If you Google “IPL vs laser hair removal” you will find numerous articles extolling the virtues of both Intense Pulsed Light and laser hair removal. Many of these articles will say the exact opposite to the previous one based on what they are selling; this one is less painful, this one is faster, etc.
This article will focus on the client’s experience of both, and therefore which treatment is more likely to create loyal fans to return for other types of treatment as well. This will be broken down into four areas for comparison:
- Cost to the client
- Speed of treatment
- How painful is the treatment?
- Which one gets the best results
Cost to the Client
On the face of it, laser hair removal treatments have similar prices to IPL treatments, but the devil is in the detail.
Both treatments use a process called selective photothermolysis which targets melanin and heats up the cells in the hair follicle. The only difference is that IPL uses a broad range of wavelengths (500 nm to 1200 nm), and laser hair removal focuses on a specific wavelength dependent on the device and the light source. This means that (based both on logic and publicly available statistics) clients undergoing IPL will have to return for more treatments than laser hair removal clients.
But, the way an IPL handset targets melanin gives it a distinct advantage:
Speed of Treatment
A client undertaking IPL will spend less time in the clinic in a single sitting. Because the treatment uses different wavelengths, not relying on specific and focused targeting, the speed that an area can be covered due to the duration of the pulse, or pulse width, is considerably larger. This is also advantageous to clinic owners who can undertake more treatments in less time.
How Painful Is the Treatment?
This is a difficult one to quantify with many clients claiming laser hair removal is more painful (scientifically, more levels of the skin are impacted by lasers so this may have some merit) and others complaining of the “burning,” sensation associated with IPL.
One thing that all the experts agree on, is that both treatments are much less painful when administered by a qualified and experienced laser hair removal technician. There are limitless horror stories online that show extensive burning and other side-effects brought on by a poor technician.
Which One Gets the Best Results?
Laser hair removal is widely regarded to require fewer treatments, but IPL will have clients in and out of the clinic faster. If you have a good, highly qualified technician they will be able to advise and adapt based on experience and a clinical understanding of the hair follicles. Intense Pulsed Light treatments are less successful on dark skin and lighter hair. Deciding which treatment will work best for your clients probably has more to do with your local community’s understanding of both treatments and how prepared you are to market what may be in contrast to what they expect.
In the end, both treatments will offer a significant reduction in hair re-growth, something that all clients will benefit from.