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About Intense Pulsed Light Treatments

Find out what Intense Pulsed Light is and how it works.

IPL is a light based therapy that works by targeting structures within the skin such as melanin, blood, and water in collagen with wavelengths of light to breakdown the structure and improve the appearance of the skin. The light pulses also stimulate collagen production which floods to the area plumping the skin and reducing wrinkles, resulting in a more youthful appearance.

Choosing an Intense Pulsed Light Treatment system for your business

We understand that there are lots of different companies out there telling you they have exactly what you need and that their Intense Pulsed Light Treatment machine is right for you. There are a number of features of an IPL machine that will determine its effectiveness, here we explain some of the terminology to help you make the right decision for your business.


Wavelengths are important because it affects the machines ability to target the different chromophores. The chromophores are the targets within the skin that IPL is used for. For example, the melanin in the hair during hair removal and the melanin in the skin during photo rejuvenation treatment.

The SkinBase™ IPL system can use wavelengths of between 500-1000nm. Each of the chromophores (IPL targets) will absorb different wavelengths of light. For example, the chromophore in hair removal, the melanin in the hair, absorbs red light and so all the other colours are filtered out to ensure that only the red light is used during hair removal.

Energy Density (Power)

Energy density is measured in joules per cm2, this is essentially the amount of energy delivered by the machine in each IPL pulse. SkinBase™ IPL has a capacity to deliver 110 joules/cm2 however, it is not always necessary for the machine to use its full power, in fact many treatments will require a lot less depending on hair colour, skin type etc. This is where the pulse width comes in.

Pulse Width or duration

This is simply how long the pulse lasts for, the pulse width in IPL is very different to that of a Q-switched laser machine. IPL machines operate with a long pulse duration of 1-50 milliseconds which might not seem very long but is enough to penetrate deep within the skin and produce the thermal heating required in the chromophore to cause a permanent change; removal of hair, pigmentation, or vascular lesions, for example.

Energy density + pulse width = a powerful combination

Changing the pulse width and energy density allows the machine to create the most accurate levels for each client. Using the client’s skin type and the chromophore target as a guide, the machine will work out the most effective settings for each client and each treatment to get the best possible results.

Pulse repetition

This is how long it takes for the machine to be able to fire off another pulse, in the SkinBase™ system this is 3 seconds. The length of time it takes to recharge will affect how long it takes to perform a treatment. During treatment with SkinBase™ IPL you will alternate use with the cooling cryo-handset which means 3 seconds is the perfect length of time between shots and will not slow down your treatment time.

Spot size

This is the area on the handset that delivers the pulse, this varies from machine to machine. SkinBase™ has one of the largest spot sizes at 35mm x 45mm and this enables you to cover larger areas quickly. The smaller the spot size, the more flashes required and treatment times will be increased as it will take longer to cover large areas.

The SkinBase™ IPL also features a reducer head for those times when a smaller spot size might be required e.g. patch testing. One thing to watch out for with a large spot size is that the machine has the energy density (power) to handle the large spot size. An underpowered machine with a large spot size can result in ineffective treatments.

Cryo-Handset or cooling head

The SkinBase™ IPL system has two handsets, one to deliver the IPL pulses and one to cool the skin for treatment. Cooling the skin allows higher power levels to be used whilst still maintaining your client’s comfort. In some treatments the level of cooling required can be different. For example, treating vascular lesions, too much cooling will cause the blood vessels to constrict and reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. With SkinBase™ IPL the cooling handset can be adjusted to different temperatures to maximise the results for your client. Not all machines have this feature and some machines use cooling gels and ice packs instead.

Ease of use

SkinBase™ IPL has a full colour touch screen that guides you through setting the correct treatment for your client. You won’t need to refer to a chart or diagram, simply enter your client’s details and the machine will work out the most accurate and effective levels for you.

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What Can Intense Pulsed Light Be Used For?

Permanent Hair Reduction

SkinBase™ IPL emits beams of visible pulsed light onto the skin. This light is absorbed by melanin in the hair and turns into heat energy. Providing there is sufficient melanin in the hair this heat disables the hair follicle so it can no longer produce a hair.

Permanent hair reduction is only possible if the hair is in the anagen growth phase. Only approximately 30% of hairs are in this growth phase at any one time which is why for permanent hair reduction, most areas of the body will need between 6-10 treatments. This can vary from client to client.

Intense Pulsed Light for hair removal

Which areas can be treated?

Unwanted hair can be removed from most parts of the body including legs, upper lip & chin, bikini line, underarm, back. A slight warm tingling sensation best describes the feeling experienced during a SkinBase™ IPL treatment. This is minimised further by a specially developed cryo-handset. The SkinBase™ IPL is infinitely more comfortable than most conventional methods like waxing, laser and electrolysis and many other IPL or laser systems.

IPL Advanced Treatments

Each Advanced Treatment uses a particular wavelength to target the problem areas. The treatments have fantastic results for a number of skin conditions including; rosacea, pigmentation, acne, broken blood vessels, red and blue facial veins, fine lines and wrinkles.


Scarring caused by acne is very different to any other scar as it is caused by a defecit of collagen in the particular area. After the acne has subsided, the skin needs collagen to heal and if the skin underlying the subsided acne doesn’t have any, this can lead to ‘ice pick scars’.

The SkinBase™ Advanced IPL treatment for acne not only targets the acne to prevent future outbreaks but floods the area with collagen in order for the skin to be able to heal itself properly, preventing scars and helping to reduce the appearance of existing ones.

We recommend a course of 3-4 treatments at 2-3 week intervals for best results. The treatment is pain free.

Photorejuvenation Treatment

Photorejuvenation is a broad term used to describe the treatment of photo ageing including wrinkles, pigmentation and age spots. The skin can be damaged due to a number of reasons including over exposure to the sun, hormonal changes, chemicals in soaps and shampoos and due to genetic predispositions.

The SkinBase™ IPL treatment will help to:

Reduce facial wrinkles and fine lines

Treat sun damage, age spots brown pigmentation and solar lentigines

Improve overall skin tone

Give the skin a smoother appearance

For photorejuvenation treatments, a course of 3-6 treatments, 2-3 weeks apart is recommended.


As we age, the connective tissue and collagen in our face becomes less supportive and we start to lose the ‘plumpness’ or elasticity we once had.

Our skin begins to age at 25, although most people will not see any noticeable changes until into their 30s. The SkinBase™ IPL treatment helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles by flooding the area with collagen, plumping the skin and smoothing out existing wrinkles. The extra collagen will also help the skin regain some of its youthful glow.

Vascular Lesions (including thread veins)

Thread veins are often seen on the face, cheeks and nose. They can be caused by excessive exposure to UV rays although some people are simply more susceptible to them and they can even be present from childhood. IPL therapy treats thread veins by emitting wavelengths of light that are filtered to target the haemoglobin in the thread veins or broken capillaries. The treatment causes the vein to break down over a number of days until it has disappeared.

For this treatment, as little as 1-3 sessions are usually needed with a 2-3 week interval.

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SkinBase™ is the UK’s leading provider of professional beauty machines. Over 2,200 accredited salons and spas in the UK & Ireland can’t be wrong! Our team of professionals are looking forward to speaking with you.