IPL and Laser Hair Removal: What's the Difference?

• 29 May 2015

There's a lot of confusion around the difference between laser hair removal and IPL hair removal, mainly because of how easily we throw around the term 'laser'. Although the two treatments are used in similar ways, the science behind them is different, and knowing about the differences can help you make a more informed decision about which device to purchase.

Laser Vs IPL

  • Laser hair removal uses a single wavelength of light, whereas IPL uses a broad spectrum of wavelengths. In a salon setting, a laser will be 'tuned' to the correct wavelength for your hair colour.
  • Lasers are more concentrated and focused, and target the melanin in the hair follicle.
  • IPL is a broad spectrum of light that is absorbed by the skin at a variety of depths, meaning only some of the light will be effective.
  • Some at-home IPL devices are suitable for a range of skin tones – even darker skin tones – but the majority will only be suitable for light skin tones.
  • Laser hair removal is traditionally used exclusively in salons, but a few at-home devices are started to emerge.


To make matters more confusing, there is an additional strand of IPL called HPL – Home Pulsed Light – which offers extra levels of protection when using devices in the home. Devices like the Silk'n Glide have a skin sensor that adapts the light to your skin tone, and a pressure sensor to ensure the light only fires when it is in direct contact with skin.

Tria's Hair Removal Laser device is our first laser hair removal device. It's a precision device designed for the sensitive and hard-to-reach areas of the body such as the bikini line and underarms:

Tria Hair Removal Laser Precision

This sleek little device is the iluminage Beauty Touch. It combines IPL with RF (radio frequency) to first heat and then disable the hair follicle safely – and unlike the majority of at-home IPL devices, it is suitable for every skin type:

Iluminage Beauty Touch

And last but not least, the Silk'n Flash & Go is a popular choice for newcomers, as it offers extra levels of protection to ensure your skin is protected throughout treatments.

Silk'n Flash & Go

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