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IPL Hair Removal Treatments Contraindications, You Should Know!

By Nancy H, PharmD
May 25, 2023
7 minutes

As a cosmetic device, Intense Pulsed Light (1) hair removal discovers and eliminates unwanted hair in the face, armpits, legs, and beyond. It eliminates without causing harm to the skin by emitting pulses of light onto the body, which later damages the follicles, prevents hair growth, and treats skin-related issues. These simple hair removal treatment procedures are however not suitable for everybody. To know more about these, read on to understand everything related to hair removal treatments’ contraindications.

Intense Pulsed Light

IPL Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal is an innovation that has been in existence since the 18th century. This technology made the strenuous assignment of dermatologists easier in the early 1990s because it was discovered to treat unwanted hair growth, spider veins, vascular lesions, and pigmentation issues. In the 20th century, IPL became one of the most valued devices for cosmetic treatments; it can improve the skin’s appearance and prevent unexpected aging. Additionally, IPL works better as hair removal treatments (2) than primitive ways like shaving and waxing. Its light absorbs the pigment in one’s hair, resulting in energy buildup (heat) that eliminates potential cells, which may make hair grow.

Is Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal Good for Everybody?

Before you consider using IPL hair removal or going for IPL treatments, it is advisable to know if you are medically fit and eligible; else, it may affect your health or skin. In this blog, we will help sensitize you about situations that may contraindicate IPL hair removal treatments.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Stage

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Stage If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is highly recommended that you stay away from IPL hair removal treatments because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These changes can trigger your skin to be more sensitive, resulting in skin irritation. In this case, it is advisable you wait until after breastfeeding. Nevertheless, if you insist, you should consult your healthcare provider for safety tips.

Post-surgical Situation

If you just underwent surgery, it is advisable to wait until the scars are healed and matured before thinking of IPL hair removal treatments. These hair removal treatments are dangerous to fresh surgical wounds because they can truncate the healing process or exacerbate it. We suggest you hear from your doctor before you undergo light hair removal treatments or wait until the scars heal and disappear.

Hormone-supplementing Drugs

If you are on hormone supplements, it is advisable to wait until you finish the dosage because IPL hair removal treatments can cause your skin to be reactive and sensitive. These reactions can result in severe complications and skin issues.

Skin Conditions

People with skin diseases like active acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, herpes, open wounds, or other skin disorders should not try IPL hair removal because it can exacerbate the conditions on their skin. Additionally, the pulsed light can trigger skin irritation and cause more complicated issues on your skin if you are diagnosed with sores, skin infections, lesions, or skin cancer. Overall, you should avoid hair removal treatments until your skin heals properly and matured. Also, no pulsed light treatment should be carried out on infected areas on the skin because it can cause severe pain in the body.

Tanned Skin

Recently tanned skin surely has a high level of melanin and may experience worse reactions from the heat if it undergoes IPL hair removal. The pulsed light energy mainly targets melanin, which may cause blistering, burns, and other adverse reactions on the skin. In other words, it is advisable to avoid undergoing IPL hair removal treatments if it is not quite long before you tan your skin. In addition, IPL hair removal is also dangerous for fake-tanned skin because most of these ersatz tanning products can trigger skin conditions. The products have pigments that make the skin darker and absorb the heat intended for the hair follicles, which results in complicated skin conditions like burns, hypopigmentation, blistering, and hyperpigmentation.

Natural Dark Skin

Natural Dark Skin People with naturally dark skin (either special individuals or from parts of Africa and South America) have higher levels of melanin pigments, which are prone to absorb more heat from the IPL. This natural dark skin has an increased risk of getting damaged if it is exposed to intense pulsed light and may cause unexpected adverse effects like burns, blisters, pigmentation (3), and so on. Therefore, it is advisable that people with naturally dark skin should avoid IPL hair removal or consult their healthcare provider if it is necessary to undergo light hair removal treatments.

Using Depilatory Products

Wearing depilatory creams and sprays can irritate the skin during IPL hair removal procedures. (4) These products contain some chemicals that can react or irritate the skin after you undergo hair removal treatments. More so, using any of these depilatory products immediately after light hair removal may trigger adverse reactions on the skin like redness, burns, skin damage, skin discomfort, and so on. It is advisable and highly recommended to avoid IPL if you have just treated your skin with any of these depilatory products or do not apply it after IPL hair removal treatment.

