Intense pulsed light (IPL), is a technology aimed at producing light of high intensity during a very short period of time. It involves specific lamps together with capacitors whose rapid discharge provides the high energy required.
It is a method of hair removal from the body most commonly employed by medical practitioners and estheticians. It involves the use of a specially constructed xenon flash lamp and focusing optics.
IPL hair removal is cheaper and faster than laser hair removal, but the precise effectiveness of IPL compared to Alexandrite and ND:YAG laser epilation is still not established. Their results are generally accepted to be roughly equivalent, although it is accepted that IPL sometimes requires more treatments than laser treatments, which counters the argument of IPL being a cheaper treatment option for hair removal. IPL can also be used as a skin treatment in a process known as photorejuvenation.
Hair removal mechanics
The focused, broad-spectrum light is applied to the surface of the skin by way of either a hand-held wand or an articulated arm. This light travels through the skin until it strikes the hair shafts or the bulb (root) of the hair. The bulb is usually where the highest concentration of melanin is located, as opposed to the rest of the hair shaft. As the light is converted to heat energy, the bulb and most of the hair shaft are instantly vaporized.
The intense heat radiated by the hair also destroys the hair-producing papilla or the entire hair follicle.
It is also claimed that direct light-heat conversion occurs directly in the darker colored capillaries that bring nourishing blood vessels to the follicle. Contrary to what is often claimed, photoepilation is not a permanent hair removal method but a permanent hair reduction method. This means that although IPL treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair.