The focused, broad-spectrum light is applied to the surface of the skin by way of either a hand-held wand or an articulated arm. This light travels through the skin until it strikes the hair shafts or the bulb (root) of the hair. The bulb is usually where the highest concentration of melanin is located, as opposed to the rest of the hair shaft. As the light is converted to heat energy, the bulb and most of the hair shaft are instantly vaporized.
The intense heat radiated by the hair also destroys the hair-producing papilla or the entire hair follicle. It is also claimed that direct light-heat conversion occurs directly in the darker colored capillaries that bring nourishing blood vessels to the follicle. Contrary to what is often claimed, photoepilation is not a permanent hair removal method but a permanent hair reduction method. This means that although IPL treatments with these devices will permanently reduce the total number of body hairs, they will not result in a permanent removal of all hair.
At any one time, not all hair follicles are ‘active’, and only active hair follicles can be affected and destroyed by the treatment. ‘Inactive’ hair follicles can be treated as they become ‘active’ over time. An average of 4-6 treatments are required to remove all hair.