Unwanted hair can grow on any part of the body due to various reasons, such as changes in hormone levels. No matter the reason, growing hair on unwanted areas of the skin is a nuisance and can lead to a loss of self-confidence. This is why people around the world are always looking for effective hair removal procedures, among which IPL and laser treatment are the best. 

But what is the difference between IPL and laser hair removal? Both of these procedures use light to remove hair follicles from the skin, but that’s as far as their similarities go. While IPL uses a broadband light source, laser treatments use light of a specific wavelength. Also, IPL is less effective than laser hair removal and lasts shorter. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between IPL and laser hair removal. 

IPL hair removal vs laser

Ever since people have started to deem excessive hair on their skin a source of annoyance, they have been on the lookout for an effective way to get rid of them. Over the years, people have used tweezing, waxing, shaving, and a lot of other methods to remove unwanted hair from their skin, with varying degrees of success. 

difference between IPL and laser hair removal

But with the advent of technology, newer and more effective methods of removing hair have been invented. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and laser hair removal are two such methods that have blown every other hair removal method out of the water. There is a distinct similarity between these two methods, which has sparked an IPL v laser hair removal debate.

So, what is IPL hair removal? IPL is a method of removing hair by directing intense pulsed light of different wavelengths onto the affected skin. The light then heats the area and the heat is absorbed by the melanin present in the skin. This causes the hair follicle to be heated so much that it is destroyed which prevents further hair growth. 

So, what about laser hair removal? Laser hair removal also uses light, but unlike IPL, laser hair removal uses light of a particular wavelength. This light also heats the skin and the hair follicle so much, that the follicle is destroyed, making sure new hair doesn’t grow from that area. 

So, apart from the light they use, is ipl the same as laser hair removal? Far from it actually, as their similarities end in the fact that they use light to remove hair. We have compiled the key areas of difference between IPL and laser hair removal for your better understanding. 

1. Intensity of the light

The very first thing that IPL and laser hair treatment differ in is the intensity of the light they use. IPL uses light of a lot of wavelengths, which have medium to low intensity. On the other hand, laser hair treatment uses light of a single wavelength, which has a greater intensity than IPL. 

IPL hair removal vs laser

2. Effectiveness

Due to the reduced intensity of the light used by the IPL method, the light can not reach very deep, so it cannot have a very deep effect on the hair follicles. On the other hand, due to the laser having a greater intensity, it reaches very deep inside the skin, destroying the follicles from the root, resulting in greater effectiveness. 

3. The area which the tech targets

IPL is used on the skin by a piece of equipment resembling a flashlight. As a result of this and the lights of varying wavelengths, this method targets a wider area which also targets the skin and other tissues around the affected region. 

On the other hand, laser hair treatment is performed by professionals with a piece of equipment that has a greater focus, and directs the laser directly onto the hair follicle it targets. This is why the laser hair treatment works on a much narrower area, and none of the tissues surrounding that area is targeted. 

4. Pain level

When people want to know, “Which is best, IPL or laser hair removal?”, one thing that makes or breaks the deal is the pain caused by these procedures. Since IPL targets the area surrounding the hair follicle, the patient can experience sharp pain caused by the heat generated by the light. 

On the other hand, since laser hair treatment doesn’t target the area around the hair follicle, the patient virtually doesn’t feel any pain at all. Even if they do, the pain level is quite low, and some pieces of equipment also blow cold air over the affected area which takes the pain away. 

5. Side effects

Due to the IPL method targeting a lot of areas surrounding the hair follicles, the skin gets irritated very easily. This causes the patient to experience redness, swelling, rashes, etc. On the other hand, laser hair removal doesn’t have a lot of side effects, and when someone experiences any of the aforementioned side effects, it goes away very quickly. 

Side effects

6. Length of the sessions

As laser hair treatment focuses on a smaller part of the skin due to its method, it takes a longer time to finish a session. On the other hand, the IPL method uses a flashlight-like machine to shine a light on the skin, which makes the session last a shorter time as the head of the machine is bigger than that of the laser treatment. 

7. How many sessions the patient needs

Although the IPL works on a wide area, it doesn’t have the same intensity as a laser hair treatment. As a result, it can not work as effectively as laser hair removal. So, you will need to attend more sessions of IPL therapy than you’d need to for laser therapy. 

8. How long do the effects last

Since IPL can not reach as deep into the skin as the laser treatment, its effects do not last long, as it can not completely remove the hair follicles. You can expect the results of IPL therapy to last for about a year at best. So, is ipl effective, permanent hair removal? No, it isn’t. In fact, there is no such thing as permanent hair removal. 

On the other hand, due to laser therapy working at a much deeper level, it completely destroys the hair follicles. As a result, the results you get from laser treatment last much longer, at least two years. 

9. Suitability

As IPL works in a wide area, it can cause issues for people with darker skin tones. This is because darker skins have more melanin, which is the primary thing targeted by IPL. On the other hand, due to laser treatment working on a very narrow area, the skin around it and the melanin in it don’t get affected by it, which makes it a lot more suitable for darker skin tones. 

So, if you want to know the difference between ipl and laser for the face, keep in mind that a large area of your face will be affected by IPL, which will not be the case for laser treatment. If you have skin of a darker tone, refrain from going for IPL. 

10. How much does each of them cost

Laser hair removal costs more upfront than IPL therapy. But that doesn’t exactly make the IPL a more cost-effective choice. This is because you need to attend more sessions for IPL than laser therapy, which ends up making both of them cost around the same. 

Author’s opinion

If there is anything we have learned from the above “What is the difference between IPL and laser hair removal: a comparative analysis”, is that IPL is a lot less effective than laser hair removal. So, if you want a long-lasting result, you should go for laser treatment. 


1. Can I use an IPL laser on my pubic area?

As the skin around the pubic area is darker than the rest of the body, using IPl in those areas isn’t a good idea. Also, due to the sensitivity of the skin around the pubic area, using IPL in that area will cause discomfort. 

2. What happens if you stop using IPL?

If you stop using IPl earlier than you are supposed to, the hair will start to grow back. This will be because the hair follicles will not be properly destroyed if you stop using IPL prematurely. 

3. Is IPL hair removal worth the money?

Although IPL is not as good as laser therapy, it is still worth getting this treatment. Especially if the other options are tweezing, shaving, and waxing.

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