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8 best home IPL hair removal devices

Want to get rid of unwanted body fuzz while cosied up in front of Netflix? An IPL hair removal device might be just what you’re after.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jan 7, 2022

woman looking in handheld mirror

We think everyone should do exactly what they want with their body hair – whether that’s de-fuzzing on a schedule, leaving it all to grow or anything in between. But if you do prefer to go hair-free, you might want to look into a home IPL machine.

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) technology has come a long way in recent years, and home IPL hair removal devices have surged in popularity over lockdown. While most home IPL devices set you back a pretty penny, they will save you money over time if you’re a regular waxer, and are much less expensive – and more convenient - than professional laser treatment at a salon.

We’ve researched the latest tech, and scoured the Mumsnet forums for real-life feedback. Here are the eight best home IPL hair removal devices to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall IPL hair removal device: Philips Lumea Prestige

A Philips Lumea Prestige device, with its attachments

Price: £324.50 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have just completed my third fortnightly treatment and it’s absolutely changed my life. I am so impressed with the results.” - FujiSakura

Much beloved by Mumsnetters, it’s hard to have a conversation about home IPL machines without someone raving about the Philips Lumea Prestige - and for good reason. As effective as it is easy to use, the Prestige uses SenseIQ technology to detect your skin tone and indicate which of its five strength settings will be comfortable for you. 

While not everyone experiences the promised visible hair reduction after three treatments, the Prestige does seem to be widely effective on a range of skin tones and hair colours. Its four intelligently designed attachments switch the device automatically to the most suitable programme for legs, underarms, bikini line and face, removing all of the guesswork for beginners, and the UV filter and safety system are reassuring features.  

Retailing at around £359, it’s the most expensive device on our list by some way, which feels like a gamble if you’re not sure it will work for you. It’s also quite large in size and can’t be used cordlessly, which may feel cumbersome when working on hard-to-reach areas. But we found there’s a plentiful supply of Prestiges on the secondhand market, which means you could pick up a lightly-used model more cheaply and see if the Prestige lives up to its considerable hype.

Pros

  • Effective on wide range of skin types and hair colours
  • Straightforward and safe to use
  • Intelligent attachments for body and face included 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No cordless mode
  • Large in the hand

Features

  • Skin tone sensor
  • Integrated UV filter
  • Four attachments for body and face

Application

Four treatments every two weeks, then touch-ups every four weeks thereafter. Has slide and flash mode for large areas, and stamp and flash mode for precision.

Specs

  • Power: Corded/mains
  • Flashes: 250,000

2. Best budget IPL hair removal device: HoMedics Duo Quartz IPL Hair Remover

A Homedics Duo Quartz IPL device

Price: £73.99 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’d like to try IPL hair removal at home, but don’t want to fork out too much until you’re sure it will work for you, this little machine is a great starting point.

It’s a compact, lightweight device that still comes with some impressive perks, despite its low price. Its atomic skin sensor will analyse your skin tone and choose which of the five strength settings are best for you, and it comes with eye protection and a small adaptor for facial hair and hard-to-reach areas.

The small size does mean that treating larger areas like the legs can be a slow process and that, overall, hair reduction results seem to take a little longer than some of the bigger, more powerful devices. But if you’re looking to dip your toe in the water of home IPL devices without breaking the bank, the Homedics model is a really solid choice.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight, so easy to hold
  • Includes adaptor for facial hair
  • Skin tone sensor
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Small window means large areas take a long time to treat
  • Not as powerful as larger, more expensive models.

Features

  • Skin tone sensor
  • Attachment for face

Application

Treatments every two weeks for 12 weeks, then touch-ups as needed.

Specs

  • Power: Cordless/Mains
  • Flashes: 300,000

3. Best IPL hair removal device for beginners: SmoothSkin Bare+

A SmoothSkin Bare+ device in black and gold

Price: £194.90 | Buy now from Amazon

“The results are fantastic. It's great being able to go to the gym/swimming without having to worry about whether I've shaved or not.” - Nbee

The SmoothSkin Bare+ combines a sleek, elegant aesthetic with extreme simplicity in design so that it looks like a luxe product while still being straightforward to use for absolute beginners.

