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IPL vs. Laser

The difference between laser and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light):

Firstly, it should be understood that laser light is not the same as IPL light.

IPL is closer to natural light, similar to that generated by a camera flash. Laser light is a very specific (man-made) type of light. For the purposes of hair removal, both laser light and IPL light work by exactly the same mechanism:

  • The light (laser or IPL) enters the skin and is absorbed by the melanin (colour) in the hair shaft.
  • The absorption of light causes the hair shaft (and follicle) to heat up.
  • If the correct amount of light energy is used, the hair follicle cells are heated up to a critical temperature that results in an interruption of the hair growth cycle.
  • Dependent on a number of factors, the effect can be permanent or temporary.




One of the primary objectives for Light based hair removal (Laser or IPL) is to achieve this critical temperature in the hair follicle whilst at the same time NOT heating up the surrounding skin to a temperature that could cause damage (such as a blister). This is achieved by careful control of the amount of light output.

During the development of Light based hair removal, it was much easier to control these parameters with laser light. With laser light it was possible to use very high levels of energy and very long pulses to generate great hair removal results without damage to the skin. However, laser light is expensive to generate, normally only has a small output window (only a few hairs can be treated at once), and is therefore slow to use.

In order to overcome the downsides of laser hair removal devices, IPL systems were developed. The benefit is that they are relatively cheap, cover a large area at once and can be very quick. The SmoothSkin Gold technology has progressed to a point where the control of IPL light is good enough to also deliver great results without damage to the skin.



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