IPL VS WAXING: Which Hair Removal Method Is Best For You?

IPL Hair Removal, Laser Hair Removal

IPL VS WAXING: Which Hair Removal Method Is Best For You?

Thinking of retiring from daily shaving? Or are your monthly waxing sessions proving to be a pain? If you are thinking of saying goodbye to underarm/leg/bikini hair once and for all, here’s a checklist to see if IPL permanent hair removal is for you.


First, a primer on the two hair removal techniques:


IPL stands for “Intense Pulsed Light”. It is a method of hair removal that uses light energy to permanently reduce hair growth. During IPL, pulses of light are delivered onto skin. This light energy is absorbed by hair follicles. Within the follicles, the light energy transforms into heat energy, which will damage the hair follicle at the bulb level, eventually stopping hair production.


WAXING: During waxing, a sticky wax is applied on skin. A cloth strip is placed over the wax to adhere it to skin. When the combination is ripped off, hair and accompanying dead skin cells are removed from skin. This removes the hair root, so hair regrowth takes about 3-6 weeks.





The more contrast you have between your hair and skin colour, the more effective IPL will be. Thus, IPL candidates have fair to medium-dark skin and dark hair. This allows the hair (which is darker in colour) to absorb most of the light energy that will stop hair production. When skin is fairer than hair colour, it will not absorb the light energy meant for hair.


If you have very dark skin and dark hair, there is a lack of contrast, so your skin runs the risk of absorbing the light energy, which might cause burns. In this case, waxing, though not permanent, might be a better and safer way of hair removal. Those with fair skin and light hair might need more IPL sessions to see effective results – due to the lack of pigment in their hair to absorb maximum energy from IPL.




Are you out in the sun all the time? If you are a regular sun worshipper, or if your job demands long hours of regular sun exposure, you might want to keep waxing. IPL causes photosensitivity in the treated area, and cannot be done on sun-tanned or sunburnt skin. It is best to avoid extended sun exposure for 4 weeks before IPL. After IPL, you should also avoid extended sun exposure for at least 2 weeks.




If you’re undergoing IPL, note that only hair in active growth phase has enough pigment to absorb the necessary light energy for follicle destruction. At any given time, only up to 25% of our hair is in active growth phase. Thus, repeated IPL sessions (for 6 sessions and above) every 3-6 weeks are necessary to permanently reduce hair growth in any given area. Targeted hair will fall out in about 2 weeks after an IPL session. Regrowth will be lighter and finer, and some hair might not grow out, leaving patchy areas in the duration of treatment. Once most of the hair has been targeted, the treatment area will eventually be uniformly bare.  If you cannot commit to a regular treatment schedule for at least the first few sessions, you might find your IPL treatment less effective.




Waxing can be painful, especially on sensitive spots like the Brazilian area. Most IPL treatments use a cool gel to desensitize treatment area before the light pulses are delivered. IPL shots feel like a quick sharp sting, relatively painless, except for sensitive places like the Brazilian area. Some IPL Treatments are less painful than others. For example, the Sharplight IPL uses cool tip technology which eliminates the need for messy gels, and ensures that skin is cold and numb during treatment. In any case – IPL permanently reduces hair growth in the long run – which means you won’t have to go through the same discomfort once your basic treatment sessions are done. Waxing though, is a recurring process.




Many clients who shave and even some who wax regularly can develop ingrown hair which makes skin look darker and feel bumpy. Others get red bumps in their skin and develop darker skin – likely due to the incorrect application of hot wax during waxing. IPL can help with skin lightening – so if you have darkened armpits or a pigmented bikini / Brazilian area due to regular shaving or incorrect waxing, IPL might be the way to go.




Sure, an IPL package might seem costly at first, but it delivers results in a short period of time. Compare that to the cost of a lifetime of waxing, or the time, hassle and unsightly nicks and bumps of daily shaving – where is your money and time better spent?



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Beauty experts with more than 26 years of experience in skincare and beauty services.