Light-based Hair Removal

The Ultimate Guide to Light-based Hair Removal

Last fact-checked: 3 October 2020

Light-based hair removal, also known as intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, is an effective, safe way to get rid of unwanted hair. Read on to learn more and find inexpensive treatment around the world with Medical Departures. 

What Is Light-Based Hair Removal?

Not to be confused with laser hair removal, light-based hair removal has been around since the 1990s, and the technology is similar in that they both utilize light as a method of hair removal.

The technology differs in that laser hair removal produces a single wavelength of light, whereas IPL produces a broader spectrum of wavelengths.

IPL is also used to treat skin discoloration, such as age spots, and broken capillaries.

While this is a long-lasting method of getting rid of unwanted hair, as new hair grows all the time, it may have to be something you do regularly to maintain a hair-free appearance.

Am I suitable for Light-Based Hair Removal Treatment?

Not all skin tones and hair colors are suitable for IPL. Notably:

  • The light reacts to the pigment in the hair – so the darker the hair the more likely the treatment is to work.
  • Fair hair may not respond and people with dark skin may be unsuitable because the pigment in their skin will absorb too much of the light, rather than the hair.
Other conditions that make one's skin photosensitive, thus making treatment unsuitable, are:
  • Being pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Being on certain medications
  • Having recently tanned skin
  • Menstruating

Your practitioner will be able to advise you, and they will always do a skin test before commencing any treatment to gauge any skin reactions.

How Does IPL Work?

Intense pulsed light targets pigments in the hair. Thus, the darker the hair, the more effective the treatment will be (as there is a higher amount of pigmentation in darker skin). Essentially, the light heats up the hair and follicles, causing it to die.

If your skin test shows no reaction you will be given safety goggles to protect your eyes from the light generated by the IPL machine.

Using a handpiece, the practitioner will touch your skin with flashes of light. Some machines squirt a cooling spray onto your skin at the same time.

The treatment may be a little uncomfortable, with a tingling sensation, and you may smell burning as the hair is destroyed by the heat from the light. Afterward, a soothing gel may be applied to the areas treated.

Can I Have Light-based Hair Removal Treatment Abroad?

Light-based hair removal is a suitable treatment to have abroad. It should be noted, however, that it usually takes a number of sessions to clear a given area – and this varies from person to person as to how many are required.

As a result, getting this treatment abroad may well be more effective if you travel abroad regularly or are staying somewhere for several months, otherwise it won't be worth the trip to have only one session.

Those living near the US-Mexico border or other drive-to destinations may also find that they can save on IPL treatment in the long run. 

How Much Can I Save – And What Are Some Recommended Clinics?

On average, our clients are able to save more than 50% when undergoing this hair removal treatment abroad. 

To see some of the latest prices, as well as clinic photos and patient reviews, check out these recommended global clinics for light-based hair removal:

How Do I Get Started?

Take a look at our full list of verified partner clinics offering light-based hair removal around the world. 

To book your appointment for IPL therapy at a global provider, simply follow the steps on our site to secure the best prices online. Alternatively, connect with our Customer Care Team who are on standby 24 hours a day.


Sinclair, Rodney. Thinking of laser hair removal? Here’s what you need to know. The Conversation. 1 August 2019.

Da Silva, Chantal. Thousands Of Americans Are Crossing The Border Into Mexico Every Year To Get Affordable Medical Treatment. News Week. 18 May 2019.

IPL Treatment. WebMD. 23 June 2020.