Does IPL Hair Removal Actually Work?

Hair removal technology has come on in leaps and bounds in just a few short years. Now it is more popular than ever with people across the United States and indeed all over the world. This does mean that the range of treatments on offer can be somewhat confusing and it might feel difficult to identify which options are the safest and most effective for you. A big question to start with is whether to opt for laser treatment, or the common alternative: intense pulsed light (IPL).


IPL has several applications for skin treatments, and hair removal is just one of these, but it is the most common. IPL differs from laser treatment in the sense that it emits pulses of light on different wavelengths, rather than just one specific one, causing a different effect on the hairs being targeted. These individual hairs will vary in colour, which means they absorb light differently, hence the variation used in IPL treatment. The light pulses are absorbed and converted into heat by the hairs, which effectively destroys living cells.


Unfortunately it doesn’t work on dead cells, and at any given time only 20% to 40% of the hair on your body is attached to a living root, so you need to have multiple cycles of IPL treatment to effectively catch them all. Generally IPL is also considered less effective than laser hair removal because the effect is simply weaker and less reliable; although it may be suitable for very fair skin, it is unlikely to have the desired effect on darker pigmentation. In comparison to laser machines which can be set to a precise wavelength depending on the requirements of the person’s skin, IPL is somewhat random with its targeting which is why the effectiveness is reduced.


On the other hand, there are benefits to IPL which explain why it is still so widely used. For some people it can be perfectly effective, if returning for multiple treatments isn’t an issue. These people are able to benefit from the reduced cost of IPL treatment in comparison to full laser treatment, since professional IPL machines cost only a few thousand dollars and you can even buy simple DIY kits to use at home for as little as $300. A laser hair removal machine found in professional clinics would typically cost upwards of $40,000, and probably much more in many cases.

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