn or redness still present after this period, extend more days until the skin has completely healed.