The sensor ensures that the lamp will only flash on suitable skin tones, which is a reassuring safety feature, and the super-fast 100 flashes per minute means that even newbies will get through treatments within a single Netflix episode.

SmoothSkin says that the Bare+ is designed with extra energy for stubborn hair follicles, and it also comes with unlimited flashes so should last you a long time.

Unlike other models on the market, the Bare+ doesn’t come with any smaller attachments for delicate areas, but it does have both a glide and a stamp-and-flash mode, so you should be able to be precise where needed.

Pros

  • Compact and beautifully designed
  • Skin tone sensor won’t turn on the device unless your skin is suitable
  • Fast and unlimited flashes

Cons

  • No attachments for smaller areas
  • More frequent treatments and touch-ups recommended

Features

  • Skin tone sensor
  • Super fast flashes when in use
  • Extra strength for stubborn hairs

Application

Treatments every week for 12 weeks, then touch-ups every two to three weeks thereafter.

Specs

  • Power: Corded/Mains
  • Flashes: Unlimited

4. Best IPL hair removal device for sensitive skin: Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro5 PL5137

The Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro 5 device, with its attachment, pouch, and Venus razor and

Price: £289.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I can honestly say that it’s the best £300 I’ve ever spent. I’m so pleased I bought it.” - FinallyMrsE

If you come out of a waxing session looking like you’ve been sunburned (*raises hand*), you might feel like IPL devices will be too severe for your skin. Step forward the Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro5, which has been made with sensitive skin in mind. Instead of the five strength settings common to most other brands, the Silk Expert Pro5 comes with 10 as well as three specific gentle modes for beginners or sensitive areas.

Its SensoAdapt skin sensor continuously adjusts the setting to suit your skin as the light moves, and the powerful flashes mean larger areas are done in a matter of minutes. The Silk Expert Pro5 also comes with a smaller attachment for the face and hard-to-reach areas, and a Venus razor for prepping the skin beforehand.

It’s not the cheapest of models and it doesn’t come with the range of attachments that accompany the Philips Lumea Prestige. But the near-unanimous reviews speak for themselves: the Silk Expert Pro5 is worth the money.

Pros

  • More strength settings than any other device, plus three gentle modes
  • Skin tone sensor continuously analyses skin during use
  • Fairly compact and light in the hand

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only one attachment
  • Light lifespan is shorter than most others in our list

Features

  • UV filter
  • Continuous skin tone sensor
  • Large number of strength settings

Application

Treatments every week for four to 12 weeks, then touch-ups as needed (one to two months suggested).

Specs

  • Power: Corded/Mains
  • Flashes: 40,000

5. Best IPL hair removal device for speed: Philips Lumea Advanced IPL Hair Removal Device

A Philips Lumea Advanced device, with its attachments

Price: £219 | Buy now from Amazon

“I'm really surprised how fast and easy it was. And much quicker on legs than epilating for me.” - golightlytoday

Philips wins its second place in our list with its Lumea Advanced. Although slightly less powerful and with fewer features than the newer Prestige model, it still comes with two attachments for face and bikini line, and a precision pen trimmer for hard-to-reach areas. The Advanced uses the same skin sensor as the Prestige for safety and Philips promises you’ll be hair-free for up to three months at a time.

What the Mumsnetters on our forums really love about the Lumea Advanced is its speed: with its straightforward controls and glide mode, you’ll be whizzing through treatments in no time, even on larger areas like the legs. It’s likely you’ll need to use it more often than the more powerful Prestige, and it doesn’t come with the latter’s snazzy range of attachments, but it does come in considerably cheaper at £220. We reckon that’s a great deal.

 Pros

  • Five strength settings and automatic skin sensor
  • Super fast glide mode for larger areas
  • Two attachments for face and bikini, and precision trimmer included
  • Cheaper than the top-of-the-range models, but still very effective

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with as many attachments or strength settings as some other models

Features

  • UV filter
  • Automatic skin tone sensor
  • Two attachments
  • Accompanying app for hints and tips

Application

Treatments every two weeks for eight weeks, then touch-ups as needed.

