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10 best IPL machines and laser hair removal devices to buy now for at-home salon results

Cancel your next waxing appointment and throw out your razor in favour of these money-saving IPL and laser hair-removal devices

Amira Arasteh
Wednesday 14 June 2023 17:22 BST
<p>IPL and laser hair removal doesn’t have to involve a pricey trip to the salon</p>

IPL and laser hair removal doesn’t have to involve a pricey trip to the salon

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Hair removal is just one of those time-consuming, and often painful, experiences that many of us undergo to get our desired look.

But if you’re tired of having to shave everyday, making monthly appointments to get waxed or battling with hair removal creams, it might be time to consider investing in laser hair removal or intense pulsed light technology (IPL).

Laser hair removal and IPL work by destroying hair roots, via energy produced by light waves. Continued use has proven to reduce hair and stop it from regrowing almost entirely, however it’s long been known as a more costly method of removing body hair, with machines costing upwards of £150. The option of laser also works to remove the pigment in your existing hair follicles over time.

According to sk:n clinic regional nurse trainer Charlotte Lundy, “both IPL and laser can be used for hair removal as the light source is drawn to and absorbed by the pigment in the hair. The light energy is converted to heat destroying blood flow to the base of the hair follicles which causes active hair to shed and in turn disrupts future hair growth.”

She does caution that “it’s important to note that although IPL can be used for hair removal as the light needs to attach itself to the pigment in the hair, it’s not recommended for all skin tones and hair colour. In particular it’s not recommended for black skin or people with fair or red hair, whereas with laser different wavelengths can be used which means it’s suitable for all skin tones.”

If you are choosing to embark upon this method, be aware that using IPL and laser hair-removal devices will require a course of treatment – 12 weeks is usually recommended, plus top ups – to banish those hairs. Each session can be conducted within minutes.

An issue commonly faced with opting for a laser hair removal or IPL programme is that you have to go to a salon to receive the treatment and this can be time consuming as well as invasive, should you not wish to involve another person in your hair-removal plans. The benefit of doing the treatment yourself at home, is that you can deal with the experience yourself and fit it in around your daily routine.

If you’re considering investing in a device to use at home but are struggling to know where to start, we’ve done the work for you and tested the best on the market to find out which ones successfully removed and reduced hair and its regrowth – and with as little pain inflicted as possible.

How we tested

At-home laser hair removal or IPL can appear very daunting to those less familiar with the process, so we started off by assessing how easy it was to set up and use each device. We also measured each machine by how painful the treatment was, how quickly we saw results and the rate of regrowth.

The best IPL and laser devices for 2024 are:

  • Best IPL machine overall – Philips lumea IPL 9000 series: £345.71, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best corded IPL machine – Braun silk expert pro 5 IPL machine: £425, Argos.co.uk
  • Best cordless IPL machine – Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair-removal device: £249.97, Boots.com
  • Best IPL machine for all areas – Philips lumea IPL 8000 series prestige: £349.99, Boots.com
  • Best IPL machine for fast results – SmoothSkin pure fit IPL hair-removal device: £269, Currentbody.co.uk

Philips lumea IPL 9000 series

philips lumea 9000 at home laser hair removal ipl device
  • Best: Overall
  • Machine type: IPL
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Flashes: 450,000
  • Why we love it
    • Corded and cordless
    • Suprisingly lightweight
    • Skin tone sensor feature

It’s one of the pricier models on the market but the Philips Lumea IPL 9000 series comes with a range of detachable heads designed for the face and body, and for precision – so you can focus on different areas, as needed. It’s also a larger device than some others but can be neatly stored at home in the quilted carry bag that’s included as part of the set.

Despite being sizeable, the device is not heavy and can be handled with ease. It also works both corded and cordless, so you can use it whichever way is easier for you. We tried both and found that the flashes were faster (therefore making the hair removal treatment more efficient) when corded but that the cordless was ideal for those harder-to-reach areas.

As newbies to at-home IPL and laser hair removal, we really enjoyed the skin tone sensor feature, as it helped recommend the best intensity (out of the five available) based on skin tone. It only took a few sessions before we saw lighter and sparser hairs growing back. We also found the Lumea app handy for reminding us about our treatment schedule.

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Braun silk expert pro 5 IPL machine

braun silk expert pro 5 best ipl laser hair removal home
  • Best: Corded IPL machine
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: No
  • Flashes: 400,000
  • Why we love it
    • Comes with a Gillette Venus razor
    • Easy to use

Unlike many other corded devices, this IPL machine from Braun comes with a lengthy cable (measuring 2m long), so you’re not restricted on where you conduct your treatment or when moving the device to target certain areas.

