Zap yourself fuzz free. Intense pulsed light (IPL), is a method of hair removal which uses a specially constructed xenon flash lamp and focusing optics. It is used to permanently remove large and small areas of hair in a single session. IPL can be used to treat hair on most areas of the body, as well as being a handy fix for vascular lesions and fine wrinkles.
Time for the science bit. IPL systems work in a similar way to laser hair removal, but IPL emits greater energies at optimum wavelengths while lasers emit a single wavelength. The burst of light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair, which causes damage to the hair and the follicle in the same way as a laser - making you smooth and hairless in no time.
During this treatment, safety eye wear is usually worn to protect your peepers from the light generated by the machine. The practitioner will use a small hand-piece to touch your skin with the flashes of hair-banishing light. Some machines may also spray your skin with a cooling agent before the treatment begins.
The procedure can be as short as ten minutes or as long as two or more hours, depending on the size of the area being treated – a treatment for the upper lip can take up to thirty minutes. How you are positioned depends on the area being treated.
IPL can be uncomfortable with a slight stinging or tingling sensation, much like a mild sunburn which disappears within a day or so. However, depending on your individual pain threshold and depending on the area of treatment, the discomfort may vary. If you are having the IPL treatment in a sensitive area, you may want to consult your practitioner about anaesthetic creams before hand.
Much like laser hair removal, the IPL treatment is best effective when the hairs are in the growth period of their life cycle. A few sessions will be required to catch all that unwanted fuzz (usually six to eight) because the first treatment will only damage a handful of the follicles. After your treatment is complete you may have to come back occasionally for a top-up – most clinics would recommend a visit every four to six weeks.
If you’re tired of shaving and find waxing a pain, then the IPL treatment may just be for you. The best thing about IPL is that it zaps away unwanted hair for a longer period of time and it can be used for most areas of the body including the centre brow, eye brows, forehead, ears, nose, chin, upper lip, upper cheeks, jaw line, full face, chest, underarms, arms, shoulders, nipples, stomach, back, buttocks, legs, bikini line, hands or feet – so no matter how hairy you are, IPL can help.
IPL is suitable for both men and women, although it’s not for those under the age of eighteen and those who are pregnant. The darker your hair the more effective the treatment will be – ginger hair and blonde hair does not have enough pigment for the treatment to work as effectively.
Darker skin has been known to be more vulnerable to the side effects, so clinics will advise you to be as pale as possible before considering IPL. So, if you have recently topped up your suntan you will not be treated until your tan has faded to be on the safe side.