Specs

  • Power: Corded/Mains
  • Flashes: 250,000

6. Best IPL hair removal device for bikini line: Silk’n Glide 30,000

A Silk'n Glide IPL device

Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have found it just as good as the more expensive one, so it’s a good way to start.” - Berthatydfil

Silk’n have several IPL machines currently available on the market, but we really like their compact Glide model. Despite its (quite frankly) bargainous price of £99, it still comes with five intensity settings, a glide and a pulse mode, and you can adjust the speed of the flash too – all of which make it easy to find a mode suitable for more sensitive areas like the bikini line.

Its small size also makes it much easier to handle in body crevices that are hard to reach, and the 3cm light window means you can use it with precision even on the face.

It doesn’t have the automatic skin sensor that some of the higher-end devices do, and it doesn’t come with any attachments: this definitely feels like the no-frills version of IPL. But its impressive list of features coupled with that low price means it’s both effective, more affordable and great for those harder-to-reach areas.

Pros

  • Five strength settings, glide and pulse mode and speed adjustment
  • Compact for easy reach and handling
  • Reasonably affordable, especially in comparison to most of the IPL market

Cons

  • No attachments
  • No automatic skin sensor
  • Small size means larger areas will take longer

Features

  • Five intensity settings
  • Glide and pulse modes
  • Speed adjustment

Application

Treatments every two weeks for four months, then every four weeks for three months, then touch-ups thereafter.

Specs

  • Power: Corded/Mains
  • Flashes: 30,000

7. Best IPL hair removal device for facial hair: Panasonic ES WH90 Cordless IPL Hair Removal Device

A Panasonic ES-WH90 IPL device, with attachment

Price: £194.01 | Buy now from Amazon

If unwanted facial hair is your main concern, this little gadget from Panasonic might be just what you’re after. Ergonomically shaped to ensure a good grip – essential when you need to be precise – the ES WH90 also comes with an attachment that makes it easier to direct the light exactly where you need it to go.

It’s cordless, which makes it easier to use stood up in front of a mirror, and it can also be used on the body if wanted, though it takes time to cover larger areas like legs. While there are five intensity settings to choose from, this device doesn’t have the intelligent design of, say, the Philips Lumea Prestige or the Braun Silk Expert Pro5. But if you need a precision tool to target facial hairs in particular, the Panasonic ES WH90 is a great option.    

Pros 

  • Five strength settings
  • Cordless for ease of use
  • Precision attachment great for facial hair

Cons

  • Takes longer to cover larger areas
  • More basic in design, but still quite expensive

Features

  • UV filter
  • Five intensity settings

Application

Treatments every three days for two months.

Specs

  • Power: Battery or mains
  • Flashes: 100,000

8. Best IPL hair removal device for cooling the skin: Veme Kyanite IPL Hair Removal Device

A Veme Kyanite IPL device, with its two attachments

Price: £129.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“A couple of months ago I got a Veme pulsed light machine. It's a cheaper version of the Lumea and it's been very effective.” - Honeylulu

Veme might not have the immediate brand name recognition of Philips or Braun, but its Kyanite IPL Hair Removal Device still comes with a host of features – and won’t break the bank in the process.

The clever thing about this little machine is the kyanite – a mineral found in quartz – which is built into the light window and cools the skin during the treatment. Veme say that this better protects the skin from burning and the integrated UV filter adds another safety feature.

The device comes with two attachments for face and bikini/underarm areas and works in two modes and five strength settings, so you’re sure to find something that works for you. It’s quite large in the hand, and perhaps not so elegantly designed as others on the market, but it’s a fraction of the price of the market leaders. Definitely a good find.

Pros

  • Cooling system to protect skin
  • Two attachments for face and bikini/underarms
  • Cheaper than the top-of-the-range models
  • Light has a long lifespan

Cons

  • Quite large and cumbersome to use in small areas
  • No automatic skin sensor (you choose the strength level you prefer)

Features

  • Kyanite cooling system
  • UV filter
  • Two attachments

Application

Treatments once a week for eight weeks, then touch-ups as needed.

Specs

  • Power: Corded/Mains
  • Flashes: 500,000

What is IPL hair removal?

IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. An IPL device emits beams of light that convert to heat as they pass through the skin and target the pigment (melanin) in your hair follicles. The melanin absorbs the heat, which destroys the root of the hair over time, leading to reduced hair growth.

What’s the difference between IPL and laser hair removal?

