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Frequently Asked Questions

IPL Hair Removal

Flashlamps (also know as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)) emit light from a hand device on to the skin. The light targets melanin in hairs and heats the pigment up. This heat is then transferred to the hair follicle, causing thermal damage.

If the patient has dark hair and pale skin then most of the light will be absorbed by the hairs, as this contains the most melanin. However, if the patient has pale hair and dark skin then the light is more likely to be absorbed by the skin, resulting in less pleasing results.

The cost of flash lamp treatment is relatively high, but this is one of the most effective permanent hair removal products.


Picture of professional performing IPL or flashlamp treatment
  • Effective removal of hairs from large areas such as chest or legs
  • Intense pulsed light is safe if performed properly
  • Many patients have experienced long-lasting, permanent results
  • Particularly effective product for light-skinned people with dark hair
  • If re-growth occurs then hairs can come back finer or lighter in colour
  • A lot of information is available on flash lamps as a result of their original medical purpose


  • There has been no long-term data analysis on the effectiveness of IPL products
  • Improper treatment can cause burns, lesions, skin discoloration, and patchy re-growth
  • Can be fairly expensive to use
  • Can cause discomfort
  • Not as effective at removing grey, red or blonde hairs
  • Not as effective on darker skin tones
  • Some patients do not respond to this methodology


Flashlamps were initially designed to treat other skin conditions but early trials showed that they are effective as permanent hair removal products too. Intense pulsed light works in a similar manner to lasers but with some important differences. IPL uses specific wavelengths of light that are set at the optimum for their absorption by the melanin pigmentation in the hair, yet at the same time minimising the trauma to the skin. A set of filters is used to ensure the correct types (or wavelengths) of light are used in the treatment. As there are more variables to adjust using this device than with a laser, its effectiveness is more dependant on the experience of the practitioner.

Xenon is one of the most commonly used light sources for a flashlamp because of the brilliant, full spectrum illumination it provides.


Many people use the IPL method to remove hair from their face, chin, upper lip, neck, chest, nipples, armpits, stomach, back, bikini line, and legs. However, it is not recommended to use this method around the eyes.

After a single flash lamp session the hair will be noticeably thinner, but to achieve the best permanent results the patient will require a number of sessions. Following an IPL session the skin may be sensitive and reddened. It is recommended that patients avoid direct sunlight on the treated area for a period of time after using these products.

One of the most common side effects is either reddening or the appearance of dark red blotches on the skin. This is due to the application of the intense beam of light used in the treatment. The amount of heat generated during the procedure can be quite excessive and this causes some parts of the skin to burn and cause the red spots. The best way to treat these spots is to apply an Aloe Vera solution to the affected area. An ice pack is also a very good way to counteract the spots.

During pregnancy

Flashlamp or IPL therapy is not suitable for breastfeeding or pregnant women. The main reason is that pregnant women produce different chemicals during this period. Therefore, their bodies will reject many treatments that are not natural. It should be pointed out that it's not just IPL hair removal that is not suitable for pregnant women.

Women's skin becomes very sensitive during pregnancy and it has been found that their level of progesterone hormone increases. This is the major reason why some pregnant women develop thick and dark hair around their abdominal area.

If you have had intense pulsed light or flash lamp treatment during pregnancy then you must desist and visit a doctor as the process is 'teratogenic'. This means that IPL can affect the fetus of an unborn child. Therefore, it is recommended that before using any hair removal method (not just IPL) during pregnancy or breast feeding, you should discuss this with your doctor first to be on the safe side.


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