Is IPL hair removal safe?

Read this if you are nervous about the safety of having your hair removed by IPL or laser!

For some people, the thought of firing a laser light on the skin causes visions of burns. This can lead to nervousness about having either IPL or laser hair removal.

But there really isn’t anything to be concerned about. When the hair removal procedure is performed by a skilled technician, both IPL and laser are safe.

Isn’t the whole point that they burn?

They do burn – but not your skin.

The light from a laser or IPL (intense pulse light) machine destroys your hair follicles by heating up the melanin in them. Modern cooling headpieces and the modulation of the light pulses mean that laser and IPL machines direct the light and heat precisely to the follicles and not the surrounding tissue.

So it is only the hair follicles that burn.

What’s the difference between IPL and laser?

IPL uses a wider spectrum of light. During the procedure, the light flashes quickly. Some clients feel this flash as a pinch. When smaller areas are being treated, IPL treatments can be faster than laser treatments; this reduces the impact of the pinching sensation as it is over and done with quickly and the light applicator is moved to the next area. IPL machines also reduce any discomfort during treatments by ensuring that skin is cooled. With some machines, this is achieved with cooling systems in the light applicator which is in contact with the area of skin being treated. Other machines may include other methods and systems to reduce the impact of the light energy; they can even include cooling packs.

Laser is a stimulated emission of light that has been amplified – and because the wavelength of light used is more targeted, they are able to focus the light energy more specifically on the hair follicle instead of the surrounding tissue. Modern machines like the Soprano Titanium gradually heat up the hair follicles, so overall are less painful than IPL. Laser is also more efficient at treating different types of skin (particularly darker skin) and hair due to specific wavelengths of light used instead of the broad spectrum of light used by IPL machines. Modern laser machines also include cooling systems in the hand pieces to ensure as much comfort as possible.

Your clinic will explain which the best option is to achieve the hair removal results you are looking for. Ultimately IPL and Laser machines work in the same way; by delivering light energy to your hair follicles. This energy heats up the hair follicles which permanently destroys them, so your hair doesn’t grow back. Because your hair grows in cycles it is important that several treatment sessions are delivered over a period of several months to catch as many of your hair follicles in their growth phase and not the resting or shedding phases. This applies to both laser and IPL.

Which is safest?

Both IPL and laser are safe treatments when used by experienced and well-trained technicians. Because laser used a more targeted spectrum of light it is better able to target the hair follicles and not the surrounding tissue and so reduces the chance of any burns.

How can I make sure IPL and laser hair removal are safe for me?

  • You must have a patch test and consultation prior to treatment. A consultation is usually free and will help you make your mind up before committing to a course of treatment.
  • You will need to wear the correct protective eyewear during your treatment.
  • If you are using medication, you must tell your technician if you have changed this recently.
  • You must also tell your technician if you have been tanning, real or fake, within 4 weeks of your treatment.

The absolute key to safe hair removal using either IPL or laser is in the skill, training and conscientiousness of the technician performing the procedure. Experience is worth its weight in gold.

At your consultation, ask as many questions as you need to, to make sure you feel confident in the safety of the IPL or laser hair removal. If a clinic offers both, you should be able to ask for a patch test in both machines before you make your mind up.

In addition, you may also want to find out more about the quality and experience of a clinic through checking out reviews and quality assurance. As an example, Brigstock Skin & Laser has medical procedures in place to ensure the safety of clients and provides a results guarantee, so take a look to see if the clinic you are considering has something similar in place. You can also have a look at our reviews here.

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