IPL or laser hair removal: overview of different devices

With spring just around the corner, short skirts are being taken out of the closet again. And that of course includes smooth legs. Beauty salons are overwhelmed by those who want a quick IPL or laser treatment to get through the summer smoothly. But which method or device is the best?

  • Advertising slogans
  • The principle of selective photo-thermolysis
  • Difference between laser and IPL
  • IPL devices
  • TABLE IPL devices
  • Laser devices
  • TABLE Laser devices
  • Conclusion:


Advertising slogans

If you check the websites of beauty salons, they all have the latest development in the field of laser and light, the most advanced, most powerful and safest light flash system worldwide, the most powerful and versatile device currently on the market. is for hair removal, for a more targeted and better result compared to other IPL devices. All these advertising slogans are about different devices that would ultimately all be the best. Is that right?

The principle of selective photo-thermolysis

The mechanism of action of both IPL and LASER is based on the same principle, namely selective photo-thermolysis. Light (photo) is converted into heat (thermo) to destroy the hair follicle (lysis). The melanin pigment present in the hair will absorb the light and conduct it to the hair root follicle to destroy it. It is necessary to achieve a temperature of at least 70°C in the hair root follicle to damage it irreparably so that new hairs are no longer produced.

Difference between laser and IPL

The terms LASER and IPL are often used interchangeably, but the difference lies mainly in the wavelengths used. LASER uses light of one wavelength (usually 800-810nm). IPL uses a spectrum of wavelengths (515-1200nm). With IPL, a fairly large surface can be treated while a laser removes hair by hair. While an IPL treatment can often treat almost all skin types by setting the correct wavelength, the use of the laser is limited to people with a lighter skin type and dark hair.
The table below shows some differences between IPL and laser:





Different wavelengths

1 specific wavelength per laser device

Treatment time

Short because large surface can be treated at once

Long because only a small area is treated

Skin type

Suitable for multiple skin types because wavelength can be adjusted

For light skin types with dark hair


Cheaper than LASER

More expensive than IPL

Who applies treatment

In principle it can be used by anyone

Only by specialized personnel

Pain feeling

Small pricks

More painful than IPL


IPL devices

Later in the text a table is shown with an overview of a number of existing IPL systems. Below is a brief overview of the abbreviations used.
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. There are several variants of this system on the market.

IPL Single output:

The first IPL systems marketed provide only 1 flash of light, which not only heats the hair, but also the surrounding area, creating a real risk of burning or blistering.

I²PL (second generation pulsed light):

I²Pl represents the second generation of IPL systems that use dual mode filtering that minimizes the risk of side effects compared to other systems. The dual mode filtering ensures that only the clinically relevant wavelengths (600-950 NM) are delivered to the skin.

CMP (Constant Multi Pulsed Light):

This means that each flash of light consists of a series of mini flashes, called micropulses, which can be selected depending on the skin type. These pulses are monitored up to 20,000 times per second.

VPL (Variable Pulsed Light):

Individually adjustable, multiple square pulses are generated in one flash. Ultra VPL emits a controlled flash of light that heats the hair to 70°C, but heats the surrounding skin as little as possible. There is a choice of a large number of different settings, making tailor-made treatment possible.

UPL (U-shape Pulsed Light):

IPL system in which the lamp is bent into a U-shape so that the light source can be placed closer to the skin.

FPL (Fluorescent Pulsed Light):

Works with 1 preset wavelength. The duration and frequency of exposure are adjustable.
AFT (Advanced Fluorescent Technology ):
This technology converts ultraviolet light into the optimal spectrum depending on the application.

CPL (Controlled Pulsed Light):

Slightly more modern variant of IPL. The duration and frequency of exposure are adjustable.

PPL (Precision Pulsed Light):

The PPL system works with the precision of a laser. The treatment head is made of sapphire, which directs the light through the skin more precisely. An additional filter, depending on skin and hair type, enhances this precision. A separate energy meter guarantees optimal adjustment per treatment area.

IPL + RF (radio frequency waves):

With the classic IPL method, the light must first pass through the skin, which means that a lot of energy is lost. When IPL is used with RF, the flash of light preheats the hair and the RF current uses the warm hair as a conduction to the hair follicle to destroy it. The Radio Frequency waves (RF) ensure that the deeper layers of the skin are reached, improving the effect of hair removal and skin improvement compared to equipment without Radio Frequency waves.

Photon recycling:

The ‘Photon-recycling’ process uses mirrors in the handpiece that re-capture the reflected light and return it to the treatment area for highly efficient use of energy. In contrast to the classic IPL flash light, it is possible to filter, control and evenly distribute very short flashes of light during the pulse duration.

GEM technology:

Unlike other IPL and laser devices that disperse energy within the skin, GEM technology concentrates most of the energy in a geometric area under the skin. This precise release of energy makes it possible to target hair follicles, pigment spots, veins, acne, etc. in a very targeted manner. Because the energy is concentrated, the skin does not have to be burdened with a large amount of excess energy.

TABLE IPL devices

The table below shows per device which IPL system is used, how many Joules/cm² are dosed, how large the treatment surface is, which wavelength is used and whether or not the device is certified. All described devices have a cooling system (built-in or with gel). Information about the pulse duration is not shown because, depending on the device, it is described in different ways and is therefore not comparable: sometimes a pulse duration is indicated in milliseconds, sometimes a repetition frequency is indicated in Hz or the number of pulses per second.



