The best IPL hair removal devices reviewed by a beauty editor

Our edit of the best IPL hair removal devices, tried and tested by a beauty ed, will make regrowth a thing of the past

IPL hair removal devices from Phillips and JOVS
(Image credit: Future/Phillips/JOVS)

If being body hair-free is your preference, one of the best IPL hair removal devices could be be a game-changing addition to your grooming regime. Not only are these tools capable of expertly removing hair, they're also designed to reduce regrowth, which will save you a little time in future.

For the uninitiated, these devices work by firing rapidly flashing light at the melanin (the pigment that gives hair its color) in your hair follicles, which converts to heat beneath the skin and damages the hair at the root, effectively “putting it to sleep”. Not only is the existing hair removed, but regrowth is also reduced, making these gadgets a considerable upgrade from, say, hair removal creams.

In our expert guide, we’ve covered both the need-to-knows about this hair removal method and the best IPL hair removal devices we've tested firsthand. But before we dive in to any of that, it's important to highlight that most IPL devices are not suitable for very dark skin tones. This is because of the lack of contrast between skin and hair color—our guide to hair removal for dark skin covers the best and safest methods—and also applies to combinations of very light blonde or auburn hair and very light skin. 

Meet the experts on IPL hair removal devices

  • Jess Gregory is consumer marketing manager for Philips Beauty (opens in new tab), an industry leader in health and wellbeing technology, including hair removal. She advised My Imperfect Life reasons on the difference between IPL and laser hair removal.
  • Emily Buckwell is a product expert at CurrentBody (opens in new tab), an online retailer that specializes in salon-quality at-home tools. In this piece, she's explained how IPL hair removal works and what you can expect from the results. 

How to choose the best IPL hair removal device

  • Area of use—The device you decide is "The One" should be suited to the area you most want to target. Prone to fuzz on your legs within a day of shaving? Look for a device that's better for larger areas. Facial hair your bugbear? Seek out devices that are kinder to the face instead.
  • Budget—These devices are very much an investment and one that you may need to save for. Consider your budget for your IPL hair removal device before you begin browsing, then work out the kind of features you can fit into this price. There are excellent value-for-money options in our edit, too.
  • Additional features—If you're new to the IPL game, look out for devices with features that will help you along the way. Or, if you struggle with dexterity, look closely at options that are easy to grip.

The best IPL hair removal devices, tested by a beauty expert

Philips Lumea IPL 9000

(Image credit: Philips)

1. Philips Lumea IPL 9000

The best IPL hair removal device overall for face and body

Specifications

RRP : $579/£459.99
Power: Mains
Cordless: Yes
Light intensities: 5
Skin sensor: Yes
Attachments: 3 (face, body and bikini)

Reasons to buy

+
Curved heads for the face and the body
+
Cordless
+
Ergonomic, lightweight design
+
SmartSkin sensor detects your skin tone and indicates most comfortable light setting for you
+
Attachments adapt program to each body area
+
App reminds you when your next session is due

Reasons to avoid

-
Big price tag

All about sleek lines and advanced technology, this device is, above all, easy to use. With programs for both the body and the face (depending on the attachment), there are five light settings and, once the head is slotted into place, a built-in sensor selects the right one for your skin tone and sensitivity—both reassuring and practical, as it removes guesswork for those who aren't familiar with the Fitzpatrick scale (a classification system for skin type and color). The device treats naturally dark blonde, brown and black hair on skin tones from very white to brown, and there's a free app offering advice and that allows you to create a tailored treatment schedule for each area. I found the reminders particularly useful for helping to stick to my routine and making at-home treatment feel very bespoke—and an affordable alternative to laser hair removal.

The curved attachments are easy to work over the body; it’s especially ergonomic around the bikini line, which wasn’t the wince-inducing experience I expected. Philips claims the device achieves results after as little as four treatments, and that additional reduce regrowth. A tall order but, boy, did it deliver. I used the device for a full 12 weeks on my armpits, legs, bikini line, and even the teeny hairs on my upper lip. Most have stopped growing back altogether, and those that have are definitely finer. Despite the large price tag, it's cheaper than a course of salon treatments, so I think it's well worth the investment.

Braun IPL Silk·expert Pro 5 PL5124

(Image credit: Braun )

2. Braun IPL Silk·expert Pro 5 PL5124

The best IPL hair removal device that works quickly

Specifications

RRP : $760/£599.99
Power: Mains
Cordless: No
Light intensities: 10
Skin sensor: Yes
Attachments: 2 (face and body)

Reasons to buy

+
The number of light settings, which is double that of most of its competitors
+
The extra gentle mode for sensitive skin
+
The additional glide mode, which de-fuzzes legs faster

Reasons to avoid

-
It isn’t as convenient as its cordless competitors
-
There’s no attachment for precision around the bikini line

This device has a whopping 10 different intensity settings—double many competitor tools'—including a gentle mode for sensitive skin, and a Venus razor so you can get started right away. The body attachment, in particular, covers larger areas of skin in a very short space of time, which made testing this particular device a lot easier. In fact, speed is what sets this tool apart from the rest for hair removal at home.

