IPL vs. Laser Hair Removal: How to Choose the Best Hair Removal Method

For those seeking a long-term solution to unwanted hair, laser hair removal (LHR) offers a sophisticated alternative to shaving and waxing.

While both LHR and intense pulsed light (IPL) promise less pain and lasting results, understanding their differences is crucial to making an informed choice.

At our clinic, we specialize in laser hair removal, utilizing industry-leading technologies like the GentleMax™ Pro system, designed for safety and effectiveness across all skin types. This article aims to compare IPL and laser hair removal, helping you decide which method suits your needs best.

What Is IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) Hair Removal?

Many people have heard of laser treatment for hair removal. IPL is an alternative with some key benefits to offer users. You may hear it called Broadband Light (BLL) or photofacials. All refer to a specific type of light therapy that can be very effective as a nonsurgical treatment for hair removal.

This method works by using broad-spectrum light on a specific target area. The light penetrates into the deeper tissues to create significant changes. To work, the light is attracted to the brown and red colour that is present. It works to lessen the appearance of those colours. It does not cause any damage to the skin. It can work well at also treating pigment and vascular lesions on your skin.

Why does IPL Hair Removal Work?

With IPL hair removal, the treatment targets dark hair. What makes it work so well is the way that the method attracts light. It is much like wearing a dark colour on a hot day—the darker colour absorbs the light. In this case, it causes slight damage to the hair follicle to prevent hair growth.

Skin Colour and Hair Types

The effectiveness of IPL is dependent on the type of colour present. If your hair is lighter, it’s less effective than if it is darker.

IPL can be used on all skin tones and types. It is effective on most pale skin to dark browns. However, for hair colour it tends to work best on those who have dark blonde to brown or black hair.

What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Professional aesthetician performs laser hair removal on female legs.

Laser hair removal utilizes a focused, medical-grade laser that emits a single wavelength of light targeting the pigment in the hair. This light is absorbed by the hair, heating the hair shaft and follicle without making direct contact with the skin, thereby protecting it. This targeted heat disrupts the hair’s ability to grow without damaging the surrounding skin, effectively preventing future hair growth.

Types of Laser Technologies

  • Alexandrite laser: This particular type has a shorter wavelength, which allows it to treat medium to light brown hair. It works better on those who have light skin, but can still work in others.
  • Ruby laser: This option is one of the oldest methods used. It works well for those who have light and fine hair and fair skin.
  • Nd: Yag lasers: This type works better for those who have darker hair on darker skin. This is because it has a long wavelength that allows for it to reach the very bottom of the hair shaft.
  • Diode laser: Diode laser hair removal is commonly used today, and it is the newest of the technologies.

Suitability for Different Hair Types and Skin

When it comes to the difference between IPL and laser, laser offers more flexibility in terms of the skin types and hair colours applicable. There are numerous types of laser treatment, and technicians can choose the best solution for your specific needs.

IPL vs. Laser

Professional aesthetician conducts laser hair removal on the underarm area.
The primary difference between IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and laser hair removal lies in the technology and light used. IPL employs a broad spectrum of light that emits multiple wavelengths, scattering within the skin to target various conditions simultaneously. This makes it less specific and somewhat less effective for hair removal compared to medical-grade lasers.

On the other hand, laser hair removal utilizes a coherent, monochromatic light source that focuses a single wavelength of light directly on hair follicles. This targeted approach allows for precise application and deeper penetration, making it more effective for disabling hair growth.

Both methods target the melanin in the hair follicles, but the more controlled and consistent energy delivery of lasers generally yields better results for permanent hair reduction across different hair types and skin tones.


Both IPL and laser reach the root of the hair within the follicle. This is done through the attraction of melanin. Laser hair removal methods are better for those who have darker hair and darker skin, because the laser can pick up on the presence of the hair better than IPL can.


IPL tends to create a slightly higher sense of discomfort when used, though neither is painful outright. Laser hair removal is pain-free for most people.

Side effects

Both methods can cause skin redness and irritation as the treatment occurs. Some people may develop lesions that could become infected if not treated. IPL can lead to some blistering, scarring, and hyperpigmentation in some people, though this is less common. Proper post-care treatment reduces these risks for most people by enhancing the healing process.

Duration and number of sessions required

Laser hair removal is a more aggressive treatment, which may mean fewer actual treatment applications are needed. Patients should understand that each treatment can achieve a 5-20% reduction in hair growth. Multiple sessions are necessary for substantial and lasting hair reduction; however, areas influenced by hormones may need ongoing maintenance. IPL does not just focus on the hair, which means you may need to have several treatments to remove it fully.

For treatment times, this is dependent on the location treated:

  • Legs take about 60 minutes for IPL and 20 minutes for laser
  • Back takes about 45 minutes for IPL and 15 minutes for laser
  • Under arms takes about 15 minutes for IPL and 5 minutes for laser


Precision can be very effective in both situations, though this is ultimately due to the type of laser treatment used as well as the skill of the provider.

IPL vs. Laser Cost Comparison

As you consider laser hair removal to IPL hair removal devices, costs can be a factor to keep in mind. Costs for laser hair removal are typically between $85 and $400 per treatment. Most people need about 7 laser hair removal treatments to get to about 94% reduction in hair.

IPL hair removal costs between $85 and $400 (about the same) per treatment. Most people need about 8 or more treatments to get to just 70% hair reduction.

ICLS Laser Hair Removal Offerings

As noted, in hair removal treatment, this level of customization to the skin tone and hair colour makes the biggest difference. Each laser hair removal program we offer delivers optimal results by properly treating hair follicles without damaging the surrounding skin. Here is what you need to know bout our treatment options:

  • The GentleMax™ Pro laser offers a versatile solution for removing unwanted body hair across all skin types and tones. This state-of-the-art system not only targets a wide area to efficiently eliminate numerous hairs in one session but also minimizes the number of treatments needed for satisfying results. It is recognized for its safety and effectiveness, making it a preferred choice for laser hair removal.


When it comes to getting rid of body hair, light energy from IPL treatment or laser hair treatment can be highly effective. Both methods are very effective and have similar costs. Neither has a significant risk of damaging the surrounding skin, and both can be beneficial to the overall reduction of hair. For those who have darker skin types, the best options tend to be laser treatments; however, the ultimate ideal solution is the combination of both.

Choosing between IPL and laser hair removal is really based on your needs and preferences. With the help of the right team, you’ll get impressive results.


Which is Better, IPL or Laser?

To get rid of unwanted hair, both laser and IPL devices including broad spectrum can work well. It is the combination of both IPL treatment and laser energy that creates the best results.

Is IPL Hair Removal Permanent?

As long as the hair root is impacted, you will see a significant hair reduction. Both will work to eliminate the hair growth cycle, creating permanent hair reduction for most people.

Is IPL a Laser?

IPL is a type of broadband pulsed light source.