For those who love and embrace their body hair, we say carry on living your best life, but for the people out there who prefer a more hair-free situation shaving and waxing can be itchy, time-consuming and expensive.
Enter the IPL. The what, now? The IPL! Otherwise known as an intense pulsed light hair removal device.
What is an IPL device and how do they work?
These handheld machines get rid of pesky fuzz by directing light at the hair follicle, damaging its root and stunting regrowth permanently. Glide them over bigger areas like legs or stamp them onto smaller patches such as the upper lip.
IPL devices can be pricey – expect to pay at least £200 – but they’re an investment that’ll save you money over time.
For effective results, shave before using IPL hair removal, but don’t wax or epilate. Some hair is needed for the light to target it, but longer hair makes it harder for the light to reach the follicle and also risks burning.
Who can use IPL?
The biggest downside to IPL hair removal devices is that they are only effective on hair that is a contrasting colour to the skin. People with pale to medium skin tones and dark hair will see the best results. Sadly, if you have dark skin, light hair or tattoos, IPL isn’t for you.
IPL hair removal should also be avoided during pregnancy and by anybody undergoing certain medical treatments.
How often should you use your IPL?
Most brands suggest using your IPL device regularly over the course of three months, followed by additional top-up sessions. Hair should start growing back more slowly and finely before stopping altogether.
What are the side effects?
IPL hair removal is safe, so long as you use a device from a trusted brand and follow the instructions carefully. The procedure is quick and shouldn’t hurt, but it may feel hot and tingly.
Side effects including redness and slight discomfort aren’t unusual and shouldn’t last, but blisters and burns are rare. See a doctor if you suffer an adverse reaction after use.
Which is better: IPL or laser hair removal?
IPL is not the same as laser hair removal, which uses a different, more powerful light source to target a concentrated area of body hair and permanently stop regrowth after four to eight treatments.
IPL can be done at home but laser hair removal can only be performed by a trained professional.
How we test
Our 80 testers tried out a range of the best IPL devices over 12 weeks, noting how effective they were at removing hair on the legs, underarms, upper lip and bikini line. They also assessed how long it took for regrowth to appear, how easy the device was to control, and how comfortable it felt to use.
Best IPL Hair Removal Device
Lumea Prestige IPL Cordless Hair Removal Device
This cordless IPL device was our panel’s favourite, thanks to tailored treatments and speedy results. The majority of our testers reported a major reduction in hair growth after just one month of use – and almost none after the full 12-week course. Simply click one of three attachment heads – body, face or bikini – onto the device and it’ll switch to a tailored programme for that zone, using either the stamp or slide treatment mode. Its in-built sensor identifies the most comfortable of five light settings for your skin tone. This smart, if a little bulky, machine also has an accompanying free app that lets you create a bespoke treatment schedule.
Best Compact IPL Hair Removal Device
The compact size of this neat little machine helps you reach trickier areas like behind the knees. It isn’t cordless, but it won’t take up much space in your bathroom. Those of you with sensitive skin will appreciate the built-in skin sensor that matches your skin tone to its optimum light setting. This is another device that boasts its own app – simply connect to it via Bluetooth and set up a personalised treatment plan. Our panel recommend using it for the full 12 weeks as guided, but they began noticing finer hair after the first four. It’s simple, but effective.
Best IPL Device For Sensitive Skin
IPL Silk Expert Pro 5
If you’re anxious about feeling pain, let this professional IPL device reassure you. It has 10 intensity settings – double that of most of its rivals – and a skin tone sensor to ensure peak comfort during use. It’s rapid too, treating both legs in under five minutes at its lowest setting! Our testers were wholly satisfied after completing the three-month course and liked that this machine came with a complementary razor for touch-ups. It has enough flashes to last for 22 years, so you’ll be in good hands for ages.
Best IPL Device For Ease Of Use
Sensilight Pro IPL Hair Removal Device
The automatic glide function on this cordless IPL device eliminates the need to hold down a button while you de-fuzz your legs, speeding the process up. It’s pain-free to use on both the face and body, thanks to a skin tone sensor that selects the most comfortable of its six intensity settings. It comes with two attachments for targeting specific body areas with greater precision. Our testers noticed their regrowth become sparser over the first month before fully halting after three. Success!
Best IPL Device For Hard-To-Reach Zones
Handheld IPL Duo Quartz 300k
This lightweight, smartly designed device is easy to set up. It has a decent range of power levels, an automatic skin tone sensor and a face applicator for improved accuracy on smaller, more delicate areas. It successfully slowed down hair growth and the majority of our testers plan to continue using it at home. It wasn’t the fastest on test, even across larger regions like the legs, but it did access harder-to-reach zones with ease. The instructions could be clearer though.
Best IPL Device For Facial Hair Removal
The curved shape of this cordless IPL device makes it a joy to hold and use, even for prolonged periods. It has a precise facial attachment that claims to brighten the complexion by removing dead skin cells, and a UV filter to protect the skin from damage. Our testers reported much finer initial regrowth and found it covered large surface areas quickly and effectively. It could be lighter and the flashing light is bright, but it does a solid job at a reasonable price and doesn’t cause any pain.
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