There are two treatment modes here: "stamp" and "glide". The latter speeds things up by delivering more flashes to larger body parts, like the legs, which makes it appealing to both the time-poor and nervous newbies. I personally am neither, but when you can tackle the bikini line in minutes it’s a godsend, in my opinion. It also treated both of my legs in under five minutes on the lowest setting, which further impressed me. My hair was also sparser after eight weeks and, with the ability to deliver the equivalent of more than 20 years' worth of flashes, I deem it a worthy investment. 

Silk'n Infinity 400,000

(Image credit: Silk'n)

3. Silk'n Infinity 400,000

The best space-saving IPL hair removal device

Specifications

RRP : $389/£295
Power: Mains
Cordless: No
Light intensities: 5
Skin sensor: Yes
Attachments: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Compact
+
One of the more affordable devices on the market
+
Galvanic current makes the treatment less painful and prevents ingrown hairs
+
Built-in skin tone sensor to check compatibility
+
Mobile app to monitor treatment plan

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cordless, so you are restricted with where you can use it
-
Not the easiest device to hold
-
Only one "do-it-all" attachment

Most IPL devices look a bit like some kind of nineties hair dryer, AKA kinda bulky. But this compact tool by Silk'n is different, looking more like computer mouse with its teeny size. Despite this, it comes with some pretty impressive features. For me, the standout was what the brand calls eHPL, essentially a combination of galvanic energy with standard light energy. The first temporarily widens pores to allow the IPL to reach hair follicles more easily. It doesn’t feel any different on the skin but is said to make the treatment less painful and prevent ingrown hairs, both of which I can attest to. According to the brand this technology treats body hair twice as fast—in 20 minutes flat, to be precise.

It's another tool that comes with a built-in sensor to check skin tone and hair color compatibility to ensure the device emits the correct light pulse. You can also connect it to a smartphone app to set out a treatment plan. I noticed a reduction in hair growth and thickness after the initial four weeks, though this was more noticeable around the 12 week mark. A downside for me, though, was the ergonomics of the machine. I found it wasn't all that easy to hold, as you need to simultaneously touch the metal base at the back while pushing the button on the top. This felt unnecessarily fiddly and increased the overall treatment time. 

Sensica Sensilight Pro Permanent Cordless Hair Removal Device

(Image credit: Sensica)

4. Sensica Sensilight Pro Permanent Cordless Hair Removal Device

The best IPL hair removal device for legs

Specifications

RRP: $539/£379
Power: Mains
Cordless: Yes
Light intensities: 6
Skin sensor: Yes
Attachments: 2 (face and body)

Reasons to buy

+
Two treatment modes
+
Sensors react to skin tone with every flash of light
+
Speedy

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky
-
Switching treatment heads takes practice

The Sensica Sensilight Pro has a built-in sensor that customizes settings according to your skin tone and hair color. It takes this to the next level by continuously reacting to your skin tone and condition, even if you have dark spots. Therefore, if the sensors detect skin in one treatment area is too dark, no flash will be emitted—an added safety measure that I found very reassuring. There are six energy levels and two attachment heads to play with, one for the face and one for the body. 

It also features "glide mode", which means you don’t have to repeatedly press the button and wait for a "click" before zapping your area of choice. This quickens the process as you only have to move the handset up and down—handy when tackling larger like the legs. The longer I used this tool, the more impressed I was, but if I was being extremely fussy I’d point out one drawback—the device’s bulkiness. The overall design is quite cumbersome and heavy, and I found it a little difficult to change the attachment heads. 

Smoothskin Pure Hair Removal

(Image credit: Smoothskin)

5. SmoothSkin Pure Hair Removal

The best IPL hair removal device for beginners

Specifications

RRP : $379.99/£279
Power: Mains
Cordless: No
Skin sensor: Yes
Attachments: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Not intimidating for IPL newbies
+
Glide mode makes light work of treating legs
+
Features a "stamp mode" for smaller areas

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cordless
-
No option of different heads for different body parts

Probably the simplest tool in our edit of the best IPL hair removal devices when it comes to use, mainly because there are only three settings to content with—"Gentle", "Speed", and "Power". This device does, however, still include that all-important built-in skin sensor to adjust the light intensity based on skin tone, so there’s no skimping on safety—especially handy if you have naturally drier skin.

