What is the difference between a diode laser and intense pulsed light (IPL)?

Diode lasers and intense pulsed light both use light to remove unwanted hair.
Unlike intense pulsed light, the laser beam is unidirectional and coherent and works on a single, specific wavelength (808 nm) that is able to pass through the skin and be absorbed by the melanin in the hair bulb, without damaging the surrounding tissue. That is why laser hair removal is painless compared to IPL hair removal and why it can be used to treat dark skin tones too and even tanned skin.
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