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9 IPL Hair Removal Side Effects You Should Know

By Laura
August 15, 2023
6 minutes
IPL Hair Removal Side Effects1

IPL hair removal helps you save yourself from the side effects of other methods of hair removal like pain and waxing; razor burns and shaving; and chemical reaction and hair removal creams. This is exactly why people are loving IPL hair removal regardless of gender.

However, is it possible for a hair removal method to have no side effects at all? If yes, how is it so? 

And if not, what could be the IPL hair removal side effects? Let us find out the answers to your queries below.

What is IPL Hair Removal? 

IPL hair removal1

IPL hair removal is a semi-permanent treatment for the removal of unwanted hair. With semi-permanent, I mean 6 months of hairless skin after completing the recommended treatment sessions for hair loss. After that, you will need regular touchups or the need to repeat the treatment depending upon the hair regrowth.

Moreover, IPL hair removal resembles in-office laser hair removal treatments when it comes to the principle of use and result. However, it differs based on the type of radiation and technology used.  

How Does IPL Hair Removal Work? 

IPL hair removal works

IPL hair removal works on the principle of “Selective Photothermolysis” caused by Intense Pulse Light radiating from a handheld device. Selective photothermolysis is defined as a process where light works on specific tissues of the body without interacting with the surrounding ones.

In the case of IPL, the light targets pigment in the hair while leaving mildly pigmented skin intact. Light rays from an IPL device are absorbed into the melanin of the hair finding their way to the hair follicles where the light is converted into heat energy. 

The hair follicles are then heated and burned while making them unable to produce hair for a long-time until they regenerate. 

What Are the Side Effects of IPL Hair Removal? 

Now that we know the technology behind IPL, let us see how this technology can potentially harm the skin. Also, you need to know that side effects with an IPL device are rare because of a number of safety mechanisms present in the device. 

Mild IPL Hair Removal Side Effects

Mild IPL Hair Removal

Mild side effects are also the commonest side effects that you can experience with an IPL device. Moreover, these side effects are transient and take a few hours to a day to heal completely. So, below are the usual yet short-lived side effects of IPL hair removal. 

  • Bearable pain: It is in the form of a stinging sensation, tingling, or ache. 
  • Skin redness: It may give a pinkish tinge to the skin or look just like a sunburn.
  • Skin inflammation: It can be soothed easily by cooling the skin.

Moderate IPL Hair Removal Side Effects

Moderate IPL Hair Removal

Then we have the moderate side effects which occur if the technique of using an IPL device is not right or you are flashing the device over an area too many times. These include:

  • Pigment changes in the skin: Both hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation can occur with IPL. The hyperpigmentation is caused by excess stimulation of melanocytes and is temporary. Hypopigmentation results from damage to melanocytes and may be permanent or long-lasting.
  • Peeling off the top layer of the skin: If IPL rays interact with the skin, they can cause the peeling off of the epidermis, the top layer of the skin.
  • Sun Sensitization: As IPL uses rays with a short wavelength, it can make the skin sensitive to the sun making the application of sunscreen mandatory. 

Severe IPL Hair Removal Side Effects

Severe IPL Hair Removal

Lastly, we have the rarest form of side effects of IPL hair removal. However, they are severe and only occur when there is a technical error in the device or skills of the user.

  • Infections: Although not very serious, IPL can cause bacterial infections which might take a while to be treated. 
  • Skin Burns: Burns occur when the device is used on dark, sun-tanned, or artificially tanned-skin. Burn is the most serious complication of IPL.
  • Skin blisters, crusts, and scars: While sunburn is severe, overheating of the skin by an IPL device can result in the formation of blisters and crusts. These develop into scars on healing. 

IPL Hair Removal Side Effects Cancer

Often people find themselves confused about IPL hair removal side effects cancer because IPL also has rays similar to the ones from the sun that cause cancer. However, there is no evidence that IPL is associated with cancer as the wavelength of rays used in an IPL device is much larger as compared to the UV radiations from the sun. 

These rays fall in the spectrum of 550nm to 1200nm.

Factors That Affect IPL Hair Removal Side Effects

Factors

Some people suffer from the side effects of IPL while others do not, right? Below are the factors that affect IPL hair removal side effects. 

Skin and Hair Type

IPL is safest for fair skin tones and dark hair colors. This is because the obvious contrast of the pigment between the two makes IPL rays only absorbed into the hair. 

However, if the skin is dark, it might absorb some rays leading to side effects. Also, a greater number of treatments are required on hair with less pigment. It enhances the incidence of side effects.

User Knowledge and Skills

Although using IPL is a piece of cake, some people might spill it with shaky hands. What I mean is even if IPL is easy to use, taking no measures to protect your eyes, placing the device incorrectly on the skin, and flashing it several times in one area can cause side effects.

However, people who have knowledge of how to use an IPL device can handle it without any adverse effects on the skin.

Equipment Quality and Maintenance

Equipment Quality and Maintenance

Maintaining an IPL device is no rocket science. The most important factor is to buy a good quality IPL device just like Ulike Air3. Look at the features of the device, its storage case, and the tools it comes with.

The next step is to clean the treatment window of the device before and after use. Also, only plug in the device during treatment sessions without leaving it in the switch when not in use. 

Pre And Post-Treatment Care

The condition of your skin is an important factor in determining the side effects of IPL hair removal. So, ensure that you follow pre and post-treatment care tips to keep your skin healthy and make it tolerant to rays from IPL.

Moreover, never ever use an IPL device over moles, tattoos, open wounds, skin lesions, and skin with medical conditions without asking your doctor.

How to Minimize IPL Hair Removal Side Effects 

There are ways to minimize the usual to severe side effects of IPL. Following are measures you can take.

A Device With Good Features 

Please invest in a good IPL hair removal device. You must choose a device that is FDA-approved and has features such as skin tone sensors, multiple treatment levels, pain-preventing mechanism, skin-cooling technology, and positive reviews. Ulike Air+ and Air are devices with all of these features.

Taking Care of the Skin Before and After the Treatment 

Taking Care of the Skin

Your skin must be in good condition for IPL hair removal treatment to go without any side effects. So, exfoliate the skin, shave it, moisturize it, avoid sun exposure, and artificial tanners before the treatment.

After treatment, avoiding sun exposure, skipping chemical-containing skincare or cosmetics, taking cool to room temperature showers, and regular moisturizing can help you prevent post-treatment side effects of IPL.

Avoiding Sun Exposure 

It is important to make sure that your skin is not adversely affected by sunlight before or after the treatment. Avoiding sun exposure is ideal. However, it might not be practical. So, only go out in the sun when it cannot be avoided, and wear a liberal quantity of sunblock before stepping out.

Also, reapply your sun protection every 2 hours if you plan on staying outdoors for a longer time.

Paying Attention to Diet

Paying Attention to Diet

A healthy diet is essential for healthy skin. And healthy skin is treated with an IPL device while taking no harm from it. So, eat a protein and vitamin-rich diet, keep yourself hydrated, and take supplements to maintain the health of your skin.

Moreover, avoid excess intake of alcohol and caffeine as it dehydrates the skin and makes it prone to side effects of IPL hair removal.

Conclusion 

IPL hair removal is the best method when it comes to offering smooth hairless skin that lasts for half a year or more without making you go through the pain associated with other methods. Moreover, it is economical, skin-friendly, and practical. 

However, it can cause a few side effects ranging from mild to severe as well. I elaborated on all potential common and uncommon side effects of IPL hair removal along with tips to minimize them.

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