Let's face it- most of us prefer to get rid of our excess body hair (upper lip, legs, or bikini area). There are several ways to accomplish hair removal, including:
- Shaving: Cheap, easy, and fast to do. Shaving is the most common method of hair removal for both men and women. It's also highly temporary - the hair will grow back fast.
- Waxing/threading: Unfortunately, this will also provide you with nothing but a short-term solution and can be quite costly in the long term.
So, what about the hair removal methods that utilize light energy - IPL and laser?
Both IPL and laser hair removal are great options for those who want to avoid the pain of waxing, shaving, or plucking, and achieve a more permanent result.
These light energy hair removal methods use the same basic principle - selective photo thermolysis, which is a fancy way of saying that they both rely on converting light energy into heat energy. The difference between them lies in how this conversion takes place.
While both methods use light energy to stop new hairs from forming at a follicle level on your skin's surface; they each have their own unique approach when it comes to generating that heat depending on which technology you choose. Lasers produce coherent beams while IPL produces scattered pulsed light. The wavelength and power output also differ between these two technologies with the laser being more powerful but narrower than IPL.
Laser hair removal explained
Laser treatment is a technology that uses pulses of energy to penetrate the skin and target specific areas underneath. Compared to IPL, laser treatment uses a different wavelength of light energy to target your hair follicles. It emits a narrower range of wavelengths than IPL, targeting only the wavelengths that are absorbed by your hair follicles. This means that it is more selective in delivering its energy than IPL which distributes its light evenly across a broad range of wavelengths.
The laser unit sends these pulses directly onto your body and the sensors in the device measure how deeply they penetrate into your skin, determining whether they have hit a hair follicle or not. If you do need to go back for another round of treatments, treatment length is reduced because there are no unnecessary pulses sent out.
The process will usually take between 4 and 8 sessions for most people before it becomes permanent with all traces removed entirely from sight, leaving the skin smooth and even.
IPL hair removal explained
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and is a common treatment in salons to remove hair. The treatment uses a broader spectrum of light to target hair, whereas laser treatment only focuses on one wavelength. IPL has weaker and more unfocused energy around the targeted area than lasers do because it will use multiple wavelengths in contrast with single-wavelength lights from lasers.
Broad-spectrum light means that IPL hair removal devices have better coverage than laser ones. This could mean shorter treatment times, but it also means that it might not be as effective, and you may need more sessions to finish your treatments.
IPL usually requires 6 to 8 treatments to completely remove hair from the area treated, but this can differ depending on the person's skin color, hair color, and thickness of the hair.
These treatments can also be used to effectively target and treat skin conditions such as facial flushing, or even rosacea, in addition to hair removal.
Which is better: IPL or Laser?
When it comes to hair removal, both laser and IPL treatments are great options. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, lasers used to be known to work most effectively on people with dark hairs on fair skin tones. However, the new generation of lasers can treat a wider range of skin types than an older model might. IPL technology does still work better, in general, for very light blonde hair.
IPL technology is typically a bit slower and less effective than laser hair removal, but it can be used very effectively for other purposes, including skin rejuvenation.
While IPL treatments can be cheaper, most people find that laser hair removal is more effective. Both treatments are however known to be successful when administered by qualified practitioners.
IPL or Laser – what to consider when choosing?
IPL treatments may not be as effective as laser hair removal, but there are still some people who prefer IPL over laser. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as cost, session time, and skin conditions.
Ultimately, the best hair removal method will depend on your own preferences. When determining which method will work better for you, it's vital that you consider both your current situation and desired outcome from the procedure. There are many factors at play like suitability based on genetics (such as pigment) or area being treated (ex: facial hair versus bikini line).
Discuss these factors with your beauty practitioner, as they can professionally advise you on what course of action is best suited for you.
Frequently Asked Questions about light-based hair removal
Why do patients opt for permanent hair removal?
Most who choose permanent hair removal treatments are tired of having to repeatedly remove unwanted or bothersome hair through tedious and painful methods such as shaving, waxing, and tweezing.
Which areas are usually targeted?
The majority of women seek to remove hair growth from their underarms, bikini lines, and legs while most men use light energy hair removal to remove hair on their backs or necks.
How many sessions are needed?
There will always be some degree of variation, but for most people, 4 to 8 sessions will be enough to see permanent results.
How long until I see results?
While laser treatment is the most effective, both methods usually produce efficient results. After the first sessions, most people notice the treated area has less hair growth and requires shaving, waxing, or plucking less frequently.
Your full results will be seen at the completion of all sessions. You will most likely no longer need to bother with traditional hair removal methods.
What is the main difference between IPL and laser treatment?
Lasers produce a single, concentrated wavelength of light to specifically target melanin in the hair, while Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) produces a wide spectrum of light.