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Lighter-skinned people generally have low basal levels of melanogenesis. Exposure to UV-B radiation causes an increased melanogenesis as a response to DNA photo-damage. Since the action of sunburn and melanogenesis are similar, it is wrongly assumed that they are induced by the same mechanism.

Human differences

Although their size can vary, Melanocytes are typically 7 micrometres in length and there are usually between 1000 and 2000 Melanocytes per square millimetre of skin comprising between 5% and 10% of the cells in the basal layer of epidermis.

The difference in skin colour between fair people and dark people is due not to the number (quantity) of Melanocytes in their skin, but to the Melanocytes’ level of activity.

Numerous causes can lead to altered melanogenesis, once created; melanin is moved along structures called dendrites in a special container called a melanosome. Melanosomes are vesicles or packages of the chemical inside a plasma membrane. The melanin is in organelles called “melanosomes” that are organized as a cap protecting the nucleus of the keratinocyte.

When ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin and damage DNA, fragments from damaged DNA trigger melanogenesis and cause the Melanocyte to produce Melanosomes, which are then transferred to the top layer of keratinocytes.


The pigment-producing cells of the skin are called Melanocytes and their activity is the major determinant of the colour of our skin and hair.

Within the epidermis, Melanocytes reside in the basal layer in a ratio of about 10 keratinocytes to 1 melanocyte. However, each melanocyte via its dendrites supplies melanin to about 30 nearby keratinocytes.  Melanocytes contain the melanosome that the pigment known as melanin is produced and deposited.

There are two principal types of melanin produced in the epidermis and hair follicles: eumelanin and pheomelanin.  Eumelanin is brown to black in colour whereas pheomelanin is yellow to red in colour.

Disorders of hypo- and hyper-pigmentation can result from a change in the number of Melanocytes or a decrease or increase in the activity of the Melanocytes. Leukoderma in association with inflammatory disorders of the skin, e.g. atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, are two of the more common disorders of hypo-pigmentation. One of the most common disorders of hyper-pigmentation is Melasma (also known as mask of pregnancy) which is seen primarily, but not exclusively, in women and is commonly accepted as have developing during pregnancy.

Exposure to the sun also plays a very important role in the induction and maintenance of these areas of hyper-pigmentation on the face.

Skin: Cross Section

Laser Hair Removal and Melanin

Lasers that are used for Laser Hair Removal are absorbed by Melanin.

The GentleLase system, a revolutionary long-pulse high energy Alexandrite Laser emits a beam of light that passes through the skin to the hair follicles where it is absorbed. The laser energy is transformed into heat. This destroys the hair follicle leaving the surrounding skin unaffected. After a series of laser treatments, the follicles become sterile preventing the development of further hair growth in that follicle.
People with dark skin and dark hair can still be treated, but may need more treatments. People with blonde, red and grey hairs cannot achieve significant hair removal with available laser machines.
Every Laser Hair Removal treatment, like every client, is unique.  Individual treatments vary according to skin and hair colour, the lighter your skin and darker your hair, the better the results to be expected.

Laser Hair Removal is safe, effective, and a commonly used treatment, providing great results in the removal of unwanted hair in all areas of the body.

Contact City Laser Clinic on (02) 9232 8090 to arrange an initial consultation to discuss a treatment plan that suits your needs with one of our trained, qualified and experienced laser hair removal therapists.

Why is Laser Ineffective on Grey, Red and Blonde hair?

Grey Hair lacks the pigment, melanin and consequently is unable to absorb and transmit the laser energy to the hair root, resulting in little or no destruction of the hair growth follicle.  Like grey hair, Blonde and Red hairs do not have enough melanin pigment to transmit sufficient energy to destroy the hair root. However, for people with Grey, Red and Blonde hair, laser may still be an effective treatment for some skin conditions such as (non-cancerous) Skin Lesions arising from sun damage. See our Pigmentation Removal page.

There are other treatment solutions for types of hair not well managed by laser treatment, but those other forms of treatment may have disadvantages depending on your skin, hair, and personal expectations as regards the outcome. At City laser Clinic our laser therapists are trained, qualified, and experienced to advise you on appropriate treatment methodology and expected results for your natural hair colour and skin type.

Q-switch laser hair bleaching is available. Please call to make a booking for a consultation to obtain a proper quote and discuss the procedure. Full face laser bleaching costs $99.00.

(02) 9232 8090