Used to treat numerous skin conditions and also as a way of permanently removing face or body hair, IPL is one of the modern beautician’s most effective tools. It can tackle thread veins, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, problems associated with acne and, of course, unwanted hair. If you’ve had enough of waxing or shaving, opting for a permanent hair removal treatment is very tempting. IPL hair removal is virtually painless and totally safe. So is it right for you?
What is IPL?
IPL stands for intense pulsed light. Although it’s similar to laser treatment in some ways, in other ways it’s quite different. For example, laser treatment is more precise and targeted, while IPL can be used to more quickly treat a larger affected area. However, when it comes to hair removal, both therapies work in the same way. Light is fired at the hair follicles in the area where the hair is to be removed. Pigment in the hair follicles absorbs the light and becomes hot. The result is permanent damage, to the point that the hair is prevented from growing back.
This type of light therapy only works on hair follicles at a certain point during their life cycle – the anagen phase when the hair is growing. Because of this, several treatments are usually needed to catch all the follicles in this particular phase. The benefit of IPL over laser treatment is that it can cover a larger area of the skin at once and is less intensely targeted. It may require several more sessions than laser treatment to achieve totally permanent results, but the technology used is not so complicated and for this reason it will usually work out to be the cheaper option.
The differences between laser hair removal and IPL hair removal
- IPL hair removal uses a diffused white light over a broad spectrum of wavelengths, while laser hair removal uses an intense red beam in a single wavelength.
- IPL may require a greater number of treatments to eliminate hair, and more frequent maintenance treatments than laser hair removal.
- IPL treatments are considerably cheaper than laser hair removal.
- IPL works better on paler skin tones and is most effective for the removal of dark hair.
Precautions you should know about
For both IPL and laser hair removal, the treatments are not appropriate on newly-tanned skin, so wait for at least four weeks after tanning before booking an appointment for IPL hair removal. It’s also wise not to have a light-based hair removal if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you’re on certain medications.
What happens during IPL hair removal?
Once you’ve made an appointment for IPL, your practitioner should offer you a patch test, just to check that you’ll be comfortable having the treatment. You can shave, bleach and trim your hair before and in between treatments, but you should avoid waxing and plucking, as this will prevent the treatment from being fully effective.
The length of your session will depend upon the size of the area being treated, and you’ll will probably need several treatment sessions.
If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your practitioner when you make your appointment and they’ll be able to tell you anything you need to know.