HR underarms

IPL vs Laser


IPL and Laser are the same thing, aren't they??

No. There is a major difference between how IPL and Laser machines work.

Many people receive hair reduction treatments with IPL, believing it is laser.

While some hair reduction can be achieved with IPL, for most people the benefits vs risks of that machine prohibit successful treatment.

This page will help explain the differences. 


What's the difference?

The main difference is the 'kind' of light they produce.

IPL machines produce 'broad spectrum light' (all the colours of the rainbow). It is very bright, but not focused, so it does not target things very specifically.

Laser machines produce a 'single' wavelength (one tiny part of that rainbow). It is very focused, and targets specific things very effectively.

Think of it like a torch compared to a laser pointer. A torch produces a broad spread of clear light that illuminates everything. A laser pointer produces a very precise, thin beam of coloured light, that travels much further.


What does that have to do with hair reduction?

The aim of laser hair reduction treatment is to destroy the hair follicle.

To do this successfully we need a form of light (energy) that will very specifically target the hair follicles, with enough power to reach the base of the follicle to destroy it, without overly affecting surrounding skin.

Laser does this more safely and effectively than IPL.


This diagram shows the different kinds of light produced by Laser and IPL.




I was told I was definitely getting laser hair removal!

Many businesses falsely advertise IPL as LASER. We regularly meet new clients that believe they have been receiving Laser treatment, and are disappointed to find out they have only been receiving IPL.

Because laser treatment is far more targeted, it is highly likely that you will receive greater reduction in hair, with fewer treatments.


How can you tell the difference?

If you have had gel applied to your skin before hair removal treatments, it is very likely that you have been receiving IPL - not laser. Almost no lasers require gel to be applied to the skin before treatment.

A second difference is the type of hand-piece used to deliver the light. Laser hand-pieces are smaller, and IPL hand-pieces are quite large.


This picture demonstrates the different hand-pieces used to deliver treatment.



What is IPL good for then?

Whilst IPL is not the best option for hair removal, it is excellent at performing a number of skin treatments.

IPL can be highly effective for reducing general redness and flushing, removing fine capillaries, treating acne and rosacea, reducing certain pigmentation and it can stimulate collagen formation, resulting in smoother and firmer skin.


Remember, all lasers and light therapy machines perform different tasks. One machine cannot do everything. At Gippsland Cosmetic Laser Clinic we have 6 completely different types of laser and light therapy machines to ensure your concerns will be treated with the right device, specifically designed to address your particular concern.

If you have tried IPL before and had unsatisfactory results, it would be well worth trying hair reduction treatments with a high-quality laser, such as our GentleMax Pro.


Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this topic some more.