IPL vs Laser Hair Removal

Floor-Standing-IPL-Shr-Hair-Removal-Beauty-Machine-Hs-330Something we often get asked about, and which there seems to be quite a bit of confusion over, is Laser Hair Removal versus IPL (Intense Pulsed Light).

In this article we will attempt to explain the large similarity and small differences.

What is Laser and IPL ?

These are two very similar methods and very similar machines that can be used for permanent hair reduction.

IPL can also be used for skin rejuvenation, freckle removal, vascular treatments and more. They both work by emitting pulses of light that heat the hair follicle to the root and destroy it. 

We are aware of some businesses that advertise laser hair removal, but are actually using IPL. There’s not a huge difference, but it is still false advertising, especially if you were particularly wanting laser and thought that’s what you were getting!

Ok, so what exactly is the difference between the two?


The main difference is that laser machines use a laser to produce light at specific frequencies (most commonly Alexandrite at 755nm), whilst IPL uses a Xenon flashlamp to produce high output broad spectrum light in the range of 500nm to 1200nm. Filters are then applied to restrict the wavelength to the desired range.

Therefore the system is very versatile, since modifying only the crystal filter, each pulse of light can be improved and personalized for each specific treatment. The different wavelengths penetrate the skin to different depths.

So which is better, Laser or IPL?

This seems to depend on who you ask! Practitioners who own laser machines will tell you they’re the best, and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with laser hair removal but we believe IPL, being a newer technology, has more benefits to offer.

If we look to WikiPedia for a supposedly unbiased opinion:

A 2006 review article in the journal ‘Lasers in Medical Science’ compared intense pulsed light (IPL) epilators and both alexandrite and diode lasers. The review found no statistical difference in short term effectiveness, but a higher incidence of side effects with diode laser based treatment.

IPLs offer certain advantages over laser, principally in the pulse duration. While lasers may output trains of short pulses to simulate a longer pulse, IPL systems can generate pulse widths up to 250ms which is useful for larger diameter targets. Some current IPL systems have proven to be more successful in the removal of hair and blood vessels than many lasers.

Did you know?!

“IPL” stands for Intense Pulsed Light

“Laser” stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation