Let me start by saying that I’ve heard IPL horror stories from friends that left me more than skeptical. Not one, but two girlfriends had their melasma become aggravated from the treatment. I didn’t know if I was a candidate for melasma, but I didn’t want to find out after my first IPL, that’s for sure.

So what led me to become an IPL fanatic then? Believe it or not, it was comments on this youtube video I made about beating rosacea. IPL as a rosacea remedy came up as a consistent theme. And while my rosacea has thankfully ceased to exist, I still had some permanent redness in my cheeks from broken capillaries that I was not a fan of. But what really put me over the edge for trying IPL was when my medspa RN told me that IPL was a great way to correct the sun damage on my chest. HAL-LE-LU-JA

At 31, my chest looks ancient. Easily the chest of a 50 year old. Or at least someone in their mid 40s. Wrinkley, rough texture, covered in freckles and uneven skintone. I’m a recovering sun-aholic. Well, and a tanning bed-aholic. And I’m ashamed to say that I’ve had too many chest sun burns to count. Real burns, the kind that blister and peel. Sigh.

So when IPL was suggested to treat this sun damage, I pounced at the opportunity to hopefully reverse some of this self inflicted premature aging. I immediately signed up for 2 sessions of IPL, spaced 3 months apart. And IT WORKED. IT REALLY REALLY WORKED. But IPL is not necessarily for everyone and there is some specific care, so before you get too excited.. watch & read on….

Is IPL right for you?

Good Candidate:

  • You have light skin
  • You have brown spots that you want to get rid of
  • You have sun damage in the form of freckles and uneven skintone
  • You have rosacea and/or broken capillaries
  • You have acne and/or acne scars
  • You have uneven skin tone
  • You don’t want any downtime
  • You currently don’t have a suntan on the area you’re going to treat
  • You have varicose veins

Not for You:

  • You have medium to dark skin
  • You want to get rid of deep wrinkles (should choose a more invasive laser)
  • You have melasma (the laser can cause melasma flair ups)
  • You’re looking for something drastic (maybe a chemical peel is better for you or a more invasive laser)
  • You’re taking Accutane
  • You’re pregnant

What is IPL?

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. Each pulse sends wavelengths to your second layer of skin to break up unwanted pigmentation and boost collagen production.

Pre-Procedure Tips:

  • Stop using retinol a few days before your treatment
  • Wear sunblock to avoid tanning the area you are going to treat
  • Avoid waxing the area
  • Stop taking blood thinning drugs, like aspirin, a few days before
  • No alcohol 24-48 hours before the procedure

Does it Hurt?

If you’ve ever had laser hair removal, this is way less painful. The wand will glide over the area you’re treating making little ‘zaps’. For me, the 45-minute treatment went by quick and virtually painless.


Depending on what level of intensity, you might experience some redness on the area treated, and a bit of inflammation. The inflammation, if it happens to you, is nice! It will plump up your skin and pores, giving you a youthful appearance.

That being said, some people might have more intense redness, bruising and even blistering if a very high level was used. These symptoms should subside within 10 days.

After Care:

  • Don’t pick your face! Freckles and dark spots are either metabolized by your body or pushed to the surface of your skin. If you have the spots emerging, gently wash your face to sloth them off, don’t pick or you could cause scarring.
  • Avoid the sun at all cost. I made the mistake of going to Europe after my first treatment and spending entirely too much time on a boat. The skin on my chest and face was way more sensitive after IPL and burned much easier. The skin feels new and should be treated as such!
  • Avoid using retinol products, harsh scrubs or peels for the 2 weeks following your visit.
  • Avoid alcohol for 24-48 hours (I failed on this one, yolo)

*You CAN get a hydrating facial immediately after your IPL, and I highly recommend it. You can also continue using your LED therapy.

I’m not made of $$$, how many sessions do I need?

I saw a significant change in the tone and texture of my chest after one session. I didn’t notice a huge change on my face until session 3. Although, I should mention that I was getting complimented on my skin (which never happens) quite a lot after the first two sessions. So maybe my critical eye didn’t see what others were seeing. (Here’s a video I did after session 2, look at that glowww #humblebrag). The lack of real change could be because we were conservative on the level used. It could also be because we were targeting redness in my cheeks, which requires more tending to than just zapping out some brown spots. On the 3rd session (with the level turned up to 8) I had freckles and dark spots coming to the surface of my skin like crrrrazy and noticed an overall better skintone and less permanent redness in my cheeks.

Where should I go for my IPL?

I can’t recommend Kalologie Spa on Melrose more. Cindy Ho is my skin-saving super hero and the space is adorable. Plus it’s next to Crossroads Kitchen, so you can grab a post treatment impossible burger afterwards. If you are interested in having a consultation to see if IPL is right for you (and if it’s not, find out which treatment is best for your skin needs), email Taylor at info@kalologiespa.com and tell her Chelsea sent you in. Maybe they’ll hook you up with a friend of a friend discount 😉

Before Treatment (still some remnants of spray tan, which Cindy removed prior to IPL):

Casmara goji berry Hardening Facial Mask following IPL:

Leaving the office following first appt:

Day after (no filter + completely covered like a good IPL patient):

2 Weeks After Apt 1 (filtered, but still):

2 Days after 2nd treatment, my chest stayed pink for a few days after we turned up the level for treatment 2!

After all 3 Treatments on face & 2 on chest (no filter):


Pink & White Striped Dress: TJ Maxx Find, brand Mimi Chica

Sunnies: Priv Reveaux // Hat: beaches of Uruguay

Yellow Shirt: Dollskill xx

Red Dress: Crossroads Second Hand Store Find, brand Akira

Floral Dress: Delfi Collection via Rent the Runway. Use code CHELSEA for half off your first month of unlimited at www.renttherunway.com // Woven bag: Shop Adorne

Amazon Inspo

1 Comment

  1. […] and that my at-home treatments were only temporary brighteners between my heavy duty treatments. (Like IPL, I’m […]

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