Let me just preface this post by saying ‘you do you…!’ Hair removal is a personal choice and by no means a necessary part of a beauty routine. However for those of us blessed in the hair department (and by blessed I mean hairy like a wolf!) then finding a convenient, painfree and quick method of hair removal has quite likely been an aim since about the age of 14…..
I’ve done the lot, shaving, waxing (low pain threshold – never again and on a par with eyebrow threading in my experience!), epilating – there are a multitude of hair removal methods pushed out by brands and companies on a frequent basis and at times it can be hard to know which route to go down.
‘My hair removal lightbulb moment came around 3 years ago when I started to look into the world of IPL.’
My hair removal lightbulb moment came around 3 years ago when I started to look into the world of IPL treatment at home. If you are not familiar with this type of hair removal it stands for Intense Pulsed Light and works by emitting a wavelength into the skin which targets and is absorbed by pigment, in this case a hair follicle, and turns into heat killing the cells of the growing hair. In short you are targeting the hairs at the source, which after repeated use slows the rate of regrowth, in some cases to almost nothing, and the hairs that do grow back tend to be lighter and finer in texture.
I should point out that because IPL works by identifying colour pigment contrast, those with black skin and black hair or white skin and very pale hair will generally find that they do not get great results with this treatment and should read the individual machines recommended users before purchasing.
One of the biggest misconceptions about IPL is that you need to remove all your hair first before using it. In reality you need the hair follicle to be in tact to get the benefit of the light waves. Had you waxed your legs first there would be no hair shaft to kill off. The advice is to use on freshly shaved legs or under arms and then ‘zap’ the area you want to treat methodically to try and make sure no areas are missed. Any shaving stubble will be culled during the first treatment so there’s no prickly regrowth. When you first start out treating your legs will take the longest amount of time as the skin surface is greatest, but over time you will notice the hair regrowth getting less and less until eventually you will only need to do targeted ‘top up’ treatments once every few weeks.
‘Over time you will notice the hair regrowth getting less and less until eventually you will only need to do targeted ‘top up’ treatments once every few weeks.’
One of the most frequently asked questions is what is the difference between at home IPL and in salon laser hair removal? Well the biggest one is often cost and convenience. At home IPL machines have come down in price significantly over the past few years but you are looking at around £250+ for a decent machine (although as with anything you can pay a lot more). The advantage of doing it at home is you can top up as much as you need at your own convenience and treat multiple areas as and when you choose. I have zero hair regrowth in my underarms (TMI but guessing you’re here for the details!) as a result of using an at home IPL and probably achieved this after 8-10 uses.
However, as with any at home treatments vs salon treatments, the strength and effectiveness is one of the biggest variables, with at home treatments taking longer and not guaranteeing complete removal of hair (although in my case this has been the outcome with a top up every few weeks). In-salon treatments tend to use laser as opposed to light (which is stronger), and with 6-8 sessions generally promise minimal regrowth – however neither method guarantees zero regrowth. The general rule is at home IPL treatments need more sessions to achieve the same amount of regrowth due to the lesser strength. However, you pay the price with salon treatments, with charging per area and additional charges for top up sessions. Generally you’ll be looking at at least double the price of at home treatments.
The other frequently asked question is ‘does it hurt?’. The only way I can describe it is like a small elastic band snap against your skin – due to the light emission your skin can feel slightly warmer to the touch but on a 1-10 pain scale this is definitely right down at the low end. Most machines have a lower strength setting for sensitive areas so you can customise your own treatments. So if concerns about it being painful have been putting you off trying you can cross that one off your list!
‘At the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice and budget.’
At the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice and budget. I have been so happy with the at home results and am very willing to do the odd top up sessions every few weeks (10 minutes max) vs shaving my legs every other day, having had the initial outlay of cost several years ago. The convenience of choosing when I do the treatments, rather than scheduling them in with a salon, is a massive plus for me and personally I’d rather save my trips to a beauty salon for something more relaxing and indulgent!