Best home IPL hair removal machines and how to use them

·13-min read

Summer is finally here and after hibernating for the past few months during lockdown without our usual salon appointment, it's time to take our hair removal into our own hands.

Whether you have previously opted for waxing or would see a specialist for your laser treatments, you may be on the hunt for a longer-lasting solution that you can do from the comfort of your own home and that's where IPL machines come in.

Eliminate razor burns, nicks, and in-growing hairs from your fuzz removal routine by switching up your traditional methods in favour of IPL that takes the fuss out of the equation.

What is IPL?

IPL – or Intense Pulse Light machines – emit pulses of light that transforms into heat as it passes through the skin. The heat is absorbed by the pigment or melanin in your hair and damages the follicle, inhibiting growth.

What is the difference between IPL and laser hair removal?

IPLs use a broad spectrum, while laser uses only a single wavelength that is more permanent but tends to be more painful.

Does IPL actually work and is it worth the money?

IPL and laser are by far the most effective methods for long-lasting hair removal and offer a more permanent solution (with a lot less effort) compared to your weekly shave.

No longer is it necessary to spend hundreds of pounds per session in a salon getting laser hair removal, at-home IPL machines have become more advanced, accessible and have just a one-off price tag.

The devices have come a long way over the years and are now quicker, easier and cheaper than heading to a clinic and can rival its success from the privacy of your own home.

Is IPL painful?

These devices need not be scary. The sensation is similar to a warm, quick pinch—it takes a little getting used to but after a few minutes most people find they can acclimatise to any discomfort.

How often should I use IPL?

The key is consistency: most will require you to use the device biweekly for anywhere from one to three months depending on the machine, and once a week thereafter.

When the hair grows back thinner and more sporadic, you will only need touch-ups every six months or whenever you start to spot regrowth.

Due to the fact that these machines require a high distinction between the hair colour and your skin tone, they work best for fair skin and dark hair. Many of the machines below should not be used on blonde, grey, white or red hair or on darker skin tones.

How to use an IPL machine

  • It may sound counterintuitive but before you use an IPL machine, you will need to shave. Shaving rather than waxing prior to use is important ​as IPL works to deactivate the hair follicle whereas waxing, epilating or plucking will pull the hair from the follicles that you are trying to target. So once you've started your course, you shouldn't go back to any of the aforementioned methods.

  • Always do a patch test before you complete the treatment to see how your skin will react. If skin feels sensitive after, apply moisturiser or Aloe Vera.

  • Some of the machines come with eye protection but if not, it is important to invest in goggles to reduce light exposure to your eyes.

  • In one session, try not to go over the same area multiple times

  • You should not use an IPL machine on tanned skin as this can cause discolouration or pigmentation. Winter is an excellent season to commit to an IPL regime as you are less likely to be exposed to the sun.

Although this may seem like a lot to take in, these devices are actually very straightforward with a simple point and shoot technique. After only a few months, you will have a long-lasting solution for a smooth, hairless feel all year round.

The market is flooded with options from big brands like Philips, Braun and many more, so we’ve done the hard work for you and gathered the latest and greatest in hair reduction technology.

Shop now.

SmoothSkin Muse Intelligent IPL Hair Removal System

This may just be one of the most simple and easy to use beauty gadgets that we've ever tried and is an absolute game changer for your long-term hair removal goals.

The award-winning IPL machine has a sleek black design with gold flecked detail and comes in a silky material pouch.

Here's what you need to know: use it once a week for 12 weeks and then you will only need to top up when necessary. In just six weeks we found hair appeared far thinner and more sporadic.

On the foolproof device itself, there are only two buttons. One to turn it on and a feather symbol for gentle mode. During our testing we did not find this process to be at all painful but you may want to apply the feather in sensitive areas like your bikini line or underarms – but bare in mind that it makes it less powerful and so you may need more sessions.

Another notable feature of the SmoothSkin IPL machine is the absence of a heat up time at all, once the device is plugged in and turned on, you are ready to go. However, it cannot be used wirelessly.

