Can I Shave Before I Have my IPL Hair Removal?

I am going to do my first IPL section in about a month, and I haven't waxed for more than 6 months and I have been shaving all this time. My question is, am I not supposed to shave my hair during this month, or its ok to shave? Is it ok if I stop shaving only 4 to 5 days before the IPL thing?

Doctor Answers 8

It's ok to shave, just don't shave 4 days prior to IPL hair removal

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Thanks for your question.

It is ok to shave, but I would recommend not shaving for 4-5 days prior to your procedure. You were right on and have a good understanding of what to do. Not shaving for 4-5 days prior to the procedure allows you to have some hair growth in the follicular bulb that will serve as a target for the IPL.

Beverly Hills Dermatologist

Shaving recommended within 1-2 days of IPL

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We disagree with both answers given so far. While it is true that you do not want to wax or pluck while undergoing IPL hair removal treatments, you absolutely want to shave the day of or the day before the treatment.

The reason you should shave the same day of treatment or the day before is that any hair above the surface of the skin can absorb energy from the IPL and thus increases the potential for a surface blister or burn. DEFINITELY SHAVE THE SAME DAY OR THE DAY BEFORE IPL HAIR REMOVAL TREATMENTS.

As an aside, if you want better results, you should consider lasers instead of IPL for permanent hair removal. Diode lasers (Lumenis Lightsheer) and long pulsed Nd:Yg lasers (Sciton, Laserscope, Palomar) are excellent choices depending on your skin type.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

It is important to shave the day of or the day before IPL hair removal

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We recommend shaving the night before Laser Hair Removal or the morning of the procedure. The device is targeting the pigment in the hair to zap it. You need a small amount of hair visible at the surface of the skin for the laser to effectively destroy the follicle. (That's why you should not wax or pluck beforehand). But any excess hair sticking out from the skin only increases pain and gives you more burning hair smell. That may be satisfying to make you think it is working, but it is uncomfortable at best. This is also why laser hair removal does not work on white or gray hair-- the hair needs to be pigmented to be a target for the laser.

Katherine Dee, MD
Seattle Physician

Hair reduction

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We advise all of our patients to shave or trim the surface hair on the skin before treatment.  Do not wax or pluck or anything that removes the hair under the skin.   This will increase the successfulness of your treatment.  Stay skintastic. 

Sandra M. Johnson, MD
Fort Smith Dermatologist

Stop shaving 2-3 days prior to treatment

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Here at Stillwater Plastic Surgery we ask that you stop shaving 2-3 days prior to your laser hair removal procedure.  The light that the laser uses to target the follicle needs to see that follicle for a successful treatment.  Therefore, slight growth is necessary.

Peter J. Capizzi, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Shaving prior to IPL

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It is usually recommended that you shave the day of or the day before your treatment. As mentioned previously, if the hairs are too long, they may absorb the energy from the IPL and increase chances of complications and possibly make the treatment more uncomfortable. In between treatments, you may shave, trim, or leave the hairs alone. It is not recommended to wax, pluck, or thread hairs in between treatments.

Shave but do not wax before IPL or laser hair removal.

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It is ok to shave before IPL treatment for hair removal. In fact, having the dark hair roots in place makes them better targets for successful IPL or laser. The hairs sticking above the surface don't add any benefit. They only distract the IPL or laser light, and take away from the treatment success. Shave two days before, not the day of, so there is no irritation in the area.

Waxing is a no-no before these treatments because if there is no hair root in place, the laser or IPL doesn't have a clear pigmented target to attack, and little effect will be achieved.

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Shaving and IPL

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I tell my patients that for the initial consult they should not shave so that I can see where the hair growth is, then a few days prior to the procedure, they can shave. It is good to see some hair growth so that the IPL can be targeted appropriately.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.