Intense pulsed light is not a laser per se. It’s an intense light source. But so is a laser, fundamentally-speaking, albeit a far more intense light source. What makes IPL different from laser is that it directs a broad-spectrum high intensity light pulse on the skin instead of a more invasive, precisely calibrated laser beam set on a narrower, specific wavelength. In other words, IPL operates on a wider range of wavelengths and thus, one IPL machine can treat more than one condition, using special filters to remove unwanted wavelengths and keep only those required for the specific skin concern being addressed. So if a clinic or spa has an IPL machine, then it's safe to assume a variety of skin conditions as well as hair removal can be addressed whereas lasers work on a narrow wavelength range, which means a clinic may be able to only address one specific skin concern with one laser machine.
The downside of IPL is that while each individual treatment is allegedly less expensive, safer and gentler than laser, it is also less intensive and as such, the results are not quite as dramatic. Therefore, more repeat visits may be required to produce desired results.
Another consideration that may or may not affect one’s decision to undergo a photofacial is the dearth of research studying the long-term impact of IPL treatments, which is to be expected with a technology that’s younger than lasers, only in use since 1995.
Also note that a series of lifestyle measures need to be adhered to before being treated as well as after an IPL photorejuvenation session to maximize results and minimize any potential risks.