Which Is The Best IPL Home Machine [Reviews + Top 5 Picks]?

Looking for a good quality IPL home machine for hair removal? Here’s everything you need to know about this method of hair removal, how well it works and the best IPL machines in the market.

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It’s a type of light therapy that’s not only used for hair removal but also various other applications such as collagen production and skin rejuvenation.

It’s often confused with laser hair removal but they are quite different both in how they work and their efficacy. I’ll explain more shortly.

How does IPL hair removal work?

A home IPL device emits several wavelengths of light targeted at the skin. The light is absorbed by melanin in the skin and travels to the hair root, also called the hair shaft or bulb. This is where there is the biggest concentration of melanin.

It absorbs the light energy and turns it into heat. It’s the heat that destroys the hair shaft and prevents hair from growing again.

But to work properly you have to repeat the treatment several more times until there is a long-term reduction in hair growth. This is because not all hair follicles are active at the same time. So new hair will grow over time and you’ll need to zap it at regular intervals according to manufacturer instructions.

IPL vs. Laser hair removal

In many ways laser hair removal is an upgraded version of the IPL treatment. It’s more effective in permanently getting rid of hair.

While IPL emits different wavelengths of light a laser hair remover produces a single specific wavelength. The wavelength used depends on the colour of skin and hair.

Laser hair removal is also much more versatile in terms of the skin tones and hair colours it can be used on. IPL hair removers are generally limited to fairer skin types and dark hair colours.

While laser hair removal may be more effective it’s usually not possible to do it at home. For best results and safety it’s best to get it done by a professional at a salon or spa.

An IPL hair remover on the other hand can be used very safely and effectively at home. You don’t even need any strict safety precautions such as eye protection.

Advantages of an IPL Home Machine

  • It is a safe and easy way to remove hair at home. It’s safer than laser and easier than using razors or waxing.
  • Long term hair removal after 4-8 sessions. No need to shave every morning or go waxing every couple of weeks.
  • It’s ideal for all skin types. Because it’s gentle even those with sensitive skin can use it without any burning or sensitivity.
  • Can be used on most areas of the body including the bikini area and face.


The main limitation of an IPL hair remover is that it cannot be used on all skin and hair colours. It works best on light skin and dark hair.

If your skin is on the darker side it means you have more melanin. Your skin will absorb more light and could burn. This is the same reason why you should never use an IPL device on a tattooed area.

If you hair is white or grey it doesn’t have enough melanin to absorb the right amount of light needed to heat it. An IPL device won’t be effective.

The Best IPL Home Machines [UK Market]

We compared dozens of IPL hair removers from different brands. We looked at their features and what customers had to say about how well they remove hair. Here are our top five picks: 3 from Philips Lumea IPL range and 2 from Braun Silk-Expert IPL range.

1. Philips Lumea SC2009/00 IPL Cordless Hair Removal Device

One convenient feature of this IPL hair remover from Philips is the cordless operation. It allows you to move the device easily around your face or legs. An even better feature is the versatility it provides.

For one you can use it on almost any part of your body. Yes, that includes your bikini line and even your face (just avoid your eyebrows and the general area around your eyes).

It even comes with special attachments for different areas of the body. There is one for large areas like your arms and legs, another specifically for your face and another for your bikini line.

You can also adjust the light intensity settings depending on how sensitive your skin is and how aggressively you want to target your hair.

Now, you won’t see any miraculous results overnight. As several customers have noted, it requires patience and persistence especially if you tend to have aggressive hair growth. You have to repeat the treatment every couple of weeks for around 3-6 months to see results.

After that most users find that they only need to shave their legs or armpits once every few months. Read our full review of Philips Lumea SC2009.

What we like about it:

  • Easy and safe to use.
  • Intensity settings.
  • Attachments for specific areas.

2. Philips Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Removal Device for Body, Face, Bikini & Underarms

This is an improved version of the earlier model above. It comes with 4 extra attachments (for body, underarms, bikini and face) and a smart skin sensor that ensures you are using the right intensity for your skin tone.

The body attachment is the biggest. Its large curved shape allows quick coverage on areas like your arms and legs. The other attachments are designed to provide more precise coverage on smaller curved areas like your face, underarms and bikini line.

As you shave the skin sensor constantly checks the tone of the area you are working on and recommends the best setting. This not only ensures better results it also prevents injuries.

The device can be used either corded or cordless. If you use it cordless make sure it is fully charged otherwise you’ll have to stop midway to recharge it again.

As with many other IPL hair removers it’s all about patience. Some people see quicker results while others have to wait a couple of months to see any changes. Just keep at it and after a while you’ll notice that either your hair is growing back much slower or not growing at all for months at a time.

Read our full review of Philips Lumea Prestige.

What we like about it:

  • Improved safety thanks to the smart skin sensor.
  • Can be used corded or cordless.
  • 4 attachments for specific areas of the body.

3. Philips Lumea Essential IPL Hair Removal Device for Body

The previous two Philips models are quite pricey but I think they are worth it. But if you want something cheaper, try the Lumea Essential also by Phillips.

You get the same excellent hair removal capability, ease of use and usage versatility.

