The Intense Pulse Light (IPL) laser hair removal system is a non-coherent laser. This is not strictly a laser, but an equivalent. The process uses the same principles as photothermolysis. The burst of light created by the IPL machine acts on the hair follicle in the same way as a laser would.
The IPL system is more flexible than laser hair removal, as there is no set laser wavelength. The wavelength can be set to suit you, along with the energy level and the time you are exposed to the laser. These are chosen to damage the hair follicles while aiming to cause as little damage as possible to the tissues surrounding the follicles. Because the treatment parameters are set to suit you, results can vary from person to person. The system has been designed to cover large areas of skin in a short period of time. Some people feel mild pain and discomfort while having this type of laser hair removal treatment. The treatment can work well on most skin and hair types, but can be less effective if you have blond, red or white hair. The best results are seen on those with light skin and dark hair.
What are the Advantages of IPL Laser Hair Removal?
- The treatment parameters are set to suit your individual needs, giving you personalised treatment
- This system can cover large areas of skin, quickly
- There is a smaller risk of damaging surrounding tissues with IPL than with laser treatments.
What are the Disadvantages of IPL Laser Hair Removal?
- The IPL system cannot be used on sun exposed skin
- IPL is not effective on all hair and skin types and is therefore not a versatile as the ND Yag Lasers.
- This system can cause damages to pigment producing cells (melanocytes), which can leave you with patches of darker or lighter skin
IPL vs. Traditional Hair Removal Methods
Some usual traditional methods of hair removal, which do not involve lasers, light, or any electronic equipment, include shaving, waxing, hair removal creams, epilation, plucking, and so on. Their main advantages is that they are relatively cheap, mostly easy to use, and provide flexibility – removal of the hair is not permanent and can be grown back. Many people can also be put off by the use of lasers and machines in their beauty routine and prefer to have more personal control over it. On the other hand, you may not want to give hairs in a certain area the opportunity to grow back, in which case a permanent reduction method may be a better option. Having to constantly remove hair through shaving or waxing can also be seen as a hassle, and a more permanent method such as IPL can save time or hassle in the long run. This is especially true if you have sensitive skin which may react to waxes and removal creams or be prone to shaving rash. Spending money on a few IPL sessions can also work out to be more cost efficient than continually buying hair removal products over time.
How are Laser Hair Removal and IPL Hair Removal Different?
Both laser hair removal and IPL hair removal work in very similar ways, using light to target pigment in the hairs and heat up and destroy the follicle. The key difference, however, is that IPL is able to deliver hundreds more wavelengths than lasers, which only use a narrow spectrum of light. Filters are used with IPL so that the absolute optimum wavelengths are delivered, depending on whether the light is being used to target hair, skin, blood vessels, and so on. Using filters also means that there is minimum damage to the skin. IPL tends to be more popular and widespread than laser treatment, and is usually cheaper.
IPL vs. LHE Hair Removal
LHE, or light heat energy, hair removal is very similar to IPL hair removal. The only difference is that as well as low levels of light, it also delivers low level heat, in order to target and destroy hair follicles.
IPL Hair Removal vs. Electrolysis
Another, even more widely available method of permanent hair removal or reduction is electrolysis. In electrolysis, a small needle is inserted into the hair follicle, allowing a shot of electricity to reach the root of the hair, preventing the follicle from any more. Its advantages over IPL hair removal (and laser hair removal) are that it has the lowest rate of regrowth, it is cheaper, and it is thought to be the safest. It can also be performed on people of all skin and hair colours, including blonde or red hair and dark skin, which are unsuitable for IPL. Disadvantages of electrolysis, however, are that it can take a much longer length of time to perform (as each hair must be targeted individually), there is a greater risk of scarring if the needle is not inserted properly, and the jolts of electricity can be more painful than light or lasers.