What is the difference between IPL and Laser Hair Removal?

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There is a lot of confusion among people looking for hair removal.

Just what is the difference between IPL and Laser Hair Removal?

The confusion starts with trying to understand the different treatment methods.

On the one hand you have “laser hair removal” and on the other “IPL(Intense Pulsed Light)“.

Today I explain the differences between IPL and laser hair removal and what would be the best option for you.

So firstly lets take a look at each treatment in turn to evaluate the pros and cons of these methods.

What is IPL laser hair removal?

IPL stands for “Intense pulsed light”. The technology is used in the medical industry and the cosmetic industry. IPL is not just used for hair removal it also has many therapeutic uses. For example sun damage, changing skin pigmentation, acne problems and it’s even been used to treat thread veins.

IPL uses a broad range or spectrum of pulsed light. The wave length of light is controlled by using filters. This makes it possible to target specific chromophores or melanin in the hair. Hence the light and heat generated by IPL can target a certain hair colour for removal.

So how does IPL laser hair removal?

A wide spectrum of light is applied to the skin. This light targets melanin. The hair shafts contain the highest amount of melanin. Therefore the light and thus the heat produced by the light heats the hair shafts.

The heat travels down the hair to the root(bulb) where it destroyed the papilla(this is where the hair is produced). For this process to work the hair follicles need to be active but not all the hair follicles are active at the same time.

This is why you need a number of treatments to remove all the hair. The number of treatments needed is variable and depends on a number of factors for example skin type(1).

So how does laser hair removal work?

In technical terms removal of hair with a laser is called “selective photothermolysis” or SPTL. To put this in simple terms. The wavelength of the light and the duration are matched to the target. In this case the target is the hair follicles. The light emitted is absorb better by darker objects. Hence laser hair removal works best on dark hair. Like LPI the hair is killed by heat.

What’s the best IPL or Laser?

What does the science say. A large clinical study involving 232 people(2) tested diode, alexandrite, laser and IPL. Interestingly all three light sources were found to have similar hair reduction. However the diode laser was slightly better at hair removal but this was offset by having higher side effects.

Conclusion

Unlike laser hair removal, IPLs doesn’t utilize a laser beam, but rather a broad spectrum of wavelength. To put it in perspective, lasers offers the greatest precision, while IPLs’ dispersed wavelengths offer shallower penetration. But despite those differences, it doesn’t make IPL method less effective than laser hair removal.

In order to understand why then check out the infographic below provided by Medix Skincare and Laser Clinic.

Pros and Cons Laser IPL Hair Removal

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