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Différence épilation au laser et lumière pulsée.

Difference between laser hair removal and intense pulsed light.

Laser hair removal and intense pulsed light (IPL) are both designed to permanently eliminate body hair. They differ in several aspects, including the technique and equipment used. This article focuses on the differences between these two techniques.

Why opt for permanent hair removal?

Permanent hair removal involves removing the hair from the root, that is, by destroying the hair follicle. The principle is based on a beam of light that will be captured by a pigment present in the hair, melanin. This energy will be transferred along the hair to the hair follicle, causing its apoptosis (cell death).

This technique has numerous advantages, not least of which is a long-lasting result. It notably reduces the risks of irritation and inflammation caused by conventional hair removal methods (shaving, waxing, etc.). Although permanent hair removal sessions are costly, they represent a long-term investment, especially as appointments are spaced out. Therefore, it is a way of making savings.

Permanent hair removal also has therapeutic virtues, given that it eliminates ingrown hairs and maintains the softness of the skin. Moreover, it can be performed on all areas of the body, without causing unbearable pain. It is also suitable for sensitive or mature skin. However, this method of hair removal does not work on grey or white hairs, as these lack melanin.

Laser hair removal and intense pulsed light: are there differences?

The differences between these two hair removal techniques touch on several points to consider.

  • The method used.

    The first difference between laser hair removal and intense pulsed light (IPL) lies in the wavelength of the light beams acting on the hair. The intense pulsed light emits variable, short and polychromatic waves : thus, the radiations are less powerful and less precise.

    Laser hair removal, on the other hand, utilises monochromatic rays, making it a more powerful and precise technique. This method is carried out by a professional, whereas IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) hair removal can be done at home, provided the appropriate equipment is available.

  • The subjects addressed.

    laser hair removal is suitable for all skin types and complexions, as this technique is more precise due to the power of its rays. On the other hand, pulsed light hair removal is only suitable for those with dark hair on light skin, as it does not distinguish between skin and hair. However, in both cases it is not possible to perform these types of hair removal on light hairs as they lack melanin and lasers or pulsed lights are not sensitive to them.

  • The cost of the service.

    Laser hair removal is an expensive technique, with a session costing around €80 for the underarms and €180 for the lower legs. By choosing pulsed light hair removal, expect to pay approximately €50 for the underarms and €130 for a lower leg session.

  • The efficacy.

    Laser hair removal is considered more effective with a long-term efficiency rate of 90% compared to 80% for pulsed light.

  • The side effects.

    Hair removal using intense pulsed light poses a higher risk of burns, as it is less precise than laser hair removal. This method tends to target a larger surface area, which can result in skin burns.

What are the similarities between laser hair removal and intense pulsed light treatment?

Laser hair removal and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments only target hairs in the growth phase and require between 6 and 8 sessions of 20 to 60 minutes to eliminate the hair follicles. The function of these two hair removal techniques is to prevent hair regrowth in the treated area. However, hairs on the hormone-dependent areas, including the lips, chin, lower abdomen, and chest, grow rapidly. They thus require more sessions. Given that both techniques work deeply, avoid any sun exposure. Photosensitising medications should also be avoided. The same goes for the application of certain essential oils and the intake of dietary supplements to stimulate tanning or hair growth.


  • DIERICKX C. C. Hair removal by lasers and intense pulsed light sources. Dermatologic Clinics (2002).

    HAEDERSDAL M. & al. Laser and intense pulsed light hair removal technologies: from professional to home use. British Journal of Dermatology (2011).

  • HOVENIC W. & al. Laser hair reduction and removal. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America (2011).

  • IBRAHIMI O. A. & co. Laser hair removal. Dermatologic Therapy (2011).

  • GAN S. D. & co. Laser hair removal: A review. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (2013).


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