What to expect after an IPL

Introduction

Oftentimes, when people hear about facial  treatments, they worry about the aftermath of what their skin may look like and fear the “healing” or “downtime”. At Elite, we love IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), or a photofacial, for many reasons: there is minimal downtime with no open skin, the treatment is effective, and you can apply your make-up right after, and carry on business as usual. 

This is a client favorite for many reasons, so keep reading for information about what to expect after an IPL. 👇 

Table of Contents

What does your skin look like immediately after an IPL?

Right after your IPL photofacial treatment, your skin may look blotchy, red, a little swollen, and you will start to notice sun spots or pigmentation darkening. It is also common for the skin to feel tight or like you have a mild sunburn. However, you can apply makeup/tinted SPF after this treatment, because there is no open skin! 

Below is an image of Ali, NP immediately after her IPL treatment.

Do's and Dont's after an IPL

It is best to always follow your provider’s post care instructions, but in general below are some do’s and dont’s after an IPL:

Do’s:

  • Wear SPF 30+ daily and reapply 
  • Hydrate and moisturize the skin often
  • Wash your face 2x daily with a gentle cleanser 
  • Be gentle with your skin, overall

Don’ts:

  • Apply hot water to the skin
  • Skip out on SPF
  • Use harsh ingredients on the skin like retinols and exfoliants
  • Pick or scratch at your skin
  • Have sun exposure on your face

Does an IPL cause the skin to be open or wounded?

No! An IPL treatment does not open the skin or cause any wounds. In fact, you can apply SPF and makeup to the skin immediately after the treatment. IPL works to diminish age/sun spots, freckles, pigmentation, red spots, and capillaries through targeted light therapy. The light energy is converted to heat energy into targeted cells which causes destruction of the damaged cells and regeneration of new cells. 

To learn more about IPL and how this treatment works, click on the button below.

Does your skin hurt after an IPL?

Like mentioned earlier, your skin may feel tight and have a sunburn feeling for up to a few hours after the treatment. In terms of “hurting”, usually the answer is no. However, everyone has different pain tolerances, but in general your skin may feel more sensitive and tight, but should not feel painful.

Can you wear makeup after an IPL?

Yes, you can apply any type of makeup or tinted SPF right after the treatment. In fact, your provider should be putting on a mineral SPF 30+ before you leave to protect your skin from the sun. As far as applying makeup after treatment is a personal choice! Makeup can be applied all throughout the healing stages too for coverage if desired.

How does the skin texture feel after an IPL?

Your skin texture will feel tight and dry after an IPL. Also, around day 2-7 you may notice a slight bumpy or rough texture as the skin is sloughing off the darkened pigmentation. Most people experience dry skin and darkening pigmentation, also known as “coffee grounds”. Once a full 7-10 days of healing is completed, your skin texture should feel smooth and healthy.

What should I avoid after an IPL?

Since an IPL does not open the skin, there are very few things that are needed to avoid after treatment. It is important to follow your provider’s post-care instructions, but in general it is best to avoid the following:

  • Sun exposure
  • Active skincare ingredients such as retinol, AHA/BHA, and exfoliants
  • Intense exercise/sweating for 24 hours post treatment
  • Scratching or picking at the “coffee ground” areas which will halt the healing process

Other than that, it is business as usual after an IPL treatment, which makes this treatments a “go-to” for many people 😊 

What products should I use after an IPL?

For best results, we recommend using a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and a mineral SPF 30+ until the skin has fully healed, then you can return to your normal skincare regime. Also, wash the skin with cool water and avoid all active ingredients such as retinol, AHA/BHA, and gritty exfoliants until the skin has fully healed around 7-10 days.

How long does it take for brown spots to fade after an IPL?

The darkened pigmentation or spots that often look like “coffee grounds” take about 7-10 days to fade or sough off. Every individual is different, though, so some may take longer to fade than others. It is best to talk with your provider to get a realistic time frame based on your treatment and to follow their post-treatment guidelines.

How long after an IPL do you see results?

Results from an IPL are gradual. You will not see improvement right away, the soonest you will start seeing positive change in the skin is 7-10 days post treatment. Final results are usually revealed around 4 weeks after treatment, though.

How many days does it take for your skin to fully heal after an IPL?

Generally, it takes the skin 7-10 days to fully heal from an IPL. This varies for each individual and their aesthetic concerns (why they are receiving the IPL in the first place). Blow is a general day-by-day time line of an IPL for pigmentation, that may help as guideline or reference: 

  1. Day 1- skin is red, blotchy, has a sunburn feeling and darkening of spots/pigmentation starts
  2. Day 2-3- skin is feeling tight and dry and the dark spots are looking like “coffee grounds”
  3. Day 4-6- skin is especially dry due to the dark spots starting to slough off and starting to gradually fade
  4. Day 7-10- continual sloughing and fading of dark spots, but skin is returning back to normal and is looking more even-toned, radiant, and healthy. YES!

Below are 2 images of Ali after her IPL treatment. 1st picture is showing day 4 of her healing and picture 2 is showing day 7 of her healing (with tinted SPF on). You can see how the skin quickly changes and heals from this treatment, yet still provides outstanding results!

How long do IPL results last?

IPL results are essentially permanent! That is, if we were to never go outside nor age. So, you will continue to get sun/age spots and pigmentation as you naturally age and live life (no matter how much SPF you apply). It is best to get a series of 3-6 IPL’s and then complete maintenance treatments in between. If you are struggling with pigmentation or sun spots, learn more about this condition below by clicking on the button.

How often should I get an IPL?

This is dependent on your aesthetic concerns (baseline) and your goals. Usually it is best to get a series of 3-6 4 weeks apart and then get maintenance IPL treatments to maintain your skin’s results. However, talk to a provider to see what your individualized treatment plan would be!

FYI: Did you know IPL can also tighten the skin?

IPL treatments are also known for their skin-tightening effects to the skin. How? The light that is not absorbed by the pigment scatters throughout the skin, and actually heats up the water in the tissue that creates a collagen-stimulating effect. This collagen-stimulating effect can help with diminishing fine lines and wrinkles over time and tighten the tissue overall. IPL can be done on any part of the body (i.e. neck, chest, arms, legs), too! Read more about how IPL can tighten the skin by clicking the button below.

What are other skin benefits of an IPL?

There are several skin benefits from an IPL treatment. Listed below are many more benefits of an IPL, other than just for skin discoloration or pigmentation like discussed in the blog:

  •  Acne
  • Birthmarks
  • Red stretch marks
  • Spider veins
  • Unwanted hair 
  • Freckles
  • Blood vessels 
  • Rosacea 
  • Reddend scars 
  • Sun spots 
  • Hyperpigmentation

Click the link below to learn more about what to expect from an IPL treatment

If you are located in the Lone, Tree CO area and are interested to see if IPL would be a good treatment for you, schedule a consult below and talk with one of our providers today!

IPL in Lone Tree, CO

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