IPL VS Laser hair removal
How to understand which is best for you?
If you’ve been looking at treatment options for permanent hair removal then you have probably come across both laser hair removal and IPL and are wondering what the difference is. In short, laser hair removal is safer, more effective, and the only way hair removal should ever be performed.
Both treatments have been available commercially since the mid 1990s, but are distinctly different. The issue here is that many hair removal clinics claim to provide “laser” hair removal, when in fact they only use IPL. In this article, we clear up some misconceptions and shoot straight when talking about the difference between laser hair removal and IPL hair reduction. After reading this, you’ll know what to look out for.
Laser and IPL hair removal both work on the same principle. That is that light energy is absorbed by areas of high pigment such as hairs, which are therefore heated up. The heat damages the follicle, slowing hair growth and even preventing it completely. The main difference between IPL and laser hair removal devices is the light source used. IPL uses broad-spectrum visible light whereas laser hair removal utilizes the properties of a laser.
But due to the way the technologies themselves work, laser and IPL treatments vary in terms of:
Treatment time: Because the beam of light used in laser treatments is very concentrated, laser devices have a very small treatment window. Thanks to the broader flash of light used in IPL, IPL devices feature a bigger treatment window and so can cover a much larger area at once, meaning a much faster treatment time in comparison to laser.
Pain rating: The single, more pointed beam of light used during laser treatment is often reported to be more painful than IPL treatment.
Cost: Laser light is expensive to generate, and so, in salons especially, laser treatment comes with a hefty price tag whereas IPL is often much more affordable.
Longevity of results: As a trade-off for the increased price tag and pain level, the results from laser treatment can mean fewer top-ups are required between sessions. But, as with any kind of light-based hair reduction, you’ll always need to continue with top-up treatments to stop hairs from growing back.
Safety: Laser light is very powerful and can even be dangerous. Because of this, at-home laser hair removal devices use significantly reduced power, especially in comparison to their expensive salon equivalent. The bonus of IPL treatment is that it’s much safer to use as the light is less concentrated, and so can be used at-home risk-free for long-lasting results.
Which is better for hair removal, IPL or laser?
Typically, IPL technology will require more treatments and may produce less effective hair reduction. New laser technologies we work with in clinic are more advanced and effective than IPL counterparts with less discomfort (as they are fitted with integrated cooling systems). In addition, it means our machines can treat a wider range of skin and hair types than an IPL would. It's for that reason they utilise IPL for greater purposes such as skin rejuvenation.
While the skincare specialist feels that if people just want to remove excess hair, then true laser is the best option, she does say that “both lasers and IPL are effective when being delivered by a qualified laser practitioner”. Both experts agree that it is important to discuss your specific concerns with your aesthetic practitioner and take into consideration your skin type so that they can advise you on the best course of action.