Energy density

Treated surface

Light spectrum / wavelength




32 J/cm²


600 – 950 nm

CE certification
FDA certification

Palomar Starlux 500

IPL or laser (depending on handpiece)

70 J/cm²


650 – 1200 nm

CE certification
FDA certification

Palomar Estelux


28 J/cm²


650 – 1200 nm

CE certification
FDA certification



28 – 128 J per flash


590 – 980 nm

CE certification



20-45 J/cm²


695 – 1200 nm

no info

NORA (Sorisa)


26 J/cm²

5 cm²


CE certification

Sensalite IPL


3 – 36 J/cm²

45.8 x 10.8mm

400 – 1200 nm

Medically certified

IPL 424-1550 (Quirumed)


10-50 J/cm²

10 x 40mm

no info

no info

ELOS aurora DS

Elos = Electro-Optical-Synergy or a collaboration between optical (IPL, Laser) and electrical (bi-polar radio frequency ) energies

45 J/cm²


680 – 980 nm

CE certification
FDA certification

Ellipse MultiFlex +

I²PL + nd:YAG laser

2-26 J/cm²


400 – 950 nm

CE certification

Ellipse Light SPT+


4 – 22 J/cm²


600 – 950 nm

CE certification

Ellipse I²PL +


2 – 26 J/cm²


400 – 950 nm

CE certification

Ellipse Microlight HR


8 – 21 J/cm²


600 – 950 nm

CE certification

Plasmalite digital V TM


70 – 90 – 140 J/cm²

7x15mm _

515, 535, 550, 580, 615 nm

CE certification
FDA certification

SHRTM (Super Hair Removal)


no info

no info

no info

CE certification
FDA certification

Photosilk (DEKA)


5 – 30 J/cm² (4.6 cm²)
1.5 – 17 J/cm² (8.3cm²)

46 x 10 mm (4.6 cm²)
46 x 18 mm (8.3 cm²)

550 – 950nm

CE certification
FDA certification

Minisilk (DEKA)


25 J/cm²

48 x 13mm (6.2cm²)
23 x 13mm (3cm²)

500 – 1200 nm

CE certification
FDA certification

Energist Ultra VPL


51 J/cm²

50 x 10mm
25 x 10mm
10 x 10mm

530 – 1000nm

CE certification
FDA certification Medical CE certification



22 J/cm²


420,520,600 – 1100, 1800 nm

FDA certification

CMP™ (Smartpulse)


20 – 100 J/cm²

50 x 16 mm
(8 cm²)

630 – 1100 nm

no info

Photonova PLS 3


90 J/cm²

2 – 3 cm²

400 – 900 nm

CE certification
FDA certification

Ecuri Record/618 hipl

GEM technology

11-22 J/cm²

15 x 50 mm (7.5 cm²)

420 – 1100 nm

FDA + CEMDD Marking (= CE Medical Standard)

CE certification : European standards and regulations. The CE marking is a guarantee that safety, health and environmental regulations have been met and that the prescribed procedures in connection with all relevant directives have been followed.
FDA : Food and Drug Administration (America). An FDA approval is a kind of consumer protection label, a sign that the equipment is safe and works.

Laser devices

LASER stands for: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
A very pure form of light energy can be generated through a process in which electrons are stimulated to release photons (light particles). This light consists of only one wavelength. The wavelength is determined by the electrons in the laser medium. This medium can be a gas (eg Argon or carbon dioxide), a liquid (paint) or a solid (ruby, alexandrite or Nd:YAG). The media mentioned are all important for dermatological and cosmetic applications.

TABLE Laser devices

The table below shows a number of laser devices, the number of Joules/cm² delivered, how large the treatment surface is, which wavelength is used and whether or not the device is certified.


Energy density

Treated surface

Light spectrum / wavelength


Sorisa 500D diode laser

40 j/cm²



CE certification

LightSheer ST diode laser

10 – 40 J/cm²

1 cm²


FDA certification

SLP multidiode laser

no info

8 x 20 x 18 inches


no info

Alexandrite laser cynosure apogee 9300* tks

50 J/cm2

12.5 – 15mm


no info

Lyra – i and yag *epd long pulse laser

5 – 600 J/cm2

1 – 10 mm


no info

Apogee * elite laser 755 and 1064 nm (combination Alexandrite and YAG)

25 – 300 J/cm2

3; 5; 7; 10; 12 and 15 mm

1064 – 755 nm

FDA certification

MedArt 435

200 J/cm²

no info


no info



The tables above provide an overview of different devices, but which device is best for you? For this it is absolutely necessary to inform yourself well at the beauty salon of your choice:

  • A decent institute will always have an intake interview with you and go through an entire questionnaire.
  • If all goes well, you can have a small test area treated for free to see if you respond well to the system. If this is not the case, choose another institute that uses a different system.
  • It is a good idea to visit different institutes so that you can determine for yourself which system gives the best results for you.
  • During the treatment period you are not allowed to pluck or wax, but shaving is allowed.
  • Do not expose your skin to the sun or a tanning bed before the treatment.
  • Always inform yourself well about the price; the specialist can give you an idea of the number of treatments required based on your skin type and hair color (usually 6 to 8 per treated area).
  • Don’t be misled by cheap rates because there is a chance that the device used has a low energy value per cm² and you will therefore need many more treatments.
  • Make sure that the person who will treat you has had proper training for the device in question.


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