Today, both men and women are no longer afraid to use the benefits of science and technology in doing many things on their body. One of such is the process involved in permanently getting rid of hair. Currently, the question we ask ourselves is no longer “should I? Rather we tend to ask “how, which option, and where should I go?” Indeed, the consumer faces so many outbidding offers and indecisiveness from all sides that it becomes tough for one to make an informed choice between the two main methods of permanent hair removal: the laser or the light intense pulsed. Here is an enlightening view on both options.
The principle of long-term definitive hair removal
The process is pretty simple; the light energy taken by the melanin (pigments of the hair) contained in the bulge (one of the two structures, with the matrix, responsible for regrowth of the hair) when the hair is in the growth phase. The light is then converted to heat to remove the hair follicle without causing damage to the skin.
Laser hair removal
The action of the laser is by “selective photothermolysis.” As the name suggests, this method uses high precision technology. The laser apparatus is a device that amplifies the light and makes it converge into a narrow coherent optical beam. It transmits monochromatic rays, i.e., single-wavelength rays; all particles move in the same direction (e.g., a diode laser emits a precise 810 nm radiation). These beams is therefore stable and measured, the energy always being the same. The tip used is small and targets the hair accurately. Measuring between 9 mm and 18 mm in diameter, it treats the area evenly. The device provides the ergonomics, power and skin depth needed for effective permanent hair removal. The safety of laser hair removal has also been proven on one hand by its accuracy of use, but also because the lasers are generally equipped with the hand-piece and effective integrated skin cooling systems at a controlled temperature, which mostly avoids or reduces the risk of burns. Some diode lasers, for example, have a sapphire tip hand-piece that cools the skin at 4˚C.
the laser has a proven track record considering it is the definitive hair removal method of choice in North America for nearly 20 years. Dating from the 1970s, this technology was tested in the medical field long before it migrated in 1995 to aesthetic applications. Several studies show that the results obtained by the laser in the field of hair removal are more conclusive than those of the LIP. Remember that the latest generation lasers have been specifically designed for hair removal and that top quality devices, such as the Light Sheer, stand out for their remarkable efficiency. It must also be known that there are far fewer bad lasers than there are bad LIP lamps in the market.
Laser hair removal also offers the exclusive advantage of being able to treat skins of all types, including matte and black skins. Some lasers have been developed explicitly for this purpose, while others have refined their calibration parameters to broaden the range of skin types that can be processed. Besides, the laser aims not only at the destruction of the hair bulb (reservoir of germinal cells) but also that of the hair bulb (part of the follicle located deep in the dermis). The laser “explodes” the hair, from the bulb to the bulge, which is rarely the case with the LIP lamp because many of the LIP devices on the market are of inadequate quality.
Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal (IPL / LIP)
This method is increasingly popular, mainly since 1997, because it is marketed as fast and treatments are offered at costs that seem very attractive. What is it?
Often, the variance in price is mainly explained by the difference in the cost of the device. Contrary to popular belief, the device that the LIP method uses is not a laser. This is a xenon lamp (called “flash”) that represents an investment of about $ 15,000 compared to $ 85,000 for a laser (if we compare the cheapest models).
Talking about its operation, the intense pulsed light is based on different physical and technological principles. Unlike the laser, the LIP emits a non-coherent polychromatic light, between 500 and 1200 nm; the interposition of filters obtains the choice of length. The lamp emits pulse waves of different lengths, not offering, despite the filters, the accuracy of the laser. These light beams are applied using a sizeable broad-spectrum tip that can treat a larger surface, but without being able to target the hair. Each session is, therefore, shorter, but less effective.
It appears that the frequency of the necessary sessions and the total duration of the treatment to obtain “definitive” results are often much higher with the LIP than with the laser. In fact, with a LIP lamp of exceptional quality, the difference is one or two more sessions than with the laser; on the other hand, with the vast majority of LIPs in the market, we have clear the difference.
On the other hand, according to some comparative studies, LIP has a higher risk of skin lesions and complications and a lack of consistency in the results. Note that the LIP lamp was not initially designed for hair removal, but photorejuvenation skin care. Use only high-quality LIP lamps as having some efficiency in hair removal, and these are very rare. The effectiveness of the LIP method is also particularly dependent on the maintenance of the apparatus because the instability of the lamp increases with the wear and it must be replaced frequently (every few thousand pulsations). Besides, each change requires a readjustment of the processing parameters; the intensity may vary from one lamp to another.
Another factor to consider is that LIP is only for dark-skinned white skins. The machine does not tolerate tanned, matte or black skin. It is necessary to stay long months without any exposure to the sun for the duration of the treatment.
It is true that the LIP sessions are considerably less uncomfortable than those of the laser because the ray penetrates less deeply into the dermis. LIP is a technique that is also very useful for specific uses, which include miniaturizing and brightening a hair, for example, arm hairs.
Despite what we are sometimes allowed to believe, the basic contra-indications are the same for both methods, with an only very slight difference. Tanned or sun-exposed skin before and after treatment, white or light red hair (which remains the prerogative of electrolysis); taking photosensitizing medications people suffering from photo-dermatosis; pregnant women and children and tattooed skin areas. Contraindications specific to LIP are all dark or black skin.
Lasers and Intense Pulsed Light are high power technologies. These methods are not without risks for the skin and may occasionally cause adverse effects. Although they are mostly minor and transient, they can in some cases be serious. The best recommendation is always to learn the type of device used, its quality, the result you can expect, the training of technical staff and the medical supervision of the treatment protocol. Your skin type may initially determine the preferred method. A personalized consultation beforehand is necessary.
When it comes to your body and your health, a choice dictated by the portfolio is from the start a bad choice.