The term Laser Hair Removal is commonly used to signify both Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) hair removal. However they are not the same.
They both work by emitting a beam of light, in the case of IPL the light has a broad spectrum while the Laser has one specific wavelength of light.
Laser uses one concentrated beam of light which will target only the pigment in the hair.
Clinics that use Laser advocate that the laser is better than IPL while IPL users say the opposite. The truth is that they are both as effective at permanent hair reduction in the hands of an experience therapist.
They both present the risk of hypo or hyper pigmentation, or burning if used by untrained operators.
Laser is slower than IPL. Because the beam of light in laser is concentrated the handpiece is smaller and it takes longer to treat the area.
Laser is more painful than IPL. On the other hand some IPL salons, because their staff may be young and inexperience or to make the treatment more comfortable for their client, use very low settings and the treatments are not as effective. If you are having IPL hair removal and you don't feel any pain at all you may be getting only a temporary reduction instead of a permanent one.
In both cases the pain is easily tolerable. It feels like a slight rubber band snap or pinprick. It is much less painful than waxing.