Is there any difference between IPL and Laser?

Laser… IPL... Permanent hair removal… dark spots be gone… I’ve heard of these gadgets and the treatments before. Are they the same? Or what’s the go? Which do I choose? Is there any difference? Argh it’s all so confusing!


Permanent hair reduction and machine based advanced facial treatments are all the go now. There are clinics popping up everywhere and these services are in high demand. Often you’ll hear the term laser. On occasion it’s used interchangeably with other light based therapies like IPL. So what’s the difference? Is there any?


The short answer… yes… yes there is a difference.


To explain, things are going to get a little technical. But, I’ll try not to bore the pants off you!


Laser is a light based therapy, here in Queensland it’s a heavily regulated device because of its intensity and there are heaps of different ones, in different industries used for a multitude of different treatments and purposes. It uses a single colour light beam (colour depending on what it’s being used for) of intense light (and for the purpose of skin treatments) penetrates the skin to effect different changes. Whether that be hair reduction or removing pigment or veins etc…


So what can you expect from a laser treatment? Lets use hair removal for example. Well nicely put, the treatments feel a bit “bitey”. It hurts, you feel it. Treatments can take awhile depending on the area because it’s generally quite a small handpiece and its a place, flash, lift kind of action. You can expect 6-8ish treatments 4-8 weeks apart to get about an 80% reduction. This is a VERY general estimate and it varies a lot from one person to the next (so basically prepare for anything) You go into the treatment freshly shaven. Then between visits the hair grows back slower than it normally would after a shave because the hair has been corterised to an extent.


Different skin treatments like pigment reduction or capillary removal are different again, and you usually only need a couple of sessions. These can have an element of down time where you might want to hide at home for a week or two.


Going back to hair reduction, this time using IPL/SHR hair reduction. The treatment uses the full light spectrum. And is less intense, meaning less collateral damage to surrounding skin tissue. But utilising a similar concept of light/heat energy to cause an effect on the skin. The newer tech around is SHR, Super Hair Reduction. This is a painless treatment. Like legitimately, it’s about as painful as putting on roll-on deodorant. The light is filtered to target different levels of the skin. Meaning that heat energy is directed away for the nerve receptors toward the surface and in-built cooling makes it really comfortable. It’s also a faster treatment, thats thanks to in motion technology. Simply put, your therapist will use a gliding action so it’s nice and quick. The downside, it can take a couple more treatments to see that significant hair reduction with the average around 10-12 sessions. Again VERY general estimates. Similarly to laser you arrive for your treatment freshly shaven and then afterwards hair grows back like it normally would following a shave. Then around 2 weeks later random hairs start falling out and you start to go patchy and lose the density of hair. (More on the specifics of IPL for hair reduction coming soon)


As for the IPL skin treatments these are also pretty painless, though you can generally feel a bit of heat. Still very comfortable. And again you can need a few treatments depending on what you want to treat. (More on IPL for pigment coming soon)


So once you have a course of treatments for either skin rejuvenation or hair growth thats it right? Done forever?


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but no. Unfortunately not. Your skin is always repairing and renewing so you do need to maintain it with periodical touch up treatments both with laser or IPL, whichever you choose to use. The skin is also a reflection of your internal environment and there are many different factors that influence hair growth, pigmentation, redness and general signs of ageing.  Things like diet, sleep, stress, hormones and medications are all factors and can change from day to day.


So I hope that has helped take some of the confusion about the differences between the different light based therapies. These technologies are here to stay and as with the whole beauty/aesthetics industry… are ever evolving.


Still not sure if it’s right for you? Come see us at Soul Studio Beauty and Wellbeing for a consultation and patch test. We can soon let you know if you are a suitable candidate and answer any of those burning questions that might come up.


Feel free to get in touch via the comments or our facebook page.