IPL Hair Removal: Does it Really Work?

IPL Hair Removal: Does it Really Work?

Sam Garst Sam Garst
9 minute read

IPL hair removal is efficient, convenient, and less painful than other hair removal methods out there.

Does IPL work, though? Like, really work?

The truth is, you can have it all — at least when it comes to dealing with unwanted hair. IPL treatments are just as good as other hair removal treatments like laser, waxing, and the rest. In fact, we think it’s the best option.

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Does IPL work permanently? IPL works permanently to reduce hair in targeted areas. You can expect up to an 85% reduction of hair in those targeted areas in just 8 weeks when you use an IPL device.

There really isn’t another method that’s as convenient and as cost-effective at handling unwanted hair and regrowth. Let’s dig into why.

Intense Pulsed Light Explained

How does IPL work for hair removal? IPL for hair removal works by targeting light energy just below the surface of your skin. That heat damages the sacs around your hair follicles to the point of preventing new growth.

We’re talking about a permanent reduction in unwanted hair.

IPL, or intense pulsed light, is similar to laser hair removal in that way. Both methods target the pigment, or melanin, in your hair follicles. Laser hair removal uses a single, focused laser rather than IPL’s broadband pulsed light.

Those unique wavelengths don’t make either more effective than the other when it comes to new hair growth. In fact, many users like that IPL seems more efficient at covering larger areas. 

That’s on top of the added bonus of not needing to book a treatment at a dermatology office every time you want to take care of some fuzz. At-home IPL devices work just as well as professional IPL or laser hair removal treatments.

IPL can also be used for a variety of skin conditions, including:

  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Sun damage
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Spider veins
  • Fine lines

The same light therapy stimulates collagen growth and cell regeneration in targeted areas that could use some skin rejuvenation.

At Nood, we love our Flashers for how they tackle your body hair, but our fans like that a collagen boost is possible with our at-home devices. Always talk to your dermatologist if you’re worried about the effects of IPL on existing skin concerns.

Kinds of IPL Treatments

You can get IPL treatments in a clinic setting or from the comfort of your home using an at-home device. If you love the idea of keeping your private parts private, there are quite a few at-home IPL hair removal devices out there for you to choose from.

You probably know where this is going. We love The Flasher 2.0 for its versatility and ease of use. Use it wherever unwanted hair grows; from the stubborn peach fuzz on your upper lip to the toe hair we’re not supposed to talk about, and everywhere in between.

Yeah, we called out the toes. Your pedicurist won’t even recognize you.

What to Expect with IPL Hair Removal

If pulses of light pulverizing your hair follicles sounds like a scary proposition, don’t sweat. Honestly, if we had to give a prize to the most chill hair removal method available, IPL would be at the top.

Is IPL painful? IPL is not painful for most users. Laser hair removal is more painful than IPL for most. While laser hair removal feels like an elastic band snapping against your skin, IPL doesn’t cause much discomfort at all.

If you’re worried about the pain factor, waxing is way worse than either IPL or laser treatments. We don’t care how tough you are. Tearing hot wax off of your underarms is no walk in the park, especially when that smooth skin is so temporary.

How many sessions does IPL take to work? Most people need 4-6 initial IPL treatment sessions with maintenance touch ups every 1-2 months to keep skin smooth. 

Your hair grows in cycles, and both IPL and laser hair removal work best when targeting hair in an active growth cycle. That’s called the anagen phase of hair growth, just in case you have a trivia night coming.

As far as the length of your sessions, you can be done in a few minutes if you target a small area like your chin hairs. A full leg may up to half an hour. Even that half hour isn’t a huge deal when you’re using an at-home device, though. How long was your last Netflix binge? We thought so. Multitask it next time — knock out that leg hair while you catch up on Love is Blind.

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Before & After Care 

There are  a few things you should do before and after IPL treatments to get the best results. If you’re already big on skincare, most of this will be pretty easy. If you’re not, it’s all still pretty easy.

Before Your IPL Treatment

  • Be gentle with yourself. Come to treatments hydrated and relaxed. The connection between stress and your pain threshold is a real one. Skip harsh skin products like hyaluronic acids in the week ahead of your session.
  • Test it out. Try a patch test if you have notoriously sensitive skin. At Nood, we recommend 1-2 test flashes to see how your skin reacts, especially if you’re hitting a sensitive area like your bikini line.
  • Shave. We know. You’re here to get hair-free without the razors. Shaving allows the IPL machine or at-home device to see your follicles, and we promise it won’t be this way forever. Stick to the program and hair regrowth will get sparser.
  • Exfoliate. Stop skin irritation and ingrown hairs before they start with some gentle exfoliation before your treatments. We love The Revealer for before treatment.

After Your IPL Treatment

  • Leave it be. Don’t pluck, wax, thread, or epilate any errant hairs that were missed by your treatment. IPL is a process. If you pull out hairs at the root, you’re only going to make it harder for your device to see your hair follicles.
  • Wear your sunscreen. You don’t need to go into hiding, especially with at-home IPL, but you should practice good suncare if you’re heading out. Avoid tanning and too much sun exposure after treatments, especially if you’re prone to sunburns.
  • Exfoliate. You’re not hallucinating. You should exfoliate before and after treatments. If your skin is a little tender after, skip a few days before restarting your sloughing.
  • Soothe your skin. Treat yourself to a soothing gel like The Reviver for its refreshing cooling effects.

Safety & Side Effects

IPL is one of the safest body hair reduction methods out there. No, it doesn't cause cancer or make you infertile. Any possible side effects are rare.

What are the side effects of IPL? The most common side effects of IPL are swelling and redness in the treatment area. Even those side effects are very rare. Fewer than 1% of people experience side effects, and any that do happen usually go away within a few hours.

More serious side effects like scarring, blistering, or discoloration are even more rare, especially when devices are used exactly as directed.

That all said, not everyone can use IPL. Much like laser hair removal, IPL works best when there’s an obvious contrast between your skin tone and hair color, like dark hair with fair skin.

At Nood, we don’t recommend at-home IPL for blonde and red hair types and very dark skin. Your device just won’t “see” the follicles. 

Some laser hair removal brands report success using a longer wavelength of light for darker skin types. If this is you, talk to your dermatologist to go over your options.

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How Does IPL Compare to Other Hair Removal Methods?

We’re sure you can tell where we stand on the best hair removal method, but let’s make things a little more visual. Keep in mind that results vary from person to person. The info we share below reflects averages across each category.

Expected Maintenance Average Session Length* Long-Term Results Pain Level Cost
IPL 4-6 initial sessions** 15-60 minutes Yes Low As low as $189 (cost of Nood device) total
Laser hair removal 6-8 initial sessions** 15-60 minutes Yes Moderate $50-$900 per session
Electrolysis 10-14 total treatments 15-60 minutes Yes High $75-$200 per hour
Waxing Every 3-6 weeks 10-30 minutes No High $25-$100 per session
Shaving 2 times/week 15 minutes No Low $10-$15/month (cheaper for men!)
Depilatory creams 2 times/week 5-10 minutes No Low $10-$20/container

*Session length will vary based on the treatment area.

**Expect maintenance sessions every 1-2 months for both IPL and laser hair removal. Total sessions depends on things like your hair type, growth cycles, even your hormones!

Need Proof? Check Out Our Noods

We love our products and want to spread the love. We already know that IPL works wonders for so many, but don’t take us at our word. Check out these real results from our Noodist community.

Still don’t believe us? We’ll give your money right back if you’re not satisfied with your own results. The Flasher 2.0 comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee.


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