Laser Is Out, IPL Is In: Meet Your Pain-Free Hair Removal Glow-Up

6 min read

ipl vs laser hair removal ipl vs laser hair removal

What do we want? Permanent hair removal!


When do we want it? ASAP!


How are we gonna get it? …Um. That’s still up in the air.


If getting rid of unwanted body hair for good is one of your hopes and dreams for this year, there are two safe, effective ways you can get it: laser hair removal and IPL hair removal. The best permanent hair removal option for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, your hair/skin color, your pain tolerance, and more.


Whichever one you choose, there’s good news: both laser hair removal and IPL hair removal can help you get hair-free long-term, so you never have to pick up a razor or rip hot wax off your skin again.


We’re partial to pain-free, at-home IPL hair removal, but we’ll go over the ins and outs of both of these permanent hair removal options so you can make an informed decision for yourself.


So how does IPL vs laser hair removal stack up? Learn how these two popular permanent hair removal methods compare, including similarities in technology, who they’re ideal for, key differences, and more.



IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)

Laser Hair Removal


Permanent Hair Removal

Both methods result in a permanent reduction in body hair.

Painless Hair Removal

IPL is generally pain-free, with adjustable intensity settings for comfort. Laser hair removal can be painful, especially for those with a low pain tolerance.


IPL handsets are a one-time cost. Lumi, our IPL device, is $229, equipped to last 30+ years with 900,000 flashes. The average cost of one laser hair removal treatment is $582, and most body areas require 6-10 sessions.

At-home Use

IPL can be done by yourself from the comfort of your own home. Laser hair removal treatment requires a clinic visit from a certified professional.

Suitable for Very Dark Skin

If you have very dark skin, laser hair removal will likely be a more effective option for you.

Effective on Thick, Dark Hair

Both IPL and laser hair removal work on coarse hair by targeting the melanin in hair follicles.

Effective on Light Blonde, Grey, and Red Hair

Laser hair removal is more likely to be effective on blond, grey, and red body hair.


What’s the Difference Between IPL and Laser Hair Removal?

You may have heard some people talk about IPL and laser hair removal interchangeably. But while these two hair removal methods do have a lot in common – both use light technology to achieve a permanent reduction of body hair – they are not the same. Let’s go over how laser vs IPL works:

How Laser Hair Removal Works

Laser hair removal uses powerful, highly concentrated heat and light energy to target the melanin of hair follicles beneath the skin's surface. It targets a very small area at a time. Once the melanin absorbs the energy, the heat destroys the hair follicle, preventing it from growing again. 


After multiple sessions (typically 6-10 rounds of treatment, spaced out anywhere from 4-10 weeks apart depending on the area treated), laser hair removal results in a permanent reduction in body hair. 


Laser hair removal is typically priced per body part and per session – the average cost of one laser hair removal treatment is $582, according to the latest data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons


Because laser hair removal utilizes powerful lasers, it is not safe to do at home. Laser hair removal should only ever be performed by a trained professional at a clinic.


Related: How Much Does Laser Hair Removal Cost?

How IPL Works

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It also uses light to target pigments in the hair, but it sends out a broad spectrum of pulsating light rather than a single laser. IPL's energy is more scattered and less concentrated, allowing it to target a larger surface area (and more hairs) at once. This results in a faster, gentler, less painful treatment that’s safe to do at home. 


After multiple sessions (typically 8-12 rounds, 1-2x per week), IPL hair removal results in a permanent reduction in body hair.


IPL requires contrast between the hair and skin to effectively target the melanin in the hair, so it may not be a good fit for very dark skin tones or blonde, red, or gray hair.


IPL hair removal treatment can be performed in a clinic, but it’s more common (and convenient) to use a personal IPL handset like Lumi to perform IPL hair removal treatment at home. 


Lumi is FDA-cleared to offer safe, effective permanent hair removal. It’s available for a one-time cost of $229 USD and can be used on just about any body part, no refills needed.


Related: What is Lumi?


Benefits of Both IPL & Laser Hair Removal

Move over, shaving and waxing – both IPL and laser hair removal offer some seriously smooth benefits:

  • Permanent Hair Removal
    IPL hair removal is permanent. So is laser hair removal. After a full treatment regimen, you’ll experience a permanent reduction in body hair.

  • Smooth Skin
    Your skin won’t just be hair-free – it’ll be SUPER silky smooth. You won't have to worry about strawberry legs, razor burns, or ingrown hairs from IPL or laser hair removal.

  • Effective on Thick, Dark Hair
    Both IPL and Laser Hair Removal work by targeting the hair follicle's melanin. This technology is especially effective on thick, dark hair. Unlike other conventional hair removal methods, like shaving or waxing, you won't see any signs of dark spots or stubble after completing a full session with IPL or laser. (For those with PCOS or hirsutism, laser hair removal and IPL have been known to be the best treatment options for excess body hair removal.)

Who IPL Is Ideal For:

IPL might be the ideal permanent hair removal method for you if you’re…

  • Interested in a pain-free hair removal experience.
    With IPL, the experience can be pain-free depending on the intensity setting used. With any high-quality at-home IPL handset, you'll find different intensity level settings to choose from to help accommodate every user's pain sensitivity.
  • Looking for a more affordable hair removal option.
    IPL devices are just a one-time purchase and can be used whenever and wherever you please. (The device will likely cost you less than just one laser treatment alone!)
  • Trying to remove body hair from a lot of different areas.
    Both IPL and laser hair removal can be used just about anywhere, but when it comes to laser, you’ll have to pay for each area you treat. If you’re trying to be hair-free from head to toe, IPL is the way to go.
  • A DIY girly who wants to take care of hair removal at home.
    Laser hair removal treatments will always need to be done in a clinic. With an FDA-cleared handset, you can safely and effectively perform IPL hair removal at home. (It’s easy, promise!)
  • Someone who’s a good candidate for IPL.
    If you have body hair that contrasts enough against your skin tone, IPL will likely be effective for you. Not sure? Refer to the skin tone chart.
  • Itching for faster results.
    Full results from laser hair removal can take multiple months to over a year, while IPL offers full results in 8-12 weeks. 

Related: Will IPL work for my skin tone and hair color?

Who Laser Hair Removal is Ideal For:

Laser might be the ideal permanent hair removal method if you’re…

  • Someone who’s not overly concerned about cost.
    “Money is no object” – you, probably. (You go, girl!) If laser hair removal is in the budget, 1. Can we trade budgets? And 2. Go for it! As easy as IPL is, it can still be nice to leave hair removal to the pros.
  • Just NOT a DIY person.
    Sure, IPL hair removal is straightforward, but you still have to do it. There’s a learning curve and it does take some discipline to stick to a schedule on your own. If you have the time to go to a clinic and would rather have a professional take care of everything, go with laser!
  • Someone with very dark skin or very light body hair.
    While laser hair removal is also most effective on lighter skin and darker hair, it’s more likely to work on very dark skin or blond, red, gray, or red body hair than IPL is.