Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal vs Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): What’s the Difference?

Laser Hair Removal at Illusion

Do you love having smooth, hair-free skin, but dread the daily shave or wince at the thought of waxing? There are two options that can help you ditch the razor for good: laser hair removal and intense pulsed light (IPL)!

Both lasers and IPL use light to target hair follicles and stop future hair growth, but they have some key differences in how they work. Understanding these can help you find the perfect path to hair-free skin.

At Illusion Laser Clinic, lasers are our specialty (it’s in the name!). Read on for our breakdown of how laser hair removal compares to IPL, including their levels of precision, effectiveness, and more.

How do laser hair removal and IPL treatments work?

First things first, let’s look at how laser and IPL treatments work their magic.

In both methods, a technician will gently guide a device over the desired area, like legs, underarms, or bikini line. This device emits light that targets the pigment (melanin) in the hairs. Once absorbed, this light energy transforms into heat, which disrupts the hair follicles. Weakened follicles become less likely to sprout new hair, resulting in smoother skin for the long haul. Multiple treatments are usually required since hair grows in cycles and the laser targets actively growing hair.

The key difference between laser and IPL comes down to how they use light:

  • Laser hair removal is like using a spotlight. It concentrates a single powerful beam of light directly onto the hair follicle, targeting the pigment there. This precision makes it very effective.
  • IPL hair removal, on the other hand, is more like using a strobe light. It emits gentle pulses of broad spectrum light across a larger area, targeting various chromophores (light-absorbing elements) in the skin, including melanin in hair. This broader approach can treat a larger area of skin, but it’s less precise than a laser and may affect surrounding skin.

What makes laser hair removal and IPL treatments different?

The different light sources used in laser and IPL treatments determine how well they work, who can benefit from them, and who can perform the treatments. Let’s break it down:


Laser hair removal tends to be more effective than IPL. This is because lasers use a sharper, more targeted beam of light that can get to the hair follicle more effectively, leading to longer-lasting results in fewer sessions. While you might still need a touch-up here and there, laser hair removal often requires less maintenance overall compared to IPL.


Not everyone is a good candidate for IPL. Because IPL targets melanin, the pigment that gives hair and skin its colour, it works best when there’s a good contrast between the hair’s melanin and the skin’s melanin (such as in people with lighter skin tones and darker hair). The IPL can focus on the hair follicles with minimal impact on the surrounding skin.

Lasers offer a more precise solution. Unlike IPL, lasers target the hair follicle itself, bypassing the surrounding skin. This makes them a better option for people with darker skin tones or lighter hair colours.


Laser hair removal involves the use of high-strength beams, so it should only be performed by qualified professionals in a clinical setting. Untrained use can lead to bigger risks like burns or scarring.

IPL is a bit gentler, so you can find at-home options alongside professional treatments. However, going to a professional is safer and usually gives you better results.


Laser hair removal uses a more focused light source than IPL, so it requires more advanced technology and higher energy use. This means that laser treatments tend to be pricier upfront.

However, laser treatments often require fewer sessions to achieve the same results as IPL. While IPL might seem like a cheaper option at first, you might end up needing more sessions overall, which could cost more in the long run.

Embrace silky smooth skin with Illusion Laser Clinic’s laser hair removal treatments

Think laser hair removal may be the right option for you? You’ve come to the right place!

At Illusion Laser Clinic, we use the market-leading Lumenis LightSheer® QUATTRO™ system to provide safe, effective, and comfortable laser hair removal treatments. Here’s just some of the system’s benefits:

  • It works perfectly on all skin tones, including darker complexions and tanned skin.
  • The vacuum-assisted handpiece comes with a built-in numbing mechanism, eliminating the need for gels or anaesthesia and making the treatment more comfortable.
  • The handpiece gently suctions your skin, bringing the hair follicle closer to the laser. This allows for deeper penetration and more effective hair removal.

Our qualified practitioners will use the QUATTRO™ system to remove unwanted hair from anywhere on your body, putting your comfort first with a fully personalised treatment plan. Whatever results you’re looking to achieve, we’ll make them a reality.

If you’re ready for smooth, fuzz-free skin, book a free consultation with our team today! We’d be happy to answer any questions you have and explain more about what our Verwood-based clinic has to offer.