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The Ultimate Guide to IPL Hair Removal

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Whether you’re sick of having furry legs, fed up with what feels like a permanent shadow under your arms or can’t bear the thought of yet another eye watering intimate wax only to have to watch the hairs grow back a mere week later, every woman gets to that point where she’s had enough and puts her stubbly foot down.

You could go on hair removal strike (each to their own there). Or, you could do as I did and look for a more permanent option. Now, I hold my hands up and admit I’ve had a lot of Ellipse IPL on various parts of my body. No more waxing, no more shaving, just hair-free – and I love it. And whilst there’s many women out there who are also converts, I’ve also discovered there are others who are nervous about taking the hair-free plunge.  We’ve offered this treatment for almost 15 years and, while it can be an investment, I have no doubt that you’ll be nothing but satisfied with the results. The treatment has evolved a lot over the years and there are some common myths still hanging about that I feel it’s time to dispel.

How does it work?

IPL, which stands for Intense Pulsed Light is a type of hair removal that uses light to target pigment. Unlike laser which uses a single wavelength, IPL has various wavelengths that spread out in the skin. The light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair (which is why it tends to be more efficient with darker hair), heats up, then kills the cells that make the hair grow. This treatment only works on hair that is living which is why multiple sessions are necessary as dead hairs can remain on your skin for weeks before they shed away.

Does it hurt?

The first thing you should know about IPL hair removal, is that It’s virtually pain free and very safe. As with any skin treatment, your therapist should be well trained and you should always have a consultation before undergoing any sessions. This is to ensure your therapist has all necessary information and are aware of any previous skin conditions or issues that may affect the success of the treatment or if this is the correct permanent hair removal treatment for you. You will also undergo a patch test to make sure your skin will respond positively (fair hair or sun damaged skin can be difficult to treat, for instance).

All areas of the face and body can be treated with excellent results. The most popular areas include the upper lip, underarms and legs. The treatment is available for both men and women and over the years we’ve had a number of men who’ve waved goodbye to unwanted back or chest hair.

How soon should I expect results?

One of the biggest rules of IPL hair removal is that results will not come overnight. The treatment needs to be taken in a series of sessions to be truly effective and the number of treatments required depends on the areas treated and the type of hair. However, clinical studies have shown that six or more laser reduction treatments are normally required for most clients to achieve long lasting thorough results. Sessions are booked in every four to six weeks so a full treatment will take a few months to achieve longer lasting results.

Choosing the right salon for you

In the end, your results will only be as good as the clinic or salon you choose. Now, you may say I’m biased, but permanent hair reduction is ultimately a heat and light treatment and is not something to look for on the cheap. We’ve offered this treatment for almost 15 years and, while it can be an investment, I have no doubt that you’ll be nothing but satisfied with the results. Cheaper offers Top laser and IPL machines can cost up to £65K – they are safer, the power output is better controlled, there are more sophisticated filters to protect the skin and they are more efficient – which means less sessions to achieve results. As with anything that yields great results, you do get what you pay for, and the risk you take by not researching the salon or clinic you use could be detrimental to your skin health. As mentioned above, you should always have a consultation and ensure this treatment is the right one for you and your skin type. At Zen, our therapists have been offering this hair removal treatment for many years and are highly experienced and knowledgeable in permanent hair reduction.

Is it worth the cost?

The price of a round of IPL treatments can be a bit overwhelming at first. When you compare it with the amount you may pay for regular waxing treatments over the course of your lifetime, though, it becomes a more appealing investment. And that’s exactly what it is – an investment. If I had to choose a between a few months of IPL compared to a lifetime of bikini waxes, though, I know which I’d rather have!

If you’re still unsure if IPL hair removal is right for you, please give us a call to learn more – or to book a consultation. The best thing you can do is inform yourself and our experienced therapists are here to help!


Fiona Fowley is the beauty therapist turned businesswoman and founder behind Zen Lifestyle. She has led the independent salon and spa to 18 national beauty awards and expanded to 3 locations around Edinburgh since first opening in Bruntsfield in 1999. Her passion for new ideas and treatment innovation has taken her around the world to places such as India, Thailand, Australia and South America.