IPL Hair Removal FAQs… What Is It and How It Works

Today, science offers you the latest and most advanced technology in hair removal, the IPL technology. IPL stands for “Intense Pulsed Light”. It has revolutionized the beauty world and gained much popularity rapidly.

When the summer comes, there’s the cost of updating your wardrobe with this season’s must-haves. Not to mention the price of heading out on a holiday. However, whether you’re hitting the beach or the back garden, chances are you need to ensure your skin is silky-smooth – and it’s here women want to take back control.

Millions of men and women around the world spend long, tedious hours to remove unwanted hair. They use a variety of means such as shaving, waxing, chemicals, and even some electrical methods.

Women feel that their beauty is incomplete as long as there is hair found on undesirable areas. Usually, these areas are face, bikini line, and underarms. Perhaps because of the impact on hormones levels caused by foods and other physical standards.

However, most women still suffer from the use of traditional, painful manual and temporary methods. That’s why technologies such as IPL and laser hair removal have gained their wide popularity in no time.

Intense Pulsed Light is a form of light therapy used in various dermatological procedures including hair removal and fighting diseases.

To achieve long lasting hair removal, it is necessary to damage the hair follicle from which individual hair grows. This only happens when the melanin (the coloring pigment) in hair follicle absorbs the light and turns it into heat. So, controlled pulses of light penetrate the epidermis and are absorbed by melanin in the hair and the follicle.​


IPL is very good for hair removal. It  has multiple wavelengths (all between 400-1,200 nanometers) that scatter within the skin.

As with all light-based treatments, IPL emits wavelengths into the skin, which in the case of hair removal target pigment. The light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair, which quickly turns to heat and then damages the growing cells that produce hairs.

IPL treatments are only effective when targeting hair that is in Anagen phase (also known as the active growth stage). Thus, treatments usually need to be spaced out every 2-4 weeks, with an average of six treatments for best results.

Moreover, it’s important to mention that IPL devices do not guarantee permanent hair removal. However, it’s focused on hair reduction as hair may grow back at some point (which’s solved with top up treatments).

Intense pulsed light is constantly advancing with the latest equipment offering treatments for various skin tones, including dark tones. In addition, IPL is a leading technology in fighting and treating diseases.

The 8 different Selective Waveband Technology applicators along with the Nd:YAG are approved for 17 intended uses and offer fast and effective treatments.

IPL Uses

The new therapeutic fields that use new and improved intense pulsed light equipment include:

Vascular lesions – remove vascular lesions such as telangiectasias, hemangiomas and Port Wine Stains.

Pigmented lesions – remove benign epidermal pigmented lesions quickly and gently.

Photo rejuvenation – remove age spots, diffuse redness and uneven pigmentation on the face and body.

Acne vulgaris – obtain a clearer complexion without the use of antibiotics.

Leg veins using Nd:YAG – clear leg veins and other difficult vascular lesions such as facial telangiectasias, reticular vessels, resistant port wine stains and venous lakes effectively.

Onychomycosis toe nail using Nd:YAG – treat onychomycosis (nail fungus) quickly and effectively, without pain and without the side effects of drugs.

Warts using Nd:YAG – treat resistant warts quickly effectively with an intense beam of infrared light.

IPL Hair Removal Features

Most devices that use intense pulsed light are clinically proven and cleared by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In addition, IPL is cheap, safe, and effective on a wide range of skin tones and hair colors. It uses short, safe bursts of light to remove unwanted hair from all body areas in minutes. The results are permanent – and we mean with permanent that it lasts for months… not years!

The treatment is only effective on growing hairs while they are still attached to the follicle. Therefore, it should be repeated at intervals until all hair follicles are treated while growing.

Our team of experts recommend between 3-6 sessions at least (depending on the area to be treated) before you see long lasting results. However, you may need up to 12 sessions to see nearly permanent hair reduction on all ares that last for months.

In addition, when compare intense pulsed light to laser, IPL is considerably fast and safe. When using particular at-home IPL hair removal device, you may get the process done within 12-23 minutes. This is because lasers are more precise than IPL. However, IPL emits larger waveband than laser that can target multiple hairs together. 

Add that intense pulsed light may be less safer depending on many standards. If you look to the light safety, IPL uses spectrum like xenon flash light, which is safer than laser. If you look to the precision, lasers are more precise which makes it target specific skin and hair colors.

