Flash lamp basics


Flash lamps, also called intense pulsed light and abbreviated IPL, are similar to lasers. The main difference is that where a laser uses light at only one wavelength, flash lamps use full spectrum light, often with a filter to limit the range of wavelengths. For more, please see:

Flash lamp basics


There is an article in the June or July issue of Men’s Journal about chest hair removal. It starts out by saying how it is the in thing now for men to remove their chest hair. Then they do a comparison of the different methods. They claim that intense pulsed light IPL is quicker and more efficient than laser. They also claim that it works on a wider range of skin and hair colors. But they backtrack a little bit and say it doesn’t work as well on red or blond hair.

Andrea, what are your thoughts on this? I don’t know of anyone in my area that uses IPL. My practitioner said that she heard it results in more skin damage than laser.

I wonder how close the flash lamp is held to the skin during an IPL treatment. There is a lot of power available in a 50 Joule flash lamp and can see where it may burn.

Any details would be appreciated.



Some consumers had had good luck with flash lamps. There are a couple of reasons I suggest consumers look at diodes and alexandrites to compare:

  1. There have been reports of gridlike regrowth from flash lamps.
  2. Incidents of side effects appear to be somewhat higher based on anecdotal reports.
  3. Clinical data is less complete and what little there is has been written promarily by doctors who champion the method.
  4. Several big flash lamp clinics are now out of business, notably Vanishing Point.

All these reasons add up to one good reason to do some comparison shopping with lasers before committing to flash lamps.


Thanks for the info. I didn’t realize that some flash lamp clinics have closed down. Flash lamps sound like they are in more of an experimental stage than laser. I’m glad I went with laser.

My practitioner says that their experience with the Nd:YAG laser is too new for them to come to their own conclusions about how effective it is long term compared to the diode and alexandrite lasers. The incidence of side effects has been very low.

RJC 2001


I’ve read conflicting articles on the most effective ways (laser/flashlamp) to eliminate blond hair. Which one is more effective? Also, which type of laser or flashlamp should my doctor have?


Lasers and flashlamps are not considered to be effective on blonde hair, because they require the pigment melanin to cause the heating needed to damage the follicles.

If you have blonde hair, your doctor should be telling you that you’re not a good candidate for laser or flashlamp.


I need to clarity what we me mean when we’re saying “effective”. Are you suggesting that there could be no hair reduction or that there could be marginal hair reduction? If marginal reduction, how much could be expected (5%, 15% 25%, 50%)? One more stupid question. (Sorry! I’d rather sound like a fool over the internet than with my dermatologist!) Have you heard of any developing methods for treating blonde hair that could deliver the same results as current ideal laser candidates? Thanks!!!


Laser was determined early on not to work on blonde, red and gray hair. Your hair won’t heat up without the dark pigment.

Some consumers have treated blonde hair by using a chromophore in conjunction with a laser. An early method (SoftLight) used a carbon-based lotion. Newer lotions claim to use melanin in them (such as Meladine). There is no published clinical data regarding the use of melanin-based chromophores on blonde hair. The carbon-based method has been shown to be 100% temporary in clinical trials.

In other words, there’s still no definitive answer that points to an effective solution for treating blonde hairs with laser.


Has anyone come across SpaTouch Photoepilation, How effective is this? and is it Flashlamp as in IPl or is it based on Photoepilation???


SpaTouch is a flashlamp/IPL, and not a photoepilator (though some not-so-smart people use this term, which can get confused with an old scam product).