'I'm an IPL expert and these are my top tips for great hair removal results' (2024)

Writing for Women's Health, Chloé Fallon - Philips Beauty Marketing Manager - answers the biggest questions about home IPL hair removal, and shares her expert guidance for getting the best results from your gadget.

What is an IPL machine and how does it work? 

IPL, which stands for Intense Pulsed Light, is a form of longer-lasting hair removal.

IPL devices work by using warm soft light to bring hair into a resting phase. The light is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle, causing the hair to loosen at the root and fall out. After a series of treatments, the hair will stay away for a longer period of time – for example with our Philips Lumea range you can enjoy up to 12 months hair free, smooth skin1.

Can blondes and redheads use IPL?

Unfortunately, as with all light-based hair removal technologies (including salon laser), there are some limitations on who IPL is suitable for.

IPL works best on those with naturally dark blonde, brown or black hair, but sadly white, grey, light blonde or red hair does not contain enough melanin in the hair follicle for it to absorb the light and therefore IPL simply cannot give the right results. The same limitations apply to skin tone too – IPL is most effective for those with very light to dark brown skin tones, however it is not suitable with those with very dark skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin type VI).

If you’re unsure as to whether IPL is suitable for you – the Philips website has a very helpful hair and skin guide to help you decide .

What is the difference between IPL and laser? 

Although on the outside IPL and laser may seem very similar, there are some key differences in not only the technology of these hair removal methods, but also the cost, who can do it and where you can do it.

Let’s start with the technology first! IPL and laser do have some key things in common - their functionalities are based on light pulses, they both are effective treatments in removing and reducing unwanted hair and neither offer permanent hair removal (top-up session and treatments will always be required to keep re-growth at bay).

However, as you look a bit closer, you will notice that the technological details differ. Whilst both use high-energy light (which is absorbed by the melanin in the hair follicle to bring the hair into a resting phase), IPL is made up of a wide spectrum of light – like that of a light bulb – which can treat larger areas of skin, whereas laser technology is based on a single, concentrated wavelength that penetrates the skin point by point.

Now we’re done with the tech differences – lets talk cost and ease.

Both IPL and laser can vary widely in cost depending on the provider, but both are usually considered as investment purchases. However, one of the key differences is that laser can only be conducted at a dermatologist or in a salon which usually comes with a high price tag and the hassle of travel to and from the location. With IPL, this can also be conducted in a salon, but you can also buy an at-home IPL device like the Philips Lumea 9900 series – which allows you to safely remove your hair with IPL, from the comfort of your own home and at a time that suits you.

PHILIPS Philips Lumea IPL Hair Removal 9000 Series - Hair Removal Device with SenseIQ Technology, 4 Attachments for Body, Face, Bikini and Underarm, Cordless Use (Model BRI957/00)

PHILIPS Philips Lumea IPL Hair Removal 9000 Series - Hair Removal Device with SenseIQ Technology, 4 Attachments for Body, Face, Bikini and Underarm, Cordless Use (Model BRI957/00)

With the Philips Lumea 9900 series you can also now ‘Try and Buy’ the product and spread the cost over 12 months and can cancel at any time if they are not fully satisfied, which is helpful for those who aren’t quite sure if IPL is the right choice for them.

Is IPL hair removal safe?

Absolutely! If you follow the guidance and instructions, at home IPL is a great and safe solution for long-term hair removal.

Developed with dermatologists, the Philips Lumea has been built with safety in mind and has been designed to be gentle on your skin. Philips Lumea comes with a built-in feature whereby it only flashes when it is in full contact with your skin and will not emit any light if the skin tone being treated isn’t suitable for IPL technology. It also comes with a free app to guide you step by step through each session, so you're supported in your hair removal journey.

Can IPL be used on the whole body, including stomach and face? 

The good news is that you can use IPL to treat hair on most of the body, including the upper lip, chin, underarms, arms, stomach legs and bikini area. However, IPL is not suitable for the ‘inner parts’ of the bikini area, therefore you should never use Lumea on the labia minora, the vagin* and anus.

Are IPL results permanent? 

Unfortunately, no light-based hair removal method, such as IPL and laser hair removal, can provide permanent results, not even in-clinic treatments. Top-ups will always be needed to maintain the results. However, the Philips Lumea IPL allows you to be continually hair-free for 12 months1 if used as recommended, meaning you can cut down significantly on those ‘everything showers’ or trips to the salon.

Is there a minimum/maximum age to do IPL?

We recommend that users are over 16 before using the device. However, there is no maximum age for usage on Lumea, just keep an eye on how your hair colour changes over time. As we get older, hair tends to lose its pigment and becomes grey or white, which isn’t suitable for IPL.

Can I use Philips Lumea every week?

When starting your IPL treatments with Philips Lumea, our recommended treatment plan is that your first four treatments are done on a fortnightly basis rather than weekly, followed by monthly top ups to keep hair regrowth at bay. It is not recommended to use your Lumea more than a fortnightly basis as IPL is only effective when your hair is in the ‘growing’ phase, so doing your treatment weekly won’t improve or speed up the results you see.

How long does IPL take to work?

Using Philips Lumea IPL, you can expect to see results from as early as your third treatment – with a 92% hair reduction when following the treatment plan1 (although this may vary from person to person). To get the most optimal results we recommend you follow the treatment plan and, if you tend to be a little forgetful like me, add these to your IPL app so you get those very helpful reminders when your next treatment is due.

'I'm an IPL expert and these are my top tips for great hair removal results' (3)

What are your top tips for getting good IPL results? 

My best tip is that it’s all in the prep! To get the best results, you first need to remove the hair from the surface of the skin. You can either do this by shaving, waxing or epilating. However, if you choose to remove using wax or epilation, wait 24-48 hours before using your Lumea. For some added TLC, exfoliation will also help with getting that smooth skin feeling.

Additionally, if like me, you’re someone who enjoys using fake tan in the summer, then make sure this is fully removed prior to your IPL treatment - you want the light to be absorbed by the hair follicle, not the tan.

What is your recommended IPL aftercare?

The great thing about IPL is that there’s no ‘down-time’ or recovery time needed. However, I do have a few tips and recommendations on how you can best look after your skin post IPL treatment.

Directly after using Philips Lumea, your skin will be more sensitive. Therefore, we recommend you wait at least 24 hours or until all redness has disappeared before exposing treated areas to the sun and would avoid using any actives (like retinol) straight after treatment on the face. Adding a layer of your favourite moisturiser post treatment is also a great way to complete each session to keep your skin feeling smooth.

Logging each of your treatments in the handy Lumea app will help keep you on track as it sends you helpful reminders on upcoming treatments, as well as hosting a wealth of additional tips and guidance support.

For most of us, IPL is an investment so to keep it in great condition you should be keeping your IPL device clean, giving it a wipe down after every use and pop it in the storage bag.

'I'm an IPL expert and these are my top tips for great hair removal results' (2024)
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