When it comes to light-based hair removal treatments, there are two main players in the game: IPL and laser. 

There’s IPL, which stands for Intense Pulsed Light, and laser which is actually also an acronym. It stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Quite the mouthful! 

If you’re interested in permanent hair reduction, you might be curious about the differences between the two treatments. We’ll explain them in this post, and let you know why we prefer laser at SEV.  


What Is Intense Pulsed Light Laser? 

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) actually isn’t a laser at all. IPL machines emit a broad-spectrum pulse of light usually ranging from 500 to 1000 nm. This means that one pulse of light includes a lot of colors that penetrate through the skin at different depths. When it comes to IPL hair removal, some of that light penetrates deep enough to reach the hair follicle. There, it’s attracted to the pigment in the follicle, transforming to heat and destroying it, much like a laser. 

The difference is that a lot of the light emitted by IPL is basically wasted energy. For the most part, IPL isn’t as powerful as laser, and results can take longer to achieve. 


Benefits of IPL Hair Removal

When it comes to laser hair removal vs IPL, there are a few unique benefits to intense pulse light technology. 

  • IPL technology is cheaper to produce, which is why there are many IPL devices that can be used at home. 
  • IPL tends to cover larger areas quickly, so it’s a little easier to use. 


IPL Hair Removal Limitations

That said, IPL still has some serious limitations. 

  • It cannot be done safely on deeper skin tones and may cause burning. 
  • For those with lighter skin, results from IPL generally take longer to achieve. 


What is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal uses a powerful beam of light that only travels at a single wavelength. Unlike IPL, which reaches multiple levels of the skin, the laser goes directly to the hair follicle. This means that laser is much more targeted, since more energy goes directly to the hair follicle. 

Other than that, laser’s mechanism of action is very similar to IPL, as the light targets the pigment in the hair follicle.  

For those with darker skin tones, IPL machines can cause burning since the light cannot distinguish between skin and hair – something that laser has no trouble doing. 


Benefits of Laser Removal

Laser hair removal is one of the best methods for eliminating unwanted hair for a reason. Here are its main benefits compared to IPL. 


Laser Hair Removal Limitations

Laser is much more effective than IPL, but it does have one drawback compared to IPL.  Laser technology is more targeted and expensive, so it doesn’t make sense to do it at home. If you’d like to experience truly effective laser hair removal, you’ll need to go to a medspa. 

  Laser  IPL
Results  Highly effective within 6 to 12 sessions Results may take longer
Frequency  Monthly treatments  Weekly treatments may be necessary depending on device 
Technology  Single wavelength light hits hair follicle directly Broad spectrum light hits all levels of skin
Skin Type Effective for all skin tones Only for light & medium skin tones 
Facility/Device Should only be done by registered nurse or laser technician  Home-use devices available 


IPL vs Laser Hair Removal – Which Should You Do? 

At SEV Laser, we like results. Months and months of weekly IPL sessions don’t make sense to us when laser hair removal can eliminate unwanted hair with just 6-12 monthly treatments. 

Plus, we don’t think it’s right for salons to use technology that isn’t inclusive for all skin tones. That’s why all SEV medspas utilize both Alexandrite and Nd:YAG laser so we can treat everyone safely and effectively. If you’d like to experience real, professional laser hair removal, book an appointment at your nearest SEV location.