It has a built in sensor with a 10 light display that represents the intensity. The number of lights depends on your skin tone but the SmoothSkin IPL machine will automatically adapt and select the appropriate setting for you—10 being representative of especially fair complexions so there really is nothing you need to do bar point and shoot.

To cover larger areas quickly simply hold the button and move gradually down. For full body, it only takes around 20 minutes. No pain, all gain.

£339.99 | Current Body | Buy it now *On sale now to £315

Philips Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Remover

The Philips Lumea Prestige is one of the most popular IPL hair removal machines on the market and there is good reason for that. The all-rounder is the brand’s most powerful model and will ensure unwanted hair has met its match with smart features and a tailored program for every part of the body.

The Lumea Prestige comes with handy attachments for your body, face and precision areas like your bikini line or underarm and features a SmartSkin sensor that automatically sets the intensity based on skin tone and the sensitivity of those areas.

It should only be used on naturally dark blonde, brown and black coloured hairs, which you specify based on a scale provided.

Skin should be hairless before use but opt for a razor over waxing or epilating for increased performance. Apply the window directly against your skin and press the button for the light to flash.

It automatically assess suitability for use as a type of safety check and will not work unless the window is placed firm and flat against your skin. You can either opt individual flashes for precision areas or reduce the overall time for larger zones like the legs by keeping hold of the button and sliding the device down the area, letting it zap as it goes. Be careful not to treat the same area twice in one session.

The removal is virtually pain less and you actually start seeing results in just three uses. It is fully charged in around an hour and a half and then can be used corded or cordless.

£399.99 | John Lewis | Buy it now

Braun Silk·expert Pro 5 PL5014 Latest Generation IPL

Let stubbly legs and prickly underarms be a thing of the past with the Braun IPL. The model has a chic white and gold design but is by no means all style over substance.

One of the most powerful models on the market, you can have near permanent hair removal in just four weeks where the remaining hair is light and thin. Just remember you need to be consistent with one session a week for six weeks.

It features a SensoAdapt sensor technology that automatically reads skin tone and adapts the intensity accordingly with 10 different levels.

Use either the stamp or glide technique depending on whether you are going for precise or time-saving. If the latter is of concern, this will be the machine for you as it takes only a few minutes to do your entire body – twice as fast compared to the brand’s previous models.

Stored in a handy pouch it also comes with a Venus razor included.

£295.78 | Amazon | Buy it now

Silk'n Infinity smooth 400K IPL device

The Silk'n Infinity uses 400,000 light pulses to give you an effective and permanent hair removal. It works to widen your pores for light to penetrate deeper into the hair follicle while also working to improve your skin texture.

The device combines both Galvanic and low energy pulsed Optical Energy light with five power settings. Galvanic energy helps with defuzzing on darker skin while Optical works best on lighter so this unique IPL machine can be applied on all skin and hair colours - including blonde, grey and red. There is a built-in sensor that determines the right pulse for your skin type and ensures compatibility.

You will be able to do your full body in less than 20 minutes using the pulse and glide method instructed by the brand. Use on your legs, arms, armpits and face painlessly with no stubble, ingrowing hairs or irritation.

The device itself is lightweight, ergonomic and so easy to manoeuvre around even in those hard-to-reach areas. It connects via bluetooth to an app where you can determine treatment plan and set up a hair removal schedule.

Get salon-level results from the comfort of own home.

£265 | Boots

Iluminage TOUCH Permanent Hair Remover

With global acclaim, the Illuminage device is designed to make your life easier when it comes to your hair removal. It works to defuzz effectively and safely with a combination of Intense Pulsed Light and Radio Frequency that is also gentle and pain-free. The IPL heats the hair follicle while the RF prevents future growth.

In just 30 minutes, you can permanently remove hair from your entire body as the device glides across your skin. It can be used on all types and has three different intensity levels. Use on your body (arms, legs, chest, back or stomach), face but not directly on your most intimate area and avoid the likes of tattoos and moles.

