Maintenance and Touch-Ups with IPL Hair Removal Devices
Ongoing Touch-Up Hair Removal Treatments
IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal is a great cost-efficient way to achieve permanent or very long-lasting results. Both IPL and laser hair removal have gained popularity to the point that it is one of North America’s top methods of hair removal. However, with such intense results comes some pretty strict pre- and post-care. Additionally, IPL doesn’t provide instant results like some other hair removal methods such as waxing. Due to this, there are a few things to consider before even starting treatments. The main one being maintenance and touch-ups.
What is IPL Hair Removal?
IPL is often confused for laser hair removal. Laser hair removal uses concentrated laser beams of energy to damage hair follicles underneath the skin. IPL doesn’t use any kind of laser; it uses a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths. This light is less concentrated and gentler on the skin, making it a great tool to treat skin conditions as well as hair removal. IPL targets the melanin, or pigment, of individual hair follicles and uses its light technology to heat and damage the follicle. This then prevents any hair from growing from the follicle.
This method of hair removal will result in hair that grows in very slowly, thinly, and sparsely. Ultimately, the goal is to damage all the follicles in the targeted area to provide permanent hair loss. When receiving IPL hair removal treatments, it is key to remember that results won’t be instant. The rate in which your hair grows back in is completely dependent on your individual skin, hair, and follicles. Some people record seeing results in as little as three treatments, but it is common to do multiple sessions. Additionally, you will most likely need to go in for touch-ups after a few months to maintain the results of the treatment.
How Often Should I Get Treatments?
Since IPL is so popular, there are multiple options for at-home and professional devices available to the public. If you are visiting a professional, their machines are generally more powerful. This being said, you will most likely need less treatments if you are seeing a professional. However, professional treatments can be pricey. At-home hair removal devices are available for anywhere from $200 to $500 and make IPL easy and accessible.
If you are visiting a professional to perform treatments, they will analyze your skin and let you know how long you need to wait in between treatments. Typically, hair removal treatment sessions should be scheduled between 2 to 8 weeks apart. Depending on the area, this time will allow the new hair growth cycle to start. For areas on the face, the growth cycle is faster so it’s usually recommended to visit every 2 weeks. Areas where the hair takes longer to grow in will take closer to 6 to 8 weeks. If you are unsure when to come in for your next appointment, feel free to ask!
At-home devices are a little trickier since you need to be able to schedule your sessions yourself. Most devices come with thorough treatment instructions that will give you a schedule of when to conduct your sessions. For example, if you are using a device from Silk’n, you may see a schedule like the following:
- Treatments 1 to 4 should be two weeks apart.
- Treatments 5 to 7 should be four weeks apart.
- Treatments 8+ should be conducted as needed, until your desired hair removal results are achieved.
The treatment schedule above is taken from the user manual of the Silk’n Infinity Hair Removal Device, an at-home IPL device. Using an at-home device is great for touch-ups since you most likely won’t have to target the full area. Touch-ups take less time and effort than your original sessions, so it may feel more comfortable to be able to do them at home.
Different devices and brands will have different instructions. This is based on a few things: the device’s strength, energy levels, settings, etc. If your device is set to have a stronger affect, you might want to wait longer between sessions. Always refer to your specific device’s instructions before starting any at-home hair removal treatments, and make sure you’re following them for best results.
Mixing Hair Removal Methods with IPL
You may be thinking, “what’s the point if I have to let my hair grow out for weeks between treatments?” It may feel counterintuitive to not remove your body hair in between treatments, but you actually can. In between treatments, you are actually allowed to remove unwanted body hair, but by shaving only.
Shaving cuts the hair right where it comes out of the follicle in the skin, so it actually leaves the follicle fully intact. In order for IPL hair removal to work, the hair follicle needs to be intact and there should be some hair in the follicle itself. This way, the device can pick up on that pigment caused by the hair. With waxing, plucking, or threading, the hair is pulled out of the follicle completely. This leaves no pigment in the follicle for the light to target. For this reason, avoid plucking, waxing, or any other hair removal method that removes the hair from the follicle.
