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Laser Hair Removal vs. IPL: Which Is Better?

Posted By: Lic. Silvia Derasner | July 22nd, 2020 | Blog

If you’re looking for effective ways to remove your body hair, there are many options to choose from, such as shaving, waxing, depilatory creams, and electrolysis. Two of the most effective hair removal methods are laser hair removal and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL).

Today, we’ll discuss the differences between laser hair removal and IPL. Keep reading to find out which method might be better for you—laser hair removal vs. IPL—so that you can get the smooth, hairless appearance you’ve always wanted.

Laser Hair Removal

Differences between IPL and Laser Hair Removal

Both hair removal methods are safe, long-term procedures that use light to reduce hair growth in specific areas of the body. However, they work differently and can yield different results depending on your skin and hair type.

Here are some of the differences between laser hair removal and IPL.

How It Works

The key difference between laser hair removal vs. IPL is the light source used. Laser hair removal uses a laser, while IPL uses broad-spectrum visible light.

With laser hair removal, a concentrated beam of light is designed to penetrate deep into the skin and target the melanin pigment in the hairs, thus inhibiting the hair growth cycle without affecting the surrounding skin. Since lasers can be extremely controlled, they can focus specifically on small treatment areas.

IPL treatment is similar to laser hair removal, targeting the pigment in the hair follicles. However, due to the multiple wavelengths it emits and the broader flash of light, it can cover a wider area of skin all at once and has a larger treatment window.

Pain Level

Since laser hair removal uses a single, more pointed beam of light, it tends to hurt a little more than IPL treatment. That said, compared to other hair removal methods, such as waxing, both laser hair removal and IPL hurt significantly less.

Many people compare the sensation to being flicked with a fingernail or having a rubber band snap on their skin. Ultimately, the amount of pain you’ll feel with laser hair removal vs. IPL depends on your pain tolerance, your skin type, and the area being treated.

Recovery Time

In terms of the recovery time, which method is better?

Both laser hair removal and IPL have the same side effects, which include minor skin irritation, redness, swelling, itchiness, and tenderness. These side effects typically subside after a day or so.

Your skin may be sensitive to sunlight after laser hair removal and IPL, so it’s important to use proper sun protection before and after your treatment and to avoid scratching your skin.

Although both methods produce the same side effects and have a similar recovery time, research has shown that patients who undergo laser hair removal may be more likely to experience minor side effects.


One of the main differences between laser hair removal and IPL is the price. Laser hair removal tends to cost more than IPL treatment, because laser light is more expensive to generate.

That said, you need fewer sessions with laser hair removal compared to IPL because the light used for IPL is not as intense. With laser treatments, the laser focuses light deep into the pores of the skin and can get closer to the follicle to prevent hair regrowth. Because of this, laser treatment might be a better investment since it achieves quicker results.

With laser hair removal, you’ll typically need anywhere from four to six treatments to start noticing results (depending on the treatment area), especially if you have thicker and darker hair. For thin or blond hair, laser hair removal may take longer to work. With IPL, you may require up to 10 sessions to get the desired results.

Hair and Skin Type

This brings us to our next point: what type of hair is better suited for laser hair removal vs. IPL?

Laser hair removal can be used on any skin type, but it tends to work best on darker skin tones and thicker and darker hair.

IPL is better suited for people with paler skin tones and lighter hair, because the intense-pulsed wavelengths don’t penetrate the skin as deeply as lasers do.

Which areas of the body are better for laser hair removal?

Since laser treatment provides localized hair removal, it tends to be better suited for smaller, more targeted areas on the body. This also makes it better for darker skin, because it reduces the risk of burning the skin compared to IPL, where the wavelength is much broader and more spread out.

IPL is more effective at treating larger areas, because, as mentioned above, it emits multiple wavelengths and has a broader flash of light.

When Is Laser Hair Removal a Better Option?

So, how do you know which is better? Should you choose laser hair removal vs. IPL?

At the end of the day, the decision should be based on your specific needs and your hair and skin type.

If you have a darker complexion, as well as thick or dark hair, laser hair removal is a better option.

Consider how much you want to spend and how soon you want to see results. Although laser hair removal has a higher price tag, fewer sessions are needed and results are seen sooner, which ultimately could make it the more affordable option.

Talk to a medical aesthetician about your options to see what treatment they recommend for your unique skin and body.

The Anti Aging Toronto Clinic’s Laser Hair Removal Service

Still on the fence about laser hair removal vs. IPL? The Anti Aging Toronto Clinic can help you make an informed decision about your hair removal options. We pride ourselves on using the latest clinical methods to give clients the anti-aging skin and body care that they deserve. Our reputable and certified technicians can laser hair removal based on your specific needs, hair type, and skin type. To learn more about the differences between laser hair removal and IPL or to book your next appointment, contact us at (416) 546-4664 or email us at info@AntiAgingToronto.ca. Our skincare specialists can also offer you a tour of our Toronto facilities. We look forward to meeting you!

With an MBA in computer science, Silvia started out in the IT field with proven success working on strategic initiatives with executive leaders to align an organization’s culture, capabilities, and structure, with business strategies. This career has lead her to a business path founding the Anti Aging Toronto Clinic in 2012. Silvia now holds a diploma in medical esthetics with interests in anti-aging skincare, evening out skin tone and texture, scalp hair regrowth, body contouring and laser hair removal treatments. Silvia believes in the importance of building open, trusting relationships with her clients and prides herself on excellent customer service. Whether it’s developing the business or awarding her clients with significant results, Silvia is committed to offering only the best. Silvia is the finance director and a medical esthetician at Anti Aging Toronto Clinic. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

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