• Carrie Martin

Lets Talk IPL Hair Removal


IPL Hair Removal

Ok so this is one of my fave treatments! Why? Because it works and gives results! As simple as that!

Ever wondered what the hell is going on when that handpiece is applied to your hoohaa??

I have had a few people query me over the pain and mention they have been informed elsewhere by therapists that they own a machine that doesn’t hurt. Well, I'm here to give you some facts so you feel a bit clued up with it all. All light based therapies work on the same principle. Photothermolysis Photo (light) thermo (heat) lysis (destruction). This basically means light produces heat which destroys cells. The hair must be heated to approx 70 degrees to cause protein denaturing to the hair producing cells that, contain melanocytes (cells that contain pigment). Without this happening your result will be photowaxing this is where the cell is only modified which equals a temporary reduction or a hair follicle that produces a finer hair lighter in colour. Once this occurs it makes it very difficult to remove the hair and gain results once the needed settings are applied. This is why it hurts.......but the treatment is so quick and you honestly forget the pain almost as soon as its finished.


Efficacy of IPL Hair Reduction is dependant on the following:

  1. Hair colour

  2. Skin type

  3. Fluence

  4. Hair cycle

Hair containing more melanin (pigment) will absorb more energy and will have a more effective outcome with less number of treatment sessions.

Black to dark brown hair= best results

Brown to light brown hair = good results

Blonde and red hair = minimal results

Grey and white hair = no results

Lets talk settings

Nanometer is the depth of penetration for hair it’s a spectrum of 500nm - 1200nm.

Fluence is the measurement of energy measured in what we refer to as 'joules'

Pulse width is how long it is delivered for' - in other words how long it is applied to the skin for

Confused yet? Don’t worry I've got this mastered!

Hair grows in 3 distinct phases:

  1. Anagen phases (the growing phase)

  2. Catagen phase (the transition phase)

  3. Telogen phase (the resting phase)

ONLY hair in the Anagen phase will absorb light causing heating and denaturing (destroying) of the hair growing cells and there is only a percentage in this phase at a time. This also varies on each region of the body.

To sum it up hair must be in the anagen phase, contain colour, follicular cells are heated to 70 degrees which causes cell destruction.

When not to book in, or reasons the therapist may not follow through with the appointment these are known as 'contraindications'.

  • Sunburn (wait atleast a month for the skin to recover)

  • Recent tanning (wait until skin has lightened)

  • Fake tan (give yourself two weeks off)

  • Recent waxing, tweezing ( we need the hair in the follicle! Without the hair there is nothing to treat! Wait for 4 weeks)

  • Open lesions, infected skin, cuts

  • Tattoos

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Photosensitive medications (accutane)

  • Diabetes

  • Lupus (may be stimulated by light)

  • Porphyria (a disease causing extreme sensitivity of the skin to light)

  • Very dark skin

  • Active Skin Diseases (vitiligo, ezcema, psoriasis, herpes simplex)

  • Cancer

  • History of keloid scarring

  • Epilepsy

  • No retinoic acid 2 weeks prior

  • Skin peels 2 weeks prior

Unfortunately there are clients that may fall into a category that may affect the outcome. These being:

  • Hirsutism (excessive growth on regions of the body due to excess androgenic hormones) Medical intervention is required

  • Puberty

  • The pill (some have an anti-androgenic effect)

  • Menopause

  • Pregnancy (yep after those treatments prior to pregnancy the hair may grow back during pregnancy due to those hormones)

So what goes down in the treatment room??

After your thorough consultation the therapist will:

  • Cleanse skin removing sunscreen, oils and makeup

  • Shave hair form the treatment site. This is so important:

  • A long hair pressed down on the skin will result in epidermal burning

  • Energy should be focused on the follicle, not the surface hair

  • It reduces plume (smoke from burning hair) which can be a health hazard

  • Parameters are chosen

  • Skin is marked out

  • Eye protection is given for both

  • Application of cold gel

  • Treatment is commenced and the oohs and aarghs begin!

Post Treatment Changes

  • Mild to moderate erythema (severe erythema may indicate a burn)

  • Perifollicular inflammation

  • Mild swelling of surrounding tissue

  • Shrinking of hair shaft

Over next 3 weeks

  • Slowed hair growth

  • Shedding of hair 2 to 3 weeks after treatment

After Care really isn't stressful, basically:

  • Wear sunscreen (which you should be doing anyway)

  • Avoid heat - showers, spas, the sun, hot temperatures

  • Do not remove hair from the follicle

  • Call the clinic if you are concerned!

Here at The Beauty Bar I am proud to own a clinically proven medical grade IPL device made by Cutera in the USA that is FDA approved and it has not failed me or a client yet......thanks for reading my blog x

without uncertainty!

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