Best for Permanent Hair Removal – Laser vs. IPL

Both work but one has the advantage!

Two options you can turn to when you’ve exhausted all the tedious methods of hair removal ie. waxing, plucking etc are laser hair removal (LHR) and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments. 

But what’s the difference between laser and IPL and which one is better for hair removal?

Both laser hair removal (LHR) and intense pulsed light (IPL) use light to get rid of unwanted hair. This light helps prevent hair from growing back long-term making these options incredibly popular.

Many people think these methods of hair removal are the same. They are similar, but they don’t use the same technology and they don’t produce the same results.

So if you’re thinking of opting for Laser hair removal or IPL you should first figure out which one is right for you. And make sure the clinic you are attending treatments at has the technology you want!

What is laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal is similar to IPL, but at the same time completely different! Medical grade lasers emit a single wavelength of light that focuses on a target area. This light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair only and doesn’t make contact with the surrounding skin or other types of tissue in the treatment area making it a safer option.

The laser causes the hair shaft and the hair follicle to heat up which interrupts the hair growth cycle and stops hair growth by cauterizing the papilla which is the blood flow that feed the hair. When the papilla is cauterized no new hairs can grow from that follicle.

Laser hair removal works best on darker hair but can address lighter hair as well but often requires more treatments to achieve the same results.

Laser hair removal treatments with us cost anywhere between $45-$200 per treatment and can take approximately eight treatments for up to a 94% reduction of hair. 

What is an IPL treatment for hair removal?

IPL or intense pulsed light treatment is a way of getting rid of unwanted body hair, as well as treating pigment or vascular lesions. 

By using a broad spectrum of light, IPL can target only dark hair. Similar to the way wearing black on a sunny day can cause you to heat up, the dark hairs absorb the light, heat up, and are destroyed all the way down to the root. 

IPL treatment for permanent hair reduction works best on darker hair and might not be as effective on lighter-coloured hair. IPL also carries a greater risk of surface burns on the epidermis since it is a broader more shallow treatment area per pulse.

IPL treatments for hair reduction can cost anywhere between $85-$300 per treatment and can take approximately eight treatments for up to a 70% reduction of hair.

What’s the difference between laser hair removal and IPL?

Both laser and IPL use light to heat the hair follicle. This prevents growth and gets rid of any unwanted hair. 

The key difference between laser hair removal and IPL is that IPL is associated with higher amounts of discomfort, whereas laser hair removal is virtually pain-free. Despite this, both modalities are highly effective in the treatment of unwanted hair. 

However, it’s the technology that delivers the light that is the key difference between the two. That and the kind of light that’s being used. 

Lasers produce a specific type of light for the treatment that only has one wavelength (colour) of light going in one direction. This creates a beam similar to a laser pointer. 

IPL devices produce a much wider range of wavelengths of light which appears as a single white flash. The type of light in an IPL is similar to natural light and can have a light orange glow when flashed against the skin. 

When it comes to hair removal both laser light and IPL light work in exactly the same way. The light enters the skin, is absorbed by the pigment in the hair shaft and the hair follicle. 

One of the main objectives of laser or IPL is to hit the right temperature in the hair follicle and avoid heating up the skin. If the skin was to be heated up then it would cause damage and could result in a blister, as well as undesired pigment changes. This risk is higher with IPL because of the broader flash of light affecting more of the skins surface area.

Is laser hair removal or IPL better?

To figure out whether IPL or laser is better for hair removal we’re going to take a look at 5 different factors and compare them.

1. Light source

IPL uses a broad spectrum of light. This targets the hair’s melanin pigment and heats the hair up, causing damage to the follicles. 

Laser hair removal heats up the hair and damages the hair follicles with light energy. The laser focuses on a smaller area and often travels further into the pore. The light used with lasers is concentrated more finely on an area where the hair is being removed, increasing its effectiveness and decreasing the potential for side effects. 

2. Follow-up treatment

Laser hair removal is definitely a more aggressive treatment. It penetrates deeper into the pores giving you better results. This means you may require fewer treatments to get your desired outcome.

IPL on the other hand doesn’t solely focus on hair so you may require more treatments to stop your hairs from growing back.

3. Time Savings

The average woman spends 72 entire days of her life or 1,728 hours, just shaving her legs alone! 

The time savings and improved quality of life are substantial with the treatment of permanent hair reduction with either IPL treatments or Laser treatments.

4. Pain rating

IPL typically has higher amounts of discomfort, whereas laser hair removal is virtually pain-free.

We’ve pulled out the most common treatment areas and the average treatment pain rating on a scale of 0 (no pain) – 10 (worst pain you’ve ever had) below with lighter skin colour and dark hair.

Treatment AreaIPL treatment pain ratingLaser treatment pain rating
Legs62
Under Arms51
Back72
Brazilian72

Are you still unsure which treatment is best for you?

We have both laser and IPL modalities and always use our diode laser for hair removal to give our clients the very best results. Please be sure when booking a hair removal service with any provider to ask which type of technology they are using. Many clinics advertise Laser Hair Removal but are actually using an IPL machine. It is your right to know what technology you are paying for.

Some popular areas for laser hair removal are:

  • Brazillian
  • Underarms
  • Face/Neck
  • Mens Beard Shaping
  • Ears
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Breasts
  • Toes
  • Hands
  • Stomach
  • Buttocks
  • And anywhere else you may have unwanted hair.

No more ingrown hairs, itchiness, expensive razors and getting to wear what you want when you want without fretting about unsightly hair!!

If you’d like to find out more about laser hair removal or book your complimentary consultation then feel free to get in touch!