What exactly is IPL Laser Hair Removal?

What is IPL Laser Hair Removal - Short Answer: The acronym IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light technology.  IPL was developed about 30 years ago. It is commonly used by cosmetic and medical practitioners to perform numerous skin treatments. The various processes in which it is used include the laser hair removal process, aesthetic and therapeutic purposes, photorejuvenation, and alleviating dermatologic disease like acne. This method of hair removal has been used for the last twenty five years. Commercially it has been available since 1995.

Our explanation of IPL

There is many options for those who would like to remove unwanted hair. There are various tools and light-based techniques widely used to deal with stubborn hair production and growth. IPL is one of these options to remove unwanted hair on your body.

What does IPL stand for?

IPL stands for Intense Pulse Light technology. In this type of hair removal process, light is first condensed onto the roots of the hair. After which, hair goes into the resting phase and then falls out. As a result, the body grows less hair in that area where this treatment has been applied. In this process, light with multiple wavelengths is used.

It only targets the affected area leaving the surrounding tissues completely unharmed. Light is first converted to heat energy before it applies to the skin. That is the reason this process is called a pain-free hair removal process.

How does IPL laser hair removal work?

It can be applied to most areas of the body. For semi-permanent reduction of hair, a person needs at-least  6-8 sessions. The reason is that not all the hair follicles may be available in one session. This treatment works differently in different parts of the body. For instance, facial hair might take more time as it comes to the hair on other different parts. It will take 12 treatments to see some desired and fruitful results.

So, in order to attain the best results, a patient needs to take the treatment regularly. Otherwise, the result might be different and unexpected. Although follicles of hair have their cycle of growth and they can ultimately come back. Still, it is possible to enjoy a smooth and hair-free body by using this process of hair removal.

Usage of IPL laser hair removal at home:

This process is advised to be done in clinics. Still, there are some steps that one can opt to use this process at home. Following are some of the easy steps;
  • First of all, shave the area to remove the undesired hair.
  • Do not epilate before the day you go for treatment.
  • Select the light that matches your skin tone.
  • Wait for the ' ready to flash' option.
  • After that, press the above option.
  • At last, move on to the next spot.

Does IPL cause pain or hurt?

It does not hurt. It is a very smooth process for the removal of hair. Recent reports show that 1.5 million women from all over the world are using IPL. It is pain-free; that is why it is used on a large scale. One only needs to use guidelines carefully to avoid twinges. It is not like another harmful removal process like shaving in which there are some chances of cuts on the skin.

It is different from waxing that causes painful sensation and plucking that is also very exhausting. However, the pain level depends on the place where you have applied this procedure. If you are using this process at home, then results would be different from a professional place. There are minimum chances of swelling and redness. But, if you compare this procedure with other hair removal processes, it is surely less painful and harmful.

The body parts where you can apply IPL are as follows:

  1. You can apply this on legs, underarms, bikini line, and face. IPL is very convenient to apply to all these places in the right way.
  2. Body attachment: As it is a curved design, therefore, you can apply it effectively on larger areas of your body like arms, stomach, legs. For instance, it takes 8.5 minutes to remove hair from lower legs, and the maximum hair reduction satisfaction rate is around 83%.
  3. Bikini area attachment: This is a hard place to reach, yet it is made delicately curved to reach such places. It will take 2 minutes to the bikini area, and there 78 per cent chances for satisfaction.
  4. Underarm attachment: This will help you strongly to remove hair from underarms in an easier way because of its curved shape. Within 2.5 minutes, you will take to treat your hair. There is a chance of 86 per cent satisfaction.
  5. Face attachment: In order to do the safe and precise treatment on your skin and upper lip. It is made with a flat design and narrower nib. Only 1.5 minutes are required to treat your face areas. There are 84 per cent chances of hair reduction satisfaction.

On which patients, this process is applicable:

The following are some skin problems. If you are suffering from these problems, then in that situation, you should go for this process; birthmarks, stretch marks, acne, dark spots, wrinkles, freckles, redness, scars, and unwanted hair. Patients suffering from rosacea can also use this process. It will give a fresh and glowing look.

On which patients, this process is not suitable:

Those patients who are sensitive to light should not go for this hair removal process. Pregnant ladies should also refer first to their respective doctors before applying for this procedure.

Some of the possible side effects of IPL are as follows:

It is a very safe process if performed by a trained doctor or technician. There might be some chances of unwanted results. Patients might feel pain during treatment. After applying the procedure, skin colour might change. There are some chances for melanocytes to get damaged. It can also cause hair loss, but only 10 per cent of patients might face all these troubles. Some other problems include changing colours, blisters, and scars will make. It can also lead to swelling.

