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IPL Hair Removal and Its Side Effects: The Ultimate Guide

Before you commit to any skincare treatment or cosmetic procedure, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. If you are considering IPL, you’ll want to do your research on what you should expect before and after treatment. 

The good news is that the benefits of IPL totally outweigh any of the possible negatives. Still, there are a few side effects you may experience from the treatment. Luckily, none of these side effects are too serious, but it is still good to know what may happen so you can best prepare to take care of your skin. 

How Does IPL Hair Removal Work?

What’s IPL, you ask? Well, it’s pretty much one of the best ways to remove unwanted body hair. At RoseSkinCo., we love IPL. Can you tell? We only have like… two amazing IPL devices with hundreds of 5-star reviews 😉 But, wait — You asked what IPL is, right? Let’s rewind and talk about it. 

IPL is an acronym for intense pulsed light. It’s a type of FDA-approved light energy treatment used to treat all sorts of skin conditions including lessening the appearance of wrinkles, lightening sun spots, reducing the appearance of stretch marks, and (our personal fave) removing excessive hair growth.

So, how does a light make hair go away? We won’t get too scientific, but this is how the process works in a nutshell:

When placed on the skin, an IPL device is attracted to the melanin in your hair follicles. Once it finds these pigmented hair follicles, the IPL device delivers pulses of broad-spectrum lights that target those unwanted hairs at the root. The light pulses safely destroy the hair follicles for dolphin-smooth results. 

Sounds good, right? Yep, we think so too. Even better, over time IPL will help reduce your hair growth in the long term. Not only will the hair be gone after one use, but with consistent use, your hair will grow back slower and finer. 

Eventually, it will grow so slowly that you may not need a touch-up for months. Now that’s what we call easy-peasy hair removal.

Is IPL Not the Same Thing as Laser Hair Removal?

IPL does sound a lot like laser hair removal. After all, it is a hair removal treatment that uses beams of light, right? While there are some similarities between the two treatments, there are also some very notable differences. 

The main difference is the source of light. IPL uses broad-spectrum light which delivers light at a variety of different wavelengths. Laser hair removal, on the other hand, uses a single-spectrum light. Because a laser treatment only uses one concentrated light, the treatment is stronger. 

This means that if you choose a laser treatment over IPL, you will likely need fewer sessions. Still, they’ll be pricier and more of a hassle. Laser tends to be much more expensive than IPL, especially if you are going to a salon or spa to get a treatment. 

Plus, because IPL is a bit less concentrated, it’s safe for individuals to administer themselves at home. Hair removal and chill? Yeah, we like the sound of that. 

What Are the Benefits of IPL?

There are plenty of benefits of IPL treatment, but most notably, IPL leaves your skin baby soft. Not only will IPL take your hair off and leave your skin smooth-as-a-dolphin a day or so, but the silky results will actually last for a long, long time. 

After just three or four uses, you’ll typically see a serious reduction in hair growth, with semi-permanent hair removal after 12 uses. This means after you use an IPL device just 12 times, you could literally become a hairless queen.

You may need touch-ups every few months because every body is different. Either way, you can expect to say ta-ta for good to those razors and shaving cream bottles stored under your sink!

What Are The Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal Treatments?

If you want to start IPL (or any other treatment, for that matter), you should know exactly what you are getting into. Most of the side effects below shouldn’t cause you too much trouble and should be gone within five days. 

If you do (or don’t) have any of these side effects, don’t freak out! Some people may experience some of these side effects, while others may not experience anything at all. 

Here are some of the common side effects of IPL treatments:

Discomfort During the Treatment 

Notice we said discomfort, not pain. Unlike waxing, IPL isn’t basically a new form of torture. You might be a little meh for a second, but you can actually reduce this non-issue even further if you make sure non of your hairs are too long. That means a pre-IPL shave is welcome! 

Pink Skin

Your skin may be pink, or feel a little tender to the touch directly after an IPL treatment but that does not occur for most. However, you shouldn’t notice any blistering, crusting, or swelling on the treated area after using a hair removal device like the IPL or other safe hair removal methods.

Slight redness or another mild change to skin pigmentation in the treatment area isn’t any cause for concern, but this won’t occur in most people who try IPL.

How Can I Treat Common IPL Side Effects?

Remember, these side effects are only temporary. After a few days or less, any pain or unpleasant feelings should be gone and replaced by the smooth skin of your dreams. In the meantime, you want to do the work to make these little hiccups more manageable. 

First, let your skin rest after IPL. This essentially means giving your skin some time to breathe. While IPL is pretty gentle, it still is getting up close and personal with your skin. So, give that epidermis some space. Ditch the makeup, perfumes, and anything that is harsh on the skin and moisturize really well with a simple lotion after your treatment. . 

Another tip is to avoid hot showers and take a cool shower instead. Hot water can aggravate these side effects, while cool water does the opposite and actually soothe them. 

Last but certainly not least, you can get the ice ready. Icing your skin post-IPL is one of the best ways to soothe any redness you notice. Don’t put ice straight from the freezer directly on your skin, as that can be a little much and shock your skin. 

Instead, grab an ice pack, wrap some ice cubes in a paper towel, or run a washcloth under cold water to create a cold compress. Repeat this process for 10 minutes every hour or two for the first three hours after your treatment. 

In addition, it’s best to avoid direct sun exposure or tanning after a home laser hair removal session or IPL treatment for hair reduction. If you do go out, make sure to wear sunscreen!

That is your guide to keeping things healthy and safe post-IPL. It’s simple enough, but worth remembering so your IPL treatment experiences are as seamless as possible.

Are You Ready for IPL?

We sure are. We hope this guide has helped get you prepared for your next IPL session. Whether it is your first time using IPL or one of your last sessions, keep these tips in mind to make sure your IPL experience is the best it can be. 

 

Sources:

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL Treatment) | WebMD

Laser hair removal | Mayo Clinic

Low-Energy Intense Pulsed Light for Hair Removal at Home | PMC