What many people don’t realise is, for IPL and laser hair removal, it’s better if your skin is smooth before your treatment – and this Braun machine comes with a Gillette Venus razor, which is a thoughtful touch.

The device itself has three settings and is easy to use, working across the body very quickly, making it one of the more efficient IPL machines we tested. The precision head was also handy, for focusing on smaller areas, such as armpits or bikini line (it’s easy to switch heads by simply clicking them off and on).

We saw finer and sparser hair regrowth after about four uses and really enjoyed using this device – marking it down purely as it was a little noisy when in use and the cord sometimes got in the way. It, too, comes with a neat pouch to contain all elements of the device when not in use.

  1. £425 from Argos.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair-removal device

sensica sensilight pro ipl laser hair removal device home
  • Best: Cordless IPL machine
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Flashes: Unlimited
  • Why we love it
    • Skin-tone detection feature
    • Cordless
    • Good for small areas

Sensica’s sensilight pro features a skin-tone detection feature and six energy settings, with two heads to choose from, so you’re all set whether you want to focus on your legs or your underarms.

Slightly larger than the other IPL deviches we tested, it wasn’t overly heavy to use, however, and is fully cordless, which makes it easier to start the treatment. It took about five treatments to see slower hair regrowth and we did notice that it came back finer.

We did find the machine head had to lie flat against the skin for the most effective course of treatment but the pulse and glide mode the device features means you don’t have to continuously press the button – a game changer if you are planning on a full body hair removal. There’s also the stamp motion feature, which is perfect for smaller areas, such as your underarms or bikini area – or even if you’re just getting to grips with the machine.

Read our full Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair removal device review

  1. £249 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Philips lumea IPL 8000 series prestige

philips lumea prestige best ipl hair removal home
  • Best: For all areas
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: No
  • Flashes: 250,000

We were first drawn to this IPL device due to its attachments – while many of the machines we tested had one precision tool, the Lumea 8000 prestige has four detatchable heads to cater exactly for the area you want to target. We found this really handy, particularly as the device is corded, so having smaller heads for trickier-to-reach areas made such a difference.

It does have only 250,000 flashes (compared with the Lumea 9000 model’s 450,000), and it did feel a little hotter than other devices we tested but we saw impressive results, with hair becoming sparser after just four treatments. The device uses Philips Lumea’s SmartSkin sensor to detect your skin tone and decide the most optimal light setting for you, and you can connect this device to the Lumea app to personalise your own treatment schedule.

  1. £349 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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SmoothSkin pure fit IPL hair-removal device

currentbody smooth skin pure fit ipl device home
  • Best: For fast results
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: No
  • Flashes: Unlimited

This is definitely one of the more chic-looking and compact IPL machines we’ve seen and tested. The sleek black design is not only aesthetically pleasing but also neat and compact to handle and store after each use.

With 10 power settings, this was the most efficient device we tried, enabling you to treat your entire body in 10 minutes, should you wish to. We also found this to be one of the least painful models we tried.

The skin sensor checks your device is in optimal condition to remove hair and there are three modes to choose from, should you be new to using IPL machines or if you have sensitive skin. While there aren’t multiple interchangeable heads, it does come with a precision attachment.

Quick to use and fast to achieve results, we saw our hair grow back thinner and sparser after just a few treatments, with even more of a noticeable difference a couple of weeks after that.

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Bondi Body laser@home 2.0

bondi body at home laser best hair removal device
  • Best: Laser dupe
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Flashes: 300,000

It’s always handy learning from someone in the know – and that’s how we felt about this laser machine from Bondi Body, a brand created by hair-removal expert Trish Coulton.

The device itself has eight settings, depending on the level of intensity you’re after. As long as you keep the head flat against the skin, you’re sure to zap away all your unwanted hairs.

What made this particular machine stand out was that it was the only one we tested that came with a pair of protective glasses, which made us feel more at ease when testing this product.

It took us about four weeks to see a difference in hair regrowth but it was definitely sparser and finer, particularly on our legs. While other brands recommend using their products once a week, Bondi Body suggests using their at-home IPL machine once to twice a week (you still need to complete a 12-week course).

Need more of an excuse to buy this brilliant device? You can enjoy a further £30 off using the voucher code THIRTY. Bargain.

Read our full Bondi laser hair-removal handset review

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Tria hair-removal laser 4X

tria hair at home laser removal
  • Best: At-home laser
  • Type of machine: Laser
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Flashes: N/A

This device is a bit of a game changer if you’re more interested in at-home laser hair removal than using an IPL machine. The difference? The former involves one wavelength of light on your skin, while the latter releases light of many different wavelengths. Laser is also a more focused hair-removal treatment, so it all depends on your preference.

