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IPL hair removal guide: How to find the best IPL hair removal device

We'll help you decide if at-home or professional IPL hair removal is right for you.

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Quick facts about IPL hair removal:

  • IPL is a long-term hair removal and reduction method that can leave you relatively hair-free after 6–12 treatments.
  • The biggest decision you'll have to make when it comes to IPL hair removal is to decide if you want to buy an at-home device or if you'd rather get professional treatments.

Compare some of the best IPL hair removals

Data obtained December 2018. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Name Product Average Price (AUD) Number of flashes Attachments Cordless Purchase today
Silk'n Jewel 250K
Silk'n Jewel 250K
$399
250,000
None
No
The Silk'n Jewel 250K has 5 energy levels and adjustable speeds for different areas of the body.
Philips Lumea Essential BRI863/00
Philips Lumea Essential BRI863/00
$399
200,000
None
No
The Philips Lumea Essential BRI863/00 is an affordable IPL device for use on the body and face.
Braun Silk-expert 3 BD 3001
Braun Silk-expert 3 BD 3001
$749
250,000
None
No
The Braun Silk-expert 3 BD 3001 has a normal and gentle mode for use on different areas of the body.
Remington i-LIGHT Compact Control IPL3500AU
Remington i-LIGHT Compact Control IPL3500AU
$289.99
350,000
None
No
The Remington i-LIGHT Compact Control IPL3500AU is ultra portable for hair removal on the go.
Silk'n Infinity G
Silk'n Infinity G
$498
400,000
None
No
The Silk'n Infinity G claims to offer 92% hair reduction for a wide range of skin and hair colours.
Remington i-Light Pro + Face & Body IPL6500AU
Remington i-Light Pro + Face & Body IPL6500AU
$450.45
100,000
2
No
The Remington i-Light Pro + Face & Body IPL6500AU has 5 energy levels and attachments for face and body use.
Braun Silk-expert 5 BD 5001
Braun Silk-expert 5 BD 5001
$999
300,000
None
No
The Braun Silk-expert 5 BD 5001 adjusts the intensity of light automatically based on your skin tone.
Philips Lumea Prestige BRI956/00
Philips Lumea Prestige BRI956/00
$799
250,000
4
Yes
The Lumea Prestige BRI956/00 is Philips most powerful home IPL device.
Silk'n Flash & Go Pro 350k
Silk'n Flash & Go Pro 350k
$599
350,000
None
No
The Silk'n Flash & Go Pro 350k is quick and easy to use for hair removal on the body and face.
Philips Lumea Advanced SC1999/00
Philips Lumea Advanced SC1999/00
$599
250,000
3
No
The Philips Lumea Advanced SC1999/00 can be used on the body, face and bikini area.
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What is IPL?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a hair removal method that damages the root of the hair, which stops the hair from growing back. While IPL hair removal and laser hair removal are sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually two different methods of hair removal.

IPL is most effective on those with dark hair and lighter skin. While the results of IPL are permanent, multiple treatments will be required to get rid of all the hair in a desired area.

Pros

  • Removes hair permanently
  • Less painful than waxing, epilating and other hair removal methods
  • Works quickly to destroy the hair at the root
  • Typically cheaper than laser hair removal

Cons

  • Not as effective on those with darker skin tones
  • Not effective on light blonde, light red, grey or white hair
  • Can cause pain and redness
  • Professional treatments can be expensive
How long does IPL take?

The amount of time it will take to get rid of unwanted hair depends on your hair growth cycle, which could last anywhere from a year to 18 months or more. Generally, treatments start out every few weeks and then as less hair grows, you can space the treatments out more. After around 6–12 treatments, most people only need periodic maintenance treatments every few months.

How does IPL work?

IPL uses a broad-spectrum, visible light that targets the melanin pigment in hair. This light creates heat that is absorbed by the hair, which causes damage to the follicle and stops the hair from growing. The same type of broad-spectrum light can also be used in the treatment of spider veins.

Why doesn't IPL work on light hair?

The light used by IPL is attracted to dark pigment. This means it works best on dark hair and light skin. IPL can actually be damaging to dark skin, as the light will target the melanin in the skin instead of the hair. If IPL won't work for you, check out some alternative hair removal methods.

Is IPL hair removal safe?

While IPL is generally considered safe, some people do experience side effects from IPL treatments.

Potential IPL side effects include:

  • Mild to moderate pain at the time of treatment
  • Redness lasting a few hours
  • Damage to the eyes if protective eyewear is not worn
  • Burns if used incorrectly
  • Skin discolouration

At-home vs professional

There are two main types of IPL hair removal: at-home IPL devices and professional treatments.

  • At-home. Home devices typically cost from $150 to $1,000, depending on the power of the device and the number of included attachments for specific body parts such as bikini, face and underarms. These devices are less powerful than professional equipment and usually require more treatments to completely get rid of unwanted hair. Home IPL devices use a bulb that flashes to target the melanin in the root of your hair. Each bulb will only last for a specific number of flashes and will then have to be replaced. Home IPL devices can be either battery powered or corded.
  • Professional. Professional IPL treatment is more powerful and more effective than home treatment and usually requires fewer sessions to target all unwanted hair. However, professional treatment is much more expensive. The total cost of professional hair removal depends on the areas you want to treat. If you just want to remove hair on your upper lip or underarms, costs typically range from $40 to $100, while full legs and bikini area can cost $150 to $250 per session or more. Between 6 and 12 sessions may be required based on your colouring, the areas you want to target and individual circumstances.
ProsCons
At-home
  • More affordable
  • Convenience of being able to use it at any time
  • Privacy
  • Less painful due to less powerful device
  • Usually only works on lighter skin types
  • Can be complicated to use
  • Time-consuming and labour intensive to go over large areas
  • It's up to you to research options and follow directions to ensure safety
  • Some areas can be difficult to reach by yourself
Professional
  • Higher intensity/more effective
  • Can treat more skin types
  • Fewer treatments are usually required
  • Performed by a qualified professional
  • Often includes consultation and aftercare tips
  • Sessions are quicker because the coverage area is larger
  • More personalised experience
  • Expensive
  • Appointments are required
  • Can be more painful
  • Less privacy

Alternative hair removal methods

If IPL doesn't sound like it will work for you, there are several alternative hair removal methods you could try including laser hair removal, epilators, shavers and trimmers.

Laser hair removal

  • Laser hair removal uses a similar method to IPL to damage the root of the hair and stop it from growing back. However, instead of using a broad-spectrum light source, laser hair removal uses laser technology to target the hair.
    Laser hair removal is performed in a professional clinic or salon and is usually more expensive than IPL. Some people who are not suited for IPL, including those with darker skin tones, can be suitable for professional laser hair removal.

Epilators

  • Epilators are devices that pull hair out by the root. Epilators can be used just about anywhere on the body with the right attachments and some, like the Braun FaceSpa epilator we reviewed, are specifically designed to be used on the face, with results typically lasting from one to two weeks. Like tweezing and waxing, epilating can be painful, especially during your first few treatments.

Shavers and trimmers

  • Electric shavers and trimmers are quicker to use than traditional blade razors and can often be used less frequently. Basic electric shavers can cost as little as $20 but more-sophisticated models with several attachment options can cost hundreds of dollars. For more information, check out our guide to electric shavers.

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