You might be confused between the two very popular technologies like Laser Hair Removal & IPL offered by various centers but not sure if it will work for you or not

We are aware that there is kind of confusion for many people in interpreting the difference between Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) (or Variable Pulsed Light (VPL)) treatments for hair reduction.

Both Laser and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) therapy are the methods of long-term reducing/eliminating the unwanted body and facial hair and also preventing further hair growth via techniques that defuse the hair follicles.

The point is that both the hair removal methods use similar concept but with different technology. Both the permanent laser hair removal approaches utilize light and heat energy to disable and damage the follicle beneath the skin, though their processes vary and Laser Hair Removal is broadly accepted to be the more potent approach.

Both these hair removal/reduction treatments have been available commercially since the mid 90’s. That said, the major distinctions between Laser and IPL, used as a hair reduction treatment, typically rest in the technology that each utilizes to produce the light, as well as the discrete properties of the light being used.

In order to get to the bottom how and why Laser Hair Removal can be more favorable than IPL, or, it is crucial to understand how each technique works, to know which one can be your best pick.

IPL Treatment

IPL, in place of laser light, generates a broad -spectrum of light source (like a light bulb) that outwardly perforates into the skin and cannot be aimed to a concentrated beam. This broad spectrum is scattered, without targeting any particular facet of the hair. And because an array of wavelength is diffused at different depths, only some of these will prove to be helpful for hair reduction/elimination.

Some high-intensity wavelengths of the light emitted by the IPL laser are absorbed by the hair, bringing about the heating and dismantling of the follicle, while the remaining is reflected away. Only an amount of the energy produced during IPL treatment affects the hairs, making it a comparatively less efficient & comforting method of hair removal than laser treatment. This kind of shallow perforation in opposition to laser means that deeper, thicker hairs are not treated effectively with IPL.

It is worth taking a note that, sometimes, IPL is referred to as IPL Laser treatment and that IPL’s are NOT lasers. This can be deceptive, as the beam generated by IPL is a wide-spectrum light and does not involve lasers.

Furthermore, some of the light can be soaked into the surrounding tissue as well, resulting in heating of the pigment in the skin. This is why, with IPL comes more of a risk of burns for a darker skin type.

Who is IPL Hair Removal Method best for?

IPL is a superlative hair removal method for people with dark and coarse hair, as those with darker and thicker hair soak up the light a lot better and easily so the outcomes will show better. It is one of the great ways to reduce/remove hair permanently, but since it is not as concentrated, it may need more treatments than laser based hair removal to get the same results.

Let’s see how and how not IPL can be effective for you:

  • The strong light quickly destroys the root of the hair.
  • IPL eliminates the worry about hair growing back, and you might get saved from shaving again.
  • It affects the hair not the skin.
  • Treatments do not take too long to perform.
  • It is painful, but lesser than some other hair removal methods.
  • More economical than laser hair removal.

  • Not typically effective on light, white, or grey hairs.
  • Can get a little costly with increased number of sessions, (but you can get cost-cutting by treating yourself with at –home IPL kit)

Laser Hair Removal

On contrary to IPL laser hair removal treatment, laser produces a single, concentrated beam of light wavelength (pure light comprising of one single color and form), that perforates deeper into the skin to get access to the base of the hair follicle.

The wavelength utilized in a laser treatment has particularly been chosen to target the melanin in the hair follicle, as opposed to IPL, which uses a more diffused proposition where only a little amount of the light is absorbed by the follicle. The small, tapered beam executed in laser treatment is directed, exact, and effective and all of the energy being put in the treatment is utilized for the pre-determined purpose of hair growth reduction/removal.

The type/color of a person’s particular hair and skin will establish the tuning settings of the laser light based device and will be discussed during your consultation. Laser based devices are known to be tuned to emit the absolute wavelength needed to treat your hair.

Let’s check how and how not laser technology can be effective for you

  • Effect can be seen just after few sessions
  • Best method to treat large body areas like back, chest, legs etc.
  • Quick and Precise
  • Can be more suitable to almost all skin types

  • Doesn’t work very effectively on those with very light hair or thin hair
  • The laser can get expensive

Choosing Which Hair Removal Treatment is Best

Before you decide which hair removal method is most suitable for you, take into account your skin tone and hair type. Also, think about the area you are getting done and how much time it will take.

  • How long are you looking to wait before seeing results?
  • Are you readily given more procedures since they cost less?

Ultimately both methods have their set of advantages and limitations based on specific needs at removing hair and enabling individuals to stop shaving!

Skin Type Compatibility: IPL vs. Lasers

Fitzpatrick Scale or Skin Typing Test are ‘one and down’ assessments of verifying the compatibility of laser technologies based on the type and color of the skin.

