Clearer Skin with IPL

Posted on July 8th, by staff in Treatments. 7 comments

Clearer Skin with IPL

Jennifer Aniston has admitted that she’s obsessed with skin products and clinical treatments.  The 44-year-old actress has said in interviews that she frequently does chemical peels and laser facials to treat the sun spots she developed after years of sun bathing. A photofacial is one such treatment that clear-faced starlets swear by. Writer Angelica Moreno gives us The Skiny on Intense Pulse Light (IPL) a.k.a “Photofacials” and “photo rejuvenation” —one of the most popular non-invasive ways to turn back the clock on your skin. 

I was having a conversation with a colleague and was dazzled her beautiful, glowing, spotless complexion. Her secret: I.P.L.  She swears it’s the best, permanent way to clear up your complexion.

Woman getting IPL on nose to reduce redness.

Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett says, “Intense Pulsed Light is used to treat overall skin tone and colour heterogencity. Brown spots, redness, blood vessels, pre size, and superficial scars can be improved. This results in skin that reflects light off of the surface more uniformly which clinically translate into skin that has more of a luminescent glow.”

How it works

IPL targets the pigmented skin patches and essentially, breaks up the concentrated colour that will then fade. Think of your skin like a patch of white tiles interspersed with the odd black tile. If you were to walk on the patch of tiles on a sunny, hot afternoon, the black tiles would feel that much hotter because they absorb more of the sun’s rays. These black tiles are like the pigmented spots on your skin and the sun is like a laser. The black tiles absorb more of the energy from the laser and eventually, are broken up. The energy of the laser is like a hammer hammering at a black tile until it cracks into multiple pieces to be swept away and replaced with new white tile. The result is a glowing complexion, like the one you had when you were just a child.

How long does it take?

Going back to the black tile analogy, some are thicker and bigger than others and are just tougher to crack. While you would see improvement after just one treatment, it may take several visits to get optimal results. It really depends on the amount of damage. My colleague with amazing skin had four treatments in total. Everyone is unique so you may need more or less. While the pigment breakdown is permanent, new sun damage can occur again. The best way to minimize future damage is to wear sunscreen with an SPF value of at least 30, and of course, limit exposure to the sun.

Does it hurt?

Many people describe the sensation of an IPL treatment like a rubber band snapping on their face. Some people also describe it like hot grease spattering on the skin. It’s not pain-free but it’s not too horrific either.

Will I have to hide my face afterwards?

No.  One of the main benefits of photofacials is there is no downtime. After treatment, the skin looks and feels a bit like a mild sunburn, a little pink and warm for a few hours but not uncomfortable. Besides avoiding the sun and scratchy washcloths and facial scrubs, you can resume normal activities including wearing makeup.

Over the next week, spots will become smaller and darker and start to shed, resembling tiny specks of black pepper. During this time, you need to be very diligent with daily sunscreen use and limiting sun exposure (hello hat!). Skin will look more even-toned, and pores will be noticeably smaller.

Can anything go wrong?

IPL works best on lighter skinned individuals. It could cause pigmentation issues in those with darker complexions or those with melasma.

Who should I see?

It’s important to note that there are a variety of IPL machines out there, some of which are medical-grade and some cosmetic-grade, which are typically found in “medi spas” and salon and spas where the service is performed by an aesthetician. While they may offer IPL at a significantly cheaper rate or in a bundle package price, it is wise to go to a dermatologist’s office. Not only will the equipment be , but also staff is better trained because they are working under the supervision of a doctor.


Ranges from $350-600 per session (it’s not cheap to have skin like Aniston!). Most people require multiple visits spaced 3-4 weeks apart. Other depigmentation treatments such as chemical peels may be recommended to achieve optimal results. This depends on the degree of pigmentation.


Try IPL on your neck, chest or back. These body parts can give away your real age when wearing a strapless dress in the summer.



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