- $104 for one IPL photo-facial ($249 value)
Intense pulsed light is not quite a laser and not quite an LED. Read on as we shed some light on what it can do for skin.
IPL Therapy: Smoother Skin in a Flash
The solution to skin damaged by too much sunlight is often more light. Intense pulsed light, or IPL, is often used in photofacials to counteract brown spots, broken capillaries, and other types of skin discoloration. Its bursts of broad-spectrum light energy pass through the outer layers of the skin into the dermis, where their wavelengths are absorbed by melanin, tiny blood vessels, and other sources of irregular pigmentation. (Because the system decides what cells to destroy based on color, it may not be a good option for people with darker skin.) Unlike a cosmetic laser, which uses a single wavelength of light, each IPL treatment emits light at multiple wavelengths in order to simultaneously target a variety of dermatological complaints. It’s also slightly stronger than an LED photofacial, which won’t affect pigmentation and doesn’t involve as much heat.
Each IPL treatment usually takes about half an hour, and is performed with a small handpiece that a technician presses against the skin. The sessions can involve some discomfort; many patients describe the feeling as similar to the snap of a rubber band against the skin or, less frequently, the gentle nipping of baby hummingbirds. The technician may apply a cooling gel beforehand to counteract the accompanying sensation of heat, and many IPL handpieces have cooling attachments as well.
Instead of discoloration, some IPL treatments target unwanted hair. In these cases, light energy from the handpiece is drawn to the melanin in the hair’s root. This creates a burst of heat that permanently disables any follicles that are in active growth phase.