£375 | Look Fantastic

Philips Lumea Advanced IPL Hair Removal Device for Face and Body

There is a reason why Philips is one of the leaders in at-home IPL technology. The brand offers an impressive range of devices at different price points to suit all budgets where even the less expensive models - like this Advanced option - packs a powerful punch where you will notice real results after only three treatments.

The Philips Lumea Advanced was created in tandem with dermatologists to ensure it is entirely safe and fool-proof. It is built in with the label's signature SmarkSkin Sensor to determine the correct setting based on your skin tone and personalise the treatment that best suits you. There are also varying attachments for different areas of the body to offer a more bespoke, precise and gentler treatment in more sensitive areas like the armpit and bikini whereas the large body one gives you faster and more effective results. You can barely feel the pulses at all but just enough to show that it's working.

It works best on naturally dark blonde, brown and black coloured hair and all skin tones from white to dark brown but should not be used on white, grey, light or red hair or very dark skin tones as it requires greater contrast in the pigments to target the root and break the regrowth cycle.

This is not a wireless device but comes alongside a facial trimmer in a compact, handy size for quick touch-ups when necessary.

£250 | John Lewis

Panasonic ES-WH90 Cordless IPL Hair Removal System

This device from Panasonic is a safe and effective way to reduce razor cuts, in-growing hair and to optimise the hair-removal process.

There are five intensity settings and will allow you to see a significant reduction in hair growth in just eight weeks.

It can be applied on arms, underarms, bikini and even on your face. For the latter, the device can double up as both a hair removal and a godsend for your complexion as it stimulates the shedding of dead skin, leaving you looking glowy and even. The skin brightening effect was seen on dark age spots that were lightened and have noticeably faded.

Press the head on to your pre-shaved skin and glide. There is no pain, just a warm sensation when it comes into contact.

The device itself is charged in three hours and has a cordless design.

£132.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

No!No! Pro 3 Hair Removal Device

The compact size and cordless design of the No!No! Pro 3 device ensures that you can slip it into your bag when travelling so you do not need to interrupt your treatments or can do a quick top up on the go.

Patented technology uses a thermodynamic wire to transmit heat to hair. The hair is then crystallised and then just buffs off to leave your skin soft and smooth. There are three treatment level and it can be used for any skin tone or hair type.

It is fitted with an LCD screen that features a battery level indicator and can be used at any angle for both the body and face.

£160 | Very | Buy it now

Sensilight Pro with RPL Technology For Permanent Hair Reduction

This Sensilight Pro device differs from the other hair-removal machines on this list as it uses RPL - Reactive Pulsed Light – over IPL. RPL tends to be what the professionals use but you can make the most of the tech in the comfort of your own home.

The cordless device is highly effective to salon standards but remains safe. Flashes of light penetrate the skin layer and are then absorbed by the pigment in the hair shaft, heating the follicles and thus reducing hair growth.

There are six different energy levels where the recommendation button automatically adapts the intensity level to your skin tone to make it easy and simple to find the best setting.

You can use either the Pulse or Automatic Glide mode depending on whether you want a precise flash or are treating a large surface like your legs where the latter setting will ensure you won’t have to continuously press the button.

There is a precision tip included that can be used on areas like the upper lip, chin and jawline.

£249.97 | Boots | Buy it now

Also available from Current Body

Philips Lumea BRI861 Corded IPL Hair Removal Device

Stick with this device and you can have a more permanent solution to your hair removal with a gentle on skin, pain-free process.

After four, bi-weekly treatments, this device will leave your skin silky smooth where you will only require the occasional touch up.

It is corded but the cable is a good length so stretches a fair amount of distance. It is straightforward to use with a point and shoot technique where the larger window ensures a faster treatment and can be applied on both the face and body.

The Lumea BRI861 works effectively on natural dark blonde, brown and black hairs but is not suitable for darker skin where the device will automatically stop working if that is the case.

£170 | Amazon | Buy it now

Verdict:

These are all very effective machines but SmoothSkin Musecomes out on top. It's simple to understand and simple to use and best of all: it works.

The best IPL machines at a glance:

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