How It Works
IPL (intense pulsed light) works by emitting multiple wavelengths of light into the skin which is absorbed by the pigment in the hairs and turns to heat which then kills the growing cells that make the hair. Hairs can therefore only be targeted by IPL at the growing stage of it’s cycle so like laser hair removal it requires several sessions in order to target all the hairs.
As IPL uses several different wavelengths, it cannot target the hair follicles specifically like laser does and this results in only some of the light energy being used effectively. Because of this, deeper, thicker hair is not treated and some of the light heats the pigment in the skin which can cause damage to darker skin types. Therefore IPL only works well for those with fair skin and dark hair.
IPL is a cheaper alternative to laser so long as you have dark hair and fair skin (there are also some very affordable IPL home kits around that you can use). It is quite an effective way of permanently reducing hair and can be used on all areas of the face and body.
IPL doesn’t work for people with white, grey, blonde or red hair and darker skin tones are more prone to damage (although when used in combination with Radio Frequency it is usually suitable for all skin and hair colors). It has generally been found to be more painful than laser which has been described as being flicked with a hot rubber band. It can leave you with some swelling or redness which usually goes away after a day or so and there’s also a chance of burning, scarring and discoloration.