Is this process harmful to the eyes?

This concept is very prevalent in our society that this treatment causes eyes to damage. One recent report shows that this treatment has caused eye-damage in two women, aged 36 and 27 years. These examples of women have taken from the chart view published in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. It is because safety goggles were removed while applying this procedure on them, and as a result, defection caused. Ocular shields that are made up of stainless steel are designed to avoid eye-burning during this treatment.

Common uses of IPL treatment:

  • It is frequently used to reduce age spots and sunspots.
  • It is used to lighten up the discolouration of the neck, chest, and hands.
  • For reducing facial redness and broken blood vessels, this is essential.
  • This treatment is beneficial in minimizing wrinkles.
  • This method is used to remove tattoos.
  • Active acne agents are there for the rapid removal of acne.

How does it respond if it is used on a daily basis?

If IPL devices are used on a daily basis, then, instead of removing hair, it will irritate the skin onto a higher level. Before going for this type of hair removal process, avoid using waxing and plucking. You can remove hair by using other methods like shaving that would be more suitable.

Certain measures to adopt before taking the start of IPL hair removing process;
Avoid direct sun exposure before taking the IPL laser hair removal process initiative for at least two weeks before.

Please do not go for bleaching as it can reduce the machine's efficiency to work in a better way. Shave the hair two days before taking the IPL session. Try to use sensitive shavers for your face, at least. If you cannot tolerate pain, then avoid numbing creams. If you are taking some medicines, try to take a short break.

As this is a photosensitive medication, therefore, there are some chances of itching on your skin. Try to use protective glasses during the laser hair removal process. They will keep your eyes safe from high rays. As glasses are not very expensive, anyone can afford them, that is why these are mandatory. Shaving is essential before starting IPL. Otherwise, it might burn the skin, resulting in an unpleasant smell and damage Lumea.

Difference between IPL laser hair removal and laser treatment;

The major difference between these two procedures is the difference of light being. During IPL, a broadband pulse light source is used. On the other hand, in laser hair removal, a monochromatic light source is used. In both, these processes melanin in the hair follicles is targeted first.

Laser treatment that is used professionally is very selective; that is why high energy is required. It will only focus on the targeted area. It is the reason we get fast results from the laser hair removal procedure. Moreover, it is also suitable for those individuals who are having dark skin tones. The light source in both these methods holds a minor role, while energy, frequency, and hair colour are the major factors in order to achieve the expected results.

Both IPL and laser impulses with the assistance of melanin reach to the roots of the hair. As a result, roots might have damaging results after taking a few sessions of the treatment. That is why roots do not produce new hair. The best combination is that of individuals with dark hair and fair skin. This feature has very effective and expected results.

Is this process more applicable at home or at salons?

If you are applying this procedure at home, then you can save much of your time. You do not need to make any appointments. One more positive point is that you will not face any insecurity issues. However, if you are using this process at salons, then you will get faster and fruitful results. Professionals can treat you in a better and effective way. The main thing is the satisfaction that varies from one person to the other. This process might be harmful to the home as well. The reason is that every individual can't get a hold of this whole process efficiently. Similarly, patients can face some disastrous outcomes from untrained workers in the saloon. Therefore, before taking any initiative, you only need to adopt some very necessary safety measures.

Which month is more suitable for this treatment; summer or winter?

It is very convenient to keep your skin safe from the sun in winter. Therefore, it works best during winters. Moreover, this treatment works best on those patients having light skin with dark hair. A patient can't avoid sun exposure before taking IPL sessions; he must then adopt some safety measures. For instance, the usage of medicated sunblocks.

Effect of previous hair removal method on IPL;

If a person is a regular user of other hair removal methods, then there must be some skin effects when he starts using the IPL laser hair removal process. If hairs are removed by using other methods like waxing and threading, then IPL will not work effectively in such situations because sometimes hair is completely reduced from the root.

Similarly, if a patient is a cream user, he must take a break of 1 week at least before applying this process on the affected skin. Patients should not use bleaching products if they are looking for some good results because this process might damage hair colour that is not good for IPL treatment.

Some risks of this treatment:

IPL can cause some internal injuries. Dr Ritu Gupta (spokesperson for the Australian College of Dermatologists), who is a well-known dermatologist, says that if patients are not treated properly with this treatment, then, in that case, IPL will increase the growth of hair instead of reducing them. A proper dose should be given to patients. She explains that in Australia, IPL produces white light beams of the broad spectrum that are further used for skin pigmentation, broken capillaries, and excess hair. Still, there are some chances of eye injuries and infections.

