IPL and Laser Hair Removal – FAQs

Below are the most common questions that get asked about both IPL and Laser Hair Removal:

How does IPL Hair Removal Work?

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) systems work by firing repeated bursts of intense, wide spectrum light into the skin, reaching the hair root (bulb). These bursts of light are changed into heat energy, eventually damaging or killing the root of the hair shaft and follicle so it stops growing.  Different filters are available on many IPL devices to ensure that you can easily and effectively targeted different parts of your body.

Check out our main IPL Hair removal page for a detailed overview of how it works or put your feet up and watch this short video from the Philips Lumea (see latest prices of the Lumea range and what we consider to be the UK’s other best home IPL hair removal systems here).

Does IPL and Laser Hair Removal Work?

This is a very common question and as you’ve probably already discovered, IPL and laser treatment (whether you are going down the salon route or buying something like the Tria 4x Laser Hair Removal device to use at home) is not the cheapest method of hair removal in the world. It’s therefore only natural that you’ll want to know if the claims of permanent hair removal are true before spending the money.

The answer is not that straightforward so check out our blog post that tries to answer the all-important question “Does laser hair removal work?

Is IPL the same as Laser Hair Removal?

No, though the look of the devices and method of treatment look pretty much identical – the difference is in the actual way they work. Whilst the laser method fires a single beam of light at a specific wavelength, the IPL method flashes light of a wider range of wavelengths that penetrate the skin at different depths.

The advantage of the IPL method is that as the heads on the IPL device are emitting light up to six times the size of the single laser light the treatments are typically much faster – though laser devices like the Tria 4X Hair Removal Laser can typically fire a more intense beam than some IPL devices and therefore may result in more permanent hair-loss.

Which is Better IPL or Laser Hair Removal?

This is quite a complicated question to answer but here’s the key points to remember.

  • Both are highly effective methods of hair removal given the right conditions so you should be happy whichever you choose – just pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.
  • Although this is very subjective and dependant on the circumstances people tend to claim the IPL method offers less discomfort during use (though most people say it feels like nothing more than a light flick from an elastic band or fingernail either way).
  • IPL treatment sessions will take less time due to the larger heads on the devices whereas lasers take longer but should require less sessions.
  • For the same reasons as above, IPL systems are probably a better choice for treating larger areas of the body whereas lasers would favour smaller treatment areas.
  • If your skin is darker then laser treatment is more effective (be sure to check your skin is not too dark with a professional) whereas IPL can tend to provide better results on light hair and pale skin.
  • Lasers were better at tackling very course hair due to the stronger light intensity but if you buy a quality IPL device they should be equally up to the task these days.

Is IPL Hair Removal Safe for me to Use?

This seems like a long answer to a simple question but we want to make sure you are completely reassured that IPL treatment has been officially proven to be perfectly safe if used responsibly. However, it’s important to understand that it’s not right for everyone as IPL treatment is not effective for people with red, grey or light blonde hair and should not be used at all if you have black skin as it can actually cause skin damage.

Light-based hair removal technology has been systematically tested for safety and any side-effects for over 15 years and has passed with flying colours.

Assuming your skin and hair colour does not fall into the categories listed above then the IPL method should give you great results. You will however need to adjust the light’s intensity dependent on your skin and hair colour. In order to allow you to match as closely as possible to your personal requirements the IPL devices will come with different intensity settings (typically around 4 or 5).

A colour chart is sometimes provided so working out your specific setting is easy but many of the IPL devices on the market these days come with a built in skin sensor that automatically pick the right intensity setting for you. You’ll be able to see the ones that have this capability on our page that compares the best IPL hair removal systems.

Does IPL Hair Removal Hurt?

It shouldn’t hurt or be too uncomfortable if you use the skin / hair colour guide (or inbuilt automatic sensor) to select the suitable light intensity setting for you. Some people describe the sensation of their IPL treatment (and Laser hair removal treatments) as like an elastic band being gently flicked against the skin and others as very faint pinpricks…which sounds a lot less painful than waxing to me.

However, everybody is different and will have varying levels of sensitivity (and if you search online you will quickly find comments from people saying it was painful for them). We suggest if you are worried then on your first treatment try setting the device at a slightly lower intensity and gradually building up to the one recommended for you skin and hair tones. The IPL systems that auto-set the intensity can still be over-ridden and turned down if required.

You should not use an IPL if you are hot and sweaty or on areas covered in moisturising cream as this can make it less effective and possibly more uncomfortable. Some people also described it being a bit sore putting deodorant on immediately after treating their armpits so that might be something to avoid too. You might find this article from Women’s Health interesting which relates the experiences of 6 women who tried laser hair removal.

Is IPL and Laser Hair Removal for Men too?

Yes, it is suitable for anyone who has unwanted hair and many thousands of men have chosen this as an effective method to remove unwanted body hair. It is also popular for the transgender market where permanent hair removal can naturally play a key part of the transition process.

Can I use IPL anywhere on my body?

