The thought of intense pulse light hair removal had me a bit worried. Using intense pulse light (IPL) technology at home seemed a bit dangerous, especially for a klutz like me. The lure of never needing to shave again overcame my worries, though.
What is Light Pulse Hair Removal?
The science behind IPL hair removal is simple. An IPL device shoots multiple wavelengths of light, between 500 and 1,200 nanometres, into the skin. The light gets absorbed by the pigments in the hair, heats it, and destroys the cells that causes the hair to grow.
For the treatment to work, the hair must be growing. Hair grows in waves, though, so one treatment isn’t enough. You may need treatments for 18 to 24 months to catch all of the hairs during their growth cycle. Talk about a long-term commitment.
IPL vs laser
IPL and lasers are similar, but there are a couple benefits to going the IPL route. During laser treatment, the hair is vaporized, which can lead to scaring. Since IPL kills the cells of a hair instead of vaporizing it, it doesn’t leave marks on the skin. Another benefit of using IPL is it covers much more skin than a laser, making treatments much quicker.
Does Intense Pulse Light Hair Removal Work?
Silk’n, a IPL brand, admits that the expected treatment outcome effectiveness is a 70 percent hair reduction at best. Results vary depending on what type of IPL treatment you use, how dark your skin and hair is and the location of the hair on your body.
IPL works best on people with light skin and dark hair because an IPL unit has an easier time targeting dark hair against white skin than it does targeting dark hair against dark skin. According to a clinical trial published by The Journal of Clinical and Atheistic Dermatology, out of the 22 women who received IPL treatment, 95 percent of the test subjects had 72 percent hair reduction three months later.
My Experience with IPL
The hair that is killed doesn’t grow back, so even if it doesn’t remove all of your hair for life, IPL can at least allow you to shave less often, right? Influenster sent one over for me to try, so I gave the Flash&Go Express to try out a go.
Before I could do a treatment, I had to read the manual, which contained numerous pages. Many of these pages contained stern warnings that made me more than a little nervous. The treatments may cause a change in skin pigment color. It may burn if you overlap flashes of light. It may leave you red. It may blind you if used above the cheekbones. Did I really want to try this after all?
Also, you have to shave whatever you are going to treat. I was going to zap my arm hair, but living with prickly arms until the treatments started to work didn’t seem worth it.So, I took a deep breath and started flashing my legs. Click To Tweet
My number one tip is to wear sunglasses because even though the light was pressed to my legs, the flash that emanated from around the edges of the device gave me a headache.
Day After Treatment
It didn’t burn or irritate my skin (which is very sensitive) but it did leave a brown mark on my knee, which faded away in 24 hours. The hair growing back on my legs feels finer and less dense. Hopefully it is actually working and it isn’t my imagination playing tricks on me.
According to the manual, I should do treatments every two weeks until I’ve completed my fourth treatment. So, I went at it again, two weeks later, wearing my sunglasses in the bathroom like a crazed person.
For the first treatment, the manual said to start on level one intensity for safety reasons. Since it was treatment two, I decided to live dangerously and crank it to level two. No pain or brown spots, so I guess it wasn’t a bad call.
It occurred to me that using the Silk’n is like shaving with an electric razor, except that the razor requires you to shave beforehand and squeeze it to make it work. Plus, this razor puts out more flashes of light than a disco tech.
Day After Treatment 2
I usually shave every day, but I decided to skip. Yup, the stubble was light and soft and I didn’t even feel it rubbing against my jeans like I normally do. I’m starting to think of a day when I may not need to shave my legs. Could it be possible? Do I dare to dream?
It’s a good thing that the laser won’t flash if it isn’t pressed to skin or else I would be writing this in Braille right now. It is way too easy to accidentally press the button.
Day After Treatment 3
Still no adverse reactions. I don’t see a reduction in hair and I’m questioning if I did this whole process right.
Well, today was the end of the every-two-week treatments. After this you are only supposed to use the device every four weeks. It seems like hair is growing back thicker than ever in places. Was I just imagining progress all of these weeks? Was I using it wrong?
I took a look back at the manual. The intensity settings go by what color of skin you have, like I mentioned before. The lighter the skin, the higher intensity. I put the skin color swatch by my hand. I couldn’t tell what color skin I have any more. I know I’m not on the darkest end of the spectrum, but am I in the middle? The far end?
For treatment four I decided to crank the intensity all the way up, but the device didn’t work. Okay, maybe I’m not the lightest. I turned the intensity down by one and try again. This time the device only worked half the time, making me think that my skin may be a patchwork of different hues.
Overall, I was happy with the results. Hair grew back softer and there was less hair each time. I’m not sure I can keep intense pulse light hair removal up for 18 to 24 months, but I’m going to try.