Laser hair removal uses a single, concentrated beam of light to damage the hair follicle with heat energy. IPL, on the other hand, uses a variety of light waves, making it more diffused and less powerful than laser hair removal. While this means that IPL is less effective overall, it’s cheaper for most people and safer to use at home.

Does IPL hair removal work at home, and is it safe?

It’s really important to note that IPL doesn’t work for all skin tones and hair colours. Because the light energy targets the melanin in the hair follicle, there needs to be enough of a colour difference between hair and skin for it to work properly. Darker skin will absorb the heat energy itself, which could lead to blisters and burns.

IPL works best of all on pale skin and dark blonde or brunette hair. It doesn’t work on white, grey or red hair. All IPL devices will come with a handy colour chart, so check it will work with your skin and hair tone combination before you buy.

We also recommend you read the user manual carefully and in full before you begin. IPL devices shouldn’t be used when you have a natural or artificial tan (because it decreases the colour contrast between hair and skin), so autumn and winter are good times of year to start. They can’t be used in places with tattoos or permanent makeup, and they’re not recommended for people who are pregnant, or have a history of skin cancer or skin damage from conditions like psoriasis.

However, IPL devices are carefully designed for safe, at-home usage, so if you meet the criteria and follow the instructions, you’ll be flying.

Does IPL treatment hurt?

It depends on the person! Some people report a little ‘twang’ like an elastic band flick when the light flashes. Others feel next to nothing. All the devices we’ve reviewed here come with different light strengths, and many automatically scan your skin to choose the best intensity for you. If you’re finding it too painful, you can always reduce the energy level.

Does IPL remove hair permanently?

IPL doesn’t technically remove hair permanently and beauty brands are at pains to clarify that IPL is a hair reduction, not a permanent hair removal, technique. You should follow the initial treatment schedule in full and then touch up afterwards whenever needed. However, some people do report that after months of IPL treatments, their hair stopped growing back completely.

How do I choose an IPL hair removal device?

First, you’ll need to check that your skin and hair tones are suitable for IPL. All brands publish a colour guide on their websites to say which skin and hair tones will work best. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll need a device with a large number of strength levels, so you can find one that works for you. Don’t forget you’re not able to use IPL devices with some skin conditions, on areas with tattoos or permanent makeup, or when you’re pregnant.

Price is your next consideration, as most IPL devices aren’t cheap. Market leaders like the Philips Lumea Prestige and the Braun Silk Expert Pro5 cost north of £300, but do come with more attachments, intelligent design and myriads of positive reviews, so decide whether you want to save up or go for something cheaper and less flashy.

It’s also worth thinking about where you’re likely to use the device: will you want to treat the legs, the bikini line, underarms, face, or a combination? Many devices come with specific attachments shaped and sized to make it easier to access tricky areas. If you’ll be covering large areas like legs, a bigger lamp window will get the job done more quickly, especially if the device comes with a glide and pulse mode. On the other hand, if you know you’ll just want to treat the bikini area and a few stubborn chin hairs, something smaller, lighter and more precise will be suitable.

Some devices like the SmoothSkin Bare+ come with unlimited flashes in the light bulb, but most have a certain number of flashes before the bulb – or the device - will need to be replaced. Check that the number of flashes isn’t too small for your intended use.

Think too about whether the device is cordless or will need plugging in, and whether that will work for where you want to use it.

Which is the best IPL hair removal device to buy?

We think the Philips Lumea Prestige is the best IPL hair removal device to buy. Not only is it continuously raved about in our forums, it’s so well designed, powerful and easy to adjust that even a complete beginner can use it with confidence. It’s the most expensive device on our list, which does put it out of reach for some, but there’s a large supply on the secondhand market, which makes it more affordable. In this instance, we really do think it’s worth the hype – and the price tag.

How we chose our recommendations

Our IPL hair removal device suggestions have come from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web. We researched the technology and ensured all our suggested devices came with the proper safety features. We also consulted independent review sites for opinions about products to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of IPL devices for 2021.

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

If you decided to buy something that we recommended as a result of our research, we usually (not always) get paid affiliate commission from the retailer where you make a purchase. But, if you weren't impressed with the product and decided to return it, we wouldn't make a penny.