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Friday, July 22, 2016

Laser Vs IPL Hair Removal | Which is Actually Permanent?

There's always been a question of how effective IPL is compared to Laser hair removal. A lot of people think they're the same thing, but that's far from reality!

After having my third Laser Hair Removal session yesterday, I thought it best to answer some common questions relating to hair removal.

For starters, only IPL is possible at home. You can purchase relatively low cost machines which will remove hair at home using low energy light waves. Laser is much higher power and needs to be done by a professional. They both emit light and both are used to permanently remove hair. That's where the similarities end however.

Dependant on your skin and hair colour, the result you get from either type of removal differs greatly, just as the spectrum of light each machine emits.

The energy from the light causes irreparable damage to the hair follicles it targets, stunts their growth and eventually, after enough applications, permanently stops any hair from growing. The light specifically targets the dark pigments in the hair, so those with darker skin need to be careful. Laser and IPL hair removal may cause damage to skin tissue pigmentation as well. This is also why Laser technicians ask that you don't tan for months before and during your treatment.


There are tonnes of different Laser Hair Removal machines. All for different skin types and hair colours. Pulse Light Clinic*, where I'm getting my treatment done, have 3 laser machines. The Soprano XL which is pain free and can be used on tanned skin, the Nd:YAG which is a specialist machine for darker and Asian skin, the Alexandrite, which is the strongest laser and gives the fastest results, and finally they can use what they call the Duetto which is a mix of the Alexandrite and NDYag (30%/70%) and is used to treat finer hairs such as blonde, red and light brown and can also be used on the fairest of skin.

As mentioned in my previous posts, the laser works by emitting an extremely concentrated monochromatic (single wavelength) light wave and targeting the hair follicles of the area you wish to be hair free. It is very concentrated light of a single colour and form designed to target the melanin within hair. Once the light penetrates the skin and is absorbed by the hair pigment, the light energy is converted into heat. This then travels down into the root and destroys it beyond repair. These then need targeting at every regeneration in order to ensure they don't grow back.

Between 6 to 8 treatments are needed for light skin and a couple more for darker skin.

Intense Pulse Light (IPL)

IPL devices are usually small and handheld and can be purchased for home use. These emit a wide spectrum of wavelengths of light. Because of this, it is commonly argued that IPL is not as effective as Laser. They are only able to target a few hairs at a time, compared to the wide coverage that Laser offers.

Due to the many wavelengths of light, the body receives a lot of wasted and unneeded wavelengths of energy that can actually cause damage to the skin's structure. It cannot effectively isolate the single wave of light needed to target and destroy the hair, therefore IPL doesn't always work and takes many treatments for hair to be completely removed. There is also a risk of burning and scarring of the skin if not done properly. Due to the higher levels of radiation, the long term effects of IPL remain unknown.

For those with olive skin or lighter skin, both laser and IPL will provide the same or similar results. However, for darker skin colours, IPL will most likely not provide the desired results due to the thickness and dark colour of the hair.

Both Laser and IPL are options for both men and women. The most popular areas for treatment for women are the underarms, bikini area, legs, upper lip and chin. For men, popular areas include back, abs, chest and shoulders, along with the face and neck.

With Laser removal, the treatment is only effective when it targets hair in the anagen phase. This is known as the active growth stage - when it's regenerating below the skin's surface.  Because hair grows at different rates, it is only possible to target a few hairs per treatment. Appointments are then spaced around 4-6 weeks apart.

It is worth noting however, that there is no 100% guarantee that either treatment will permanently remove all hair. They promise up to 90% removal. Only electrolysis can guarantee 100%.  This means that one day you may see regrowth, but the hairs will definitely be thinner and more sparse, but at some point (hopefully when I'm 80!) the hairs will start to grow back.

I'm just looking forward to being hair free and not worrying about getting my armpits out on the tube in this disgustingly hot and sticky weather.

Have you had hair removal treatment? Did it work? How long did it last?

You can bag yourself a package deal: 6 x Laser Hair Removal treatments for bikini and underarms only £300! Contact @pulselightclinic at Tottenham Court Road. Tel: 02072054085 to book in. That's the best deal I've seen! Simply quote "deluxe300" when booking.


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