It is often mistaken that IPL and lasers are the same. IPL is an Intense Pulse Light that treats using a full spectrum of light with different scattered wave lengths, while a laser uses one specific wavelength of light.
IPL can release light over a wide wavelength range, unlike lasers, which can only deliver one specific, yet very powerful, wavelength. The importance of wave lengths is that different wave lengths are absorbed by different colors (chromophores). The color of the hair follicle is the target.
IPL and lasers both work by sending intense light energy into the hair follicles. Once the light is absorbed in the hair follicle (chromophore), the light converts to heat and destroys the hair follicle.
Lasers were developed to provide permanent hair removal solutions, where IPL was originally developed to treat a variety of skin conditions and hair loss came as a side effect. IPL targets brown pigment so its hair removal properties are limited to light skin (minimal pigment target) and dark hair (more pigment target). Patients with darker skin are much more prone to side effects when using IPL, such as burns, hyperpigmentation and other skin damage. As well, it does not effectively treat light hair, such as blond, white, grey or red hair due to the lack of pigment (target/chromophore).
Laser hair removal has proven to be much more effective and less painful than IPL hair removal. Laser targets strictly the hair follicle as opposed to the pigment surrounding the hair follicle resulting in less collateral skin damage and happier patients.
To conclude, laser hair removal is a safer and more effective alternative when seeking hair removal solutions. There is no permanent hair removal; however, permanent hair reduction can be attained successfully with both laser hair removal and IPL; the decision is yours.