Something that has been troubling me for quite some time is the continuous in-your-face advertising boasting permanent hair removal. I am not saying it is all a big hoax, but having been through 3 separate rounds of Laser/IPL hair removal (that’s over 15 treatments!), I want to know why I still have hair??
I will admit that at times the hair regrowth has been slower, or a little sparse, but it is definitely still there and it bothers me after having paid all that money. The more it bothered me the more I thought about why this could be the case. Is my hair or skin not suitable for this treatment? Does only Laser work and I have been having IPL? Is it some industry joke that everyone who is in on it laughs at us stupid consumers? For hecks sake, WHY?
Someone must have been listening because after many pointless attempts to get the information I wanted, I recieved an email from the divine Maria from HairRemoval.org. Finally, I had just the person to educate me and you on what the bloody difference is between IPL and Laser. Are you as excited as I am?
What Is IPL and Laser Hair Removal?
With both IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and laser hair removal there is high potential that unwanted hairs can be kept away for a long time. The two methods are very similar and highly comparable, though there is at least one clear difference: Laser hair removal uses a real laser while IPL does not. As the name suggests, IPL uses a light based device instead in order to destroy the hair follicles for good.
IPL and laser hair removal are essentially two different technologies and both are branded under various names, by different companies and often have unique features (such as built-in cooling). But what both of these hair removal methods have in common is the way in which hairs are destroyed. Both laser hair removal and IPL uses small devices that ultimately generate heat, which is what severely damages and burns the hair follicles by the root. This causes some clients to notice the smell of burnt hair, and why the skin can look and feel like a mild sunburn the day after treatment.
You said “a long time” …. So, it isn’t permanent?
The reason why I state that hairs can be kept away for a long time, and not permanently, is because neither method is allowed to claim permanent hair removal by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the USA, same applies for Australia and many other countries). This means that there just isn’t enough evidence of proof that laser hair removal and IPL can remove hairs permanently. These methods have simply not been around long enough to prove such remarkable claims. That being said, a few clinics that perform these treatments will sometimes claim permanent removal, but these types of claims should be taken very lightly. Though some clinics will generously offer additional sessions free of charge (if the client isn’t happy), any type of guarantee that hairs will be gone for good should definitely be taken with a grain of salt.
But I saw a commercial including the word ‘Permanent’?
There have been plenty of reports from former IPL and laser hair removal clients that claimed some or all of the hair grew back, so this industry has had no option but to find alternative words and phrases in which to market their services. This is where the term “permanent reduction”, which is allowed, comes in and means that some hairs, but not all, might be gone for good. But to say exactly what percentage will be gone is not possible to guarantee. So you might be asking yourself “are there any permanent hair removal methods?” Well, electrolysis has been recognized as permanent, but treats hairs one by one and is quite time consuming, not to mention expensive and not recommended for areas other than the face.
Even if life long results cannot be guaranteed, many people still turn to IPL and laser hair removal because the idea of getting rid of hairs for a longer period of time is attractive. How long is a “longer period of time”? Hard to say. But several months, even a year or two, is possible. But at some point, hairs can grow back and the client would need to schedule additional sessions.
Alright, so what do I pick? IPL or Laser?
In terms of which is better for hair removal, it all depends on who you ask. Practitioners who use laser hair removal will tout their laser machines, and vice versa. The reason for this is understandable, they want to retain clientele. Also, these types of machines are very expensive and might take a while to get replaced. But if I had to choose, in my experience, laser hair removal seems to be the more popular choice. But interestingly enough, IPL was originally developed to treat beauty imperfections (such as age spots and broken capillaries) and hair loss was noted as a side effect. So while laser hair removal might be more popular for hair removal, some will say that IPL can lead to that and better skin. In either case, prospective clients should schedule a consultation and get a test patch (to see how the skin will react). Getting a second opinion at another clinic or get one consultation for IPL and another for laser hair removal are also great ideas.
Maria Bastet is a seasoned writer on subjects pertaining to hair removal. You can find more of her articles located at HairRemoval.org.
A big thank-you to Maria for answering those questions that have been driving me insane.
I would love to know if you too have been confused by this ‘permanent’ hair removal hype? Have you tried IPL or Laser? Did it work for you? Let me know by commenting below!
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