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.
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.