Unwanted body hair is one of the problems common to a lot of women. Shaving, waxing, plucking, and threading are among the traditional ways of getting rid of these excess hairs. When done in repetition, the skin care habits mentioned also have some side effects to the skin. They can bring damage to the skin such as roughness, pigmentation, and irritation.
The aesthetic industry continues to improve and, over the years, has developed several treatments that offer hair removal procedures that promise to leave the skin smooth and free from hair with less discomfort.
This article will set things straight between two of the leading hair removal treatment available: IPL and Laser treatment. Read up until the very last to know which is best to address your abundant hair woes.
Let us start off by defining each.
What is IPL?
Intense Pulsed Light, otherwise known as IPL, is a treatment used to address different skin problems that makes use of light therapy. When applied to the skin, the light that IPL emits reaches a wide range. It releases numerous lights simultaneously with wavelengths that range from 500 to 1,200 nanometers.
What is Laser?
Laser is a device that, similar to IPL, uses light to treat a broad variety of skin flaws. Laser utilizes energy-charged light beams set to a specific wavelength and concentrated to target a certain area.
Hair Removal Using IPL and Laser
The technique used by IPL and Laser for hair removal is similar. Both use light that targets the hair’s pigment. As the light is focused on the hair, the pigment in the strand absorbs that energy and heats up. When this happens, the heat damages the bulb of cells surrounding the follicle, which is responsible for producing a strand of hair.
Confused? Just imagine a black piece of clothing in place of a hair strand. As it absorbs the heat of the noonday sun, the entire material heats up. This heat eventually destroys the cells that grow the hair.
If both devices make use of light for treatment, is there any difference?
The great difference that is notable between IPL and laser is the amount of light released by each device and the scope of the area on the skin that it affects.
The light discharged by IPL is generated by a lamp that releases several wavelengths of light at one time. This means that, the energy is less powerful when pressed to the skin. Likewise, the light from IPL spreads out widely, affecting not only the hair’s pigment but the skin’s also. This may result to excess skin pigmentation. Because of this, IPL is not recommended for dark complexions.
Laser, on the other hand, releases light beams that are set to a specific frequency of wavelength needed to heat a precise hair pigment. The laser beams are more controlled and focused, which makes it easier for the heat energy to travel through the depths of the pore, reaching and damaging the follicle and cells at a quicker pace. As the light emitted by laser is directed only to the targeted area and is not spread out, it does not affect the skin surrounding the part being treated.
What are factors to consider whether to use IPL or Laser for hair removal?
There are several factors that patients need to consider when choosing which of the two hair removal treatments is suited for their condition:
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is much cheaper as compared to laser hair removal procedures.
- Skin and hair colour. The right hair and skin colour matters for hair removal using light-based devices. Hair pigment, ideally, should be darker than the skin’s pigment. IPL works best in treating hair on fairer skin, while lasers work best on darker skin. In addition, lasers are not able to remove hairs that are lighter in shade, such as blonde, grey, red, or white.
- Skin condition. Use of IPL or lasers on suntanned skin is not advisable as the procedure can cause damage and scarring.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding women. Some medications taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women may cause the skin to be hypersensitive. Hair removal using either IPL or laser is not recommended.
Which hair removal procedure is quicker to finish and can produce results faster?
Hair removal procedures using IPL or lasers do not promise immediate results. However, patients can be assured of permanent hair reduction gradually. The growth of hair will also be thinner. Compared to traditional hair removal like waxing or shaving, patients can expect to the hair regrow slower.
IPL may be done quickly in 10 minutes, as its treatment range is wider. Although, several sessions may be needed to achieve the same results that lasers can yield. On the other hand, laser procedures may take a bit more than 30 minutes to complete, depending on the size of the area for treatment. As laser treatments for hair removal are more intense, the number of sessions needed to reach the optimum results can be fewer than that of IPL.
Both hair removal procedures will need several treatments before achieving significant results. Normally, six to 12 sessions are needed for lasers to produce satisfactory outcomes.
Are there side effects for both IPL and Laser hair removal treatments?
Side effects are common for any aesthetic procedure. The side effects that can be expected from IPL and laser hair removal treatments are:
- Skin sensitivity
Patients need not to worry as these side effects are temporary and will subside within the day of the procedure or after.
What are the things to remember for IPL and laser hair removal aftercare?
Because the skin is exposed to energy and heat from the light of IPL and laser, the treated area will be extremely dry. The skin should be kept moisturized to avoid irritation. At the same time, the skin should be protected from the direct sun exposure, as it is hypersensitive after the treatment. Patients should avoid scratching or touching the skin and must always remember to keep the treated part sanitized to avert infection.
Are both IPL and Laser safe to use on the face?
Yes, IPL and laser are both safe to use on the face but with exceptions. IPL and lasers must not be used on the scalp or on areas that are close to the eyes, such as the eyebrows or the areas surrounding the eyes. Protective eyewear must be used whenever the light beams are administered to parts of the face or other parts of the body as this can severely damage the eyes’ vision.
What should a patient look for in a doctor or clinic that offers IPL or laser treatments for hair removal?
Before settling for an aesthetic practitioner, patients are recommended to make ample research on the different clinics or doctors offering IPL or laser treatments. Reviews of beauty bloggers are a great help and abound online.
Also, inquire about the kind of machine they use when administering IPL or laser treatments to patients. A good sign to note is finding a clinic that offers more than one equipment for treatment.
The expertise of the doctor or aesthetic therapist conducting the treatment is also very important. Choose a practitioner that has experience of operating the IPL or laser equipment for about a year.
Patients may also request for a patch test to be done prior to the actual procedure to see whether their chosen hair removal treatment is suited for their skin.