IPL vs Laser Hair Removal

IPL Hair Removal vs Laser Hair Removal

What is the difference between IPL and a medical grade laser system in terms of hair removal?

Which among the two would be a good option? Read on, and we hope you will be enlightened and reach a well-informed decision. When used as hair-removal methods, both lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) use light to heat hair follicles and prevent regrowth. While similar-sounding, the technology used by each really isn’t, with the key difference being the light source used.

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a broadband pulsed light source, whereas laser is a monochromatic coherent light source. Both methods target the melanin in the hair follicle and permanent results can be expected from both types of laser hair removal. Professional laser treatment wore more selective than IPL and therefore very high energy will focus on the hair follicle, rather than the surrounding skin.

Professional laser will lead to faster results, less treatments and is suitable for all skin types, such as darker skin tones, whereby IPL is not. Energy, frequency and hair colour are all determining factors in the efficacy of the treatment, while the light source, whether it is a laser or an intense pulsed flash light plays a minor role.

Now lets look into the two technologies in more depth.

IPL Hair Removal

IPL stands for intense pulsed light. IPL is actually not a laser treatment and instead uses a high-output flash-lamp. IPL uses multi-spectrum lights, different wavelengths of light penetrate the skin at different depths meaning IPL energy is scattered and much weaker. This means that it has more unfocused energy around the hair and skin area, resulting in only some of the energy used effectively for hair reduction. In addition, some of the light can be absorbed into the surrounding tissue, leading to the heating of the pigment in the skin. This is why there is more of a risk of burns for darker skin types with IPL, and therefore darker skin are not allowed to have IPL.

Laser Hair Removal

Medical grade lasers work by emitting one single wavelength of light which is precise enough to be focused deep into the individual hair follicles. The light emitted from the laser is absorbed by the pigment within the hair, concentrating on the hair shaft. This causes the hair to be eliminated without harming the surrounding skin.

The device used at RT Aesthetics is a 3 wavelength laser which targets the hair with high energy to destroy the individuals hair. , Our clients generally require a course of six to eight treatments, which is much shorted then IPL courses. The client will need to come in every four to eight weeks (depending on the area of the body) in which only the hair in the anagen stage will successfully be damaged.

In between the laser treatments clients can shave, this encourages the damaged follicle to shed. It is important to refrain from having the area exposed to any sunlight, and as part of your daily routine, to keep the area protected with a SPF 30 or over. This is because any laser treatment makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight.

We use the most advanced laser hair machines to deliver optimum results. The technologies combine both an alexandrite laser which is great for treating lighter skin types and a Nd:YAG perfect for treating dark skin and the diode (808nm) for most skin types. Every client that attends our clinic must have a in-depth face-to-face consultation and patch test before any laser treatment. This helps to identify any risks, your suitability of treatment and to identify what’s best for the client.

Which is better for hair removal?

The answer will depend on your goal, expectations and pricing. Clients should communicate their needs and what areas whey want to focus on with the aesthetic practitioner at your consultation. IPL will give you some good results, however if you want a more aggressive approach then laser treatments are best. Don’t be swayed by price, but rather look at the bigger picture and how you can benefit from it in the long term.

Laser Hair Removal

  • Uses a focussed precise collimated beam of light, thus lasers are more precise and can selectively target hair while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged and unaffected
  • Laser treatments use only one wavelength which allows deeper penetration and the energy is directed straight to the targeted area.
  • Suitable for all skin types, meaning anyone can have treatment.
  • Initial course of 6 – 8 treatments is needed, with a maintenance top up treatment once or twice a year. Many of our clients only need 6 sessions of treatment.
  • Laser can deliver results much faster, which is why it requires less sessions and less time.
  • Usually more expensive per treatment than IPL, however you will require less treatments, so overall the cost of laser maybe cheaper and longer-lasting.

IPL Hair Removal

  • Uses a less-precise, diffused white light.  It can heat the surrounding skin and cause skin damage more easily. More side-effects are reported with IPL.
  • For IPL to heat deeper targets, high energy levels must be used. This can lead to adverse effects such as blistered, and pigmentation changes.
  • Suitable for lighter skin tones ONLY.
  • 12 – 14 treatments is normally needed, with maintenance treatments required 5 – 6 times a year.
  • IPL requires more sessions before it can achieve desirable results.
  • Not suitable for white, grey or blonde hair
  • Usually cheaper than laser but you will require more treatments than laser. This could results in the treatment costing more overall.

Checklist For Laser Hair Removal

When you research your options for hair removal it is important to ensure the clinic is qualified, insured and using the latest technology. If they are using high discounts or discount websites, ask yourself why? When looking at laser hair removal you should always ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the provider using an IPL or a laser for the treatment?
  • Is the provider insured?
  • Does the provider have any reviews?
  • How many sessions are required to achieve the desired results?
  • How much will the treatment course cost in total?
  • How qualified and experienced are the therapists?
  • Is the machine used an award winning, recognisable brand or an unknown generic machine with an unproven track record?
Laser Hair Removal Newcastle
What is the difference between IPL and laser technology?

Lasers are more intense, precise and adoptable. This means that they can be used to target very specific areas of skin, whereas IPL treats a larger area, less precisely, more costly and takes longer to complete.

How much does laser hair removal and IPL cost?

Prices can vary greatly depending on location or technologies used. IPL will typically be cheaper than laser given that the results are less effective and in the long run would require a lot more treatments. For example should a client buy a course of eight laser hair removal sessions: under arms, £35; Brazilian, £50; lower legs, £75; men’s back and shoulder, £115.

For a high street clinic offering IPL expect to pay £40+ for under arms, £30+ for standard bikini and £50+ for lower legs, although most clinics will offer packages for a course which give better value at around 30 per cent off.

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Yes. Lasers have been used in medicine for over 50 years and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the treatment can lead to skin disorders or an increased risk of skin cancer. RT Aesthetics Newcastle have been doing Non Surgical Aesthetics treatments since 2014.

Side Effects Of Laser Hair Removal?

The most common effect following laser hair removal treatment is redness of the skin that can last for a day or so. Slight blistering can occur but this is rare and would clear up within a few days post treatment. With certain skin types changes in skin colour can occur and this will almost settle with time, although complete return to normal pigmentation cannot be guaranteed. Because each individual’s skin responds differently we always carry out a careful face to face consultation and patch test to ensure that the right system is chosen and that no unexpected reactions take place during a full treatment.

How Many Laser Hair Removal Treatments Are Required?

Every treatment and client at RT Aesthetics are unique and designed around our client. It is just not possible to be 100% accurate, however, normally between 6 – 8 treatments are usually required. The exact number will vary depending on the area treated, the response of the individual, what has been done to the hair in the past. Hormonal conditions, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS for short, will also have a significant bearing on how the treatment progresses.


As many girls my age I wanted to get Laser Hair Removal on my legs, arms and well to be honest everywhere! I already had a body wrap at RT Aesthetics and when I seen the laser hair removal I had to give it ago I first booked my patch test and skin consultation appointment...

Sally Fell

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