Everything to Know About At-Home IPL Hair Removal

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For a large chunk of time over the past 18 months, beauty salons across Australia were forced to close, which meant many people got creative when it came to their own treatments. The rise of at-home beauty treatments spiked and despite having access to beauty therapists for months now, some people preferred their DIY experiences.

One such trend that skyrocketed last year was at-home hair removal, especially in the form of IPL devices. Not only is IPL easy to use on yourself, but it’s also a painless and quick way to tackle hair removal from the comfort of your own home. One such fan of this technique is scientist, SPF enthusiast and creative, Hannah English.

“We’ve seen a lot of DIY beauty at home this last year, and it’s really exciting for me to be able to get my permanent hair reduction done at home too, with IPL,” English told POPSUGAR Australia. English gave us the lowdown on everything you need to know about IPL hair removal, including pre and post care, as well as the effectiveness of this techique.

How does IPL work and is it safe?

“IPL emits Intense Pulsed Light beneath the skin that targets the melanin in the hair follicle,” English said. “The melanin heats up and pushes the hair into a ‘resting’ mode. When hair is in this resting phase, it falls out naturally, and the process of hair growth starts back up again. Over time and with continuous IPL use, the pulsed light stops the hair from reaching the surface of the skin, and eventually, the regrowth stops.”

The use of IPL devices is pretty safe, but English recommends using a high-quality device for your at-home treatment. English’s preferred device of choice is the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 ($999), which she says is “completely safe for use at home”.

“It uses Braun’s proprietary SensoAdapt technology that continuously measures the differences in skin tone (80 times per second) and automatically adjusts the light intensity to the optimum level. So, it’s always the perfect balance between energy and safety.”

Who is IPL best for?

When it comes to IPL treatments, unfortunately, it doesn’t work well on all skin tones, so something to note before investing in a device and trying it for yourself. According to English, this treatment is “most effective on light to medium skin tones, with hair ranging from natural blonde to dark brown or black”.

“The device is not effective on very blonde, red, grey or white hair – the smaller amount of melanin in these hair colours won’t absorb the light energy,” said English. “As dark skin contains more melanin, it could absorb more than the safe, recommended amount of light energy and so may cause discomfort. For sensitive areas, if your device has a Gentle mode you can use this for a lighter treatment.”

How to prep your skin

Before going in and treating your whole leg with the IPL device, English recommends patch testing in order to understand how your skin will react to the IPL.

“From here, before using IPL always shave, exfoliate, and moisturise for best results,” English said.

“For IPL to work, the hair needs to be in a ‘growth’ phase and attached to the follicle in the growth phase. You also need to shave all visible hair beforehand so that the hair is not exposed but is still within the follicle.”

Once you’re using the IPL device on a regular basis, you can continue to shave between treatments but steer clear of waxing as it could hinder your results.

“Only the hairs in their growing phase are susceptible to the light treatment – and it must be below the skin (from shaving), so shaving is actually important between treatments!” said English. “You may have issues if waxing or using other forms of hair removal where the follicle is removed, as we need to target that follicle with the IPL.”

When it comes to aftercare, there’s not much you really need to do! If you have extremely sensitive skin, English recommends avoiding anything that could cause irritation to your skin like hot tubs or saunas.

“I’d also recommend avoiding any excessive sun exposure right after treatment…or ever, because we love to stay sun smart in this house,” said English. Hear, hear!

When will you see results?

Like most things, results will vary from person to person and it all depends on your typical hair growth cycle, says English, with some areas like the underarm, lower legs and bikini area taking up to 16 months for results in some cases.

“Braun recommends a start-up phase of four to 12 weekly treatments to achieve optimum results,” English said of the device she uses.

“If you no longer see hair growing, you do not need to complete the full 12 weekly treatments. You can switch to monthly maintenance treatments. I’m at the 10-week mark for my lower legs, and I only have a few hairs growing back here and there. It’s super important to be consistent with the IPL so you can see the results you hoped for! I can’t wait!”

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