Intense Pulse Light, or IPL, machines are used to perform both cosmetic and therapeutic treatments. IPLs are high-powered, hand-held devices that deliver intense pulses of light to the targeted area. With a full spectrum of color, filters are used to alter the light pulse, depending on what is being performed. IPL machines are used to treat skin pigmentation, sun damage, veins, acne, and hair removal.
Similar to medical lasers that are used for laser hair removal, IPL machines target the melanin in hair follicles. However, the major difference between the two hair removal methods is that while laser hair removal is done with lasers, IPL machines simply give off a ray of light. The heat from this light is what singes the hairs, severely damaging and destroying hair follicles at the root.
People have been comparing medical lasers to IPL machines for years, and even though IPL machines came about first, laser hair removal has been the more popular choice. Studies have shown that while both can be effective if performed properly, IPL is significantly more painful. Additionally, those who underwent IPL treatments complained of the smell of burnt skin and feeling sunburned for days after their session.
Many women still undergo IPL treatments to improve their complexion and rid their face of any sunspots or damage. It was after the IPL machine first became popular in the cosmetic industry that users realized it helped remove hair and began using it as a hair removal method.