IPL hair removal is a safe, non-invasive treatment that permanently reduces the number of re-growing hairs. Light pulses are used to damage hair follicles, thereby affecting their ability to grow hair, but IPL is far less effective than Laser Hair Removal. The energy is produced by a lamp, a little light bulb that produces a broad spectrum of wavelength and cannot be focused to a concentrated beam. The range of different wavelengths (between 500 and 1,200 nanometres) is dispersed at the variety of depths and only some of these are absorbed by the hair follicle, causing substandard and less powerful results. Because it’s sending out scattered wavelengths that also affect the pigment in your skin, it only works for those with fair skin and dark hair.
Your practitioner simply presses a “wand” over the areas that need treating and the pulsating light targets each hair root at the follicle. Everyone is different, so the number of sessions that you need will vary according to your requirements, skin and hair type. However, your therapist will be able to advise you on the results you can expect, before you start treatment.
It’s usually required to treat hairs at all stages of the hair growth cycle, at 3 to 6 week intervals; which varies depending on hair type and colour, and the location being treated. You will need at least a course of 5 to 10 treatments. Fair hairs will require extra treatments while white hairs can’t be treated.
A maintenance session may be necessary from time to time, due to the development of new hair growth appearing, as our hormonal balance continues to change with age, or due to the influence of stress, illness, disease and drugs i.e; steroids or contraceptive pills.
The pain level
Clients may feel a slight sting, similar to the flick of a rubber band against your skin. It’s certainly not unbearable. Some clinics offer the possibility to use a local anesthetic cream. Immediately after some treatments you may feel a mild heat for a few minutes, or a couple of hours, but after most treatments you will feel next to nothing at all.
Is it safe?
IPL is safe and although most people have no problems, occasionally there can be a skin reaction. This is why it’s important to have a test patch test a minimum of 48 hrs prior to the first treatment.
Important before care
Sun exposure and tanning: You cannot be treated if you have had ultra violet (UV) exposure from the sun or sun beds within the past 4 to 6 weeks. Prior to your treatments you must prevent the extra activity of the melanin cells in your skin (sunblock creams, clothing and hats). Melanin cells are responsible for tanning. Your tan slowly ‘wears off’ as those cells reach the surface of your skin in the normal skin- shedding activity, known as skin renewal. Fake tans stain the outer skin cells, and this colour will intensify the IPL heat at the surface of the skin, therefore you cannot be treated with IPL for at least two weeks after a fake tan application.
Waxing, plucking, threading: Don’t pluck or thread your hair. It is advisable to shave between appointments, as waxing or plucking would remove the hairs that we are hoping to target in your next session.
Bleach, depilatory creams: You should avoid these products before your treatments.
AHA creams, glycolic or salicylic peels: You must avoid these products 2 weeks before the IPL treatment.
Important after care
- You must avoid sun exposure or UV exposure of sun beds.
- You must wear sun block with both UVA and UVB protection.
- You must avoid depilatory, AHA, glycolic or salicylic creams.
- Avoid very hot baths or showers, heat treatments (sauna).
- No swimming in chlorinated pools or spa baths.
- No deodorant – if underarms treated
- No perfumes, highly perfumed soaps or lotions.
Possible side effects
- Redness and swelling – harmless effects which usually disappear within half an hour, but can occasionally be visible for two to thirty hours. If any signs of redness and swelling are still present after 48 hours of treatment, please contact the IPL operator for further advice.
- Blistering – Cooling, healing gel or ice-packs should be applied frequently to alleviate discomfort.