IPL vs Laser for Hair Removal: What’s The Difference?

You have many different choices when it comes to hair removal: shaving, waxing, threading, electrolysis, IPL, and laser.

Choosing the right method often depends on the results you want, your skin type, how much money you want to spend, and how often you want to deal with hair removal (in other words, how lasting you want the results to be). You should definitely consider multiple options before choosing one that’s best for you right now.

In this week’s post, we’ll take a look at IPL vs laser hair removal as different methods for hair removal.

Similarities Between IPL and Laser Hair Removal

Both of these technologies have been on the market for years, so the odds are high that you know someone who has had one or both of these treatments done.

Follicles Absorb Energy

Both IPL and laser hair removal work similarly, since hair follicles absorb the energy from these devices to prevent future hair production.

Series of Treatments

With either of these procedures, it is important to see an experienced professional, and you will need a series of treatments for best results.

The reason for this: not all of your hair follicles are producing hair at the same time. Some are in dormancy while others are in the active growth phase.

Hair growth is a cycle, which is why it seems like you have constant hair growth. The truth is, you do, but just not from the same follicles. It takes about 6 weeks for the follicles to run through that cycle, which is why it is recommended to get treatments every 6 to 8 weeks.

However, there are some differences between IPL and lasers for hair removal:

Differences Between IPL and Laser Hair Removal


Let’s start with some basics. IPL stands for “intense pulsed light,” which means it has multiple wavelengths of light..

IPL is not a laser, since a laser describes just one single wavelength. For example, an Alexandrite laser is a 755nm wavelength.

So one is laser the other is not.

Skin Types

IPL can only be used on lighter skin types and is not safe for dark skin.

On the other hand, with laser hair removal, there are several options available for lasers to treat different skin types.

For example, the Alexandrite laser is safe for lighter skin tones, while the nd:YAG is safe for darker skin types. Both are very effective for stopping hair follicle production. (These are just two examples: there are even more options for lasers to use depending on skin type.)


While you may see some initial reduction in hair growth after an IPL treatment, the treatment is just stunting the hair growth of those follicles rather than completely disabling their ability to make future hair like with laser hair removal.

Why? Well, the IPL device lacks the wattage or power necessary to cause thermodynamic damage in the hair follicle.

Thermodynamic damage simply means the hair follicle is heated and is unable to cool down quickly enough, thus killing off the blood supply to the follicle. Without blood supply, the follicle can no longer produce hair. Lasers are strong enough to cause this damage and better able to get rid of treated hair.

So, while you may see some temporary hair reduction with IPL, the follicle will likely reawaken and begin producing hair again. As it simply stunting the hair growth. Using IPL for hair removal is kind of like putting a kink in a hose: it stops the water for a time, but once the hose unkinks the pressure and water restores.

To Recap…

Laser Hair Removal


IPL for Hair Removal

  • Should be done by a professional
  • Requires series of treatments
  • Only safe for lighter skin types
  • Impermanent solution for hair removal
  • Merely stunts the growth of hair follicle

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of the similarities and differences between IPL and laser for hair removal.

Before choosing any skin or hair removal procedure, make sure you are informed, seek a professional for your treatment, and know what results you hope to achieve. Schedule your free consultation at WIFH to get started.