IPL vs Laser Hair Removal

A diagram showing how laser hair removal works

Laser hair removal sounds an awful lot like the phrase ‘laser beams!’ shouted about in the Austin Powers films. Lasers don’t exactly have fun and friendly connotations but the fact is, laser hair removal is actually highly effective.

Laser hair removal is different from IPL although a lot of people lump them into the same category, which is understandable because they both use light and, up until recently, both had to be carried out in a salon or clinic.

What’s Laser Hair Removal?

- Laser hair removal uses extremely precise and specific light technology to target only hair follicles, leaving the treated area permanently hair free after only a few sessions.

- Because lasers are so incredibly targeted, they’re safe for all skin types and can be adjusted perfectly to suit the individual.

- The laser can treat several hair follicles at a time and is very effective.

- However, it’s also very expensive and can only be done at a clinic or salon by a professional.

A diagram showing how laser hair removal works

And What’s IPL?

Philips Lumea SC2006

- IPL also targets the hair follicle but because it uses a scattered light approach, it’s not as targeted and also effects skin, which is why it can’t be used on very dark skin.

- IPL can’t create the same intensity of heat that laser can, and so isn’t as effective at destroying hair.

- IPL is safe to use at home and although it’s not as effective as laser, it still creates significantly smoother, more hair free skin after just a few treatments.

- IPL machines last for years, even a decade or more, meaning it’s nowhere near as expensive as laser, even in the long run

What are the real differences in costs?

A good, full attachment range IPL home system costs around £400 and will last for a very, very long time. After the initial 4 or 5 treatments you won’t need to use it more than once every few months.

Laser hair removal treatments can usually only be carried out in salons and clinics and have significantly higher prices. A typical price for a single laser treatment in the UK would cost around £200 for a lower leg. That’s one lower leg. Considering you’ll need several treatments maybe up to 8 or more, the hundreds are adding up. Achieving permanent hair free legs is going to cost you upwards of £1000.

But isn’t IPL time consuming?

Lots of people just want their hair gone and to be done with it, happy to pay any money that will achieve that goal. If that’s you, then laser is a really good option.

However, most of us can’t be dropping £1000-£2000 on leg hair removal and that’s where IPL comes in. IPL isn’t permanent in the same way that laser is, because you will still need treatments on-going. But these treatments take hardly any time – around 8 minutes for a lower leg – and only need to be done once every few months.

Considering the amount of time you would spend shaving or waxing, that’s no time at all. Another benefit of IPL is that you can do it safely and easily at home. Do it while watching your favourite TV show or do it in the run up to your holiday without having to try to get a waxing appointment in July, when everybody else is too.

Who should choose laser or IPL?

Laser is best for

Those who don’t have a financial limitation; if the price doesn’t bother you then laser is an excellent way to get rid of hair permanently. There are plenty of professional, high quality clinics that specialise in laser treatment.

IPL is best for

Those who want mostly permanent hair removal and don’t mind a bit of upkeep every now and again for great results. Smooth legs lasts for months and regrowth is absolutely minimal. A good device is around £400 and you shouldn’t need to replace it for a very, very long time.

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