IPL vs Laser Hair Removal: Which One Is Better? As someone who has spent countless hours and dollars trying to achieve hair-free skin, I know the frustration that comes with unwanted hair. Shaving, waxing, plucking, and all those hair removal methods only seem to offer temporary results. That’s why I decided to try out more advanced hair removal techniques, namely IPL and laser hair removal. But which one is better? That’s the million-dollar question, and I’m here to help you figure it out.
IPL vs Laser Hair Removal: How They Work
Oh boy, it’s time to dive into the world of hair removal! But wait, before you break out your wallet, let’s talk about the differences between IPL and laser hair removal and how they actually work.
First things first, IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light, while laser hair removal uses, you guessed it, lasers! The goal of both methods is to damage the hair follicle so that it stops growing hair. But the way they achieve that goal is a bit different.
IPL uses broad-spectrum light to target the hair follicle. The light energy is absorbed by the melanin in the hair, which then heats up and damages the follicle. On the other hand, laser hair removal uses a specific wavelength of light that is absorbed by the melanin in the hair, heating up and damaging the follicle in the same way.
So, which one is better? The answer depends on your skin type, hair color, and personal preferences. But don’t worry, I’ll dive into all of those factors and more in this article. By the end of it, you’ll have a better idea of whether IPL or laser hair removal is the right choice for you. So, let’s get started!
See our article on the best electric epilator model comparison.
Is IPL hair removal the same as laser hair removal?
No, they are not the same! Although both methods are photo epilation systems (they use light), they have notable technical differences.
Let’s start with a brief review of the currently available on the market because, although there are devices with laser technology for home hair removal, most devices marketed for home use are intense pulsed light. Or IPL. It should also be noted that hair removal treatment with a laser epilator is a more delicate process, so it is best to go to an aesthetic center to undergo it.
The first thing to clarify is the difference between these two hair removal systems, which tend to be confused due to their similarity.
Differences between IPL and laser technology (IPL vs Laser Hair Removal)
Both systems indeed rely on the same principle to remove body hair: the emission of a beam of light which, when directed at the skin, affects the melanin which contains the body hair; this light causes heat and damages the hair follicle. As a result of light damage to the root of the hair, the hair grows very slowly and, although this does not make it disappear permanently, the results of both techniques are very effective.
Given this similarity, you might wonder what the difference between these two photo epilation systems is. Quite simply, in the source of light emitted by each of them:
Laser hair removal
A laser technology device emits continuous, monochromatic, unidirectional light with a single wavelength and high intensity.
What does that mean?
It means that the light is emitted in a straight line to a single point and is of a specific color to be absorbed by the melanin. Its effectiveness, therefore, depends a lot on skin color and body hair.
Hair removal with intense pulsed light or IPL
Unlike lasers, in an IPL device, the light emitted is multidirectional, polychromatic, has different wavelengths and, as the name suggests, works in pulses.
These technical features mean that a single device can effectively treat different hair types.
Also, the fact that the light travels in different directions allows each pulse to cover a vast area of skin.
This is the most commonly used method for home laser hair removal.
Benefits of IPL hair removal at home
Now that we have understood the main difference between the two technologies, we will go a little further to help you understand the advantages of IPL hair removal device :
- Although the initial investment in the equipment may seem significant, the savings are considerable because you avoid going to expensive specialized centers to perform semi-permanent hair removal.
- Hair removal with pulsed light at home can be done without problems and with excellent efficiency from the comfort of your home. Its technical characteristics make it very versatile, and it works on practically all skin and hair types. Although more effective, laser hair removal requires a specific wavelength for each type of skin and hair.
- Although more sessions are required to achieve visible results than with laser hair removal, the time needed for each session is much shorter because each pulse covers a large area of skin.
- You can achieve very satisfactory results with pulsed light hair removal at home. Although we have already mentioned that they are not definitive, their effectiveness is around 95%.
- You can perform as many sessions as necessary to remove hair from the most stubborn areas, such as the bikini line or the armpits.
- Home pulsed light hair removal is a reliable and effective method that has become one of the most used options due to its versatility and safety.
What precautions should be taken before practicing pulsed light hair removal at home?
To obtain optimal results and maximize the effectiveness of this equipment, it is necessary to follow certain guidelines that must be addressed since inappropriate or incorrect use can damage the skin irreversibly.
But don’t worry. It’s straightforward to use! All you have to do is follow the recommendations below.
1º. The first uses, preferably in the evening
By following this recommendation, you will be able to control the intensity of the light and adapt the power of the device according to the sensitivity and type of your skin. This will also give you time to regain the condition of your skin. At the first use, some irritation or redness may appear.
Likewise, until you are entirely familiar with its use, it is advisable to start by testing it on less sensitive areas and with a low intensity that you can gradually increase.
Despite the above, we must mention that the best IPL epilators incorporate a system that automatically adjusts the intensity of the light, regulating it through a sensor that analyzes the skin type.
However, you should always carefully read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your IPL device and follow their recommendations for use.
2º. Shave the area to be waxed beforehand
To optimize the effectiveness of IPL hair removal at home. You must shave your hair at least one day before starting the session. The reason for this is simple: long inches prevent the pulsed light energy from reaching the root, making the procedure less effective.
Keep in mind we are talking about shaving. Tweezing or waxing is not part of the procedure!
