What You Need to Know About Offering Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacial Services in Your Esthetics Practice



If there’s one procedure that represents the best of modern esthetics, it’s the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacial, a photorejuvenation procedure that repairs the skin and creates a more radiant complexion.

Adding this procedure to your catalog of services may very well allow you to earn yourself the reputation as the foremost expert in photorejuvenation in your town or city.

What is the IPL Photofacial?

The IPL Photofacial (also often spelled fotofacial) delivers intense pulses of light to the skin. The light penetrates deep into the skin, constricting the blood vessels and stimulating the creation of collagen.

The IPL device (a small, handheld wand) delivers multiple wavelengths (broad spectrum) of light, which target the lower layer of skin (dermis). It is designed to simultaneously remove the effects of damaged and photo-aged skin while stimulating collagen growth.

This non-invasive treatment can be used on the face, hands, neck, and chest.

Enter Zip:

It is used for the treatment of:

  • Brown spots
  • Redness
  • Age spots
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Rosacea

The IPL Photofacial improves the color and texture of the skin. It eliminates discoloration, reduces pore size, and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.

How it Works

To perform the IPL Photofacial, apply a cool gel to the area being treated and ensure the patient is sitting or reclining comfortably and wearing dark glasses for protection from the light. The gel allows the wand to move easily over the skin while keeping the surface of the skin cool. Apply the IPL wand to the skin while directing light pulses to the treatment area.

A typical procedure takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and most patients complete between three and six treatments, each one about one month apart. Most patients report minimal discomfort.

At the end of the treatment, remove the gel with a warm cloth and apply a moisturizer with sunscreen. Any mild swelling can be treated by applying a cold pack for 10-15 minutes following the treatment.

The Results

Redness and pinpoint bruising may appear for a few days following the procedure. Brown spots may appear darker before they peel off within a couple days. After the initial course of treatment, most patients receive the treatment once or twice a year to maintain their results.


IPL Photofacial is not ideal for everyone. Patients with deep wrinkles and deep acne scars may benefit from a more aggressive treatment.

Clients with tanned or dark skin tone (African-Americans or those of Greek or Italian descent, for example) may not be ideal candidates for the procedure, as it may cause changes in skin pigmentation.

Pregnant women and those taking the medication Accutane should not have an IPL Photofacial.


Because there is no skin removed during an IPL Photofacial, it is often considered a safer alternative to laser resurfacing, which involves removing the top layers of skin. Unlike laser resurfacing, there is no downtime after an IPL Photofacial and fewer risks of complications.

Advanced Training and Certification in Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacials

As a licensed esthetician, you may be allowed to deliver non-ablative laser services like IPL photofacials. It is always in your best interest to contact your state licensing agency to ensure you are operating within the boundaries of your esthetician license before offering IPL photofacial services.

Many states classify laser treatments as medical treatments and the use of them is therefore limited to medical professionals, such as dermatologists. However, this is not always the case! In fact, in some states, there are no laws specifying the use of lasers. This makes the use of IPL devices by estheticians a gray area in many states.

For example, in California estheticians are strictly prohibited from using IPL devices, while in Washington State, only master estheticians are permitted to operate IPL devices.

Because of the growing popularity of IPL procedures, some states, like Oregon, have introduced new legislation addressing rules and regulations regarding their use. The Oregon legislature passed HB2642 in 2015 to create the Board of Certified Advanced Estheticians within the Health Licensing Office specifically to oversee the “safe practice of advanced non-ablative esthetics.” Practicing estheticians who want to perform IPL Photofacials must either show proof to the Board that they have been practicing non-ablative esthetics for at least 500 hours or provide proof that they have completed at least 40 hours of education related to laser theory and fundamentals and at least 24 hours of practical experience performing each modality in advanced non-ablative esthetics, including photorejuvenation, skin rejuvenation, body contouring, dyschromia reduction, cellulite reduction, hair removal, and non-ablative tattoo removal.

Still other jurisdictions, like Washington D.C., allow estheticians to perform IPL procedures for the treatment of skin, provided they are performed in a facility that employs a medical director, a clinical director, and a site director (may be the same person).

The laws are less clear in certain state, such as Massachusetts, where estheticians are allowed to use IPL devices for hair removal but not for other uses, including skin rejuvenation.

If you are permitted to perform IPL Photofacials or you require additional training to do so, you can find a plethora of training programs in intense pulsed light therapy. IPL training programs, which often result in a certificate of completion, include both theory and hands-on training:


  • Patient care
  • IPL treatment protocols
  • Patient consultation
  • Skin typing the client
  • Pre- and post-care
  • Post-treatment complications
  • Regulatory environment and safety


  • Patient consultation
  • Room setup
  • IPL settings
  • IPL technique

Some of the schools offering IPL Photofacial training include:

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