Are you thinking about getting professional hair removal? While waxing and threading are painful and temporary, methods like IPL (intense pulsed light) and laser hair removal promise to deliver fast, painless, and permanent results. But what’s the difference? Keep reading and we’ll tell you all about IPL vs laser hair removal, the pros, cons, and which one is right for you.
IPL vs Laser Hair Removal
IPL Hair Removal
IPL is a version of light therapy that can be used for more than just hair removal. Some of its uses include diminishing wrinkles, sun damage, rosacea, and the appearance of varicose veins.
IPL functions by directing light at pigmented cells in order to absorb light energy, which is converted to heat. The heat then works to destroy unwanted pigment and hair follicles, preventing regrowth. Because this method targets melanin, of which light hair has very little, IPL is not effective for the removal of light hair.
There can be mild discomfort after the procedure including redness or swelling. Many users of the IPL hair removal method compare the after-effects of the experience to a slight sunburn. The process is not considered painful and there is no razor burn or irritation that can sometimes result from shaving or using harsh chemicals.
Laser Hair Removal
The science behind laser hair removal differs slightly from IPL. Hair grows in three stages (anagen, catagen, and telogen), and laser hair removal focuses on hair that is in the anagen stage, meaning active growth.
During laser hair removal, the laser light is densified and much more concentrated than in IPL treatments. The energy heats the hair, safely destroying it all the way down to the follicle without damaging any of the surrounding skin.
Laser hair removal is considered a bit more painful than IPL due to all of the light being concentrated on a single spot. Similarly, only small sections of the skin can be worked on at a time during laser hair removal. The side effects of laser hair removal are similar to that of IPL treatments, with most individuals reporting mild symptoms of slight swelling and redness afterward.
Finding the Right Treatment
So which one is right for your needs? There are a few things to consider when deciding on getting IPL vs laser hair removal.
Type of Light Used
In IPL, `two different lights are used in order to remove hair right down to the follicle. IPL is more scattered than laser hair removal, with several different wavelengths in use. It’s more scattered than laser hair removal, which is focused and works on one single, a small area at a time. When comparing the two, think of IPL as a photo flash, with laser hair removal being more reminiscent of a laser pointer.
Amount of Treatments Needed
Laser hair removal focuses on smaller sections of the body and, due to its heat energy and concentration, is a more effective method of hair removal. The average number of sessions needed in order for the hair to be removed is anywhere from 4-6 sessions. These sessions tend to be longer than IPL treatments due to the concentration of the laser light.
With IPL being more scattered and less focused, it can concentrate on a large area of the body during hair removal. These same factors make it less powerful than laser hair removal, and more treatment sessions are needed in order for it to be successful. Most experts estimate that patients should expect to sit for 8-10 sessions, and some say that even with these additional sessions it is still a less effective hair removal treatment than laser hair removal. In addition, more touch-up sessions are needed after the initial removal in order to keep the hair gone.
Every treatment is different and the amount of sessions needed is dependent on a number of factors, not least of all being the needs of the patient. Generally speaking, IPL will need more treatment sessions in order to remove the hair from the follicle and keep it from coming back.
Cost of IPL VS Laser Hair Removal
The question on every patient’s mind is always the cost of IPL vs laser hair removal. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer in regards to the overall cost. Since every patient is different and the number of sessions needed can’t be clear until the process is already underway, the cost can’t be determined until the desired amount of hair is removed.
With that being said, when you look at the benefits and limitations of each process there are some ways to get a cost estimate. Since IPL is less powerful, the treatment sessions are less expensive. IPL also uses broad flashes of light, so more surface area can be covered during a single treatment session.
There are a couple more factors that make laser hair removal more expensive than IPL treatments. Laser light is potentially dangerous and should only be handled by trained professionals, which brings the price up considerably. Secondly, the cost of laser hair removal vs IPL is more expensive due to laser light being quite a bit more pricey to generate than IPL wavelengths.
While single treatment sessions of IPL are less expensive than laser hair removal, keep in mind that there are often more treatment sessions and touch-ups required for IPL vs laser hair removal. With this in mind, if you have stubborn hair that needs more sessions, you could end up spending just as much (if not more) on IPL treatments as you would on laser hair removal.
Final Thoughts on IPL vs Laser Hair Removal
If you’ve been weighing the pros and cons when it comes to IPL vs laser hair removal, hopefully, this overview was able to provide valuable insight into which option is right for you. While the intended outcomes are essentially the same, there are a number of factors that affect the cost and time investment needed to see the results you’re looking for.
If you’re ready to take the next step, contact one of our specialists today to book your next treatment when comparing IPL VS Laser Hair Removal.