IPL Hair Removal: What You Need To Know?

IPL Hair Removal: What You Need To Know

If you are interested in hair removal, you have probably heard about IPL hair removal. You may have questions such as, what the technique is all about, how safe is IPL hair removal, is IPL hair removal painful and others. Well, here is a lowdown on the hair removal technique – how it works, the risks involved, and more.

The intense pulsed light technique, as its name suggests, is a technique that uses intense pulsed light or IPL technology to permanently remove all kinds of body hair.

This technique works by targeting and sufficiently damaging the dark pigment around hair follicles (melanin). Doing so causes the hair to fall, and also discourages it from re-growing.

Basically, the base of root hairs is dense with melanin, which makes it possible to target it using the light emitted by the IPL device. A beam of intense light is projected onto the surface of the skin to be depilated so that it can be absorbed by the melanin contained in the hair. The wave of light is then carried by the hair follicles to the roots and the accompanying thermal effect destroys the root and bulb of the hair permanently. The growing hair is expected to start falling within one to two weeks of treatment.

This pulsed light method is one of the most effective methods available, due to the fact that it is quite natural and is a good alternative to other hair removal methods.

What are the risks involved?

After reading the above and learning that there is something about damage involved, you may be feeling a bit apprehensive about the whole issue and wondering whether it’s worth it. The truth is that even though you can expect some common side effects, they are usually not so serious and long-lasting.
That, however, does not mean that there are no precautions to take. Besides, IPL is obviously not for everyone. The most common side effects include:

For the skin:

Since this technology involves destroying hair follicles by heat, it goes without saying that the skin can be affected during the process.
After IPL treatment, you can expect your skin to be slightly tender and become a bit reddish. You can as well expect very slight swelling on your skin, It is often the sensitive parts of the body that are susceptible to such complications.
To get rid of these symptoms, you should consider using a high-quality antiseptic gel that’s supposed to cool and soothe your skin. The antiseptic gel should help in clearing the symptoms within one or two days of use.
Another side effect to expect is a minor change in your skin pigmentation, and this should disappear by itself in a few weeks.
People with darker skin are more likely to notice lighter pigmentation changes, while people with a lighter skin experience darker pigmentation changes.

For the eyes:

IPL : the risks involved
Since it involves the use of an intense flash of light, the IPL hair removal technique has also been associated with potential serious injury to the eyes especially when the procedure is being done on one’s face.
For this reason, it’s highly advisable that both the practitioner and the person receiving the treatment use protective eye equipment. That way, one can be sure that they are safe from any kind of eye damage that may result from the procedure.

IPL procedure contraindications

In most cases, IPL hair removal procedures have been considered to be safe, and effective in helping to achieve long-term results. However, like most laser treatment procedures, some contraindications have to be considered for the patient’s safety. The major ones include:

1. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

There may not be any evidence suggesting that IPL hair removal is not safe for an unborn child, but it’s highly advisable to avoid the procedure while one is expectant. This can be quite frustrating for most women, considering that a majority of women get hairier during pregnancy.

The great news is that the hair mostly disappears after giving birth or once the breastfeeding period is over. If it doesn’t disappear, then one can consider having a hair removal procedure.

2. Some medical conditions

Certain medical conditions are considered to be major contraindications to IPL hair removal procedures. Some of the medical issues that are considered include:
  • Diabetes
  • Vitiligo
  • Severe reaction to histamines
  • Psoriasis
  • Lupus
  • Epilepsy.
In addition, any nervous disorders have to be evaluated before the procedure is done.

3. Medication

Some medication comes with major side effects that can make your skin become more photosensitive, which means your skin can react negatively to some changes caused by such hair removal procedures. In such a case, you should consider thinking of ways to get around the issue, with the help of a medical expert.

4. Moles

If there is a mole in the areas being treated, some individuals opt to have it removed before the procedure. Dark pigmentation of a mole can make it attract more heat which may cause burning. The same case applies to some kinds of birthmarks and beauty marks as well.

5. Sunburn or suntan

Individuals who are sunburned or have tanned before the procedure should consider postponing the treatment until their skin becomes normal again – this should take some weeks. Keep in mind that more melanin in your skin can create major changes during the procedure.

