Everything you want to know about IPL hair removal

Along with everything else, our beauty routines have undoubtedly changed in the past few weeks. With salons off-limits for the foreseeable future, we’re all beginning to consider the treatments, techniques and devices we can master ourselves, at home. Whilst we’re happy to take a very relaxed approach to hair removal right now, after all, body hair is totally natural and there is nothing wrong with rocking it, if you are considering de-fluffing your bod, it’s worth looking in to IPL… Because let’s be honest, any beauty treatment we can do while plonked in front of Netflix is very welcome right now.

So, what exactly is IPL, and is it the right hair removal method for you? (Maybe you’re more of an epilator or electric shaver kinda person?) Here, we reveal everything you need to know before considering a purchase…

What is IPL?

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It’s a form of light therapy, and one of the most advanced ways to get rid of unwanted body hair.

How does IPL work?

“IPL Hair Removal is designed to help break the cycle of hair growth by targeting the hair root or follicle,”explains Emily Buckwell, Product Expert at CurrentBody.com. “Light energy is transferred through the skin’s surface and absorbed by the melanin present in the hair shaft.” Once absorbed, this light energy is converted to heat energy below the surface of the skin, which disables the hair follicle, preventing further growth. The treated hairs fall out naturally over the course of a few days (up to two weeks for some people).

Laser hair removal vs IPL

IPL often gets grouped together with laser hair removal, but the two are actually fairly different. “Laser uses a single spectrum of concentrated light in one single colour & wavelength, where IPL uses a much broader spectrum of light in various colours & wavelengths,” explains Buckwell. However, both methods target the melanin in the hair follicle, and can provide long-lasting results. The main difference you need to know, though, is that IPL is generally much cheaper to have done in-salon – and can also be safely performed yourself, at home (more on that later).

Is IPL permanent?

Currently, the only way to get rid of hair permanently is through a treatment called electrolysis, but IPL offers permanent hair reduction, meaning if you keep on top of the maintenance treatments, the hairs will remain at bay.

What skin types can try IPL?

It’s important to remember that IPL is not a suitable treatment for every skin type and tone. Hair that is light blonde, white or grey will not be removed via IPL, as it doesn’t contain enough melanin, while red hair contains a different type of melanin that isn’t affected by the light.

Furthermore, certain skin tones are not compatible with IPL treatments. Darker skin (five or higher on the Fitzpatrick scale) should steer clear of IPL hair removal, as the higher amounts of melanin in the skin will be picked up by the light, potentially causing damage.

In short, the most suitable candidates for IPL will have pale skin and dark, contrasting hair.

If you’re unsure, there’s no need to worry, as many of today’s best IPL devices come with in-built safety features to alleviate any guesswork. “For example, the Smoothskin Muse has a unique ‘set and detect’ mode where the device reads your skin tone and sends the safest but most effective pulse for your skin type,” says Buckwell. So, if your skin tone is too dark in the area you are working on, it simply won’t flash.

How to use an IPL device

Of course, every IPL device will come with its own bible-sized booklet of instructions and yes you must read it in full.

Generally speaking, though, you’ll need to shave with a razor beforehand, then simply press your device onto the skin, where it will deliver a flash of light. As for the pain? it’s not so bad: think of a quick elastic-band flick, and you’re in the right territory.

There’s usually a treatment phase of up to 12 weeks, which you’ll need to commit to properly, and then top-ups roughly once a month thereafter.

The best at-home IPL devices

When choosing the best IPL device for you, there are a few things to consider, as not all are created equal. Firstly, there’s the number of flashes a device can deliver. “Many devices come loaded with a huge number of flashes: some such as SmoothSkin’s Bare+ are infinite, but if you are on a budget there are options with fewer flashes that will certainly still allow you to treat your whole body, such as the Sensica Sensilight Mini,” says Buckwell.

If you’re easily bored, a fast-acting device will stop you losing interest half-way through. According to Buckwell, the Bare+ is the fastest on the market – however, if speed isn’t of the essence (let’s face it, you’ve got the time right now), then it might be worth opting for a stronger, rather than a faster device, like the SmoothSkin Muse.

Post time: May-09-2020