The Ultimate Guide to IPL Hair Removal

Home IPL machines have come a long way in recent years, and advancements in technology mean you can now get results to rival an expensive (and long) salon course without leaving your bedroom.

While we are happy to take a very relaxed approach to waxing right now – after all, body hair is totally natural and there is nothing wrong with rocking it – if you are Considering deflating your body, it’s worth looking into the IPL. (Because let’s be honest, any beauty treatment we can do while planted in front of Netflix is ​​welcome)

We’ve tried the top rated IPL devices on the market, and these are the ones that impressed us the most:

So, what exactly is IPL, and is it the right hair removal method for you? (Maybe you are more of an epilator or an electric razor?) Here, we reveal everything you need to know before considering a purchase …

What is IPL?

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It is a form of light therapy and one of the most advanced ways to get rid of unwanted hair.

How does IPL work?

“IPL hair removal is designed to help break the hair growth cycle by targeting the hair root or follicle,” says Emily Buckwell, Product Expert at “Light energy is transferred through the surface of the skin and absorbed by the melanin present in the hair shaft.” Once absorbed, this light energy is converted into thermal energy below the skin’s surface, which deactivates the hair follicle, preventing its growth. Treated hairs fall naturally within a few days (up to two weeks for some people).

Laser hair removal vs IPL

IPL is often associated with laser hair removal, but the two are actually quite different.

Jess Gregory, Head of Consumer Marketing at Philips, explains that “Laser hair removal uses monochromatic laser light, while IPL uses a broad spectrum light pulse. Professional laser treatment is high energy and focuses on selected areas, ”she said. Simply put, the laser uses a single, concentrated light, while the IPL uses a wider spectrum. “There are many names given to laser hair removal, but it’s important to understand that IPL is not a laser,” she adds.

So why are the two so often confused? It really has to do with the results: both methods target the melanin in the hair follicle and can provide long-term smooth skin. While laser hair removal can be a hefty investment, IPL is usually much cheaper to do in the salon – and can also be done safely yourself, at home (more on that later).

Is the IPL permanent?

“Even with laser treatment, there is no guarantee of completely permanent hair removal,” confirms Gregory.

Currently, the only way to get rid of hair permanently is through a treatment called electrolysis. However, IPL offers permanent hair reduction, which means that if you follow the maintenance treatments, the hairs will stay at bay.

What skin types can IPL try?

It is important to remember that IPL is not a suitable treatment for all skin types and tones.

“IPL is only effective on naturally dark blonde, brown and black hair and skin tones ranging from very light to dark brown,” says Gregory. “This is because there has to be enough contrast between the skin and the hair color for the device to detect the hair follicle. IPL will also not work on white, gray, and red hair.”

In addition, some skin tones are not compatible with IPL treatments. Darker skin (five or more on the Fitzpatrick scale) should avoid IPL hair removal, as the higher amounts of melanin in the skin will be picked up by light, which could cause damage.

In short, the most suitable candidates for IPL will have pale skin and dark, contrasting hair. If you’re not sure, don’t worry, as many of the best IPL devices today come with built-in security features to take the guesswork out of it.

How to use an IPL device at home

Of course, each IPL device will come with its own Bible-sized instruction booklet and yes you have to read it in full.

Generally speaking, however, you will need to shave with a razor first and then simply press your device against the skin, where it will deliver a flash of light. As for the pain? It’s not that bad: just think of a quick rubber band, and you’re in the right territory.

There is usually a treatment phase of up to 12 weeks, which you will need to commit to properly, and then refills about once a month thereafter.

The best home IPL devices

When choosing the best IPL device for you, there are a few things to consider because not all are created equal. First of all, there is the number of flashes that a device can deliver. “Many devices come with a lot of flashes, but if you’re on a budget, there are options with fewer flashes that will definitely allow you to treat your whole body,” Buckwell explains.

If you get bored easily, a fast-acting device will keep you from losing interest halfway through – however, if speed isn’t essential (let’s face it, you have the time now) then it might be worth it. ” opt for a device that is more powerful than faster. Stay with us for all the details on the best IPL devices to choose from …

How we test

Our test panel of 107 women tried a range of home IPL hair removal devices over a 12 week period.

Following the directions exactly, they explained how effective each device was at removing hair from legs, armpits, bikini line and upper lip, and how easy it was to get results. They also recorded the appearance of regrowth and shared the results.

It was the home IPL devices that really stood out from the crowd …