07/01/2016 1:36 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

The Difference Between Laser And IPL For Permanent Hair Removal

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Shave your legs. Paint your nails. Wax your brows. Colour your hair. Being a woman (who is into grooming) can be a laborious, not to mention an expensive endeavor.

It's little wonder then that many are undertaking more permanent beauty solutions such as laser hair removal, eyelash extensions and even eyebrow tattooing.

Though the world of permanent hair removal itself can be daunting. What is IPL? Is it the same as laser? And is electrolysis is still a thing?

"Laser is a specific wavelength of light, attracted to dark pigment on and within the skin," Laser Hair Removal Expert Nikita Paul from Laser Clinics Australia told The Huffington Post Australia.

The confusion stems from the word 'laser' which is the general term sometimes used to describe most permanent hair reduction procedures that use light (including IPL), though confusingly, it is also the term most often used to describe single light therapies. Huh?

"There are two primary types of technologies designed to reduce or permanently remove unwanted hair -- Candela lasers, and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)," Paul said.

"Both methods are considered light-based treatments, however there are distinctive differences between the two.

"Lasers work by emitting one single wavelength of light, maximising laser penetration to the targeted area. IPLs emit various wavelengths of light attracted to various chromophores [the part of a molecule responsible for its color] within the skin."

IPL technology is also used for photo rejuvenation of the skin, which treats hyper pigmentation and sun damage, as well as acne. It's commonly believed that laser is more effective for hair removal than IPL.

When considering Candela lasers you need to take into account the thickness and darkness of the hair being treated. Reason being, the laser is attracted to dark pigment -- so will blast dark hairs -- but also dark skin.

This means that it is not as effective on fair hair, but that there is also a risk of burn or pigmentation in dark and tanned skins. For that reason your safest bet is to have any laser treatment performed in the cooler months. The technician won't treat fake tanned skin either, so ensure you've exfoliated thoroughly.

"Darker hair types work best and tend to get the best results. Unfortunately, blonde, silver/grey or red hair cannot be treated with laser," Paul said.

Though manufacturer of medical lasers Cynosure recently released The Icon laser -- a form of laser that is capable of treating light, fine and 'peach-fuzz' hairs. It features the 'SkinTel' melanin reader, which chooses the ideal laser setting for each skin type. This is a pretty big breakthrough and great news for blondes and the fair haired.

Electrolysis (or epilation) uses direct electric current to kill the hair follicle at the root. It is less popular, less effective and is mostly only found in personal use devices.

Regardless of the type of laser you opt for, the length of the session and the pain factor will be pretty much the same.

The sensation is akin to a repetitive rubber band snap, which feels annoying but not terribly painful. A cooling device is held over the area during treatment, which minimises any discomfort, along with protecting the skin from any thermal trauma.

"Generally speaking I recommend 8-12 treatments once every 4-6 weeks, to achieve optimum results," said Paul.

Prices vary quite significantly from salon to salon, so ask for a quote first before committing to a course of treatments.

Speaking of salons, a final word of warning -- ensure your technical is accredited and comes recommended wherever possible. Lasers are strong, powerful and can cause permanent damage.