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Permanent Hair Reduction – what are you ACTUALLY getting?

Removing hairs with laser and light is all the same right? IPL, SPL, EPL… so many acronyms, so little time! You’ve probably seen plenty of these coming through on group buying sites and think you’re getting yourself a bargain – but do you really know what you’re buying? Skindeep Founder and Director, Helen Golisano, has been performing IPL hair reduction for over 12 years. Today, she sheds some light on the different types of hair reduction, and encourages consumers to do their research before buying into ‘cheap’ offers for hair removal.
“I see so many places advertising “IPL” when what they’re actually offering is something completely different – a less effective, cheaper option that requires more sessions and doesn’t achieve the results of true IPL,” said Helen.
“It may seem like a good deal on the surface, but requiring 10-12 treatments to get the same results as you should be seeing in 4-6 sessions is a waste of your valuable time, and may end up costing you more when the offer runs out.”

Types of Permanent Hair Reduction

Laser Hair Removal

A laser is a monochromatic light which targets one depth of colour. While it is an effective way of reducing unwanted hair, it’s extremely limited in how this can be achieved because the emitted light can’t be altered. For people with Fitzpatrick 1 skin type (light skin with little melanin) and dark hair, laser hair removal can work effectively. But Helen notes that due to WA regulations, this treatment can only be performed by a licensed physician, which often makes it a more expensive and less accessible option. Drawbacks: Can only be performed by a licensed physician, more expensive, only able to be performed on specific skin types. Benefits: Highly effective on one specific skin type.

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)

The original technology in the hair reduction arena, Helen is adamant that IPL remains the most effective treatment, with an 85-90% guaranteed reduction of unwanted hair. Unlike the laser, the flexibility of superior IPL technology allows the therapist to deliver light in different depths to target different hair on different skin tones.
“True IPL emits light into the hair follicle which heats the hair’s root bulb to a certain temperature, thereby destroying it,” Helen explains. “When IPL is performed at correct intervals, the treatment guarantees an 85-90% hair reduction in just four to six treatments.”
In WA, IPL therapists are recommended to obtain their nationally accredited IPL and Laser Safety Certificate, and every one of Helen’s therapists undergo extensive training to ensure the comfort and safety of every client. “We require our IPL Therapists to have a minimum of four years as a Diploma Therapist and to complete MAI Advanced Skin Training, an IPL and Laser Safety Certificate, and then work one-on-one with an experienced technician for a minimum of 3 months,” she said. “We’ve heard some horror stories about unqualified, inexperienced technicians burning clients, leaving big gaps, or extremely painful treatments – when done properly with the correct cooling procedures, hair reduction treatments should be uncomfortable, but never painful.” Drawbacks: Slightly more painful, need to wait six weeks between treatments, potential for damage if performed by an unqualified therapist. Benefits: Guaranteed 85-90% hair reduction, only 4-6 treatments required.

EPL, VPL and SPL etc etc

Variable or square pulsed light machines are often falsely advertised as ‘IPL’ – they are not the same technology and will not deliver the same results. Often called “point and shoot” in the industry, these machines were developed as a result of demand from salons to deliver “IPL technology” without the training or financial outlay of high end IPL machines. Helen explains that the technologies are vastly different, and encourages consumers to know what they’re paying for.
“EPL and similar technology are designed to be a cheaper alternative to IPL, which may be attractive on the surface. But when you’ve had 12 treatments and six months later all your hair has grown back, most clients will soon realise it’s actually not the bargain they thought they were getting.
Put simply, these machines do not heat the hair follicle enough to destroy the root bulb – they simply stun it for a short period. Clinics using this technology usually recommend clients come back on a very regular basis (around every four week), so the hairs are ‘re-stunned’ before growing back. The result of this is the need for more treatments, more time and more money – and no guarantee of permanent hair reduction! Drawbacks: No guarantee of effectiveness, more treatments required, hair follicle isn’t heated enough to destroy the root bulb (only stunned for a short time). Benefits: Can be less painful as there is not nearly as much heat being delivered, cheaper alternative.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 4.25.29 pmThe Hair Growth Cycle

The phases of hair growth are illustrated here, with the ‘anagen’ phase showing where the root bulb is active in the follicle. As the laser or light is attracted to colour, it is only at this stage where the hair reduction technology can be effective. Your hair grows at different speeds in different areas of the body. For example, the hair roots on facial hair are shallower and regenerate quicker, so the standard growth cycle is around four weeks. Underarm and bikini cycles are around six weeks, with the legs, chest and back area cycles of hair growth can be up to 10 weeks long.
“We see people coming to us who have had four or five sessions of SPL or EPL treatments over a few months,” said Helen. “There is literally no point to this – when the hair isn’t in anagen or ‘active’ phase, you’re wasting your time and money as this is simply stunning the hair not destroying the follicle! The bottom line? The hair will keep coming back.”
Helen notes that it’s important to remembers that everyone’s bodies work in different ways, so it’s imperative that the hairs are checked before starting any session. “If there is nothing happening, we will always advise you to delay your treatment a week or two to make sure you’re getting the best results,” she said.

So, what’s right for me?

Helen says that whichever treatment you choose, make sure you ask your therapist the right questions to make sure you’re getting the most out of every treatments. “Ask them to explain the hair growth cycle, and to show you which phase your hair is in.  If they’re unable to tell you, or cannot confirm that your hair is in ‘anagen’ phase – you’re at risk of wasting your treatment.”
Skindeep Medi-Spas offer IPL Hair Removal in Perth, Mullaloo, Como and Floreat.  Our therapists are rigorously trained and highly experienced to bring you the absolute best results for your skin type.  Watch the IPL Hair Removal Video View Prices and Packages

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