We found this machine from Tria quick and easy to set up and its cordless design made it very easy to use. Similarly to the IPL machines we tested, there was a range of intensity settings – five, in this case.

It was a little more complex to use, as, instead of just placing the device against the skin and waiting for the flashes, the recommended method for this at-home laser hair-removal product was to place the head across the skin in overlapping circles. It required a little more patience and concentration (to avoid varying hair growth), which meant it didn’t fit as seamlessly into our routine. However, the LED display does keep track of what areas have been lasered, so you don’t have to focus on this as much.

We found this at-home laser hair-removal device a lot more painful than the IPL machines we tested, even on a mid-level setting. The sting was less painful than waxing but far more noticeable than the other devices we tried out.

It took us several treatments to see results – though our hairs did grow back noticeable finer and sparser. It’s also worth noting that, as with most laser treatments, a soothing gel is required to be used afterwards and, whether you choose Tria’s own product (£7.60, Currentbody.com) or an alternative, this is an added expense to be aware of.

Read our full Tria hair removal laser 4X review

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Silk’n infinity 400k hair removal

silkn infinity hair removal ipl best devices
  • Best: For ease of use
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: No
  • Flashes: 400,000

The Silk’n infinity 400k hair removal device claims to be ideal for all skin tones and for both the face and body (despite no attachment feature). Emmitting up to 400,000 light pulses, the appliance seeks to target hair at the follicle to reduce regrowth.

Using a combination of galvanic and eHPL (enhanced home pulsed light) energy, the hair removal tool aims to open pores before a pulse of light targets hair at the root. The device features a colour sensor to scan your skin, to determine the optimal energy setting.

We found the device really easy to use, with the pulse and glide method helping to guide our treatment and an app to connect to for your treatment plan. In addition to a storage case (keeping things neat when not in use, and perfect when travelling), the device also includes a cleaning cloth for post-use. We noticed a difference in hair thickness and a lack of regrowth between weeks four and five, with the process being relatively painless, too.

Although this is another corded device – and we must say we felt like we could manoeuvre better with a cordless model – Silk’n actually sells an extension cord, if you’re looking to move around more freely.

Read our full review of the Silk’n permanent hair remover

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Philips lumea IPL 9900 series

philips lumea ipl 9900 series best hair removal device
  • Best: Personalised treatment
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Flashes: 450,000

Philips is really on a roll with its IPL hair-removal devices, with a newly launched 99000 series on the market, too. The brand claims this is its smartest device yet, alledgedly providing up to 12 months hair-free, smooth skin. Of course, we had to put it to the test ourselves.

In terms of results, we felt we saw similar to that of the 9000 series: the new model was easy and comfortable to handle; being both corded and cordless was really helpful, and we saw a difference to our hair regrowth (with it being finer) after just a few uses.

The key difference between this 9900 series and its predecessor is the addition of the AI features. With three new elements to personalise your treatment, there is a skin-selfie analyser, an audio flash counter and a body-hair analyser. While we did find this helped us feel more at ease when conducting our hair-removal treatment (it can be a daunting thing to undertake yourself), the latest model comes with a £40 increase to the price tag, compared with its predecessor.

The 9900 also features a new facial-hair remover tool, to easily get rid of hair and ensure you’re fully prepared to use your IPL device. While you may use a razor to get rid of any fuzz on your body before conducting a hair-removal treatment, it’s less advisable to do so on your face, and we did feel very comfortable using the specific facial-hair tool as part of the procedure.

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Silk’n Infinity fast IPL hair removal device

silkn infinity fast ipl hair removal device home
  • Best: Faster flashes
  • Type of machine: IPL
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Flashes: 600,000

When testing this latest IPL hair removal device from Silk’n, we were immeditately comparing it with its predecessor – the standard infinity model. In comparison, the infinity fast emits 600,000 light pulses (so, 200,000 more) so works faster than the original.

Using the same combination of galvanic and enhanced home pulsed light (eHPL) energy, this newer model can also be used on both the face and rest of the body to remove any unwanted hair. While changing heads for use on different parts of the body can assist with precision, there was also something highly convenient and efficient during the process about not having to switch anything over.

Featuring flexible cycle technology with five adjustable energy levels, the dual-light IPL technology claims to work on even fine, blonde and grey hairs. Unfortunately, having darker hair ourselves, we cannot attest to that, but we can say that we found it very easy to move across areas, even to harder-to-reach spaces, thanks to the advanced pulsing and glide methods.

