What we generally call hair is actually the hair shaft, the part that grows on the outside of the skin. Generally, traditional hair removal methods such as razors and depilatory creams actually remove the hair from the hair shaft but do not really affect the continued growth of hair follicles. Therefore, after a short period of time, the part underneath the skin continues to grow, and it will become a new hair shaft and needs to be shed over and over again.
The growth of hair depends on a special structure at the end of hair follicles, which contains a large number of hair matrix cells. Hair matrix cells continue to divide and multiply so quickly that the hair follicle metabolism is extremely active, and thus the hair continues to grow.
Therefore, the principle of optical hair removal at home or a beauty salon is to destroy the activity of hair matrix cells through the selective photothermal effect of photons to stop the growth of hair follicles, inhibit the continuous hair growth and thus achieve permanent hair removal. In other words, light penetrates the skin, and the hair follicle, where the most melanin is deposited inside the skin, absorbs the lightest energy, and converts it into heat energy, forming a higher temperature near the hair follicle and causing the inactivation of the hair matrix cells.
There are mainly two types of lights concerning optical hair removal — IPL and laser. You may have heard of laser hair removal before or you are just doing your laser hair removal treatment at a beauty salon, however, IPL is a new and modern alternative to the laser technique. IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light, a kind of broad-spectrum light formed by a collection of light with different wavelengths, unlike laser machines that emit a single spectrum of concentrated light in one single color.
Both methods target the melanin in the hair follicle and can provide long-lasting results. The main difference between the two is that laser hair removal has higher and more concentrated energy at a single wavelength, which effectively destroys the activity of hair follicles, but the process is very painful and the price of the equipment is exorbitant. And it is often recommended for darker skin tones and very light hair that may not be suited to IPL treatment. Although IPL devices are not as efficient as lasers, they can achieve a similar hair removal effect after repeated use, safer, less painful, and allow you to treat yourself in comfort and privacy.
For a full explanation of the differences between laser and IPL hair removal methods, turn to laser VS. IPL hair removal
But before thinking about getting an IPL hair removal device, it is important to have a basic command of knowledge of how our body hair grows. It also explains why your hair still seems to grow back during the initial treatments.
Every hair on our body has three phases of hair growth: Anagen (active stage), Catagen (short transitional phase between the Anagen and Telogen) and Telogen (resting phase preparing to reset into the Anagen stage).
The First Stage – Anagen
The Anagen phase or growing phase is the first and most visible stage of your body's hair growth cycle, lasting about 8-12 months. You can clearly tell your body hair is in this phase when it’s above the skin and ready for removal. The Anagen phase is the ideal phase to target as it has the most melanin pigment and is well situated in the follicle for the IPL to seek and destroy so that it doesn’t grow back.
The Second Stage – Catagen
Occurring between growth and rest, the hair will normally shed in the Catagen phase. During this stage, the hair follicle decreases in size and detaches from the dermal papilla. The optical hair removal device isn’t always successful when targeting the body hair in this stage of the cycle as the optical energy is unable to reach the follicle once the hair separates. But fortunately, this stage of the hair growth cycle only lasts for about several days, making it unlikely for the target body hair to be at this point during your treatments.
The Third Stage – Telogen
The Telogen phase is considered the resting stage, as after the hair has been shed it goes dormant. Unlike the other stages, the length of this phase is unpredictable. Sometimes the hair will begin to grow back in just a few days, but it can also take up to a few years. Optical hair removal isn’t possible during this stage of the hair growth cycle.
All three phases occur simultaneously. Each hair follicle is independent and goes through the growth cycle at different times, otherwise all your hair would fall out at once. At any given time about 85%-90% of your hair is in the Anagen phase, 1-2% is in the Catagen phase, and 10-14% is in the Telogen phase.
Now that you understand how the hair growth cycle works, it’s likely you can better comprehend the IPL hair removal process. Any unwanted hair being targeted by the IPL epilator will need to be in the Anagen phase. Since each individual hair is at a different point of the growth cycle, it’s important to have periodical and continuous sessions to ensure all the hair in the area has been treated.
Although IPL is certainly the pricier option with a relatively high upfront cost when comparing it to shaving or waxing, the investment will last you a significant amount of time. If you compare how many razors or depilatory cream you purchase per year, the total can be just as much, if not more than what our IPL epilator cost.
At MissPeachy, you can remove the unwanted hair that you need from all parts of your body. For any questions or general inquiries, don't hesitate to email us at [email protected]