Why would you hate IPL?

IPL hair removal: The desire for permanently smooth skin

by Medical Esthetic | May 17, 2021 | Generally

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IPL is the new star in permanent hair removal. More and more cosmetic studios are offering the treatment. There are now even devices for home use. But which method is better and how does IPL hair removal actually work? The most important questions about the method are answered below.

IPL is becoming increasingly popular

Who doesn't want permanently smooth skin without the hassle of shaving, waxing or epilation? IPL hair removal promises long-lasting results and should be particularly painless and without risks. To be too good to be true?

Like the laser method, IPL uses light pulses to stop hair growth. Because of this, many still have reservations about the method, after all, light therapies are also associated with certain risks. The IPL treatment should be much gentler than methods with lasers. But is that also true?

What is IPL and does it work?

The abbreviation IPL stands for “Intense Pulsed Light”. These are rays of light with a very specific wavelength. As short light impulses, these are flashed onto the affected areas of the skin using a handy applicator. The procedure is also known as "photoepilation".

Every cell in the human body reacts to certain wavelengths of light. The flashes of light from IPL technology are set in such a way that they work specifically in the hair roots. The rest of the tissue is spared. Flashing at regular intervals causes the hair root to overheat, causing it to become permanently deserted. The hair no longer grows back and the skin remains nice and smooth.

In the field of permanent hair removal, the use of light pulses is the most sustainable method and, apart from electro-epilation, the only one that promises a really long-lasting result.

IPL and Laser: What's the Difference?

The IPL procedure is basically the further development of the laser treatment. Both methods work according to the same method, but the laser is considered to be more aggressive. IPL is therefore celebrated as a more harmless variant.

With both methods, the hair roots are obliterated by light impulses. This often leads to slight redness and irritation, especially with lasers. However, the IPL device uses a wider range of wavelengths that are emitted as fast, pulsating light pulses. A laser only uses one wavelength, so the energy is focused specifically on the hair follicle. This means that fewer treatments are necessary, but they are also much more intensive.

With the IPL method, the light is scattered more, which means that the tissue is not irritated as much. The wavelengths can also be adapted to the respective hair type. That is why the treatment is considered gentler than the laser. However, the procedure is not equally suitable for all skin and hair types. Laser therapy is more effective, especially for people with dark skin or light hair.

What are the advantages of IPL treatment?

Compared to laser therapy, the IPL procedure is considered to be much more pleasant, because you only feel a slight tingling sensation on the skin. In addition, the treatment leads to less skin irritation compared to conventional methods with razors or epilators.

As with the laser method, only active hair roots can be treated with IPL hair removal. Resting hair is spared the light pulses. Therefore, several meetings are necessary for both procedures. The laser method requires fewer treatments on average, but an IPL session is much faster. It usually only lasts about 30 minutes and is generally associated with fewer side effects.

IPL devices for the home

IPL hair removal is primarily offered by cosmetic studios and dermatological practices. However, the sessions there are not exactly cheap. This is why IPL devices are now also available for use at home. But is it just as good to use at home and do it yourself without any risks?

What can the devices do?

Since IPL hair removal is not entirely risk-free, home devices are never as effective as professional ones. The home devices generally have a power limit. This makes it very safe to use, but the result is not that good.

The light pulses from the IPL devices at home are much more gentle, which means that the effect is much less. A home IPL machine requires significantly more treatments at shorter intervals to produce a result. In addition, they usually do not manage to remove the hair permanently. A visible reduction in hair is also possible with home appliances.

Of course, the over-the-counter IPL devices are also getting better and better. Nevertheless, treatment in a professional cosmetic studio or with a dermatologist is generally more recommended. Because the result is usually better and a specialist is also familiar with the risks and can individually adapt the treatment to the hair and skin type.


Does the skin stay smooth over the long term?

Permanent hair removal - that sounds like you never have to worry about annoying hair growth again. Unfortunately, it's not that dreamy after all. Because even the IPL method cannot stop hair growth forever. The skin is smooth for many years after successful treatment, but hair growth can come back after a few years, albeit less strongly. This is why people prefer to talk about hair reduction instead of hair removal. Because even if the hair comes back, the growth is very reduced.

Who is IPL for?

The IPL treatment is ideal for many people for hair removal. Unfortunately, however, the procedure is not recommended for people with very dark or tanned skin. IPL should always be used on untanned skin, otherwise pigmentation disorders can occur.

Unfortunately, the IPL treatment is also not suitable for people with very light hair (white, gray, light blonde). The reason is that in this case the light pulses cannot differentiate between the color of the skin and the hair and are therefore too unspecific.

Are there any risks with IPL hair removal?

IPL hair removal is generally very well tolerated because the light intensity is not as strong as with the laser procedure and the treatment time is much shorter.

Nevertheless, as with any cosmetic treatment, undesirable side effects can always occur. Slight redness and a bit of burning sensation during the session are quite normal. However, this usually disappears on its own after a short time after the treatment.

The entire procedure is not painful, only a tingling sensation of heat or a slight prick can be felt. The advantage of the IPL technique is that the light pulses are perfectly adjusted to the respective skin and hair type. This means that risks such as burns or other skin damage are as good as excluded when used properly.

In the case of home use, however, it can happen that the light intensity does not match the skin type. This means that under-treatment is possible, as a result of which the hair is not properly sclerosed and only turns gray. Over-treatment, on the other hand, can cause burns and blistering.


IPL hair removal is a modern technology that promises an optimal and long-lasting result. In addition, the method is much gentler than the laser process and brings the same, or even better, results. Treatment at home is not advisable, however, as the devices do not provide the same performance and are relatively expensive. In addition, there is a risk of incorrect application. It is always better to have permanent hair removal carried out in a cosmetic studio, where trained experts carry out the treatment professionally.