Including the same storage case and app function (to monitor your treatment), in terms of results, we ultimately were more impressed with the infinity fast than its forerunner and for £30 more, it’s not too much of an added expense to choose the newer model.

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Home laser and IPL hair removal machine FAQs

What is IPL hair removal?

IPL stands for intense pulsed light. It’s a type of light therapy used to treat unwanted hair. It works by targeting a specific colour in your skin, and the higher the contrast between your skin and hair colour, the better, which is why it is often said to be most effective on those with light skin and dark hair. When the skin is heated, it destroys the hair follicle to prevent the hair from growing again.

What is the difference between IPL hair removal and laser hair removal?

IPL is similar to a laser treatment. However, a laser focuses just one wavelength of light on your skin, while IPL releases light of many different wavelengths. Plus, the light from IPL is more scattered and less focused than a laser. They both, however, penetrate down to the second layer of your skin (dermis) without harming the top layer (epidermis).

Sk:n clinic’s regional nurse trainer Charlotte Lundy does remind us that “IPL is usually only successful on clients with fair skin and dark hair.”

Are home IPL machines safe?

The light from an IPL at-home machine is much less concentrated than salon treatments, so they can be used safely in the comfort of your home, so long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidance.

How often can you use a home IPL machine?

It actually depends on the body part that you’re concentrating on. Most instruction manuals recommend using the home IPL device once every four weeks, to catch the new hair that is starting to return in its growth cycle.

For legs, it is once every eight to 12 weeks as the hair growth rate on this body area is much slower. It’s worth noting if you’re anxious to exceed these time frames, it won’t speed up hair loss, in fact, it will probably do the opposite and may also lead to irritated skin.

How do at-home IPL machines compare to salon treatments?

Home IPL devices operate at a lower intensity than those used professionally, therefore, their ability to disable the hair follicle sufficiently is less than a salon treatment. However, it goes without saying the convenience of being able to carry out the treatments at home, in your own time, is a gamechanger for long-term hair removal. Plus, there is a substantial financial difference, as professional in-salon treatments tend to be very costly.

Charlotte Lundy states that “the main difference between treating hair removal in clinic vs at home, is the technology used. In the clinic, lasers are suitable for all skin tones and will often show quicker results and be more comfortable. At-home IPL devices will often take longer, especially depending on the speed of the machine.”

What to consider when buying an IPL hair-removal device

  • The number of treatment heads: If you plan on using the IPL device on small areas, such as your bikini line or face, check it comes with an attachment that can work on this size of area – it’ll be more efficient.
  • Speed: The shorter the time between flashes, the faster the treatment will be.
  • The number of flashes: This is the number of times the device can emit a flash of light – while most machines have a minimum of 100,000, once this runs out, you’ll have to replace the lamp. For some devices, you’ll be able to buy replacement heads, but others on the market have an unlimited number of flashes.
  • Skin and hair colour: Not all devices are compatible with all skin and hair colours, so it’s worth making sure the IPL device you intend to buy is right for you. Similarly, keep an eye out for an automatic skin-tone sensor, which means the IPL device can detect the optimum intensity and safest settings for your skin.
  • Cordless or corded machine: Some IPL devices are cordless, which can make them easier to use and transport.
  • Treatment area size: Depending on the size of the area you want to treat, you’ll want to consider the size and power of your IPL device. If you’re treating a large area, such as your legs or torso, it’s best to consider a machine that is not battery powered, as it can take a while to recharge cordless models.

Are there any adjustments to skincare when completing IPL or laser hair removal?

Charlotte Lundy, Regional Nurse Trainer for SK:N Clinics, says: “It’s always important to have good skincare at home but we always request to avoid using retinol or any active acids to the area being treated for 48 hours pre and 72 hours post treatment. This is to help give the skin time to heal and avoid any adverse reactions.”

Sun care is another key matter. Charlotte says those undergoing IPL or laser hair removal “must avoid sun exposure two weeks prior to treatment and two weeks post treatment and must wear SPF”. If you do happen to be exposed to sun during your course of treatment, SK:N advises to wait two weeks before completing a test patch, to maintain optimum safety and achieve the best result possible.

The verdict: IPL machines and laser hair-removal devices

While we were thoroughly impressed with all the devices we tested (particularly with our previous thoughts being that a pricey trip to the salon was the only way to successfully banish body hair), we have to say the standout was the Philip lumea 9000 series. Featuring different heads to work on various parts of the body, this gadget produced results within a few uses. We also loved the Braun silk expert pro 5 and were impressed that Bondi Body’s laser@home 2.0 came with glasses to protect your eyes.

Looking to keep those pearly whites healthy and bright? Here’s our round-up of the best electric toothbrushes to use

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