Anyway, both IPL and lasers are safe for you unless you suffer serious injuries or diseases. If not, do not be afraid and start your treatments as soon as possible.

How Does IPL Hair Removal Work?

Unlike laser treatments, which emit a specific wavelength, intense pulsed light works like a flash-lamp, sending scattered wavelengths of light. This makes IPL faster and targeted on wide areas.

In light-based hair removal case, the light does not have to go that far. When the light from laser or IPL hits the melanin, it turns into heat, which travels down the hair to reach the hair follicle. So, this means faster, more effective treatments with high comfort and less energy.

“Ellipse I2PL” clinical studies have proven that you cab achieve 80-95% hair reduction within 6 treatments. These studies have been accepted for publication in leading medical journals, which document the safety and effectiveness of IPL treatment.

Ellipse is a leading company in manufacturing laser and IPL devices. Moreover, it’s the first manufacturer to have a 10-year follow up study proving long term efficiency of IPL hair removal.

Intense pulsed light treatments never put the client in pain. Anyway, you can tolerate the pain level as it’s not that high. The intensity is very manageable and adjustable according to the clients’ pain threshold. So, if you feel any pain, simply use low intensity that makes you feel more comfortable.

In addition, nearly all IPL hair removal devices use UV filters. Thus, they remove all unnecessary and harmful light from the treatment. they therefore don’t heat up the skin and we do not need a cooling system. However, there are actually some laser devices that use cooling systems such as Tria 4X & Precision.

IPL or Laser Hair Removal

Laser treatments have just one specific wavelength emitted from the diode depending on what you’re targeting. In contrast, IPL has multiple wavelengths (all between 500 and 1,200 nanometers) that scatter within the skin.

As we mentioned before, IPL is fast and safe compared to lasers. Moreover, the most renowned manufacturers bring out their hair removal devices in intense pulsed light. Add that this technology is in continuous development. Each new day you find a new device aids in hair removal and skin care field.

As with all light-based treatments, intense pulsed light works by emitting a wavelength targeting pigment in the hair follicle. It works in the same way black clothing absorbs heat on a hot day, versus white clothing which reflects it. After pigment absorbs light, the light turns into heat, which in turn damages the growing cells that produce hairs.

However, hair has to be living for it to work – with that we mean it has to be attached to the bulb of growing cells.

When you pull out a hair and it has that little jelly bulb around it, it’s one of the 20-40% of living hair on your body. If it doesn’t, this means it’s a dead hair which can stay on your skin for up to 3 weeks.

That’s why you need to have up to do 12 treatments of IPL or laser hair removal. This way, you’re going to treat all hairs on all areas while they’re in their living cycle.

FAQs About IPL Hair Removal

How do I prepare for IPL hair removal treatment?

Clinics should always offer you a patch test before any treatment on any area. The skin and hair behave differently in different areas.

Shaving, bleaching, trimming hair pre and between intense pulsed light treatments is totally fine. While waxing and plucking are not.

Does IPL hurt?

There may be mild discomfort during the treatment, but most patients tolerate removal of unwanted hair very easily. It’s worth mentioning that this pain disappears directly after the treatment.

Does IPL hair removal cause cancer?

These lights don’t cause DNA damage or DNA mutation. Up till now, no research proves that IPL or laser hair removal can cause cancer or even trigger it.

Is IPL permanent?

Contrary to often claims, IPL does not permanently remove hair. However, it’s a long-term hair reduction method. Although IPL treatments permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in “real permanent” results.

How many IPL treatments do I need?

The going rate for IPL is 7-12 treatments according to most manufacturers and clinics. This varies depending on treatment area, individual hormone levels, lifestyle, and medications. All these can affect how many bookings you’ll need. Anyway, keep bookings regular though as you will get better results.

In general, treatments take between 12 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the area and the device used.

Does IPL work on fair hair?

There are some devices that prove to work on fair hair. However, you still need more treatments than natural hair. Recently, there have been devices that use other technologies combined with IPL. Theses devices are FDA-cleared and clinically proven to treat red, light blond, and white/grey hair.


Intense pulsed light is a brilliant innovation. It’s safe, fast, effective, and provides long lasting results. For women who are looking  for cheap, easy, safe, and comfortable treatment, IPL is ideal for at-home hair removal. There are many devices that are clinically proven and FDA-cleared for safe, yet effective, personal, at-home treatment. Check best and top-rated devices on our site.

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