Skip to main content
Log in

Are home-use intense pulsed light (IPL) devices safe?

  • Review Article
  • Published:
Lasers in Medical Science Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The domestic market for home-use hair removal devices is rapidly expanding and there are numerous intense pulsed light (IPL) products now available globally to consumers. Technological challenges for the design of such devices include the need to be cost-effective in mass production, easy to use without training, and most importantly, clinically effective while being eye-safe. However inexpensively these light-based systems are produced, they are designed to cause biological damage to follicular structures, so precautions to prevent both ocular and epidermal damage must be considered. At present, there are no dedicated international standards for IPL devices. This review directly compares three leading domestic IPL hair removal devices: iPulse Personal (CyDen, UK), Silk'n/SensEpil (Home Skinovations, Israel), and SatinLux/Lumea (Philips, Netherlands) for fluence, emitted wavelength spectrum, time-resolved footprint, and spatial distribution of energy. Although each device has a primary mechanical or electrical safety feature to ensure occlusion of the output aperture on the skin to prevent accidental eye exposure, the ocular hazard of each device has been measured to IEC TR 60825-9 standard using an Ocean Optics HR2000+ photo spectrometer for both potential corneal and retinal damage. Using established measurement methods, this review has shown that the measured output parameters were significantly different for the three systems. Using equipment traceable to national standards, one device was judged at its two highest settings to be hazardous for naked eye viewing. This investigation also reports on the significantly different pulse durations of the devices measured and considers the potential impact on safety and efficacy in the light of the theory of selective photothermolysis. Although these devices offer low-cost personal convenience of treatment in the privacy of the home, ocular safety may be inadequate in the event of primary safety mechanism failure.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Town G, Ash C, Eadie E, Mosley H (2007) Measuring key parameters of intense pulsed light (IPL) devices. J Cosmet Laser Ther 9(3):148–160

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Town G, Ash C (2009) Measurement of home use laser and intense pulsed light systems for hair removal: preliminary report. J Cosmet Laser Ther 11:157–168

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Ash C, Town G, Bjerring P (2008) Relevance of the structure of time-resolved spectral output to light–tissue interaction using intense pulsed light (IPL). Lasers Surg Med 40:83–92

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Eadie E, Miller P, Goodman T, Moseley H (2009) Assessment of the optical radiation hazard from a home-use intense pulsed light (IPL) source. Lasers Surg Med 41:534–539

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Mulholland RS (2009) Silk’n/SensEpil™ A novel device using Home Pulsed Light™ for hair removal at home. J Cosmet Laser Ther 11(2):106–109

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Alster TS, Tanzi EL (2009) Effect of a novel, low-energy pulsed-light device for home-use hair removal. Dermatol Surg 35:483–489

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Wheeland RG (2007) Simulated consumer use of a battery-powered, hand-held, portable diode laser (810 nm) for hair removal: a safety, efficacy and ease-of-use study. Lasers Surg Med 39:476–493

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Emerson R, Town G (2009) Hair removal with a novel, low fluence, home-use intense pulsed light device: preliminary Results. J Cosmet Laser Ther 11(2):98–105

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Manstein D, Pourshagh M, Anderson R (2001) Effects of fluence and pulse duration for flashlamp exposure on hair follicles. Presented at the 21st annual meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, April

  10. Roosen G, Westgate G, Philpott M, Berretty P, Nuijs T, Bjerring P (2008) Temporary hair removal by low fluence photoepilation: histological study on biopsies and cultured human hair follicles. Lasers Surg Med 40:520–528

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Caerwyn Ash is a PhD Graduate at the University of Wales and receives travel grants from the university. He also receives a salary from Cyden Ltd., Swansea, SA1 8PH, UK and has a minor stock-holding in the company.

Godfrey Town is a PhD student at the University of Wales and receives consultancy fees and travel grants from CyDen Ltd., Swansea, SA1 8PH, UK and Unilever, Trumball, CT, USA.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Godfrey Town.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Town, G., Ash, C. Are home-use intense pulsed light (IPL) devices safe?. Lasers Med Sci 25, 773–780 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: