EXPLAINER: Exactly what IPL is, how it works to remove hair, and how you can do it at home.

Remington i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense IPL
Thanks to our brand partner, Remington i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense IPL

The world of hair removal can be a hairy situation. (sorry.)

There’s umpteen options on the market from shaving to wax and those creams which seem to fry the hair away. Most of us are happy to endure these messy methods, except for when the hair grows back and we have to do it all again in a few days.

That’s why permanent hair removal is so popular. But even then, that category is confusing unto itself. What is IPL, and what is laser? And how are they different?

Let’s take a closer look.

What is IPL?

“IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light,” Melanie Kercheval, Product Manager for Remington told Mamamia.

“It’s a clinically proven light-based hair removal treatment. IPL devices emit intermittent pulses of light that reach and destroy the hair follicles beneath the skin which prevents hair regrowth.”

How does it differ from laser?

Excellent question. The two sound so similar and in fact they are, so it’s easy to get them confused.

“The main difference is that IPL technology provides a broad spectrum of light wavelengths whereas with a laser, the technology produce a single spectrum of light wavelength,” says Melanie.

“Lasers are more narrow targeted beams. The IPL light is produced by a flash lamp so the coverage is greater which means it can get through treatments faster.

“Laser might be good if you’re looking at a patch of hair on the face for example, if you didn’t want to remove hair above it or below it.”

What does IPL do to the hair?

“The device emits a flash and that flash of light heats up the hair’s melanin, and the act of heating it up actually disables the hair follicle beneath the skin which results in the hair follicle shedding naturally and regrowth is prevented,” Melanie said.

IPL technology can be used on both the face and body.

Keep in mind that there’s a hair growth cycle at play here. There’s three stages to it, called the Anagen, Catagen and Telogen phases. Each strand of hair is at one of those stages, and if a particular hair is naturally at the Telogen (shedding) stage, you’ll have to wait until it’s back to target it with IPL (or laser for that matter).

Who is it for and how long does it take?

We now know that IPL targets the hair’s melanin (that’s the colour) so essentially the hair needs to be darker than the skin.

IPL is not ideal on blonde, red, grey or white hair as the strands needs to contain melanin. It’ll either take a lot longer, or won’t be as effective.

Skin tone also comes into play. If the skin underneath is darker than the hair you’re trying to remove, IPL is not for you.

“On average people need three treatments two weeks apart to start to see results. You’ll then need top up treatments and the timing of those varies from person to person. This will depend on where the hair is at in the growth phases. Some people see results after their first treatment,” Melanie explained.

Can IPL be done at home?

You betcha. At-home hair removal devices have come a long way since those dodgy infomercials from decades ago.

It might seem scary to take permanent hair removal into your own hands but the the Remington i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense ($899.95 - currently on sale at Harvey Norman for $599.95) has clever technology inside to make sure you’re safe.

Remington IPL
The Remington i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense.

“The device has a skin tone sensor in the head, so before every flash it is checking the skin tone and will illuminate red and send out a low energy flash if the area is too dark and not suitable. It checks 100 times per second so as you move around the area you can be sure it’s safe,” Melanie said.

The Remington i-Light® Smooth Sense is clinically proven and dermatologist recommended to remove hair safely and effectively, which is great.

The device features an express mode so you can treat your legs, bikini line and underarms in about 15 minutes. It also has a sensitive mode which provides a less intense treatment for gentle areas.

“It can also be used on the face but it is advised on females only and below the cheekbone,” Melaine added. “You don’t want to get to close to the eye.”

The good thing with DIY is that you don’t have lengthy waits between salon appointments. You can do it whenever you feel the hair in that area starts to grow back - at least two weeks between treatments is recommended. And you don’t have to pay per session, either.

Is it safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

“No, because we haven't had it tested. There's not many people who want to do that so as a safety precaution we say no,” Melanie told us.

I'm excited to give this thing a go - keep an eye out for my review in an upcoming article. Wish me luck!

Have you used IPL before? How'd it go? Tell us in the comments!

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Remington i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense IPL

Remington i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense IPL

Experience fast & effective permanent hair removal with Remington's i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense. Designed with speed in mind, the wider treatment window** & express mode ensure a full body treatment can be completed in as little as 15 minutes!^
Dermatologist recommended and designed with an integrated skin tone sensor to deliver the optimum power for you, the i-LIGHT® Smooth Sense ensures a safe & comfortable solution to remove unwanted hair in the privacy of your own home. Now you can feel confident and ready for anything all year round with soft, smooth, hair-free skin.