There are two main operation modes. When you are working on large areas like your legs switch to the slide and flash mode. You basically just glide the device over your skin as it flashes intermittently to emit light energy.

When you are working on more sensitive or curvy areas like your bikini line or underarms switch to the step and flash mode. In this mode you are the one who decides when you are ready to release a flash by pressing a button.

In addition you can choose from five light intensity settings.

Which features won’t you get?

For one you can only use it corded. But it’s still light and small enough that moving it around your body isn’t much an issue. The cord is also long enough.

You also don’t get a smart skin sensor or special attachments for different sections of your body.

But if you just want an affordable IPL hair remover that works, the Lumea Essential is a great choice. If you want more features and faster hair removal I recommend spending a bit more on the Lumea Prestige.

Read our full review of Philips Lumea Essential.

What we like about it:

  • Easy to use.
  • Multiple skin modes and settings.
  • Ideal for most areas of the body.

4. Braun Silk-Expert 5 IPL BD 5009, at Home Corded Hair Removal System Plus Sonic Body Exfoliator

Braun Silk-Expert 5 IPL BD 5009, at Home Hair Removal System

Price and performance-wise the Brain Silk-Expert is somewhere between the low-cost Lumea Essential and the premium Lumea Prestige.

It provides a good level of versatility. You can switch between two treatment modes similar to Philips’ Slide & Flash and Step & Flash. Braun calls theirs Gliding and Precision modes. They basically work the same way as those in Philips IPL devices.

The gliding mode is for larger areas. You simply glide the device across your skin. The precision mode is for smaller and curvier areas. It works with a skin contact sensor to provide safe targeted treatment.

You can also select from three intensity modes including normal, gentle and extra.

The Silk-Expert comes with a bonus sonic body exfoliator. Read our full review of Braun Silk-Expert 5 BD 5009.

What we like about it:

  • Multiple modes and settings.
  • Easy and safe to use.
  • Bonus body exfoliator.

5. Braun Silk-Expert 5 BD 5001 IPL Hair Remover with Gillette Venus Razor

This is essentially the same IPL hair remover as the Silk-Expert 5 IPL BD 5009 above. You get the same features including two modes, 3 intensity settings and a skin contact sensor for enhanced safety.

The only difference is that this one comes with a bonus Gillette Venus Razor while the BD 5009 comes with a Sonic Body Exfoliator. Read our full review of Braun Silk-Expert 5 BD 5001.

What we like about it:

  • Multiple modes and settings.
  • Easy and safe to use.
  • Bonus Gillette Venus razor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is IPL?

Also known as Intense Pulsed Light technology, IPL is different from the laser hair removal you might already be aware of. IPL is uses a similar idea; in that it is a focused beam targeting the areas from which you wish to remove hair, but it is a bit less focussed.

Laser hair removal directs beams of light an energy at a specific, highly defined target, while IPL uses a broader light spectrum which is not as well focussed. This means that IPL treatment, although it will work for hair removal, is far more suited to cosmetic treatments, such as reducing the appearance of broken capillaries and thread veins.

IPL can be safely used on even the sensitive skin on the face, in treating things like rosacea, facial flushing, broken blood vessels, sun damage, and even wrinkles.

This type of treatment will penetrate down to the second layer of skin whilst leaving the top layer intact, so it is a treatment that will not cause visible damage to your skin.

Treatments using IPL are relatively inexpensive, and won’t cause you any more pain than the feeling of being snapped with an elastic band, so you won’t need any pain relief or analgesia. You can get it done on your lunch break and be back at work without anyone noticing anything different – apart from your newly glowing skin!

2. Is it safe to do IPL at home?

The short answer is yes, it is a safe and easy procedure to do at home. It won’t cause you any pain, and you don’t need any special equipment beyond the machine itself. The thing that you need to remember however is that it is not a quick fix. You have to use the machine consistently to see any long term results, and it will not instantly remove all hair, never to be seen again.

In fact, if you are using IPL to remove hair, you should shave the area that you are wishing to remove hair from, before you start your IPL session. After you have used your IPL device a few times, you will start to notice a real reduction in the hair that is growing.

There are, of course, factors to consider – depending on the time of year you may notice your machine being more or less effective. Also, if you are using it for issues other than hair removal, you will have to use it consistently before you really start to notice any difference in your skin tone.

3. Do at home IPL machines really work?

Like all things that promise to deliver astonishing results with very little effort on your part, you have to take the claims of IPL machines with a little scoop of salt. Yes, they work – but they do depend on the capability of the user, and their consistency.

We’ve all been there, in the flush of excitement at finding a new product that promises miracles – we use it really well for the first while, then get bored, discouraged or distracted, and stop. This really won’t work with an IPL machine!

You need to use it consistently. In order to remove hair permanently, you will need to follow the instructions and use it regularly, until you have broken the hair’s regrowth schedule. These devices work best when there is a contrast between skin and hair.

If you are dark skinned and dark haired, you would be better off going for laser treatment than an at home kit. You also need to look out for burns – gentle as this treatment is, it is still a laser, so you must take care with it and treat it with respect.

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