IPL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is IPL?

IPL is a light treatment for a variety of treatments including:

  • Permanent hair reduction
  • Thread vein (spider vein) removal
  • Rosacea reduction
  • Pigmentation reduction
  • Acne treatment
  • Skin rejuvenation

Select an item from the treatment menu, left, for more details

What does “IPL” stand for?

IPL stands for “Intense Pulsed Light” because it uses an intense (bright) short pulse of light to treat various conditions.

Simply, how does IPL work?

A flash of light is used to heat the target condition, causing it to break down, and be absorbed by the body. The trick is to make sure that the surrounding healthy skin does not heat up too much and burn. This is achieved by setting the total amount of heat energy, the number of pulses in a single shot, the time delay between shots, and the amount of heat delivered as radio frequency energy.

How effective is IPL?

The effectiveness of IPL treatments is good, but varies from person to person, and treatment to treatment. Many people have very satisfactory results.

  • Hair Reduction: For example, it is called “permanent hair reduction” because hairs are permanently reduced. The body has many follicles and they are not all producing hairs and so they cannot be treated. At some point they can start producing hair in which case you may want to have maintenance treatments, or you might be fine with the odd hair and it can be much finer and lighter.
  • Thread vein removal: Even though an area has been treated, other thread veins can develop over time. Taking care with sun exposure, protecting your skin from the elements and being careful with not over-blowing your nose can help. It is said that a good Vitamin C supplement with help with strengthening blood vessels and therefore help prevent capillaries breaking so easily.
  • Rosacea reduction: Rosacea is caused by a number of factors including stress. This treatment will help to reduce an episode of rosacea. It can not cure rosacea.
  • Pigmentation reduction: This can be an amazing treatment to reduce pigmentation though as soon as you start to have sun exposure again it can bring back the pigment. Taking extra care with sun exposure and practising “safe sun” will delay any return.
  • Acne treatment: There are many factors including hormones. This treatment helps with the external symptoms and if in conjunction with looking at your skin care and diet this treatment can help break out of the cycle and to move forward.
  • Skin rejuvenation: Our skin is always aging, it is one of the joys of knowing we are fortunate to still be alive. IPL skin rejuvenation may help to turn back the clock but it won’t make us 21 again!

Is IPL safe?

IPL is considered a safe treatment if performed by a trained practitioner. We further minimise risks as follows:

Our 10-point risk assessment features Us Others
1. UK-sourced CE-marked equipment from SkinFirst YES ?
2. SkinFirst Manufacturer training certification YES ?
3. BMLA-approved Laser “Core of Knowledge” certification YES ?
4. VTCT Level 4 Laser & IPL Treatment certification YES ?
5. VTCT Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology certification YES ?
6. Public liability and treatment insurance YES ?
7. Free patch test and consultation YES ?
8. Use of an IPL machine with radio-frequency (RF) and cooling head YES ?
9. Pre- and post-treatment advice YES ?
10. Safety glasses/goggles and hygienically run treatment room YES ?

IPL Risks

IPL, like any treatment, can never be 100% safe, despite what others may tell you. IPL treatment has a small risk of burning (similar to sunburn) and allergic reaction, that could result in excessive pigmentation, loss of pigmentation, blistering, or in rare cases, scarring. The only completely safe option is to not have IPL treatment. Other treatments may also be available (that have their own associated risks). The IPL risks are minimised by carrying out a patch test with the settings starting at low, safe levels and increasing gradually until the target point is met without undue trauma to the skin. Side effects can still happen after the event which is why the patch test is small, in a less obvious place if possible, and then we wait anything from 24 hours to 14 days.

What does it feel like?

Some people liken an IPL shot to a small elastic band flicking onto the skin, followed by a warm sensation. People have described it as more comfortable than waxing. One reason for doing a patch test is to ensure the settings are comfortable for you. But the sensation will vary from person to person, and for some women may depend on the time of the month.

How many and how often will I need treatments?

These figures are only averages, and differ from person to person:

  • Permanent hair reduction: On average, requires 6-8 treatments that are 4-6 weeks apart (face, underarm, bikini), and 6-8 weeks apart (for arms, legs and back). Everyone is different such that some people have great results after say, two treatments, whilst hormones can have more effect on facial areas and can take around 10 sessions or more.
  • Pigmentation, veins and acne treatments: On average 3-6 treatments that are 4-6 weeks apart (acne 1-2 weeks apart). Again, results vary with some having great results after one or two sessions and others requiring more.

