The rivalry between IPL and Laser Hair Removal treatment continues, but which one is truly better for both the client, and you as a clinic owner? You will find the internet is littered with articles extolling the virtues of both Intense Pulsed Light and laser hair removal. But more often than not these articles will be totally contradictory based on what is being sold.

Today’s article will give an in-depth comparison between the two forms of hair removal treatments, detailing their advantages and disadvantages. We will look at the differences in experience for both the customer and clinic owner, and how these experiences can affect the performance of your clinic.

How Do IPL & Laser Hair Removal Treatments Work?

Intense Pulse Light Technology (IPL) and Laser treatments both have the same goal in mind, they are both forms of hair removal treatment which use a process called selective photo thermolysis. This targets melanin and heats up the cells in the hair follicle causing them to reduce the rate in which hair grows.

The difference between the two becomes evident when you examine how this process is complete. It is easy to assume because both forms of treatment involve the use of light, they are doing the same thing, but delving deeper into these treatment types we begin to reveal where their differences lie.

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IPL uses a broad range of wavelengths (500 nm to 1200 nm) to heat the hair follicle, this results in a high amount of ‘unfocussed’ energy around the hair and skin. This usually means the customer will have to undergo multiple treatments (in the range of six to eight) to see complete hair removal in an area. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, the lower intensity can be gentler on the skin resulting in a very low risk of irritation in the treatment area.

Laser hair removal treatment uses a far more concentrated, single beam of light to heat the hair follicles. It focuses on a specific wavelength dependent on the device and the light source to provide a very direct form of hair removal. This means effective treatment lasting between four and eight weeks.

Cost to the Client

A client will be searching for the best cost-benefit for their treatment option, on the face of it, laser hair removal treatments have similar prices to IPL. So, which one will provide more cost-effective treatment?

Due to the less targeted natural of IPL treatment the customer will usually have to undergo a high number of treatments in total to get the same results. This of course increasing the cost to them. Initially it begins to look as though laser treatment is the obvious way to go, however it is vital you consider your customers needs.

Laser Treatment

A customer looks for a business which will benefit them and has their best intentions at heart. For example, a customer with higher skin sensitivity could be less suitable for laser hair removal treatment and would therefore benefit from the gentler natural of IPL. In contrast, a customer with a darker skin tone and lighter hair will experience a less effective treatment when undergoing IPL and would therefore see a better result from laser hair removal.

Speed of Treatment

Speed of treatment can have a big impact on both you as the clinic owner, and the customer. It is advantageous to both parties to keep treatment times at a minimum, allowing you to complete more treatments per day, and giving the customer an efficient experience.

This is an area where IPL treatment can really excel, due to the application of multiple wavelengths – although weaker, it is possible to treat a larger area of skin in a certain time when compared to laser treatments. This means the time your customer undergoes treatment is considerably reduced. However, due to the need for more treatment sessions you must look at your targeted customer group. In other words, you are trading less treatment time in one session for a more frequent number of treatments – is this what your customer is looking for? Are you targeting a group which would rather get treatment done and out of the way, or customers who don’t mind returning?

The answer to these questions is far from straight forward, but you should consider:

  • Your location – If your clinic is situated further away from your customers it is a less attractive proposition to ask them to return frequently, in which case this could be a dealbreaker for them. So, in this case laser hair removal might be the best option.

  • Target age groups – What age group do the majority of your customers lie in? Customers who are more likely to be working full time will have less flexibility in their appointment times so keeping appointments to a minimum through laser hair removal will result in a more manageable appointment schedule. This will also mean a lower concentration of appointments in the evening, freeing up time for a great customer base.
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How Painful Is the Treatment?

Quantifying the pain experience for treatment is always a difficult measurement. With many customers experiencing a varying pain independent of treatment type – anything from zero pain to a burning sensation. Though scientifically, more levels of the skin are impacted by lasers so this could theoretically result in a high amount of pain.

However, the one thing that all the experts agree on, is that both treatments are much less painful when administered by a qualified and experienced hair removal technician. This emphasises the importance of correct training in this industry. Whether you opt for an IPL treatment system of a laser hair removal device it is vital to ensure both you and anyone in your clinic who use the equipment is fully trained on the devices they are using. After all, even if your customer experiences the best results they could hope for, they will never return if the treatment procedure was unbearably painful!

Which One Gets the Best Results?

The best results between these two forms of treatment are specific to you and your customers needs. It takes a highly qualified technician to be able to advise and adapt based on experience and a clinical understanding of the hair follicles when using either device. Intense Pulsed Light treatments are less successful on dark skin and lighter hair. Laser hair removal generally requires a lesser number of treatments but has the drawback of slightly longer treatment times. Deciding which treatment will work best for your clients probably has more to do with your local community’s understanding of both treatments and how prepared you are to your chosen form of hair removal treatment.

To conclude, both treatments will offer a significant reduction in hair re-growth if applied professionally, something that all of your customers will benefit from.