Philips could make you lose your body hair in a flash: the electronics brand's new handheld device turns customers into their own laser technicians.

Called Lumea, the new beauty tool resembles a blow-dryer and uses pulses of light, called IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) technology, causing the hair to shed and inhibiting it from growing back.

Long-term success, however, requires patience. According to Philips, the treatment should be repeated "every two weeks for the armpits and bikini area and every four weeks for legs" in order to achieve ideal results.

Also, the product comes with a list of limitations: while it is safe to use for (naturally) dark-blond, brown and black hair, it is not suitable for red, grey and light blond hair, nor for very dark skin.

And finally: a handheld laser device does sound like you would need a trained technician for the treatment. But, "used correctly, Philips Lumea's IPL treatment is safe and gentle to use even on sensitive skin and sensitive body areas," the company said at their Paris press launch January 21. In order to make sure you're using it correctly, customers can consult the included tutorial DVD and in-built tools such as a "ready-to-flash light" indicating the correct application on the skin.

A similar product by TRIA Beauty was the first handheld laser hair remover approved by the FDA in the US in 2008. But Philips' main competition remains no!no! - the brand's hair removal devices, using heat-based Thermicon technology to reduce hair density, have been dominating beauty sites' bestseller lists for months.

Lumea, priced at €500, will be released in March.