IPL Hair Removal
It’s okay to admit that you have body hair — everyone has it. But for some reason, social media has made some women feel that they must look baby smooth all the time. And honestly, it’s nearly impossible to achieve that.
While it’s not a must to do hair removal, some do it for a number of reasons, such as hygiene or aesthetics. In recent years, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal has become increasingly popular as it permanently destroys hair follicles. Yes, this means your hair won’t ever grow back again.
For those who are curious about how IPL works, we’ve compiled a guide of everything you have to know before jumping right into this treatment. This includes myths, preparation before the appointment, what to expect during the procedure and even aftercare, to ensure that you are well-informed.
There are many things to consider before going for an IPL, and the main one is commitment. IPL isn’t a one-time procedure where you just zap your hairs away and that’s it. The whole process takes weeks and months before you can see actual results, meaning you have to do multiple sessions, and how frequent these sessions are differs from person to person.
It isn’t exactly a super cheap option either — different salons offer a range of services and packages, with some charging by packaged sessions, while others by the number of zaps.
Apart from IPL hair removal, there is also a range of other techniques that are popular among many individuals. Here are five hair removal processes: IPL, shaving, waxing, sugaring and tweezing, and the pros and cons to consider for each one.
IPL hair removal is a cosmetic procedure where a specialist uses a handheld machine that emits wavelengths to penetrate the skin. The intense light turns into heat to remove pigmented or damaged skin cells and hair follicles.
IPL is commonly done on the legs, underarms, back, bikini line and upper lip. There are other variations of IPL such as Optimum Pulsed Light (OPT), that penetrate the tissue while leaving the surrounding skin healthy and unaffected. There’s also Super Hair Removal (SHR) that dispenses light energy with a higher frequency and lower temperature as compared to IPL.
Pros: Permanently reduces your hair growth and is a quick and easy process.
Cons: Requires a lot of treatments to achieve results, which may be costly.
Shaving is one of the most common methods that people do to get rid of hair quickly. It can be done with a disposable razor or an electric shaver, where the user glides the blade along their skin. For shaving, a sharp and clean razor is always important to ensure you don’t get infections or ingrown hairs.
Pros: Quick and not painful. Razors and shaving creams are also not expensive.
Cons: Hair grows back quickly and can cause inflamed hair follicles, itching, ingrown hairs and razor burns if not done properly.
Waxing comes in two forms: hard wax, which needs to be heated and will harden on your body as it cools, and soft wax, which are generally pre-made strips. Whichever method you choose, waxing pulls hair directly from the root — so prepare for it to hurt.
Pros: Lasts longer with less and finer regrowth.
Cons: Painful and can cause skin irritation.
Sugaring is similar to waxing where it removes body hair quickly by pulling them from the roots. The main difference is that while wax is normally applied in the same direction of hair growth, sugaring is applied in the opposite direction.
Sugaring paste is also made of organic ingredients like lemon, water and sugar, which are more suitable for sensitive skin types as compared to waxing.
Pros: Causes less irritation than waxing and the residue can be easily washed out of your skin.
Cons: May still experience some irritation and inflammation.
When tweezing hair, always pull the hair out at an angle to prevent hair breakage and the likelihood of ingrown hairs. Since tweezing is a slow process, it’s typically recommended for smaller areas such as the eyebrows, chin and stomach line. Another similar process is known as threading, where unwanted hair is pulled out by trapping and twisting it with thread.
Pros: Cost-effective and easy to target and get rid of stray hairs.
Cons: Hard to remove a lot of hair at once and prolonged tweezing can lead to hyperpigmentation and inflammation.
Despite the many benefits of IPL, many are still afraid of the treatment as there are negative myths that may hold them back. We sourced the internet for four common IPL myths and debunked them below:
“IPL is not safe”
False. There are concerns that IPL may cause pain or long-term side effects, especially since there are lymph nodes on our underarms. But you shouldn’t feel any pain at all aside from a warm sensation during the treatment, and there is no problem with IPL treatments reaching the depth of lymph nodes. The light only penetrates the hair roots.
“IPL puts you in danger of radiation exposure”
False. IPL-based technology does not use the same UV wavelengths as those found in sunlight that causes skin cancer. But while there is no link between IPL and pregnancy, health care providers recommend avoiding IPL during pregnancy.
“IPL causes burns”
Partially false. It doesn’t happen often, but do make sure that you are getting the treatment from a reputable salon, as mishandling of the equipment may result in burns.
“IPL is for women only”
False. Both men and women can do IPL treatment, but it is important to check in with the salon if they offer services to men as well. While men can do it, only certain places accept male customers.
Before the appointment
Before your IPL appointment, avoid plucking or waxing your hair. For those who do this often, we know that the urge to get rid of the hair is real — so resist it. Shaving is allowed though, since it doesn’t pull out your hair from the root, and some salons even encourage shaving before your appointment.
Wear loose-fitting clothes to maximise your comfort and avoid applying any topical products such as makeup or creams. To ensure that your skin remains moisturised and healthy, you can gently exfoliate the area a few days prior to the appointment. But don’t do it on the day itself, as it can make your skin more prone to irritation.
When you’re at the salon, you may be given a gown to change into. Lie down on the salon bed and the specialist will hand you a pair of safety glasses to shield your eyes from the bright light that the IPL machine emits.
Now is the easy part — relax while the specialist works their magic. It may seem a little intimidating at first, but you should only feel a warm sensation on your skin while the specialist glides the machine over it. The whole process only requires a few minutes and the session is over before you know it.
The specialist may also rub aloe vera or soothing cream on the treated area and shave the leftover hair. And that’s it. Then, it’s time to book your next appointment date.
Just because your treatment session ended doesn’t mean you should hibernate and do nothing until the next one. Since IPL can be very drying on the skin, it’s important to moisturise in between sessions to keep your skin healthy.
Don’t pick or scratch the treatment area or go swimming in heavily chlorinated water in between sessions. Basically, don’t touch the area at all, and especially do not wax, pluck or thread.
Hair will still grow back during sessions — it doesn’t magically disappear instantly, even though it may seem like it. You’ll need to go back for multiple sessions before the hair growth really slows.
The big question is “how often?” While it’s advised to go back every five to seven days during the first few treatment sessions, it also depends on your skin and hair type, which the specialist will advise you on.
Some people also opt to do IPL at home for maintenance after they complete their salon sessions. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to maintain, as most of your hair growth should have slowed down significantly by then. You can purchase your own device and schedule the sessions yourself. Not to fret — IPL devices typically come with instructions and guides.
You can still go back to your aesthetic clinic for maintenance, except you don’t have to do it as frequently as the initial stage and may be more costly.
Other uses for IPL
Besides hair removal, IPL also has a range of benefits to improve your skin. For IPL photofacials, the intense pulsed light can help reduce acne scars, redness and inflammation. If you’re still not convinced, IPL also tackles some common insecurities, lightening pigmented skin and reducing wrinkles and stretch marks.
Getting An IPL Hair Removal Requires Commitment & Maintenance
While IPL hair removal treatments can be done anywhere on the body, do note that for the bikini line, it will take a longer process as the hair is typically coarser. It isn’t suited for the genital area itself where there is greater hair density though, as it may cause discomfort.
With this guide to getting IPL hair removal, now you’re well-informed and ready to consider it as an alternative to other hair removal methods. Otherwise, you can stick to your usual hair removal too, and check out these 15 bikini trimmers and shaving devices for your next beach date.