For most men and women, body hair is a horror, especially among the younger generation. More than 97 percent of young women and 79 percent of men regularly remove hair from at least one part of their body. This was the result of a study conducted by the University of Leipzig among more than 300 students surveyed, who were on average 23 years old. Even if the trend towards hairless appearance will be reversed according to experts, it is still fashionable at present. So what is the best way to get rid of hair? In addition to classics such as shaving, epilating or waxing, the topic of IPL hair removal is becoming more and more fashionable. In the following, we will explain to you whether the method delivers what it promises and how it all works.
1. IPL Devices for Hair Removal
While classical hair removal methods are still widespread, the IPL method is becoming more and more popular in this country. IPL stands for “Intense Pulsed Light”, which is a relatively new method for permanent hair removal or reduction.
Important: IPL hair removal is not a laser treatment. The IPL process uses highly controlled light in a wide range of waves. With the laser method, only a very narrow light spectrum is used, which is why laser devices are not available for free sale. Laser treatments are therefore only available from trained personnel such as some cosmeticians or dermatologists.
1.1 How It Works
In the IPL treatment, very short and strong light flashes are radiated superficially onto the skin. A light source with a wide wavelength of 380-1400 nm is used. The light spectrum ensures that the pigment melanin in the hair follicles heats up (up to temperatures of 70°C) and reacts. The resulting heat is then used to desolate the hair root precisely. The hair falls out in the following days and can no longer grow back in theory. Since the home appliances do not provide the light output as found in the doctor’s office, the hair usually grows back again after some time.
1.2 Requirements & Disadvantages?
Unfortunately, IPL hair removal is not suitable for all skin and hair types. If the hair does not stand out sufficiently from the skin colour, the success does not remain. In the worst case, the skin can even be permanently damaged, since the light energy is not concentrated on the pigments in the hair, but rather on the skin itself. Therefore, the basic rule is: the better the contrast between skin and hair colour, the better the light energy is converted. For people with very light, grey or red hair, the IPL treatment is therefore not very effective.
1.3 Advantages of the IPL Treatment
The complete hair removal method is almost painless. In most cases, only a slight tingling, burning or tweaking is felt. In addition, the light treatment is suitable for almost all parts of the body. Because the light can be harmful to the eyesight, the treatment should only be done under the cheekbones and with a special face attachment. In the bikini area it makes sense to use a device that has different light intensity levels. The skin there is particularly sensitive, which is why the intensity should be reduced.
Another clear advantage is the longevity of the method. Since the hair root is destroyed by the light, no new hair can form. It does not grow again at least over a longer period of time. In order to maintain the result of smooth skin, Philips recommends, for example, to repeat the IPL treatment every 4 to 8 weeks.
2. Important Equipment Details
2.1 Size of the Light Window
The size of the light window determines the size of the hair removal area. The larger the window, the more hair can be removed at once. On the other hand, too large light windows make precise work on sensitive areas difficult.
2.2 Energy Levels
A good IPL hair removal device has different levels of light intensity. The more energy levels there are, the better the device can be adapted to your needs. For example, the intimate area should be irradiated with less light energy than the legs.
2.3 Power Supply
An important fact is the power supply of the IPL device. Even though many models are now available with battery and wireless operation, cable operation is an important factor. Because the battery performance of the devices usually does not last longer than 10 minutes.
Some IPL devices have special skin and safety sensors. Among other things, they detect whether the device should be placed correctly or at which intensity level it should be started. These are practical functions, which should be interesting especially for beginners. If you buy a device from a well-known manufacturer, you are playing it safe when it comes to safety and sensors.
Various attachments should be included in the accessories in order to do justice to the different body regions. In most cases, a specially shaped attachment for the armpit area and an attachment for sensitive areas, such as the bikini line, are recommended.
3. How to Do It Right
Although the treatment is relatively easy and painless, a few things need to be considered in advance:
- Before the IPL application, the area to be treated must be free of hair. Either remove them with the help of a razor or with an epilator. The heat generated during the treatment would otherwise burn or char the fine hairs.
- The device is then moved piece by piece to the area to be treated.
