We use IPL machines in a number of treatments including hair removal. We think it’s the best solution but we also want our clients to feel well informed about their options. In today’s blog we’ll look at the differences between the three main types of light-based treatments, IPL, VPL and LASER, and look at how each is suited to hair removal.

It’s all Laser Hair Removal right?

The first thing to say is that Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), Variable Pulsed Light (VPL) and Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER) all have distinct differences from one another and they are not in fact all ‘laser’ treatments.

Light or laser based hair removal treatments are often lumped together under one umbrella term, ‘laser hair removal’. This happens both unintentionally and intentionally, confusing consumers as to what service is actually being offered.

LASER devices emit light energy of only one wavelength. The LASER equipment allows the operator to adjust the intensity and duration of the light beam. This single wavelength is directed down the hair follicle. It has proven very successful in removing hair and reducing hair growth.

However the cost of LASER hair reduction is inhibitive. Some hair and skin types are also restricted. LASER doesn’t work well for anyone with light coloured hair and can actually cause increased hair growth for people with dark skin. Thus IPL and VPL were developed to offer a similar solution to hair reduction at a lower cost.

IPL aka Intense Pulsed Light

IPL, although sometimes referred to as laser hair removal, does not involve lasers at all. IPL actually uses xenon flash lamps that emit a variety of light wavelengths. We use Lynton IPL equipment. Lynton are one of the biggest and most trusted manufacturers of IPL equipment and IPL hair removal systems.

There are two main benefits for the consumer:

  1. IPL is a cheaper than LASER
  2. Those with light coloured hair or dark skin can receive IPL

The technological difference between IPL and LASER devices is that IPL emits a range of wavelengths not just one length. This means the skin has more controlled absorption into the appropriate structures. Overall IPL is gentler than LASER treatments and has less instance of irritation to the skin.

VPL aka Variable Pulsed Light

VPL stands for Variable Pulsed Light and is in fact a type of IPL. It is defined differently due to the increased control of the intensity and length of the waves of light that VPL devices have.


One thing all these treatments have in common is that recipients won’t be entirely hair free with only one session. While all of them have proven effective they must be repeated to produce totally hair free skin. This is because hair grows in cycles and any treatment only targets hairs that are currently growing.