IPL hair removal: what are the risks, and what precautions should you take?

Credits: Cosmedtec - Wikimedia
IPL hair removal: what are the risks, and what precautions should you take?
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Hair removal devices using intense pulsed light (IPL) have conquered the market, and are seducing increasing numbers of men and women who no longer want to shave or wax regularly. But what should we make of the IPL lasers intended for home use?

Photobiological risks

IPL epilators claim to eliminate hairs and slow down regrowth in a long-lasting, pain free manner. However, certain consumer societies have raised alerts about the risks associated with using such devices at home.

Certain advisory boards have been set up in parts of Europe to investigate IPL over the past few years. The results have generally been the same: we don’t yet have enough scientific evidence to properly evaluate the health effects of the rays emitted by such devices in the medium and long term.

According to a French study on ten of these types of devices, they carry elevated photobiological risks for the eyes and the skin. In fact, direct or indirect exposure of intense pulsed light to the eye can lead to irreversible destruction of certain cells in the retina.

IPL epilators: precautions to take

Studies on the IPL devices sold widely on the market have also shown that their safety measures do not adequately protect the eyes from the light rays emitted. Only two models in the ten studies were sold with a pair of protective glasses included, although one of them was unsuitable. Following the publication of the results of this study, consumer agencies recommended that manufacturers include protective glasses as a standard with IPL epilators.

Risks of burns

Certain devices can become too hot and can reach temperatures that lead to risks of burning the skin, especially if the light flashes are localised on the same area, which is often the case in home usage.

Consumers are advised to be careful not to direct the light rays on to irritated or inflamed skin, or to beauty spots, scars, tattoos, lesions, etc.

Manufacturers have also been advised to clearly indicate on the packaging that the product is not suitable for all skin types and that there are certain medical contraindications.

Professional IPL: can we trust it?

If you prefer to go to a salon for IPL sessions, have a look at the professional’s qualifications beforehand, which will give you a gauge of confidence and quality. 


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