IPL V Laser : which is best for Hair Removal?

ipl hair removal treatment

Laser hair removal and IPL hair removal are both well recognised as being effective and safe for treating unwanted hair growth. The safety and efficacy of both types of technology has been well documented in clinical research over many years. In this article we look at what they have in common, what the difference is, and which system might be preferable if you are considering investing in permanent hair removal treatments.

Are IPL and Laser two names for the same thing?

Laser and IPL systems have a similar approach to treating hair growth in the sense that they both use light energy to target and destroy the hair follicle. The light energy is emitted from the hand piece in a short busts lasting only milliseconds. This is enough time to heat the hair follicle but not the skin. The heat is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle, which weakens and destroys it, so that it will cease to generate new hair growth. However, our skin also contains some melanin, which gives it colour. Excessive heat can burn the skin, causing blisters. For this reason, only the best equipment should be used which has strong controls and filters to protect clients. IPL works best on clients with light skin and dark hair, so our Gaelic complexions here in Edinburgh are ideal in most cases.

Laser refers to a specific wavelength of light. IPL uses a range of wavelengths or a waveband. Different wavelengths penetrate the skin to different depths so using IPL is like using a group of lasers in a single treatment.

What are the advantages of each?

The big advantage of IPL is that the treatment heads are generally much bigger than for lasers. This means a much bigger area can be treated than is possible with the small spot size produced by lasers. This translates into client convenience as treatments can be quicker and more cost effective with IPL.

The main advantages of laser are that certain laser systems can treat darker skin tones and very light hair, which is not possible with IPL. Fortunately, here in our Edinburgh skin clinics we are able to treat the vast majority of clients with our Ellipse IPL system.

To summarise the main differences are as follows:

Advantages of laser hair removal

  • Can target a wider range of skin tones including darker skins
  • Laser allows specific skin tone and hair colour to be targeted

Advantages of IPL hair removal treatments

  • IPL hair removal may be more cost effective than laser treatments
  • IPL is reported as less painful than laser hair removal by many patients (no anaesthesia is required)
  • There is less risk of skin damage from an IPL treatment than laser hair removal
  • IPL lends itself well to larger areas of hair removal
  • Studies have shown greater effectiveness for IPL over the long term

Clinical Studies

There have ben many studies on the short term and long term efficacy of both laser and IPL hair treatments. A 2006 article in the journal “Lasers in Medical Science” compared IPL and laser, using both alexandrite and diode lasers.. The study found no statistical difference in effectiveness, but a higher incidence of side effects was reported with diode laser treatment. Hair reduction after 6 months was reported as 71% for diode lasers, and 67% for IPL. Side effects were reported as 29% for diode lasers, and 15% for IPL. All side effects were found to be temporary and even pigmentation changes returned to normal within 6 months.(1)

Why do we use IPL at Zen instead of Laser?

Long term studies following patients over 7 to 10 years have shown tremendous results in the permanent reduction of hair growth.  The system we use is called Ellipse, which is manufactured in Denmark to extremely high standards with very stringent safety parameters and controls. Longitudinal studies of Ellipse clients has shown consistent hair reduction remaining at 70% or more 10 years after treatment.

How can I find out more?

To find out if IPL Hair removal is right for you just ask our receptionist to book you  in for a consultation. We will check some medical questions with you and explain how the treatment course will work in more detail. the therapist will check the treatment area to make sure the hair type and skin type are suitable for a good result and will give you the cost of your treatments. There is no charge for a consultation but if you decide to proceed with a patch test there is a charge of £30. This can be deducted against the purchase of any courses on the same day.

To book your consultation just give us a call at any of the salons on the numbers below.

If you’d like to read up a bit more first you can get a bit more information and prices on our IPL Laser Hair Removal Page.

(1): Toosi, Parviz; Sadighha, Afshin; Sharifian, Ali; Razavi, Gita Meshkat (April 2006). “A comparison study of the efficacy and side effects of different light sources in hair removal”. Lasers in medical science