IPL: As a rule of thumb, the darker the skin tone, the lesser the effectiveness and more of harm could be from IPL. This is mainly due to two reasons.

First being that, IPL method is created to be on the lookout for darker hair colors, which are distinctive against the lighter colored skin.

And the second logic is a simple science; dark colors automatically absorb more light than lighter colors.

Because of the kind of light and heat an IPL equipment produces, this can cause burns or other negative side-effects. To come to the point, IPL actually only works on those with fairer skin types i.e. Fitzpatrick Skin Types I, II, and III. IPL 650nm works well on Pale to Medium skin tone

Lasers: Targeting clusters of skin hair follicles with a powerful and concentrated light beam, the lasers technology doesn’t leave damage or burn on the surrounding tissues, thus making for a safer method of laser hair removal to use on people with darker skin tones i.e.

Fitzpatrick Skin Types IV, V, and VI. There are different kinds of laser machines from several manufacturers available that are being used for permanent hair reduction/elimination treatments. The most popular being Nd: YAG, which is commonly executed for darker skin tones while the other include Diode, Alexandrite, and Ruby, which are commonly executed for pale skin types.
Learn more about Diode, Alexandrite & ND Yag Lasers

Because of the longer wavelength that laser based devices like the Nd: YAG produces, it marks for a safer laser hair removal treatment for darker skin tones, unlike IPL. The longer wavelength means the laser light is less diffused and more decreased, thereby making it ideal for darker skin types.

Affordability: IPL vs. Lasers

If we talk about expense, then IPL is affordable, but clearly may need more treatments. Whereas, Lasers may cost a little extra but are competent at specifically targeting individual hairs, being more precise and can attack larger sections at once, thus eradicating the need of various multiple maintenance session.

Treatments Needed: IPL vs. Lasers

IPL: Since IPL isn’t as powerful as laser based hair removal method, it needs multiple sessions for full results to become obvious; customarily 8 to 12 treatments. This should result in a 65-70% reduction in hair growth.

Laser: Visible results are seen after 5 to 7 sessions, with approximately 80% reduction in hair growth.

Please Note: Despite the assertions made by some spas, salons or magazine coverage’s about “permanent” hair removal, neither IPL nor laser treatments permanently make you get rid of hair; they only provide long term hair reduction. Touch up treatment is always required for uninterrupted hair reduction result.

Using IPL and Laser for The Face: IPL vs. Lasers

Both IPL and laser hair removal methods are suitable to be used on female face. However, none should be put to application on the eyebrows or the scalp.

They are absolutely safe to use under the cheek line, chin or upper lip, but should not be employed in closeness to the eyes as the flare of the light may cause injury to the sight.

For this reason, it is critical for the practitioner to provide patients with adequate eye protection whenever undergoing an IPL or laser hair removal, even if not treating the face. Some at-home IPL kits also come inclusive of eye protection, but if they don’t, you can have them reasonably.

It is also crucial to know that you should avoid looking directly into the light source while treated with any treatment for hair removal.

IPL & LASER Hair Removal for Face: With IPL, one can expect some skin irritation which may be in the form of swelling, redness, itchiness or tenderness. Whereas use of laser hair removal methods does not cause such side effects, if they rarely do, then it’s mild. However, the side effects are normally short lived in both the options and should not last more than a day.

Hair Removal Results: IPL vs. Lasers

IPL Hair Removal Results: Worth noting that neither IPL nor laser hair removal techniques will offer instant outcomes. Different from, waxing shaving and threading, you won’t leave the treatment with completely soft, hair-free skin.

The hairs will, drop out as they die over the next few weeks and those which have been failed to be impacted because of the growth cycle phase.

It will take several another sessions (or more) to see the visible reduction. However, you will be allowed to shave in between sessions, as you don’t require having any grow-out times.

Laser Hair Removal Results: Returning favorable results, confirming the efficacy and safety of the laser based technique devices for hair removal; one can expect removing unwanted hair from larger body areas like back, chest, legs, abdomen or arms in considerably over an average of 6 sessions.

With professional laser treatments one or two body parts can be treated parallel while delivering results just after 3 to 7 treatments. Moreover, the advantage of laser hair removal over waxing and shaving is that you will obtain permanent reduction of hair growth over time, because hairs that grow will also get treated, so no need to shave as often.

These hairs will also be growing back thinner, paler and less coarse, so they are less obvious.

However, whichever method you opt, you may occasionally require top-up treatment sessions half yearly or yearly, but you are possibly to see massive difference in the reduction of hair growth.

How Long Have IPL and Laser Hair Removal Been Around?