- The procedure takes time. An average of 10 minutes is required for a lower leg. The entire intimate area takes about 6 minutes. A full body treatment can take between 45 minutes and 2.5 hours.
- Patience is needed. After about four applications, the first successes should be achieved.
- But until all the hairs are completely eliminated, many more sessions are needed.
- For example, to achieve smooth skin, Philips recommends repeating the treatment every 4 to 8 weeks.
4. Known Manufacturers
Beurer is a medium-sized company based in Ulm, Germany, with approx. 900 employees and a turnover of 230 million euros (2016). The company’s focus is on electrical appliances for health and well-being. With this in mind, the company offers both IPL devices and diode lasers for permanent hair removal.
Philips is a well-known supplier of health technology and household appliances, founded as early as 1891 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Philips products enjoy a very good reputation. In the field of IPL devices, Philips launches the Lumea range of very popular products on the market. The lifespan of the lamps is given as over 20 years.
Braun is also a well-known supplier of body care products on the European market. The Taunus-based company has been part of the US giant Procter & Gamble since 1967 and has over 3,000 employees. Braun sells its IPL hair removal devices under the name Silk-expert.
Medisana AG is a company based in Neuss, Germany, that specialises in health products. The main focus is on development, production and marketing. The company divides its activities into health control, home therapy, body care, home of wellness and mobile health.
5. The Risks and Side Effects of IPL Treatment
Basically, IPL hair removal is not considered dangerous. But as so often with this method, there are some factors that can cause side effects. At least if used improperly. These include, for example, minor burns or redness of the skin areas to be treated. Acne, infections and other skin diseases can also be intensified. If this is the case, the dermatologist should be consulted prior to IPL treatment. In case of sensitivity to light, sunburn or even allergy, the treatment should be avoided. Tattooed body parts, liver spots or pigment disorders should also not be treated, as the contrast between skin and hair is no longer present.
6. Alternative Methods of Hair Removal
As simple and painless as the method may be, for some it is not suitable, such as for very light hair types. These include blonde, red or grey hair. The classic alternatives are then only:
- Razor: During shaving, the hair is cut off just above the skin surface. The hair grows back out visibly in just a few days.
- Epilator: During epilation, the hair is plucked from the skin together with the hair root. This is a quite painful hair removal process. The method promises hairlessness for about one month with normal hair growth.
- Waxing: The result of waxing is similar to that of epilation. The hair and root are torn out of the skin with the help of warm or cold wax. The effect also lasts about 4 weeks and is extremely painful.
- Sugaring: Sugaring uses a special sugar paste for hair removal, which is particularly gentle on the skin due to its natural active ingredients. The method is particularly popular in the Orient and in countries such as Brazil. The approach is similar to waxing. The paste is mixed and applied against the direction of hair growth and then pulled off with the direction of hair growth. The effect lasts about 4 weeks.
- Electroepilation: During electroepilation, small needles are placed under the skin and electrified. This causes the destruction of the hair root. The method is very time-consuming and the occurrence of redness and swelling is very frequent. The method can therefore be described as permanent hair removal.
- Laser hair removal: The germ cell of the hair root is destroyed during the laser treatment in the cosmetic studio or at the dermatologist. Here, too, there must be a good contrast between the skin and hair in order to be successful. Mostly ruby, diode or alexandrite lasers are used.
7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is IPL Hair Removal Also Suitable for Intimate Areas?
Yes it is. The devices usually have an attachment with a smaller light window so that work can be carried out precisely. You should pay attention to these accessories before purchasing the IPL device.
Can Men Also Use an IPL Device?
Yes, the IPL devices work for both men and women.
Can IPL Treatment Be Carried out During Pregnancy?
No. IPL treatment should not be used during pregnancy. Due to hormone changes, the skin and hair can change completely.
Can Hair Also Be Removed From the Upper Lip?
Basically, that’s possible. In many women, however, the unwanted facial hair consists of fine blonde hairs, which precludes removal with IPL treatment. In addition, the device should have an intensity setting. The area around the upper lip is very sensitive and should therefore only be treated with low intensity.