Again, there’s a glide mode on offer for speedier results on larger areas, but I really liked the stamp mode on this device as it was easy to slowly and precisely use on my upper lip and underarms. There was definitely a noticeable difference in hair regrowth after eight weeks. If I could make one change it would be to make it cordless, but overall, it's great. 

Jovs Venus Pro

(Image credit: Jovs )

6. Jovs Venus Pro

The best value IPL hair removal device

Specifications

RRP : $429/£319
Power: Mains
Cordless: Yes
Light intensities: 5
Skin sensor: Yes
Attachments: 6

Reasons to buy

+
Skin-cooling technology to numb the area you’re treating
+
The only IPL device to also include a red light anti-ageing mode for the face
+
Rotating head
+
Device offers a lifetime of treatments
+
Good value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
A lot of tech involved, which IPL newbies may find overwhelming

This matte metal gadget in a chic forest green colorway may look more like the Dyson Supersonic than a hair removal device, but it's the only one here that targets both unwanted hair and skin aging (which may help you if you're weighing up the JOVS Venus Pro vs Philips Lumea). It comes with six targeted attachments and can be used on both the face and the body. You can rely on its safety, too, as it's another with a built-in skin sensor to check your skin tone's suitability before use. Then, things get pleasingly technical.

A big draw for me was the 180° rotating head, which makes removal from harder-to-reach areas, like the backs of the legs, way more comfortable. Then there’s the cooling technology to numb the designated treatment area, which makes the experience virtually pain-free. I also loved the device's red-light mode, which aids skin cell repair and improves collagen production to yield plumper and smoother skin over time—you get the benefit of two salon treatments in one super device. Packing 500,000 flashes, there’s enough for a lifetime's worth of treatments, so once you’ve committed to the spend you should be set for...well, life. 

Your IPL hair removal questions, answered

What is IPL?

IPL stands for intense pulsed light, broad-spectrum light that is scattered across the skin to help remove unwanted body hair. The level of discomfort varies—for some, IPL will feel hot on the skin, while other people report a sensation akin to being flicked with an elastic band. Most rate IPL much less painful than epilating, but the golden rule stands that if you experience any irritation, you should seek medical advice.

How does IPL work?

“IPL transfers light energy to the hair shaft,” Emily Buckwell, CurrentBody's product expert, tells My Imperfect Life. “Once absorbed, this light energy is converted to heat, which prevents further hair growth. As hair grows in cycles, you will need to repeat your treatments until you eventually catch each phase of growth, resulting in a reduction in hair over time.”

Laser hair removal vs IPL: the key differences

IPL is often confused with laser hair removal because both methods target the melanin in the hair follicle. But as Jess Gregory, Philips Beauty's consumer marketing manager, points out: "They are two different light technologies”. While laser uses a single, concentrated beam of light, “IPL  progressively reduces hair regrowth by applying gentle pulses of broad spectrum light and heat to the root. This means that larger areas of skin can be treated with IPL, while laser only works point by point.” We've explained more about laser hair removal vs IPL in a dedicated article to help you understand the distinction better. 

Is IPL hair removal permanent?

No, the results of IPL aren’t permanent—but the hair will grow back finer and more slowly. That said, some people will find that the hair doesn't grow back at all. As Emily says: “What IPL does offer is permanent hair reduction, depending on its color, density and texture.

To see results you need to carry out regular at-home treatments for a minimum of eight weeks, followed up with top-up sessions to maintain results. Hair can grow back due to hormonal changes like childbirth and menopause, but having a device at home means not forking out for further salon sessions.”

How long does it take to see IPL results?

The best IPL hair removal devices should be used regularly for four to 12 weeks to ensure all the hair has been treated. Typically, body hair requires treatment every two weeks for the first four weeks, then once every four weeks afterward. Then, top-up sessions can then be done where and when there is any regrowth.

Happy hair removal! 

Fiona Embleton is a multi-award-winning beauty editor who has tested over 10,000 products in her 10 years +  of writing and shooting beauty stories. For the past four years, she was the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, having previously worked in the role of Beauty Editor at both Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She has recently gone freelance and alongside My Imperfect Life, she has written for titles including ELLE UK, ELLE Canada, Buro 247, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Vogue Scandinavia, and ES Magazine. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first-class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography, and catwalk trends. She loves jumping on the latest internet-breaking beauty news, dissecting the best red carpet looks, and having the crème de la crème of dermatologists, make-up artists, and hairstylists on speed dial so she can tap them for the best advice. She’s a discerning beauty shopper and knows it can be confusing trying to navigate what’s hype and what really works. So if she really likes something, you can trust that she has reached that opinion by vetting it against everything else she’s ever tried. Her career highs? Interviewing Cate Blanchett and winning a Jasmine Award for the deeply personal feature Cancer Stole My Mother’s Scent.   

With contributions from