Excessive facial hair in women can cause significant psychological distress. A variety of treatment methods are available, including lasers and, more recently, intense pulsed light (IPL) sources. There are very few studies comparing laser and IPL devices. The purpose of our study was to compare a laser diode device with an IPL, using a within-patient, right-left, assessor-blinded, controlled, study design. Hair counts were made, using coded close-up photographs. Treatments were carried out on three occasions at 6-week intervals, and a final assessment was made 6 weeks following the third treatment. Patient self-assessment was also included. Nine women were recruited, and seven completed the study. Average hair counts in a 16 cm2 area before and after treatment were, respectively, 42.4 and 10.4 (laser), 38.1 and 20.4 (IPL), 45.3 and 44.7 (control). Both laser and IPL reduced the hair count substantially; laser vs control was significant at P = 0.028, but IPL vs control had P = 0.13, suggesting that more subjects or more treatments were required if statistical significance were to be achieved. Despite subjecting the patients to higher pain scores and more inflammation, laser was preferred by five patients; two preferred IPL and one had no preference.