While there is nothing wrong with body hair, most of us still prefer having silky-smooth skin on at least a few areas of our body. In our fast paced world, where a trip to a laser clinic or a skilled friend is a luxury, more and more people have opted to do it themselves, and remove their own hair at home. For that same reason, people prefer long-lasting or permanent hair removal methods compared to standard shaving. Laser hair removal is one of the most well-known methods that brings real results.
Choosing between IPL vs. home laser hair removers is probably one of the first things you’ll be faced with when you choose to attempt this hair removal method on your own. To find a device that suits you and your needs, you must first know what the difference between the two is.
When it comes to the IPL vs. home laser hair removers, you should know that both work on the same principle. They use light energy that is absorbed by highly pigmented spots, such as hairs. The light heats these spots, damaging the hair follicles in the process. This will slow down the hair growth and over time – prevent it entirely.
We’ll explain both methods and show you their advantages and disadvantages, so you can make the best possible choice for yourself.
- See the best laser hair removers available to buy this year
How Do IPL Hair Removers Work?
IPL (short for Intense Pulsed Light) hair removers use a source of broad-spectrum light that is visible to the human eye. No matter its usage, this light is always controlled to remove shorter wavelengths so it can target specific structures.
When it comes to hair removal, this light targets melanin, the pigment that colours your hairs dark. However, it isn’t limited to just hair removal. For example, the same principle is used during spider vein treatment, but in that occasion, the light targets the haemoglobin from the blood.
This light energy gets absorbed by the melanin and it gets transferred as heat. This warms the hair until it finally damages the follicle, keeping the hairs from growing.
How Do Laser Hair Removers Work?
Just like IPLs, laser hair removers use light to heat up hairs and destroy their follicles. However, they use small lasers and utilize certain properties that lasers possess.
Unlike intense pulsed light, you can control lasers more precisely. In other words, you can focus them into a tiny area as they can travel large distances without spreading out – something that is a huge problem with most light energy. Also, lasers contain only one light colour, helping them be more focussed.
Thanks to these characteristics, lasers can travel deep down into the pore, attacking and destroying specific follicles, giving a more professional treatment.
IPL Vs. Home Laser Hair Removers
In short, choosing between IPL and home laser hair remover is a personal choice. It all depends on your skin tone, hair colour, as well as personal preferences. All of this can affect the result you’d get with either method.
Here are some benefits and disadvantages of both devices:
Pros and Cons of IPL Hair Removers
First and foremost, the coverage of IPL hair removers is much greater than that of a regular laser hair removal device. This is because broad-spectrum light spreads out and, with that, covers a greater area. Thanks to this, you may complete your at-home hair removal process much faster. In fact, even if you opt to go to a professional for an IPL treatment, it would probably be much cheaper because of the shorter time it takes.
As IPL contains various light colours instead of only one, you can use some of the more expensive devices to alter it to match your skin tone and hair colour. If you don’t feel like spending a lot of money on such a device, simply find a product suitable for your skin tone.
This is where one of the main disadvantages comes. Unless you purchase an expensive hair remover that you can modify, you might not be able to use the same device all over your body. This is because the thickness and the colour of the hairs might be different depending on the body area. For example, bikini hairs are much courser and darker than thin arm hair.
Also, IPL hair removers are milder than classic laser hair removers. While this makes them much gentler on the skin, it also means you’ll need more treatments to achieve permanent results.
Unfortunately, many IPL devices aren’t suitable for darker skin tones. This is because dark skin contains a lot of melanin that attracts light. If the skin heats up, it will cause burns, and this isn’t something most people would like!
Who Can Benefit from IPL Hair Removers?
In general, at-home IPL hair removers are more suited for people who:
- Want to treat several conditions
- Don’t want to spend too much money on a device
- Don’t have enough time to spend on long hair removal sessions
- Have paler hairs and lighter skin tone
Pros and Cons of Laser Hair Removers
While laser hair removers affect a narrower skin area, they can focus light closer into the skin pores, getting very close to the follicle and damaging it more severely. This enables laser hair removers to achieve much faster results. In fact, depending on the skin area, you might only need 2-3 treatments for permanent hair removal!
At the same time, the technology behinds lasers makes them suitable for darker skin tones. As they are much more focused, the chances of lasers picking up melanin from the skin instead the hairs are lower, which means the risk of burns is also less significant.
Still, laser hair removers can be more damaging to the skin overall, as the light rays are much stronger.
Keep in mind that, unlike with IPLs, you’ll hardly find a laser hair remover that you can modify to suit more skin tones and hair types. This is okay if you’re the only one who plans on using it. However, if you want to share it with a family member or a friend, you might find this not to be such a good idea.
Who Can Benefit from Laser Hair Removers?
On the other hand, laser hair removers are better for people who:
- Have darker skin and darker hairs
- Want quicker results and fewer sessions
- Want precise devices that can target specific areas
Which One Is Better to Use on the Face?
Neither the IPL nor the laser hair removers are suited to be used on a male face. This is because the hairs are too thick, and the skin is sensitive. However, you can use both on the female face, as long as you avoid eyebrows and the skin. Also, you shouldn’t use them near the eyes, as the light can damage your sight.
Fortunately, many IPL and laser hair removers come with protective glasses, so you can protect your eyes while doing your face. Still, these products aren’t cheap, and it might be more affordable to simply go to the salon and have a professional remove your facial hair.
Both types of hair removers have the same side effects. This can include:
- Sensitivity to sun
While lasers can make it easier to make a mistake and burn yourself, most IPLs are more likely to cause harm to dark skin tones. Both are traits you should keep in mind.
None of the two devices will give you immediate results. Most of the time, you’ll notice reduced hair growth after the first use, but you’ll have to repeat the treatment until your skin is hair-free.
Most of the time, lasers will give you faster results than IPLs. However, these results can come at the price of burns and other side effects, especially if you’re inexperienced. IPLs are a bit slower most of the time, but they can be safer to use – although they too can cause burns if you’ve made a wrong device choice or used them inadequately.
The Bottom Line
To summarize, there are a few things that may determine which one is better for you when it comes to IPL vs. home laser hair removers. While both will offer you more or less the same result over time, one will work better overall on your skin tone and hair type.
For example, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind sitting in the bathroom or bedroom for up to an hour because you know you’ll only have to do it a few times, a laser hair remover might work great for you. On the other hand, if you don’t have as much time to spare and have fairly pale hairs, an IPL hair remover will likely be a better choice.
What ever you decide, chances are you’ll say ‘goodbye’ to the expensive salon hair removal treatments for a long time – just remember to read the manual and use both devices properly.