Waxing vs IPL: Which is more suitable for you?

Are you undecided between waxing and IPL hair removal treatments for getting rid of unwanted hair? 

If monthly waxing treatments turn out to be a chore for you, you might want to consider IPL. It stands for ‘Intense Pulsed Light’ and is a hair removal method that utilises light energy to reduce hair growth permanently. 

During IPL sessions, pulses of light are delivered directly to the skin (where hair grows). Hair follicles then absorb this energy. The light energy is converted into heat energy in the follicles, which damages the follicles’ bulbs, leading to halted hair production. 

The treated area will not be completely hair-free after IPL, but the remaining hair will be lighter and finer. It takes a couple of treatments to notice significant hair reduction. Minor side effects such as swelling and pigmentation (particularly in those with deeper skin tones) can occur; however, these can be resolved with sunscreen usage and medication.    

On the other hand, during waxing, sticky wax and waxing strips are used to rip off the hair and dead skin cells. The wax used can be either hot or cool, applied to skin areas with undesirable hair. This procedure removes the hair from its roots, which leaves you hair-free for three to six weeks. 

This is not a permanent hair removal solution, as hair will eventually grow back. Side effects can include pain, irritation, ingrown hair, and red spots, depending on how sensitive your skin is. 

Which Method of Hair Removal is Suitable for You?


  • You have high skin-to-hair contrast – An ideal candidate for IPL has fair to medium-dark skin and dark hair. This enables the darker-coloured hair to absorb most of the light energy, which will end hair production. If your skin is paler than your hair colour, it will not absorb the light energy meant for hair.
  • You can commit to regular sessions – If you choose to go through IPL, don’t forget to note that only hair that’s actively growing has enough pigment to absorb the required light energy for demolishing follicles. Repeated sessions of at least six and above are required every three to six weeks to cause permanent hair reduction in any given area. 
  • You are bothered by ingrown hair and pigmentation – If you wax regularly, you might experience the formation of ingrown hair, making the skin look darker than it is. You might also develop red bumps and darker patches on your skin. IPL can address these concerns by promoting skin lightening, so it’s a good option for those battling pigmentation.
    • Cost efficiency is essential for you – Choosing an IPL package may seem expensive, but you get long-term results in a shorter period. When you consider the time and money spent on temporary hair removal treatments over a lifetime, it’s a more practical option.
  • You have a low pain threshold – A majority of IPL treatments use a cooling gel to desensitise the treatment area before delivering light pulses. You might feel a sharp sting, but it’s known to be a pain-free treatment, depending on the technology used. If you have sensitive skin, this is right for you. 


  • You have a deeper skin tone and dark hair – Those with a deeper skin tone and dark hair have less contrast between their skin and hair, which is why their skin can absorb the light energy, which leads to burns. Thus, if you have a deeper skin tone, waxing is a safer method of hair removal for you, even though it isn’t permanent. 
  • You are an avid sunbather – If you spend a lot of time outdoors under the sun, waxing is a more suitable option for you, as IPL leads to photo-sensitivity in the treated area. Sunburnt and tanned skin cannot tolerate IPL treatments; hence it’s advisable not to take the risk of damaging your skin further.  
  • You are not taking isotretinoin – This medication is known to affect skin cell turnover; hence harsh treatments like waxing can lead to adverse reactions. It’s advisable to have a six-month gap between your isotretinoin intake and waxing treatment. 
  • You are a beginner to hair removal treatments – Once you learn how wax is applied, it’s relatively easy to do it on your own, at home. You can choose wax strips or hot wax, depending on your personal preference – for quick and efficient results. If you do it by yourself, it can be a swift and affordable hair removal solution. 
  • You desire slow hair regrowth – After you start waxing, you can look forward to slower hair regrowth. It takes approximately four to six weeks for your hair to grow back, and many people have reported finer hair regrowth after the procedure. Since waxing removes hair from its roots, you won’t experience any stubble either. 

Now that you know the differences between IPL and waxing, you can go ahead and book your appointment for your desired treatment! 

Do note, however, that for permanent hair reduction, IPL is an effective and affordable solution; therefore, if you meet the criteria, you shouldn’t hesitate to try it out and experience its benefits. You can achieve hair-free skin in the long run, regardless of what skin type you have. 

At Nuffield Therapeutics, we offer IPL hair removal services using our trusted Inmode Lumecca. Read more about the technology and treatment we use here