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What is the difference between Laser and IPL?

At Lucas Laser Clinic we understand there is some confusion in the difference in Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments for hair reduction.

Both treatments have been available commercially since the mid 90’s. They involve producing light energy which is then absorbed into the dark pigment of the hair to ultimately cause damage to the hair follicle. Hair growth is then reduced without damaging the surrounding tissue.

The main advantages of using Laser Hair Removal over IPL Hair Removal based technology for hair reduction are:

Laser technology is simply much more effective and achieves substantially better results than IPL Hair Removal. The majority of patients should see permanent hair loss after as little as 6 sessions.*

  • IPL Hair Removal is a cheaper, less effective technology for reducing body hair

  • Lasers are far more precise, and can selectively target dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged

  • Each laser pulse takes a fraction of a second and can treat several hairs at a time

  • Laser hair removal can be used to treat larger body areas

  • Laser settings can be adjusted to suit your specific skin tone and hair colour

  • Lasers are safe for all skin colours, whereas IPL can cause burns on darker skin tones

* Results may vary from person to person

The main differences between Laser and IPL, used as a hair reduction treatment, mainly lie in the technology that each use to generate the light, as well as the different properties of the light being used.


Laser machines produce a single wavelength of light (pure light consisting of one single colour and form), which has a very concentrated beam and specific target (the melanin in the hair follicle).

Picture showing the difference between laser vs IPL
Laser is concentrated to just the hair follicle

The type/colour of your hair and skin will determine the tuning settings of the machine and will be discussed with you during your consultation. Laser machines are tuned to emit the exact wavelength required to treat your hair.


IPL’s are not lasers. The machines produce a broad spectrum of wavelengths (like a light bulb) and cannot be focused to a concentrated beam. Because a range of different wavelengths are dispersed at a variety of depths only some of these will be effective for hair reduction.

A shallower penetration in comparison to laser means that deeper, thicker hairs are not treated effectively. In addition, some of the light can be absorbed into the surrounding tissue as well, leading to heating of the pigment in the skin. This is why there is more of a risk of burns for a darker skin type.


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