What to do before an IPL session

Some of the steps that one should take before the session include but are not limited to:
  • Avoid tanning body areas where you want to have the hair removal done.
  • Shave the area to be treated with a razor to keep the hair root, preferably 2 to 3 days before the session, but do it lightly, keep some hair as it is necessary to attract light for an effective treatment.
  • Wash the area being treated before the procedure to get rid of any sort of oil found on the skin.
  • Do not undergo plucking, waxing, or bleaching treatment 3 weeks prior to the treatment.
  • Moisturize the area before and after the procedure for better results.
  • To limit the risk of eye damage, it is highly recommended to wear safety glasses.
  • If you are using an IPL hair removal device at home, make sure to read the user manual carefully to avoid making any mistakes during use.

How to Care for the Skin After IPL Hair Removal?

Here are some tips to take care of your skin in the treated areas:

  • Apply a soothing cream, aloe vera gel or ice to the treated area for a few days.
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun for at least a week, and do not use a self-tanner.
  • Apply a cream with a high degree of protection (minimum 30) to the exposed areas during the following days if you plan to go out.
  • Shave the area being treated, between 2 sessions of pulsed light.
  • Do not practice any intense activity to avoid sweating.
  • Avoid swimming pools, spas or other activities that may expose you to irritating substances such as chlorine.
  • Avoid any other abrasive or aggressive treatments for at least 2 weeks.
  • Do not use deodorant if the armpits have been treated.
  • Do not use perfumes, soaps or other perfumed lotions on treated areas.

What Are The Benefits Of IPL Hair Removal?

  • IPL hair removal is a very effective technique as it allows a significant hair reduction of about 80%. As the sessions progress, the hair will become lighter and thinner, and over time, it will grow back slower until it disappears.
  • The results can be seen as early as the second session is done, but note that you will need eight sessions to achieve a satisfactory result.
  • At home or in an institute, sessions are super quick since the treated areas vary from 2 to 7 cm2, depending on the type of the device used.
  • Pulsed light hair removal is almost painless, treatment causes only a slight tingling sensation in some areas during the session.
  • Unlike some other hair removal techniques, it is not necessary to wait until hair regrowth is visibly seen before starting the treatment. The pulsed light technology removes hair as small as a grain of sand.
  • Unlike other hair removal methods such as waxing or shaving, which are only dedicated to certain body areas, pulsed light hair removal is able to treat all hair areas.

Is your skin tone type suitable for IPL hair removal?

Skin types or phototypes are the first things to consider before using IPL hair removal, indeed, most IPL devices will only be compatible with certain skin types (phototype) or hair types. For this purpose, the skin must be in contrast with the color of the hair, in other words, the darker the hair (brown, chestnut, dark blond) and the lighter the skin, the more effective pulsed light hair removal will be.

Is IPL hair removal painful?

Most people think that IPL hair removal is supposed to be painful, but that seems not to be the case. Well, some experts compare the feeling to a slight pinch, which disappears quite quickly.
Depending on the type of skin and the area treated, redness may appear, which will also be temporary.

What about pulsed light hair removal at home?

At-home IPL hair removal devices are designed by using the same technology used for professional devices, they are easy to use, effective and convenient. The procedure is rather safe and does not present any significant risks, provided that you comply with the operating instructions and safety instructions of your device.
When choosing the right at-home IPL hair removal device for you, make sure that the device is suitable for your hair color and skin tone.
Do not try to use your device more frequently or use it on areas that present lesions, sores or open wounds. It won’t work any better and it can be dangerous.
Click here to check our detailed reviews of the best IPL hair removal devices for home use.

What to expect?

IPL Hair Removal Treatment
First, it is required to have several sessions in order to obtain the desired results, indeed, the hair goes through a growth cycle of three phases (anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase), however, the IPL treatment only works during the active hair growth phase (anagen phase), which is why it generally requires 6 to 10 sessions of treatments in order to address this issue.
Basically, the sessions should be performed every two weeks for the first 4 sessions, then, performed every 3 weeks to 1 month for the remaining sessions, but you should note that the exact frequency will depend on your skin tone, hair color and the performance of your device.
Finally, it should be noted that the results obtained with pulsed light hair removal are durable but not permanent. In order to maintain the results, the IPL hair removal procedure should be repeated every 1 or 2 years.
Judy Rose

Hi, it’s Judy!

I’m a passionate skincare specialist and writer. I have more than 7 years of experience as a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle writer and editor, and I’m extremely passionate about what I do.