An IPL is a great alternative to waxing, but which one is best for you?

What is IPL?

IPL stands for ‘Intense Pulsed Light’. It’s a hair removal method with a difference. Instead of using blades, tweezers, hot wax or rolled threads, it uses light to stop hair growth in its tracks. You might have seen salons offering laser treatment, but this can actually destroy the hair follicle. IPL is a gentler and safer treatment that’s kinder to your skin, cheaper than salon visits in the long run and means you can fit sessions around your lifestyle.

IPL works by sending pulses of light into the skin, which penetrate individual hairs and get soaked up by the dark pigment inside. This light turns to heat and kills off some of the cells inside the hair, so that it doesn’t grow anymore.

With enough treatments, the hair is killed and falls out - leaving you with smooth and silky skin.

Because light is attracted to dark pigments on the skin, IPL works best on light skin and dark hair. It won’t work on light hair, and can be damaging to very dark skin. If an IPL system isn’t for you, try out an epilator instead - they grab each hair and pull it out by the root, a more permanent solution than a shave. Not sure if IPL will work for your skin tone? We’ve created a guide so you can check.

You won’t be able to wax in between your first few IPL treatments, but the hair will soon start to shed. However, you shouldn’t give into temptation and try to pluck them out because you’ll undo all the good work the IPL did!

Which IPL is best? 

All IPL systems work hard to rid you of unwanted body hair, but of course there are pros and cons to each. Instead of asking which IPL hair removal is best, find out which one works best for you and your lifestyle. 

The Philips Lumea Prestige BRI945/00 is the number one product from the number one brand for IPL in the UK. It takes its cue from laser hair removal to let you create salon results at home, with up to 92 percent of hair reduction within just three treatments. It took 14 years of research and consultations with leading dermatologists to create the best-ever Philips IPL, easy and safe to use. Plus, there are attachments for the body, face, underarms and bikini line.

“Tried other devices before - none as effective as this one.” – Stace, review

The Smoothskin Bare only has one setting, but is ideal for girls on the go. It has unlimited flashes and 100 pulses of light a minute. Each flash delivers a hot burst of light to the hair follicle, so the more flashes your device has per second, the quicker it will be to do a full treatment. It’s corded, too, so you never have to worry about running out of charge. Beginners or those who are nervous can pick up the Smoothskin Muse, which automatically adapts to your skin tone before delivering a flash. It even has a gentle mode for sensitive skin.

How do I use it? 

Before your IPL treatment, make sure to shave very lightly. This is so the light will have less work to do in a short space of time but still has pigment to grab on to. How long each session of IPL takes will depend on what part of your body you’re using your IPL system on. Legs will take longer than your chin or bikini line!

Different IPL systems have different ways to let you know they’re working. Read the instructions on yours to make sure you’re using it correctly. IPL is not totally painless from the start but plenty of users say they find it less painful than waxing, epilating or threading.

How often do I have to use it? 

IPL won’t work immediately, and it’s not a permanent form of hair removal. However, within your first few sessions, you should notice results. After hair falls out and you do experience regrowth, the hair should be finer than before. It will also take much longer to grow, so you can do top-up sessions when you feel the need. Your first few sessions should be done every two weeks, but after about four sessions you should be able to go two months without needing another.

Although your first session will take time as you get used to your IPL system, you’ll soon work out how to use it faster.

Since IPL is sensitive to skin colour, you could find that tanning means your system will mark your skin as unsafe to work on. Always keep in mind that your skin might be more sensitive to light in the days after a session with your IPL system, too, so stay out of very bright sunlight and use SPF.

Does it hurt? 

IPL is the least painful method of hair removal in use. It hurts less than waxing, threading or epilating, but it can cause some soreness on the skin. Although each of the pulses lasts only a few seconds at most, at first you may be unused to the feeling. Plenty of IPLs, such as the Philips Lumea Prestige, have extra gentle modes for beginners or those with sensitive skin, to make this less likely.

Remember that some hormonal changes might make your skin more sensitive. IPL is not recommended if you’re pregnant.