Why your IPL / Laser isn’t working
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It is the process of using filtered light (where Ultraviolet and Infrared Wavelengths are removed) to ensure a safe progressive hair removal system. This type of semi-permanent hair removal is by far becoming the most popular form of hair removal available, but as more and more consumers are being treated, we hear more stories of IPL or Laser Hair removal not working.
We are here to tell you why.
Yes number one is Hormones. Our hormones are the main drive behind hair growth, the most common one is testosterone. In males, testosterone levels are higher leading to their facial hair growth, in women testosterone levels are commonly lower and controlled by our estrogen levels which prevent us from growing as much facial hair.
But what happens when these levels are out? The most common are hormonal conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis, these conditions are a set of symptoms due to elevated androgens (male hormones) in females leading to an array of symptoms including excessive (male pattern) hair growth.
Other hormonal conditions include puberty, pregnancy and menopause these all affect your hormone levels this is why we do not treat during puberty and pregnancy, we can however treat you during menopause as it is a common time to get excessive hair growth on the face.
Not everyone may have a hormonal condition, but just an imbalance of levels, which can cause no obvious side effects but this may be a factor of why your IPL or laser treatment is not as successful. Your technician should look out for any signs or indictors of an imbalance and if your reduction percentage is not in the normal range may refer you to your GP to get your levels tested.
#2 Machine Quality and Technician experience
Just like anything not all are created equally, the quality of machines available on the market today range tremendously from a couple of hundred dollars to tens of thousands.
When you see a big variation in pricing available for IPL/Laser treatments, the cheaper it is, often is due to the cheaper the machine used. High-quality machines are simply more expensive to run and to maintain, as with everything in life, you pay for what you get.
When choosing your treatment provider be certain that they list the name of their machines used and check it is a reputable brand.
In New Zealand there is no legal requirement to be trained before using IPL or Laser machines (Scary huh?)
Be sure that your technician is trained and should display their certification in clinic.
#3 Timing is everything
The success relies on the timing and frequency of your treatments. IPL or laser is generally performed every 6-8 weeks and is dependant on the area of the body. The reason it is vital to stick to these timeframes is the hair has 4 stages of growth, there is only one stage of growth that the IPL or treatment will successfully destroy the hair follicle (called the anagen phase).
The other difficulty is that not every hair is at the same stage of growth at that present time, this leads us to the importance of completing your full series of treatments which is typically 8 sessions for dark hair and 12 sessions for white hair (more on our white hair removal below).
If you do not complete your full course of treatments or stick to the treatment schedule provided by your IPL/Laser technician, these can both drastically effect your results. Also wasting your time and money.
#4 Hair Colour
IPL or Laser hair removal is based on the science of the light attracting to the melanin (or colour) in the hair follicle and following that colour down to the bulb, heating up and destroying the blood supply.
But what if the hair is blonde, red or white? There is not enough melanin for the light to find, hence the treatment becoming virtually ineffective?
Until now! We now have the technology to treat Blonde, red and white hair! We have one of the first IPL machines on the market that can treat light hair, this is a specialized machine with a completely different treatment process. (Read more about our White hair IPL Here).
If your treatment provider tells you they can treat your light hair, be sure their machine is capable of doing so, or if you believe that your treatment is not working, your hair may be too light to treat with a standard IPL or laser machine.
#5 Skin Colour
As IPL/Laser hair removal is using the melanin (or colour) in the hair to heat up and destroy the blood supply, what happens if your skin colour has a very high level of melanin?
Traditional IPL/Lasers are simply not able to safely treat darker skins as the light is not able to differentiate between the melanin in the hair and in the skin, this will result in burning. What often happens, is the provider, simply changes the settings on their IPL/Laser to reduce the heat, therefore reducing the chance of burning or scarring, but also making the treatment practically ineffective.
Please check with your technician that the machine they are using is actually able to treat darker skins.
All clients should be completing a Fitzpatrick Form, which is a standardised industry chart to categorise the colour of skin but also genetic/family backgrounds. These must be completed before treatment is started.
If you think any of these signs are possibly causing your IPL / laser to be ineffective please talk to your treatment provider and if you are thinking of starting a hair removal journey make sure you check that the clinic meets all the points mentioned.
The Beauty Clinic offers complimentary consultations for our IPL hair removal, come in and let us check your IPL will be a success.