Blog: Hair removal IPL that's safe for darker skin

Finally, an IPL treatment that retards hair growth, yet safe for my brown skin.

Square Pulse IPL hair removal
This was a cold IPL, not a hot one that could potentially cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

When I think about hair removal treatments, I tend to think about waxing or sugaring.


While waxing or sugaring thoroughly and instantly uproots targeted hair while revealing smoother and brighter skin, these effects tend to last for two weeks or less. And I often have to wait for the same amount of time again for my hair to grow to a suitable length for it to be waxed or sugared.


I have undergone an intense pulse light (IPL) hair removal session only once before many years ago, and for good reason.


The smell of singed hair throughout the treatment was the least of it. The treatment was at times unbearably hot that I developed reddish patches on my legs which turned brown, something which I now recognise as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH occurs when your skin generates extra melanin after it has been injured or irritated or injured. Melanin is a naturally occurring pigment which gives you the colour of your eyes, hair, and skin.


Luckily the PIH took only weeks to lighten, and since then, I have never gone for another IPL session until my most recent treatment at Xpress Aesthetics.


After I have settled onto the treatment bed, Fann the therapist began shaving the hair on my legs, which was strange considering I had been keeping my hair long especially for this treatment.


She said the IPL only needs to get to the root of the hair in the skin to be effective, and applying the IPL on long hair shafts would cause them to burn and smell, which could also be unnecessarily painful and uncomfortable for the patient.


And unlike many IPLs, including the previous one I underwent, the Square Pulse IPL applicator felt cold on my skin, which made for a comfortable treatment. Fann also checked in with me every now and then if I was comfortable, but left me alone when I fell asleep.


On the fifth day after the treatment, about half of all my hair fell out, while some hair appeared to be growing. On the seventh day, although more hair fell out, and my skin felt smoother and softer than before the treatment, I decided not to wait, and waxed the remaining 30 percent or so of my hair using Veet cold wax strips I bought from Watsons.

Fast forward to today, more than three weeks since my IPL session and I have yet to see any regrowth! And my legs have been as smooth and soft as the seventh day after the treatment, without any signs of PIH.


I have also found a study of the efficacy and safety of the Square Pulse for hair removal on Indian patients with skin tones of III, IV and V on the Fitzpatrick scale who are more prone to developing PIH. No adverse events were reported in that study.


I'll definitely recommend this treatment to those who want hair removals that truly slow down hair regrowth, especially if they are prone to developing PIH.


Photo by Shah Rizal Baharudin.