IPL: The first use of IPL took place in a study in 1997, where hair loss was brought into being the side effect of skin treatment with IPL. This literature study utilized an IPL based technology equipment called Photoderm VL and regarded to treat facial port wine stains (birthmarks). Researchers ascertained that the contusions reacted positively to the first treatment and fully disappeared after the fourth. Later, the researchers documented two cases of permanent removal of facial hair. The same researcher also chronicled a column which fruitfully utilized IPL in the treatment of essential telangiectasias (ETE), which is a skin disorder. From that moment, the technique has hugely upgraded and resulted in the designing of more vigorous, versatile and visioning IPL devices.

Laser hair removal: Laser technology of hair removal, on the other hand, was first introduced earlier, in 1960. Initial formulations were unfortunately laid back, less effectual and resulted in burns, but to everyone’s surprise, the technology rapidly progressed, with the first FDA-approved laser for hair removal becoming commercially available for the use in 1964. Since then, the power and popularity of Laser hair removal has widely shown increment due to being more functional and safe. In addition, the FDA finally approved of at-home laser hair removal kit, the only diode Tria Laser 4X in 2008 for permanent hair reduction.

Laser vs. IPL Hair Removal Advantages– Which One Is Better?

What is the difference between Laser and IPL in respect to their use in hair reduction treatments?

The key benefits of using Laser Hair Removal over IPL Hair Removal method for hair reduction are:

  • Laser technology is unquestionably much more favorable, and attains sizeably better outcomes than IPL Hair Removal. The majority of patients experience long-term hair reduction/elimination after 6-12 sessions.*
  • IPL is unable to work on darker skin types as well as red or grey hair. However, different kinds of lasers are available for different skin types and hair colors/types. Nd: YAG is favorable for darker skin tones while Ruby and Alexandrite lasers which are recommended for pale skin tones.
  • IPL is comparatively less effective than laser based technology for reducing body hair; it could be a bit cheaper though.
  • Lasers based hair reducing/removing technology are far more meticulous, and can exactly target dark, coarse hairs while granting the surrounding skin unharmed.
  • Each laser pulse can treat several hairs at a time in fraction of a second.
  • Laser based hair removal technology can be effectively used to treat larger body areas, unlike IPL treatment that can take up only small treatment areas subsequently.
  • Laser settings can be calibrated to suit an individual’s particular skin tone and hair color, which is not the case with IPL laser hair removal method.
  • Lasers are highly safe for almost all skin colors, whereas IPL can cause blazing, scarring and fading (tan patches or discoloration) on darker skin tones. However, it is worth noting that ‘Results may vary from individual to individual’.
  • Long term hair reduction result is more obvious with laser than IPL.

At Home Laser and IPL Devices

There are now a good number of at-home LASER and IPL hair removal kits available in the market, many of which are cleared by the FDA.

All machines employ the same technique that laser or dermatology clinics and skin centers use, but have been created particularly keeping in mind that they do cause any harm in the hands of inexperienced and unskilled persons.

By incorporating the same science as professional devices, they can attain commendable outcomes, that too at a much more affordable price and grant you to treat your skin without having to step out of your house.

Most are portable enough to be packed into a vanity case, so are able to take them away and get treated even on the go. To take a look at some of the best at-home laser and IPL hair removal kits available:

Top At-Home Laser Hair Removal Kits

  • Tria Beauty Hair Removal 4X
  • Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser Precision
  • Remington iLight Ultra Face And Body Hair Removal System
  • Remington iLIGHT Pro Plus Quartz Hair Removal System
  • Philips Lumea New BRI956 Prestige IPL Hair Removal for Body, Face and Bikini
  • Philips Lumea Comfort IPL Hair Removal System
  • Silk’n Infinity 400,000
  • Silk’n Flash&Go Luxx Hair Removal Device
  • Silk’n SN-002 SensEpil All-Over Hair Removal Handheld Device
  • SmoothSkin Gold 300 IPL Hair Removal System
  • Bellalite By Silk’n
  • Iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction Device
  • Tanda Me My Elos Syneron Touch Hair Removal System
  • Braun Gillette Venus Silk-Expert IPL 5001
  • Veet Infini’Silk Pro Light-Based IPL Hair Removal System


Both procedures of permanent hair removal/reduction methods are great choices, determining your skin type and hair color in order to choose the procedure that will fit your needs the best.

Also, it is always viable to get your laser hair treatment done at a professional dermatologist clinic or skin salon unless you are well-versed with at-home LASER and IPL kits, as a little error can lead you to great skin jeopardy. It is an expense you will be happy to have paid when you see the results, rather than sobbing to have saved a little and lost unimaginably.

In a professional set-up, you will be helped to identify the correct settings for the machine based on your skin and hair and area. All of the factors and concerns will be discussed beforehand, during the initial test patch consultation, thus keeping you all-sides safe and in a better position to make a well-informed decision regarding the best hair removal treatment for you.

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