One of the common questions and misconceptions associated with laser hair removal is the difference between laser and IPL (Intense Light Therapy). Many people are unaware that there is a difference, few understand how each works and the dangers associated.
IPL was originally created as flash lamps to treat other skin conditions (such as skin rejuvenation and thread vein treatment) and doctors and patients observed hair loss as a result. Therapeutic lasers were specifically developed to deliver premium hair reduction results.
SPL is another recently released hair removal technique and stands for Square Pulsed Light – it’s from the same family of devices as IPL or Intense Pulsed Light, but an SPL pulse lasts a fraction of a second longer. The light wavelength isn’t as intense, meaning it does the same job but your skin is less likely to be overheated and results may take longer.
In theory, laser hair removal, IPL and SPL all work in very much the same way. Both emit light to target the melanin (or colour) within the hair and kill the follicle. What characterizes laser and IPL is the light source and how it is distributed.
Lasers are single wavelength devices, meaning that the light source is focused and can target individual hairs. IPL on the other hand, emits a spectrum of various wavelengths meaning that the light source is scattered and not as targeted. Unlike authentic lasers, IPL is unable to use what is known as ‘selective photothermolysis’ (precise rapid heating of a select structure and surrounding areas ).
So, what does this mean for you? The spectrum of wavelengths emitted by IPL & SPL means many clients are needlessly exposed to unnecessary and or/ineffective radiation compared with the single wavelength from laser hair removal.
IPL hair reduction, unlike laser hair removal may cause skin damage of burning and scarring if not handled by a professional who knows what they are doing. As IPL nor SPL are not pin point accurate, the margin for error is much higher. Many also see inferior results and higher levels of regrowth from IPL as compared to laser hair removal.
The levels of pain experienced when undergoing laser hair removal, IPL or SPL are all very similar. The feeling is described as similar to being flicked by a hot rubber band. However, Candela lasers (used in most reputable clinics) features a dynamic cooling device in each machine to maximise client safety and comfort.
As laser hair removal IPL and SPL all target the hairs melanin, none are effective at treating grey, red or blonde hair. In the past, only IPL was successful at treating a range of skin types. This is no longer the case; laser hair removal now uses a range of lasers to treat the full spectrum of skin types.
Alexandrite lasers – Used to treat fair to mid toned skin with medium to course hair
Nd Yag – Used to treat darker types with course dark hair
Diode – Used to treat fair to mid toned skin and can also treat dark fine hair
If you’re looking for a permanent hair reduction solution, chose a reputable organization who use only medical grade lasers, these are specially designed for therapeutic use. Ensure all staff are fully trained to use the machines and the highest hygiene practices are up held.