Figures depend on skin tone type, medical backgrounds, and individual factors. After the course of treatments have completed, most conditions may also require maintenance treatments from perhaps 6-12 months apart to every few years. Some people may find that some conditions are not successfully treated at all.

What is a consultation and patch test?

A consultation is a question and answer session where we ascertain whether you are suitable for treatment. If you are suitable, a patch test is where we carry out a test treatment on a small patch of the treatment area to see how you respond. If both are successful, then we can go ahead with a full treatment. For more details, please see the page “Patch test and consultation“.

What may prevent me having IPL treatments?

Factors that may prevent you from having IPL treatment include:

  1. Active sun exposure which means no sun tanning, sunny holidays or sun beds in the month before treatment, nor in the month after a treatment. No spray/artificial tan about 10 days before a treatment. Increased pigment in the treatment area can lead to burning; whilst sun exposure soon after treatment can lead to abnormal pigment changes as you will be more photosensitive.
  2. Medications that make you photosensitive will require delaying IPL treatment until the medication has been completed and sufficient time elapsed to clear your body.
  3. Conditions that may prevent treatment include: heart disorders, a pacemaker, blood clots, cancer (and subsequent treatment), and epilepsy. Treatments or issues, that may delay treatment, include: pregnancy, allergies, fresh botox and other injectables, scarring or tattoos in the treatment area, and certain allergies.
  4. Skin types that tolerate the sun the worst, are the best candidates for IPL! IPL hair reduction and acne treatment may not be possible on the darkest skin tones. IPL pigmentation and vascular (thread vein and rosacea) treatments may not be possible on darker skin tones.
  5. Other factors that may prevent or delay treatment include unrealistic expectations. We are open and honest about what can or can not be achieved in your time frame. We can not guarantee results and can only share our knowledge of the more common results.

How long have you been operating?

Body Beauty began in April 2010. In July 2011, Caroline was also employed by Cheshire Lasers and certified by Lynton to operate their Laser/IPL systems in hair removal, skin rejuvenation, acne removal, pigmentation removal, and thread vein removal. Since August 2015 Caroline has worked exclusively for Body Beauty. Both Ian and Caroline received their VTCT NVQ Level 4 Laser and IPL Treatments certification in November 2015.

Why is a course of treatments so expensive?

IPL treatment costs are reflected by the start-up and running costs, including:

  • A UK-sourced CE-compliant IPL machine, typically £10-£25,000
  • Limited-lifetime treatment hand-pieces, typically £1,500 each (we have three)
  • Extended training (Core of Knowledge, Level 4 IPL, Level 3 Anatomy), typically £2,000+ per person and a lot of time
  • Annual public liability and treatment risk insurance, typically £750 per person
  • Treatment room costs (rent, utilities, consumables)

Sadly, someone offering very cheap IPL rates may be due to having a substandard machine, bulbs that have not been replaced and firing weak shots, lack of training and insurance. Please feel free to check with the clinic.

Are there alternatives to IPL

  • Alternative hair removal treatments include: (a) shaving (b) plucking (epilation) (c) depilatory creams (d) electrolysis (e) waxing (f) laser. Some of these treatment may be more suitable or more effective for you.
  • Alternative pigmentation treatments include: (a) chemical peels (b) skin lightening creams (c) Laser
  • Alternative vascular treatments include: (a) Laser (b) sclerotherapy (c) electrolysis
  • Alternative acne treatments include (a) changes to your diet (b) specialist supplements (c) various medications from your GP (d) Laser

Is IPL scientifically proven?

Yes. Scientific research shows that IPL is safe and effective. This is not the same as saying that IPL is risk-free and 100% effective all of the time. Coming soon: The Science behind IPL.

Have we had IPL ourselves?

Yes. We have both had hair removal treatments, and treatments for pigmentation, and are both happy with the treatments procedures, and the results. Feel free to ask us for photos and more details!

Are you registered or licensed?

IPL practitioners do not need to be registered. Instead, we are trained and certified to NVQ Level 4 in Laser and Light Therapies, have our Core of Knowledge certificates, and are fully insured.

  • The National Care Standards Commission was abolished on 1 April 2004.
  • The Healthcare Commission was abolished on 31 March 2009.
  • The Care Quality Commission does not register IPL for cosmetic procedures (ref)
  • Most, but not all Councils, do not require registration or licensing IPL for cosmetic procedures. Our own Cheshire East Council does not require Special Treatment Licensing.

Do I have to sign a contract?

No. While some salons may make you sign a contract committing yourself to a certain number of treatments, we don’t. If you wish to stop after the treatments you have paid for, you can.