Ditch the salon, and opt for these safe and convenient at-home alternatives. By Dani Maher
HAIR REMOVAL is a hassle. And if you’re someone who prefers their skin smooth and hairless, no doubt you’ve experienced the stress of a last-minute shave before a night out resulting in multiple nicks around your knees; or the frustration of razor burn after you’ve tried to tidy up your bikini line before a beach holiday.
If you’re one such person, you’ll be delighted to know that those traumatic experiences can be in the past — because permanent hair removal options are widely available, and no longer do you have to fork out thousands or head into a beauty salon a few times a month to get them.
Below, BAZAAR rounds up everything you need to know about at-home IPL devices that make hair removal easy — right down to the best options to buy.
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. It’s a form of light therapy that uses strong pulses or flashes of light to treat a range of skin concerns. When used for hair removal, it works by directing light at the pigmentation (or melanin) in the hair follicle, causing a burst of heat that damages the cells causing that hair to grow. It may sound intense, but it’s perfectly safe — and it’s painless, too (although that may be dependent on your pain threshold). That makes IPL devices a way to permanently remove your hair at home without the costly frequent trips to the salon.
Laser hair removal, which is performed in beauty salons, also uses light to heat hair follicles and prevent regrowth just like IPL — but the difference between the two is the type of light used.
IPL is a broadband pulsed light source, and laser is a monochromatic coherent light source. In English? Laser is more selective and uses a high energy that pinpoints the hair follicle, which is why it’s more suitable for very dark skin tones which IPL is unsuitable for. That said, both IPL and laser are effective methods for permanent hair removal — it’s more about what’s more suitable to your hair colour and skin tone.
You should follow the specific directions for the device you buy, but generally it works as follows: Shave the area so no hair is visible above the skin (this prevents uncomfortable burning sensations). Glide or stamp the device as it flashes across the intended area a handful of times per week for the first three to four weeks; then once per week for the next eight weeks for maintenance. You should begin to notice the hair growing back more slowly after three to four weeks, as long as you’re consistent.
It only took me using this device three times to begin to notice that my hair regrowth was slowing down — that’s how effective it is. The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is among the most highly-rated and reliable options on the market. It has SensoAdapt technology that adapts the intensity of the flash to your skin tone (because it changes in different parts of the body, of course). The glide mode allows you to quickly work across large areas of your body while the stamp mode offers precision — and the precision head allows you to easily tackle trickier areas like your face, bikini and underarms. It comes with a razor for you to shave first, too — thoughtful! While 10 to 12 weeks of treatment may be needed to permanently slow down hair regrowth, like I mentioned, you’ll start noticing it far sooner. I found it super easy to use after a flick through the manual, too.
Clinically proven to safely and effectively stunt hair growth in as little as four weeks, and capable of tackling your whole body in as little as 10 minutes, this is possibly the fastest IPL device on the market in every sense. Bare+ is suitable for use on the legs, body, bikini line and even the face, and has two treatment modes (glide and stamp) and built-in skin sensors for your safety.
Claiming to be the only IPL device to offer uniquely curved attachments that are designed for optimal results on different body areas, the Philips Lumea Prestige is something of an innovator. You’ll start to see results in three to four weeks, and can maintain those with four to eight-week touch-ups. It has five energy settings, but takes the guesswork out of choosing which one thanks to the SmartSkin sensor which advises the best option for your skin tone. It offers corded and cordless use too — whichever is more convenient for you.
Exclusive to CurrentBody, the JOVS Venus Pro has to be the best-looking IPL device on the market. But it’s not just a pretty face: It offers clever features like a world-first 180-degree rotating head, so you can precisely tackle every nook and cranny; and built-in ICE technology that cools the skin for painless treatments. It comes with six treatment heads — including one designed to boost collagen production for firmer, younger skin — and six energy modes.
The Selfie Skin IPL is on the more affordable end of the IPL market, but still offers clinical grade technology that’s safe and gentle on your skin. After three to four sessions you’ll begin to notice results, and the device offers up to 10 years worth of use — more than enough to banish unwanted hair for good. There are auto-flash and manual flash settings, for you to choose as required.
Even when it’s not on sale, the Go Bare IPL is the cheapest on the market. It has seven intensity levels (1-2 for sensitive areas like the face, and 3-7 for areas with coarser hair) and manual and automatic modes to adjust to your needs. An integrated safety system means flashing will only occur when the device is in contact with your skin, and the LCD screen displays all the settings you need to remember. The lower intensity settings can also be used to rejuvenate skin, stimulate blood flow and boost collagen production to improve the appearance of your skin too.
Sensica’s Sensilight Pro offers unlimited flashes, so it’s great for those who never want to worry about hair removal again — it’ll last a lifetime. Cordless for your convenience, it safely adapts treatments to your skin tone, and allows you to treat your legs in just 15 minutes. You can also manually choose your own energy level, if you’re keen to take the reins.
Happy Skin Co’s Ice IPL features icy cooling technology to soothe the skin for a painless treatment experience. It offers 999,999 flashes with a countdown LED display (though that’s likely more than enough for your lifetime, as well as three easy-to-use modes (manual, auto and glide) and a higher energy output to target the most stubborn of hairs.
With its sleek and streamlined design, the Diamond Air+ is one of the most compact IPL devices on the market. It has continuous or single modes (depending on if you want to glide for speed or stamp for precision), sapphire freezing technology which reduces the heat output and cools the skin, five energy levels, and can be used on the face, bikini line, underarms, legs and arms.
Having trialled an IPL device myself, I can confirm that they really do work — after consistent use I noticed a real slowing down of regrowth on my legs where I used the device. Seeing as in-salon laser hair removal can cost thousands of dollars for the multiple sessions you need, purchasing any device for below a thousand dollars — as every option on this list is — is well worth the investment, saving you hundreds of dollars.
Seeing as IPL technology works by targeting the pigment in your hair, there needs to be enough of a difference between skin tone and hair colour for the treatment to work. For this reason, many experts advise against IPLs for Black skin, as there is a risk of damage and discolouration. People with very light blonde and red hair are also unsuitable candidates for IPL.
Again, follow the directions of your specific device — but most will recommend a start-up phase of four to 12 weekly treatments for optimal results.
Harper’s BAZAAR participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.
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