Thinking about long-term hair removal but not sure what type of treatment to go for or what the differences between them are? This post is for you. We’ve been providing hair removal since 2013, with a wealth of experience within our team; one of whom was at the forefront of laser hair removal when it came to the UK in the early 1990’s-she alone has over 30 years of experience with laser hair removal methods. Today we’re going to dive into the world of hair removal as we unravel the hot debate: laser hair removal vs. IPL, and the key difference between them. Which will emerge victorious in your quest for silky-smooth skin every day?
I’m going to lay our cards down from the get-go… Our overriding preference between the two treatments is laser hair removal, no question. And here’s why.
Quick tip before we get into the ins and outs of it. Often, a treatment that is marketed as a laser is not, it’s an IPL technology. Sometimes people use laser as a blanket term, but this is incorrect. It’s important to ask what technology you’re getting and not just take for granted that it will be a laser as this is the main difference between IPL and laser treatments. Also, if you’re researching what’s better…laser or IPL, check out where that information is coming from manufacturer is 100% going to say that IPL/laser (whichever one they’re selling) is THE best. Of course, everyone is allowed their opinion. In our opinion from our collective experiences, laser light is best for hair removal. Otherwise, we’d have bought an IPL for a fraction of the cost.
Laser Hair Removal vs. Ipl: The Technology
These two treatments use light waves to destroy hair growth in targeted areas. The light (either laser energy or IPL) is directed onto the surrounding skin and is absorbed by the pigment in the body hair, causing the hair follicle to rapidly heat up. The aim is to destroy the area that the hairs grow from and their hair’s nutrient supply to reduce and stop the hair from growing. They differ in the type of light used, however.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) uses a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths. This is less specific and targeted than laser. Lasers use monochromatic coherent light, which means that it uses one wavelength of light going in one direction, making it more specific and concentrated.
I know that this point to the previous paragraph might sound like a lot of fancy-sounding words that don’t have much meaning so I’m going to use a superhero analogy. Stay with me side glance…
Your hairs are a gang of villains hiding within the depths of your skin and there are two superheroes out to get them… Captain Laser and IPL Man (indulge me). They have special powers enabling them to make those pesky hair villains disappear, POW!
Captain Laser is a sniper of a superhero; a precise ninja that targets just those hairs. He’s great at getting straight to the problem without civilian (your skin) fatalities.
IPL Man on the other hand is more like IPL Men. Instead of a single, powerful ninja, there’s a team consisting of multiple, weaker superheroes. This team sends out bursts of different coloured light to attack those villains. IPL Men fight multiple concerns at once (redness, hyperpigmentation, hair) but are less powerful and targeted than Captain Laser at specifically picking off the hair villains, they might get some hairs but they’ll probably get a bunch of other stuff along the way. Because IPL Men aren’t as good at picking out the villains from the civilians there can be more chance of fatalities (burns) particularly if used on darker skin types.
I hope that analogy made sense and was helpful. In the meantime, I need a laydown and leave the superhero stuff firmly to Marvel.
Laser Hair Removal vs Intense Pulsed Light: What’s the Cost?
Typically, IPL is cheaper than laser hair removal per session. However, quite often you require more sessions of IPL due to its less targeted nature so the two may not work out far different when it comes to cost in the long run.
Laser vs. Ipl: Which One Am I the Right Candidate For?
IPL is safest on lighter skin tones, darker skin tones have a higher chance of complications with IPL hair removal treatments.
There are different types of laser and who they are most effective on and safe for differ. Some lasers are only safe for light skin tones. At our Hertfordshire UK laser hair removal clinic, we use the Soprano Ice laser which is a diode laser. A diode laser uses a diode to create its laser beam.
The brilliant thing about the diode laser (and why we chose it for our clinic) is that the laser beam can be tuned to a specific colour (or wavelength to be factual) that is both safe and effective for everyone’s skin tone, with the ability to treat ALL skin tones.
Not all laser hair removal devices use a diode to make their laser beam, for example, the Nd:Yag laser (or Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet laser, if you want to know. Probably didn’t) uses a synthetic crystal as its source to create its laser beam. In this case, the crystal is made of yttrium, aluminium, garnet, and a sprinkling of neodymium (Nd) ions added to it. The clue was in the name…how silly of us.
A simpler example may be the Alexandrite laser which also uses a synthetic crystal but is made up of alexandrite with added chromium ions. You get the idea.
Anyway, the Nd:Yag is suitable for all skin types to have laser treatments, including darker skin regardless of hair colour, whereas the Alexandrite is safe and effective for finer hair on those with lighter skin tones.
IPL, as we know, is not a laser but a broad-spectrum light source. This is typically from a xenon flash lamp; a gas-filled tube which emits multiple colours of light (wavelengths) when an electrical current passes through it. Each flash contains various wavelengths all at once and a filter is usually used by the IPL user so that only certain wavelengths, suitable for what they want to treat, hit the skin. For example, IPL filters will be customised when targeting redness in the skin or hair (you’re not going to have your hair and broken veins treated in one go with this treatment). As mentioned before IPL will hit some of the targets (hairs) but will not be as targeted as laser hair removal and cannot be tuned precisely to the individual’s skin tone the way a diode laser can be.
Laser Hair Removal vs. Ipl: The Hair Follicle Remover Winner
You and I both knew that I was always going to say that laser hair removal is superior to IPL. It just is, scientifically. When it comes to hair follicle removal technology, laser hair removal treatment is at the top of the log.
This is not to say that IPL hair removal is not effective on the right people, with the right practitioner, however, IPL is likely to be less effective in comparison to laser hair removal, especially as a permanent hair removal treatment option. IPL often requires more treatment sessions and IPL is not safe for all skin types.
There’s more information here if you would like to learn more about Soprano Ice laser hair removal (no superhero comparisons I’m afraid, that was strictly for this little corner of the internet). If you like to discuss laser treatment options with our laser hair removal specialist at our Hertfordshire clinic, please contact us to arrange a consultation and test patch.
Disclaimer: This blog is not to be used for diagnostic purposes. We are all unique which means that our results, recovery and suitability for any type of treatment will vary. Always seek the advice of a professional should you have any health or cosmetic concerns or to discuss treatments specifically for you.