Professional hair removal guide

Permanent hair removal sounds appealing — but the results aren’t guaranteed.
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  • Updated:27 Feb 2007

03.IPL and laser danger

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

  • IPL is a newer treatment than laser. It works on the same principle of heating and damaging the hair follicle, but instead of using a single wavelength a flash lamp emits hundreds of wavelengths in each burst of light.
  • As the beam tends to cover a larger area than a laser, the treatment is slightly faster.

Who is it for?

IPL has the same restrictions as laser in terms of effectiveness. It works best on people with dark hairs and light skin.

Possible risks and side effects

  • IPL lamps pose the same risks as lasers. However, the lamps are more difficult to use than lasers and so even greater skill is required to operate them.
  • As with lasers, we think IPLs require greater regulation and should only be operated under medical supervision.

Does it hurt?

The sensation is similar to laser treatment.


Usually similar cost to laser, but price varies greatly between different operators.

Laser and IPL danger

  • A number of people we spoke to expressed concern about the lack of uniform regulation of laser and IPL hair removal.
  • Regulations vary according to the state or territory you live in and range from a fairly strict system in WA and Queensland, where a licence is required to use laser equipment, to a comparatively lax regime in NSW.
  • The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is currently working on national guidelines to regulate the use of lasers in cosmetic procedures (including hair removal). These should be released for public comment in early 2007.
  • In the meantime, we recommend that you look for an experienced laser or IPL operator who works under medical supervision.

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