It is recommended to shave the night before or day of your IPL treatments. By removing grown-out hair, the device is able to detect only the pigments under the skin. It also makes the procedure less painful!
Best Practices for Maintenance Sessions
You should prepare for your IPL maintenance sessions the same way you prepared for your initial treatment. Since your total treatment time could be up to 18 months, it’s important to understand and follow proper pre-session protocol.
- During treatments and even preparing for any touch-ups, make sure you avoid any sun exposure. Your skin will be very sensitive to the sun during your initial treatments, so you’ll want to avoid the sun for your own comfort as well. Additionally, sun exposure makes IPL less effective. Since devices target pigment, having either a natural or artificial tan will make it harder for the device to differentiate between your skin pigment and follicle pigment. This makes the treatments less effective and can increase your chances of experiencing complications.
- Come to your appointment or start your at-home treatment with clean, dry skin. You might want to use a gentle exfoliant on the area before sessions, as to remove any dead skin or debris on the skin. Any kind of deodorants or moisturizers can act as a barrier for the light, especially facial moisturizers with SPF. If you are targeting an area on your face, remove all makeup as well.
What to Expect After IPL Hair Removal Treatments
Now that you’ve had your first IPL hair removal session, let’s talk about aftercare. Taking care of the area post-treatment is just as important as the prep. If you follow post-care instructions and take care of the area, you are likely to need less treatments. This means you’ll see results quicker, and spend less money if you’re seeing a professional.
- Redness and bumps are completely normal. Immediately after any IPL treatment, redness or small bumps may appear on the surface of the skin and can last up to 2 hours or longer. After treatments, the area might feel irritated, almost like a mild sunburn. You can use an anti-inflammatory topical gel on the area afterwards, or a cold compress if the sensitivity continues. Darker skin tones generally experience more discomfort than lighter skin and it may last longer.
- Cleanse the treated area gently. After each treatment, wash the area with lukewarm water and a mild unscented soap. Skin should be patted dry to prevent any further irritation.
- Dead hairs will begin to shed 5-30 days after your treatment. Any damaged follicle will naturally shed its hair after every session. This is completely normal and will happen pretty quickly. This isn’t new hair growth, but the dead hair pushing its way out of the follicle. To speed up this process, you can use a damp washcloth to gently exfoliate the skin.
- Avoid the sun after sessions. Sun expose after sessions can increase your chance of developing or worsening dark spots. Use sunscreen of at least an SPF of 25 daily to prevent any damage from the sun.
Maintenance and Touch-Ups
You should be treating each session the way you treated your first. Follow pre- and post-care instructions as directed to get the best results possible. Even with a professional, you are expected to do 6-9 sessions before you reach 80% hair loss. After those 6-9 sessions, to maintain your results, you will either have to go in for more appointments a few months later or do touch-ups at home.
Maintenance treatments are the same as initial sessions. You are expected to prepare the skin properly, and the whole are is treated with the device. Even if you have sparse hairs in certain spots, you should treat the entire area.
Having your own at-home IPL hair removal device is the best way to maintain your results. Touch-ups can be done quickly and easily at home, and maintenance sessions can go on for months or even years depending on your skin. Silk’n offers a variety of at-home devices that make maintaining and touching up easy:
- Infinity Hair Removal Device
- Flash&Go Jewel Hair Removal Device
- Flash&Go Express Hair Removal Device
- Flash&Go Pro Hair Removal Device
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Invest in an IPL Hair Removal Device
Whether you’re new to IPL hair removal or looking for tips and best practices, maintenance and touch-ups are a very important part of the IPL process. Understanding how to take care of your skin before and after treatments can directly affect how much maintenance and how many touch-ups you will need.
While professional treatments can produce slightly faster results, they can add up over the long term. For this reason, investing in at at-home IPL hair removal device will save you money from your first treatment to your last. IPL hair removal is the best form of long-lasting hair removal available, and companies like Silk’n make it easy to achieve professional-quality results at home!