How IPL Hair Removal Works

IPL (Intensive pulse light) technology uses a high-powered, hand-held, computer-controlled flashgun to deliver an intense, visible, broad-spectrum pulse of light. When this broad-spectrum light is applied to the surface of the skin it targets melanin in the hair. Each hair strand in the human body passes through four stages of growth: Anagen, Catagen, Telogen and Exogen.

It is during the anagen stage the hair is rich in melanin, which enables it to absorb the maximum amount of heat delivered by the IPL application.

When a hair strand at the anagen stage receives IPL, the heat that is absorbed by the melanin in the hair is transmitted to the papilla (popularly known as the hair bulb). The papilla is at the root of the hair and nourishes the hair follicle. The hair strand is connected to the papilla, which in turn is connected to blood vessels that feed the hair.

In summary, the IPL heat energy absorbed by the melanin during anagen growth stage destroys the hair at its roots (papilla/vessel connection) and therefore prevent any new hair growth.

It is important to note that at any one time, not all hair follicles are ‘active’, and only active hair follicles can be affected by the treatment. ‘Inactive’ hair follicles can be treated as they become ‘active’ over time. For IPL treatments, an average of 8–10 treatments are required to remove most visible hair.

No common treatment protocol exists, and it depends on the equipment used and patient skin type (very important). The area to be treated must be clean shaven and free of sunburn.

Treatment sessions are usually 4 to 6 weeks apart.