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Image / Style / Beauty
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Everything you need to know about IPL – the latest at-home hair removal treatment

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By Shayna Sappington
15th Sep 2023
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Everything you need to know about IPL – the latest at-home hair removal treatment

Previously in salons only, IPL devices are now available to use at home. But we want to know… are they worth the investment? We ask skin expert Eavanna Breen.

Want smooth skin without the hassle of waxing, plucking or shaving? (Don’t we all!) Waxing can be expensive and sore, especially in our bodies’ more sensitive areas. It may be time to look into more long-term (and less painful) solutions like laser hair removal or IPL (Intense Pulsed Light).

While both hair-removal methods use light to heat hair follicles and prevent regrowth, their technology is very different. IPL’s short, dispersed bursts of light can be harnessed into an at-home machine, allowing you to use it regularly and conveniently to remove unwanted hair. 

The Braun Skin i-expert IPL is one such device that comes with multiple head attachments, so you can use it from head to toe, including your upper lip, armpits, arms, legs and pubic areas. In fact, this smart IPL device learns use after use and can guide users in real-time via its mobile app, so you can have a salon-like experience at home. (To give you the full picture, we’ve asked beauty expert Triona McCarthy to trial the Braun Skin i-expert IPL, so stay tuned for tried and tested results in the coming weeks.)

So, without further ado, let’s dive into all things IPL. We ask Irish celebrity skin expert Eavanna Breen about how the at-home treatment works, who can use it and what results we can expect.

What is IPL?

“IPL, which stands for Intense Pulsed Light, is used for medical and cosmetic treatments. It omits a broad spectrum, flash-like light just like a camera but in a controlled precise manner. If you compare it to a laser, laser light is focused lasers of light all aiming to hit a certain area, whereas IPL is much more dispersed in various directions,” explains Eavanna.

“The IPL light contains a swayed lens that can be adjusted depending on the target so you can do various treatments such as hair removal, vein removal, help with pigmentation and rejuvenate the skin as well. The concern depends on what wavelength and the pulsation is going to be used by the IPL. For example, for hair removal, the chromophore that absorbs the light is for the melanin in the hair follicles for pigmentation whereas the light will be absorbed by the blood within the vessels if you are trying to tackle vein removal.”

The Braun Skin i-expert IPL uses a wavelength and pulsation that targets unwanted hair and, after a few weeks of treatment, can leave you with smooth skin for a year.

How does it work?

“It works by using selective photothermolysis, which means the light energy is absorbed by specific chromophores in the skin. For example, if you want to use IPL for body hair removal you will have to direct the light energy towards the melanin within the hair follicles, or to get rid of veins you will direct it towards the blood within the vessels. Basically, by directing this flash-like light towards certain areas, the technology allows it to be absorbed directly to fix whatever problem area you want to target.”

The Braun Skin i-expert IPL uses flashes every 0.5 seconds, which are absorbed by the hair’s pigment causing a build-up of heat. This heat then puts the hair to sleep, preventing the cells from generating new hairs. It’s immensely convenient, comfortable to hold and treats your full body in less than 15 minutes.*

Who can use it?

Because IPL targets hair pigment, it is suitable for a wide range of people, from light to medium dark skin tones with hair ranging from natural blonde to dark brown or black. IPL technology is least suitable on very blonde, red, grey or white hair where there is less melanin to absorb the light.

“Both professional and at home IPL devices work best on individuals with lighter skin tones and dark hair,” explains Eavanna. “They may be less effective on individuals with very light hair or darker skin tones. At-home IPL devices can be effective for reducing hair growth over time, but results may vary among individuals. Success depends on factors like hair colour, skin type, hair thickness, and adherence to the treatment schedule. The success of at home IPL devices depends on consistent use. Users must adhere to a treatment schedule to see results. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, including performing patch tests and avoiding sun exposure before and after treatments.”

What results can you expect?

“IPL can be incredibly effective. It all depends on the machine. If a machine is more expensive and high-spec, it will be able to target areas much more specifically and have better manipulation and control of those targets. You will also have more control over how deep the IPL goes into the skin. It also depends on the operator understanding the technology and knowing where they want to target within the skin.”

Therefore, what makes a good IPL device is: the right power (with a manual or automatic skin tone sensor), a high speed of flashes for optimal coverage and fast treatment, and optimal shape via multiple attachments for different areas – all of which can be found in the Braun Skin i-expert IPL.

“Professional IPL devices used in clinics are generally more powerful than at-home devices. This increased intensity can provide faster and more effective results,” advises Eavanna. “Incorporating at-home IPL devices into your skincare routine can serve as a valuable complement to in-clinic treatments. Professional treatments are performed by trained technicians who can adjust settings based on your skin type and hair colour. At-home devices typically have preset intensity levels, which may not be as personalised. At-home IPL devices have a higher upfront cost but can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to multiple sessions at a professional clinic.”

With the Braun Skin i-expert IPL, you can expect to see visible hair reduction in just three weeks.** After following the recommended regimen, you’ll notice smoother skin, with hair reduction for up to one year. 

Braun Skin i·expert is the world’s first smart IPL system that learns use after use – your fastest way to one year of smooth skin. It comes with a connected app that guides you in real-time through the treatment like an expert would do, for your best results in maximum safety. Available in Boots and Currys today!

*Legs, underarms, bikini, lip and forearm at lowest energy level

**Following the regimen. Individual results may vary.