IPL can be used to remove hair anywhere below your cheekbones as pointing the light around your eyes could potentially damage your vision (You can buy IPL safety glasses if you have concerns) but the rest of your body is pretty much fair game. IPL users find it an effective way of removing hair on the face, arms and armpits, chest and abdomen, back, legs and the bikini area without any ill effects.

Many of the IPL devices on the market these days come with smaller treatment head attachments that can be clipped on for treating around your face, bikini line or other sensitive areas.

Can I stop shaving my unwanted hair if I’m using my IPL device?

No, you should shave before using an IPL for the first time and between all subsequent sessions. This may seem strange as you want to kill the hair but shaving allows the light energy to effectively reach the skin and penetrate down to the hair bulb / root. If that was not reason enough, the heat generated by the intense light can singe the hairs, (and we all know how bad singed hair smells), as well as damaging the product itself if not cleaned off.

How often should I use my IPL Hair Removal at home?

The instruction manuals for all devices will give clear instruction as to how long to leave between IPL hair removal treatments. As a general rule, when starting off with IPL for the first time, take it slowly for 3 or 4 sessions by leaving a 2 week gap between each treatment on underarms and bikini areas and around 4 weeks on your legs (as these hairs have different growth cycles).

Don’t leave it longer than that between sessions as the hair will recover and start growing back in earnest. However, after the 4th session you can get more aggressive and use the IPL product whenever you see any hair growing back through until it stops altogether.

What happens if you use IPL too often?

A very common question is “Can I use IPL ever day?”  It is understandable to want to speed up the results but don’t get too carried away. Unlike most things in life, more is not better here and exceeding the recommended treatment won’t speed up hair loss, in fact it will probably reduce your chances of seeing a successful outcome. As mentioned in the question above, the aim is to time the period between your treatments with your hairs natural growth cycle – allowing you to destroy the hair follicles which then stops the hair growing back.

Excessive treatments probably won’t do you any harm apart from possibly leading to irritated skin. Every IPL and laser hair removal system is slightly different and you should read their instructions which will typically give you all the advice you need.

How long does IPL take to work?

This depends on your skin and hair type, the parts of the body being treated, shaving and correctly using your IPL during sessions etc. Typically you should expect to see significant results after a month or so / a couple of sessions. This may seem a long time but remember, this is going to end years of shaving, waxing, plucking or covering up with clothes so think of it as an investment in time. It’s also another great reason to buy an IPL to use in the comfort of your own home as sessions in a professional clinic can soon add up to many hundreds.

Don’t panic if hair seems to be growing up to two weeks after your last treatment as this is perfectly normal. At the two-week mark you will notice that the hairs are falling out. Tug gently on these hairs to help it fall out if you want to give it a helping hand (tug gently does not mean pull hard) or leave it and it should fall out naturally. If certain hairs do not seem to be dying off then they may be stubborn and need to be targeted with extra sessions. Again results will also depend on which of the many IPL hair removal systems out there you decide to buy.

In terms of how long treatment sessions should take, once you have got the hang of it it should typically only take 1 minute to treat your face, less than 5 minutes for the bikini area and maybe 15 minutes for a whole leg.

What is the Best Laser Hair Removal Device?

Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X

Customer Rating of Tria X4

In our opinion, when it comes to the best at-home laser hair removal device you need look no further than the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X. It is the only FDA cleared laser device for use at home and has been clinically proven through independent dermatological trials to provide permanent hair removal results.

Tria Laser 4x

The 4X uses the same diode laser technology dermatologists prefer to use in salons and Tria are so confident you’ll be satisfied with the results they give a 60 day money back guarantee on top of a 2 year warranty.

It has won the InStyle Best Beauty Buys award 3 years running and comes in 2 different colours so you can get one to match your style. You can find out everything you need to know about the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X here

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What is the Best IPL Hair Removal Device?

There is a wide range of IPL hair removal devices out there varying greatly in quality, features and price. Which is best for you will depend on what you need it for (which area of the body you want to treat) and your budget. You can see on this page the leading IPL devices we think cover most eventualities as well as providing detailed information on the features and benefits of each. However, you asked which was the best and, in our opinion it is currently the Philips Lumea.

Philips Lumea Prestige BRI954/00

Rating for Philips Lumea



The Philips Lumea is the UK’s No.1 IPL hair removal brand and, as with the Tria Laser 4X above, they win awards year-after-year for their devices. The Lumea brand has been chosen by well over a million people and, with the powerful device offering 6 months of hair-free skin, gets consistently positive reviews from happy customers for both features and performance. If you are not satisfied with the results then you have the confidence in knowing it comes with a 100 day money back guarantee.

Philips Lumea BRI954-00

The Philips Lumea Prestige BRI954/00 IPL (shown) encompasses an inbuilt SmartSkin sensor to optimise light intensity and comes with 3 intelligent curved attachments – one for the body / arms / legs; one for the face and finally one for precision areas (armpits and bikini). Rather handily it can be used with or without a cord.

You can find out everything about this Philips Lumea IPL and compare other leading IPL hair removal systems here

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