Some tactics for choosing a good laser provider are as follows:

It is advised that patients should first dermatologists of their own area and check whether they are specialized and authorized to work for this hair removal treatment or not. They should not be considered high. For instance, if a skin doctor costs much, it does not ensure that he is an expert. It might sometimes happen that untrained doctors cost much in order to prove their efficiency. Therefore, people should not compromise on quality if they are willing to attain some desirable outcomes.

Pros and cons of IPL:

This treatment is considered suitable for removing spots and unwanted hair.
It will give results faster as compared to other hair removal techniques.
The recovery time duration of IPL is very fast.
The light used during this process does not damage top layers of skin.
It is used for the permanent reduction of undesired hair.
It is not pain-causing like waxing, threading, etc. There is no chance of irritating skin with chemicals like in other treatments.
It is applicable for both long and short hair.
It is safe for all. Other treatments use gels and numbing solutions; that is why chances of allergy are more.


  • You will need to take several sessions in order to get the expected results.
  • It is not appropriate for individuals having dark skin and light hair.
  • It does not prove good for short hair. The reason is that short hair has less amount of melanin in them.
  • As this is a permanent hair reduction process, it is very expensive compared to other hair removal methods.

The solution to injuries during this treatment:

The first step that is essential for the patient to take is to consult a professional medical adviser. If there is an injury caused by a beautician's negligence, then the patient is supposed to visit a beauty therapist or licensed laser technician. One can also complain regarding the negligence of untrained technicians or doctors.

Impact of IPL hair removal treatment on the skin:

This method of hair removal has been used for the last few decades. Although it is working properly, few people say that some cancerous reports have been shown after using this treatment. As for the last 25 years, this method has been widely used throughout the world; no such cases were reported earlier. But, some techniques might damage DNA and cause stress induction. There are some chances of hyperpigmentation because of damage caused by melanocytes. But, in the case of laser and IPL systems, we do not find such harmful results. The main reason is that these processes use non-ionizing radiations, and that's why they do not affect strands of DNA. Direct DNA damage is caused if ultraviolet radiations of higher wavelength are used frequently. In IPL devices, wavelength less than 400nm is used in many cases and filtered out as well before any practical implementation. Some additional flash lamps are also used if a situation occurs when it is difficult to reduce wavelength. Only those IPL devices are causing damage that is used in the market with high wavelength. Till now, 2 million patients have positive outcomes after using these methods. This procedure is considered a safe hair removal method because ultraviolet radiations are filtered out by blocking wavelengths below 500nm.

Possible expectations:

The medical professional uses some devices in order to deliver light; that is why the patient might feel a pinching sensation at the initial stage. Some individuals explain this situation by saying that it seems like an elastic band snapping on the skin. To remove such sensations, some of the IPL technicians provide local anaesthetic and chilling gel to patients.


Soon after applying this procedure on the skin, the treated area might look red or pink. But, this situation only lasts for 4 and 8 hours. There might be a chance of stinging sensation after using the IPL. This type of feeling is quite similar to sun burning. The very effective treatment for this sun burning is a moist cloth or cool pack that can help to ease the stinging. After applying this procedure to your body, there might be some chances of swelling as well. If you want to get rid of this swelling, do not use lotion or any makeup on your skin for the next 24 hours. Individuals should also moisturize skin for the next three months at least twice a day.

Some other suitable options:

It is not possible to get the best results by applying one procedure on different skins. The response may vary from person to person. Some individuals find the IPL hair removal process very painful, while others might be comfortable with it. Some are also not satisfied with the recovery time period. As IPL requires several sessions; therefore, Fraxel treatment is suitable for those who need a quick response. This process is not painful and helps to reduce ageing as well. This process can be applied on the shoulders, neck, face, and chest. Some of the side effects of IPL are similar to Fraxel hair removal treatment. Microdermabrasion is another option that is very cheap and pain-free, but its results are not satisfactory, like IPL. It will help to refresh the skin and to treat outer dead layers of skin. Although the recovery time of this is very short yet, it is not considered as reliable and authentic as IPL is. There are many traditional methods, but they will not give those effective results compared to IPL and laser hair removal techniques.

Cost of IPL hair removal technique:

Cost depends on the size of your skin's treatment area and type. On an average scale, IPL costs £700-£1200. If you follow up on this process, you might pay for more medicines, tests, anaesthesia, etc. Moreover, health insurance plans do not prove fruitful for this procedure as it is considered a cosmetic procedure.