What’s the Best Laser Treatment for Darker Skin Tones?

Laser and light treatments are some of the most common cosmetic procedures, with over four million of these treatments performed in the US each year. However, not all laser treatments are created equal. In fact, getting the wrong type of laser treatment for your skin type, tone, and needs can cause unwanted effects such as hyperpigmentation, a condition characterized by uneven dark patches or spots of skin. 


Fortunately, laser technology has come a long way and there are now safe, effective options available for people of all skin types and tones. The key is to choose the right type of laser for your skin — or, of course, work with a reputable laser provider who understands the qualities that make the best laser treatments for darker skin tones.


One such laser that is known for its ability to treat any skin tone is the MOXI® laser by Sciton. See how MOXI uses cutting-edge technology to offer safe, gentle, and effective treatments for all skin tones and types, plus make note of what types of lasers to avoid if you have darker skin or a tan. 

What Makes MOXI Different?

Lasers must target water, blood vessels, or melanin (the pigment in your skin and hair) in order to work. Lasers that target melanin can be particularly problematic when used on darker skin tones or tanned skin, because the laser is unable to distinguish between the treatment areas and the surrounding skin. This can lead to hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, scarring, and other unwanted side effects. 


MOXI, on the other hand, targets water, so it can be used on any skin tone and during any time of the year. Lasers like MOXI that target water work by generating heat in the underlying dermis layer of your skin without affecting the skin’s surface. This heat then stimulates your skin’s natural collagen production, providing a rejuvenating and restorative effect. 

What Does MOXI Treat?

MOXI is best known for its use as an excellent prejuvenation treatment that can help to prevent common skin problems from occurring in the future, as well as helping you to maintain a bright, radiant complexion. However, MOXI can also be used to treat a number of specific skin concerns, including fine lines and wrinkles, rough skin texture, a dull, lackluster complexion, and even melasma. 


Because MOXI does not directly target melanin nor damage the skin’s surface, this laser treatment can safely and effectively treat skin dyspigmentation conditions such as melasma, sun damage, and uneven skin tone. Other types of lasers that work by creating micro-injuries in the skin’s surface should not be used to treat melasma, as this can lead to complications such as hyperpigmentation and scarring, as well as cause melasma to worsen.

What Can I Expect During My MOXI Treatment?

Before your MOXI treatment, a topical numbing cream will be applied to your face. Then, your provider will adjust the MOXI settings according to your skin’s specific needs and will begin gliding the small, handheld device over your skin. Most people describe feeling a slight warming sensation during this process. Your entire MOXI treatment can take anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes, depending on your unique needs.


For the first several hours after your MOXI treatment, you’ll be asked to avoid the sun and wear a moisturizing sunscreen to protect your skin. You can resume wearing makeup 24 hours after your MOXI treatment. Otherwise, MOXI does not require downtime, so you can resume your normal daily activities right after your appointment.


Most people see the best results after a series of 3 to 4 MOXI laser treatment sessions, with noticeable results becoming visible in just a few days.


MOXI can also be combined with other treatments such as broadband light (BBL) therapy for even more comprehensive results.

What Types of Lasers Are Not Suitable for Darker Skin?

Those with darker skin tones or tanned skin should avoid ablative lasers and those that directly target melanin in the skin or hair. If you are unsure if a particular laser treatment is suitable for your skin tone, schedule a consultation with a trained and experienced laser provider or board-certified dermatologist to discuss your specific needs and create a personalized laser treatment plan that safely meets those needs.

How to Determine Skin Tone

So what does “darker skin tone” mean, exactly? Dermatologists use the Fitzpatrick Scale to determine skin tone and make relevant skin treatment recommendations. In general, skin tones of IV, V, or VI on the Fitzpatrick scale may not be candidates for ablative lasers, as these skin types naturally produce more melanin than Fitzpatrick types I, II, and III. However, even those with fairer skin should avoid tanning prior to getting ablative laser treatments. 


If you are not sure where you fall on the Fitzpatrick scale, your dermatologist should be able to assess your skin and determine your type for you.

How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation

In addition to choosing the right type of laser for your skin tone, you can help to prevent hyperpigmentation and other common skin concerns by following these tips:


  • Use SPF daily to protect against sun damage.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking shirts.
  • Add antioxidants to your skincare routine and diet for added free radical protection.
  • Don’t mix citrus fruits and the sun. Some citrus fruits like limes contain compounds that can cause blistering and dark patches of skin when exposed to the sun. Use caution when drinking margaritas or other cocktails that may come with a lime in the sun.
  • Avoid popping pimples or picking at acne scars. This can cause a type of hyperpigmentation called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which leaves dark spots behind on the skin following an injury such as an acne lesion.


If you’re still not sure what type of laser is best for your skin tone and specific needs, give our Boca Raton & Fort Lauderdale office a call at 561-247-2958 or contact us online to schedule a time to speak with one of our knowledgeable skincare professionals.