All About the Pulsed Light Epilator

March 10, 2022
A Dermatologist Tells Us All About the Pulsed Light Epilator

Your hair is giving you a hard time and you would like to get rid of it… How about trying the pulsed light epilator? In this article, Dr. Nina Roos, a dermatologist in Paris, tells us everything you need to know about this new way of depilating, in a more lasting and almost permanent way: how it works, which epilator to choose, the recommendations to remember and contraindications.

How does pulsed light hair removal work?

The laser, which we know well in private practice, and pulsed light (also called IPL for Intense Pulsed Light) are two types of devices that act in the same way on the hair: we send a light that will be absorbed by the black pigment of the hair. 

The locally pulsed light is transformed into heat and creates a micro burn. It is this thermal reaction at the level of the root of the hair (the bulb) which alters and slows down regrowth.

The mechanism is simple: the light is converted into heat locally to put the bulb that makes the hair sleep. From the first sessions, the hairs fall out and hardly grow back.

What is the distinction between laser hair removal and pulsed light?

Laser hair removal and pulsed light have identical actions on the hair but employ diverse techniques. The laser radiates an ultra-powerful robust light beam for theoretically enduring hair removal. 

Pulsed light is a better diffuse and less powerful light technique for home usage and semi-permanent hair reduction. 

Pulsed light is less intrusive, and confirms to be just as practical supplied that the depilated spots are regularly touched up (every 2 or 3 months after the first sessions).

Also Read: How to Protect Your Hair in the Winter

What would be your advice in choosing the device?

The dermatologist told us to favor reputable depilatory devices and well-known brands, which comply with French or European standards, with the CE marking as proof of quality.

If in doubt about hairiness or skin tone, do not hesitate to seek advice from your dermatologist before use.

You will have understood: pulsed light is the future of hair removal! By the way, at the editorial office, we approved Braun’s Silk Expert Pro 5. Its simple and quick use guarantees painless and long-lasting hair removal. 

Thanks to its SensoAdapt technology, the device automatically adjusts the intensity with each flash to ensure the right balance between efficiency and safety.

The first results are visible from 4 weeks of use. Rather encouraging for the rest of the treatment! As the flashes progress, unwanted hair grows back more slowly…then not at all. 

Thanks to its precision head, the device can be used on all areas of the body, even the most sensitive such as the bikini line or the face, which is very practical.

What are your suggestions for using pulsed light?

The skin must be light enough (I to V) to contrast as much as possible with the hair (which must be as thick and dark as possible).

If you have dark skin, you should adjust the device to softer intensity settings than for fair skin. Indeed, the pulsed light is not selective, it does not make the difference between the hair and the skin. 

It is specified on the brown, and the black and does not make any difference on the nature of the target. To sidestep burns and provide safe usage, the epilator should then be selected to a more vulnerable mode.

You must be sure that his hair is sufficiently black or dark, and thick: the root must be there on the day of the treatment. 

Before proceeding with the pulsed light treatment, you must either shave (the same day) or wax (24 hours before). 

The root will remain identifiable under the skin by the flash because these devices only detect thick and sufficiently visible targets. 

They, therefore, do not work on down, light hair, or even fine hair. The lighter the skin and the black/darker the hair, the stronger the contrast will be. Then the pulsed light technology will be all the more effective.

It is recommended that you never attempt to wax down. Whether using a medical laser or pulsed light, it is never possible to remove hair from down. 

The light only heats the down, at the risk of turning it into thick black hair! This mechanism is called paradoxical regrowth.

So do not touch the down, especially that of the face and areas of the body which are covered by ultra-fine hair. They are unstable hairs and easily stimulated by heat.

What are the contraindications?

The dermatologist advised us against using pulsed light in adolescents. It is better to wait until you are at least 20 years old to start, to ensure that the hairiness has reached maturity. Before the age of 20, hair is still in its evolution phase, it reacts badly to light.

Pulsed light hair removal is also not recommended on areas of skin that are tattooed, pierced, or with moles. Any skin lesion prevents the use of a pulsed light device.

Pulsed light hair removal is also not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

And finally, make sure you read and respect the conditions of use, there are specific precautions for people on drug treatment (chemotherapy, insulin-dependent, etc.).

Can pulsed light be used on all areas of the body?

The ideal areas for pulsed light hair removal are the armpits, the face (above the lips), the bikini area (except the mucous membranes, labia minora, and sensitive areas), as well as the lower legs. 

Beyond that, on the thighs or forearms, the results are less good. As the hairs are finer, these areas respond less well to this type of hair removal.

Finally, as specified a few lines above, pulsed light hair removal is not recommended on areas of skin that are tattooed, pierced, and/or with moles.

And a little clarification, pulsed light hair removal is also suitable for men, for the same areas, except for the beard and testicles.

Does pulsed light influence the appearance of the skin?

Surprisingly, heating the skin regularly can stimulate collagenosis, ie the production of collagen. Which can therefore have an anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and firming effect. The skin may also feel softer. And above all: about 90% of the hair is eliminated, almost permanently!

Tip and precaution: protective glasses

Our advice: equip yourself with IPL protective glasses to make the most of the sessions, without risk to the eyes.

How does pulsed light hair removal work?

Pulsed light acts locally at the root of the hair, creating a micro burn. This thermal reaction at the level of the hair bulb alters and slows down regrowth. From the first sessions, the hairs fall out and hardly grow back. 

Painless, in a few minutes, pulsed light hair removal is an effective alternative to regular hair removal and shaving. It provides almost permanent hair removal. It is a gentler method than the laser, for home use.

What are the recommendations for pulsed light hair removal?

You have to make sure you have a skin tone that is light enough to contrast with the hair. 

People with black skin will not be able to use this method. In case of dull skin, it will be necessary to set the device to a lower intensity, to avoid any risk of burning.

Before proceeding with the treatment, the area should be shaved or waxed, so that the root remains identifiable by the flash.

Be careful, above all, do not try to remove down hair, because the light will transform it into thick black hair (this is paradoxical regrowth).

Dermatologists advise against the use of pulsed light in adolescents and those under 20, on tattooed, pierced or mole areas, as well as in case of pregnancy or breastfeeding. People suffering from skin diseases, or undergoing chemotherapy will also have to give it up.

Which areas can be treated with pulsed light?

The pulsed light acts on the usual areas: half-legs, bikini line (except mucous membranes), armpits, and face (only on black hair, such as that of the mustache).

For the rest of the body, the effect would not be conclusive, since the hairs are lighter and finer. This method also works on men (except on the testicles and the beard).

Image by cottonbro via Pixabay

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Margaud Raynaud is a beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and tips with others and has a particular interest in skincare and makeup. When she's not writing about health and beauty, Margaud enjoys trying out new products and experimenting with different looks. Follow her blog for expert advice and inspiration for living your best life.

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