Non-IPL Treated Skin

It is dangerous to undergo IPL hair removal treatments if you just went through waxing , sugaring, or plucking. These non-IPL hair removal methods target the hair follicles by removing the hair from its root. In this case, it is advisable to allow the hair to regrow before you undergo Intense Pulsed Light hair removal because the energy from this technology will find no pigments of the hair follicles to target.

Tattooed Skin

Tattooed Skin Undergoing intense pulsed light hair removal treatment is not advisable on the tattooed area of your skin. The IPL can cause the pigments in that area to be affected, resulting in discoloration, fading, loss of aesthetics, and other unexpected effects. Therefore, you should resist the urge to undergo IPL hair removal treatments or use an alternative to IPL hair removal.

Having Epilepsy or Seizures

It is highly recommended to avoid undergoing intense pulsed light hair removal if you have a history of seizures or epilepsy. The IPL is sure to emit constant flashing light in the process of removing hair from your skin; however, this can trigger seizures or result in epilepsy unexpectedly. In addition, it can worsen your health conditions if the IPL treatment continues for a longer duration. For this, avoiding IPL hair removal treatments is the best option, or consult your healthcare professional if undergoing IPL hair removal is cardinal.

Sunburned Skin

Sunburn happens when you stay too long in the sun and you experience painful and inflamed skin. Your skin becomes too hot as your temperature may increase. However, it is advisable not to undergo intense pulsed light hair removal if you have sunburned skin. Unfortunately, in this situation, IPL will contribute more harm to the skin that has already been damaged by the sun. Therefore, wait three to four weeks before you try light hair removal.

Delicate Hypertrophic Scars

If are managing keloid or hypertrophic scars on your skin, you should avoid IPL hair removal treatments because it can elongate the healing process of the scar or develop further scarring. More so, the pulsed light energy that targets the hair follicles can exacerbate the hypertrophic scar tissue and cause severe adverse effects on your skin. However, if hair removal is highly recommended for you, it is crucial to consult your doctor for proper guidelines and alternative recommendations.

Final Thought

IPL Intense Pulsed Light hair removal device is a cosmetic innovation that makes hair removal easier and faster. Nevertheless, not everybody can undergo this light treatment because of its contraindications. In this blog, we have discussed at length that IPL will contraindicate pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with tanned or artificial tanned skin, depilatory products, natural dark skin, delicate scars, and sunburned skin. This is because it may result in severe skin conditions. In addition, IPL may cause skin irritation and discomfort if you just waxed, plucked, or tattooed the area to be lighted up with IPL. Do not also try to undergo IPL hair removal if you have skin conditions like sores, burns, dermatitis (5), lesions, open wounds, skin trauma, or hypertrophic scars. These conditions can be worsened if you insist on using IPL without giving it time to heal up or consulting your healthcare provider’s assistance.

Likewise, individuals that are reactive to lights should avoid IPL hair removal because this may result in sudden seizures or eye injury. Therefore, it is recommended you cover your eyes with proper eyewear during this e-light procedure.

Overall, it is advisable you discuss your medical history with your dermatologist to know if you can suffer any possible contraindications or avoid intense pulsed light hair removal if you fall into any of these categories. Additionally, consider getting an intense pulsed light hair removal service from a professional dermatologist for the safety and comfort of your skin.


1. Current Indications and New Applications of Intense Pulsed Light 4993

2. Intense Pulsed Light: a review of clinical indications by Celia Luiza Petersen Vitello Kalil1; Clarissa Prieto Herman Reinehr2; Laura de Mattos Milman2 4993

3. Overview of Skin Pigment By Shinjita Das, MD, Harvard Medical School, Full review/revision Oct 2022 4993

4. Transform Your Skin With IPL photo racial

Transform Your Skin With IPL PhotoFacial

5. Contact Dermatitis 4993

Nancy H, PharmD
I am Nancy a licensed pharmacist with extensive knowledge in the healthcare industry. I enjoy writing on a variety of topics including; disease management, dietary supplements, nutrition, fitness, functional medicine, and lifestyle changes for optimal health. Below is my Linkedin profile
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