Tossing your razor and avoiding frustrating stubble just days after shaving sounds like a dream. That’s where IPL laser hair removal comes in. But, how many treatments does it take to see results? We’ve got you covered.
What is IPL?
First off, IPL laser treatments aren't really “laser” treatments. IPL stands for “intense pulsed light.” This popular cosmetic treatment is non-invasive and works by emitting short bursts of light (a spectrum of colors from different wavelengths) to the skin. This enables selective light-absorption, making it possible to target a variety of unwanted skin concerns.
Most commonly, IPL is used to:
- Reduce facial redness related to rosacea, broken, or dilated blood vessels.
- Lighten age spots, sun spots, and signs of discoloration on the chest, face, neck, or hands.
- Minimize wrinkles, fine lines, and improve pore size through collagen stimulation.
In addition to all of these benefits, IPL is used to get rid of unwanted hair from anywhere on the body, except for the eyes.
The most common areas for treatment include:
- Bikini line
- Upper lip
What’s the difference between IPL hair removal and laser hair removal?
Both the intense light method and the laser light use light to heat the hair follicle and thus stunt hair regrowth. However, the technology used to deliver the light is what makes them different - with the primary difference being the kind of light itself.
In short, lasers emit a very special kind of light consisting of one wavelength or color of light all going in one direction, which creates a single beam, similar to a laser pointer.
IPL devices are different because they produce a wide range of wavelengths of light in order to produce a single white flash. This light is closer to natural light and usually appears with a red or orange glow when the device is pressed against the skin.
Okay, but how exactly does it work?
Great question. As we mentioned, IPL can treat a multitude of things, but for the purposes of hair removal, both IPL light and laser light work by exactly the same mechanism.
We’ll break it down for you:
- The laser light - or IPL - enters the skin and is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the hair shaft.
- The absorption of light causes the individual hair to heat up.
- If the correct amount of light energy is absorbed, the hair follicle is heated up to a critical temperature that results in an interruption of the hair growth cycle.
- Depending on many factors, the effect can be temporary or permanent.
Is IPL hair removal permanent?
If you are looking to kick your unwanted hair to the curb permanently, it’s going to take some time, hard work, and dedication. Why might you ask? Because of the hair growth cycle. We’ll explain:
Hair naturally grows in three phases that include a growth phase (anagen), a transitional phase (catagen), and a regrowth phase (telogen).
IPL hair removal treatment is only effective on hair follicles in the active growth phase, anagen. Follicles that were in the transitional catagen phase and the resting telogen phase during your first IPL session will move into the active growth phase and will be treated during consequent appointments in your treatment plan.
But, your hair growth cycle isn’t the only factor that should be considered. Changing hormones, medical conditions, and prescribed medications also play a role in hair regrowth, whether IPL is in the mix or not. Hormones tend to keep hairs in the resting phase during hair removal treatments, meaning the IPL treatment wouldn’t properly damage the follicles to prevent hair from growing back in the future. Hormonal changes following treatment could lead to hair regrowth as well.
Simply put, hair growth is much more complex than what it seems.
How Many IPL Hair Removal Treatments, and How Often?
For those looking to get jaw-dropping results with IPL, it’s generally recommended that patients receive, on average, 4-6 treatments scheduled four weeks apart.
Why do most people need more than one intense pulse light treatment?
Every treatment builds upon the previous one, allowing your skin to react gradually.
At each session, the laser light is adjusted to reach different depths of the skin to deliver the right treatment to the correct targeted area. As we mentioned earlier, hair grows in cycles. In order to stop it from growing, it must be in the active anagen phase. If the hair is not in this specific phase, it will grow back - and when it does, an IPL session can help!
Why are IPL treatments done four weeks apart?
Okay, let’s talk a little more about hair growth:
We already know anagen is the active growth phase. At this time, the cells in the root of the hair divide rapidly. This means that the hair is growing and extending to the hair shaft. During this active phase, the hair follicles are the most receptive to the laser light because they are rich in pigment or melanin.
The next stage of the growth cycle is the catagen phase, which is when hair stops growing. This phase lasts only 2-3 weeks, roughly.
The last stage is the telogen phase. At this time, the hair starts to shed, and the follicle is prompted to start a new cycle. The length of the telogen phase can vary, but on average, it can last 100 days or more.
So, given that the anagen phase is the most important phase for IPL hair removal to be effective, you can understand why not all hair is treated in any one IPL session and why it’s important to keep up with treatments in addition to doing them every four weeks as new hairs enter back into the anagen phase.
How many sessions are typically needed?
Everyone is different, and results tend to vary, but many people see results in as little as the first treatment. However, as we mentioned, hair grows in phases. After many weeks of enjoying velvety smooth, hair-free skin, you will start to notice a little bit of hair regrowth. This is new hair entering the anagen phase, meaning it’s time to book your next IPL laser hair removal treatment. For permanent hair removal, most people only need 6 to 8 IPL treatments.
At-Home IPL Hair Removal
Laser technology has advanced quite a bit over the years. Back in the day, for an IPL treatment, you had to go in for an in-office visit. Today, achieving silky smooth hair-free skin with IPL has never been easier because at-home devices are now available.
At-home IPL treatment can be just as effective as an in-office treatment, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all products are created equal.
When looking for an at-home IPL device, look for a company with a true passion for providing top-quality products with a warranty like KENZZI.
KENZZI offers the world’s #1 at-home IPL device, and it’s extremely easy to use, safe, and gentle on skin. In addition, the KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset is designed to provide results in as little as three treatments!
If you have always wanted beautiful, stubble-free skin, but are sick and tired of battling your razor every other day, IPL laser hair removal can help.
IPL laser hair removal is a safe and effective way to banish unwanted hair once and for all!