Some brands include a razor to make the process easier, but you should typically only use it for the first few sessions, as you won’t need to repeat this action over time.
3rd. Cleanse and refresh the skin before waxing
The skin must be spotless before starting pulsed light hair removal to obtain the desired effect. The area to be treated, especially the facial area. It should be thoroughly cleansed and refreshed so that the light can reach the hair follicle more easily.
Ideally, cold water should be used to clean the area to be waxed. If you can’t stand low temperatures, use lukewarm water and allow the skin to cool before waxing. This will weaken the hair follicle, and therefore the hair will also shed more quickly.
4º. Areas of the body where you should not use an IPL hair removal device at home
Unless the device manufacturer says so, you should not use it to epilate your face. This is not recommended for men because the density of facial hair can damage the skin.
Since the skin on the face is more delicate and has a different tone than the rest of the body due to its continuous exposure to the sun, devices suitable for the front include a precision head and a protective filter.
Besides the face, these devices should not be used to epilate the ears, eyebrows, perianal area, and testicles.
5º. Protect spots and moles
You should pay special attention to blemishes and moles. These areas have a higher concentration of melanin than the rest of your skin. When IPL hits them, it can cause pain, irritation, or hyperpigmentation.
You can avoid this problem by covering these areas with a white eye pencil. The light beam will not detect color and will not flash or pulse on the skin you want to protect.
6º. First, the sensitive areas in short sessions
With each light pulse, the IPL hair remover increases its temperature. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary pain, take advantage of the fact that the device is still cold and start by epilating the most sensitive areas: face, armpits, and bikini line. Short sessions will prevent the device from heating up!
7º. Map the area to be waxed
IPL hair removal should be done evenly over the skin for the best results.
You must be careful not to repeat the waxed areas in the same session or to leave areas uncovered. It is advisable to draw a mental map of the place to be treated to obtain the best results.
You can also check our comparison on epilators for women.
What about after finishing hair removal?
From what we have explained above, you will have deduced that photo epilation is not an aggressive treatment used correctly at home, but it is true that it can affect the skin’s sensitivity.
Most of the problems it causes are minor and consist of mild irritation or inflammation of the treated area. In most cases, burns or blisters are caused by improper use of the equipment.
To avoid any possible discomfort, it is advisable to treat the skin after IPL hair removal properly and to modify your daily routine or habits slightly. In this way, you will not only get smooth skin but also manage to keep it healthy. The main recommendations at the end of the session are as follows:
- To reduce and soothe irritation, use cold compresses and a neutral moisturizer. The discomfort will disappear within a few hours.
- Avoid direct sun exposure for at least a week. This doesn’t mean you can’t sunbathe. You can do it indirectly, but protect your skin with good sunscreen.
- After waxing, you should not rub or exfoliate your skin. Tight clothing is also not recommended, as rubbing against the skin can cause further irritation.
- Although you may be tempted to conceal the redness produced in the treated area, do not use makeup, as this will worsen your skin condition. To avoid the visibility of these red areas, waxing at night is the ideal option to give your skin time to recover.
- Avoid applying products containing alcohol to your skin, as they irritate. If you have waxed your armpits, check that your deodorant does not include this ingredient.
- For the same reason, avoid chlorine in swimming pools.
- Avoid direct heat and saunas after waxing, as they can aggravate irritation and inflammation.
- Do not exercise high intensity for at least three days after hair removal to avoid excessive sweating.
- In case of extreme irritation, blisters, or burns, you must consult a dermatologist or a health center for a correct diagnosis and further treatment.
When is the use of pulsed light not recommended?
Although IPL hair removal at home is relatively safe, it should not be used in certain situations. The main contraindications for use are:
- IPL hair removal is not recommended for people with light blonde, white, gray, or red hair, nor is it suitable for heavily tanned or sun-damaged skin. Before use, ensure you have the skin and hair phototype indicated by the device’s manufacturer.
- Although there is no scientific evidence regarding the possible side effects that pulsed light can cause in pregnant or breastfeeding women, its use during these phases is not recommended. In these cases, prevention is better than cure because if a problem arises, it could be attributed to exposure to pulsed light.
- Permanent hair removal at home is also not suitable when there are abnormalities in the scars. OR if you suffer from a skin disease: herpes, psoriasis, eczema, burns, wounds, or rashes.
- It should also not be used when suffering from certain diseases, including epilepsy, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and varicose veins. They are not recommended for people with pacemakers or internal defibrillators.
- It is not recommended for people sensitive to allergic reactions.
Conclusion about IPL vs Laser Hair Removal
In conclusion, both IPL and laser hair removal are effective methods for reducing unwanted hair growth. While both methods use similar technology, there are some differences in their approach, such as the wavelength of light used and the intensity of the treatment. Laser hair removal tends to be more precise and effective for darker skin tones, while IPL is generally better for lighter skin tones.
It’s important to note that neither method is completely permanent, as hair may grow back over time. However, with proper maintenance and follow-up treatments, you can achieve long-lasting hair reduction.
When choosing between IPL and laser hair removal, consider factors such as your skin type, hair color, and budget. It’s also important to do your research and choose a reputable provider with a track record of success. Ultimately, the decision should be based on what method will work best for your unique needs and preferences.