The best IPL machine 2018: effective hair removal for men and women

Banish hair with the power of light

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IPL machines are handy tools for both men and women who are fed up with unwanted body hair. Whether it’s getting your legs ready for two weeks in the sun or ridding your back of those hairs that you swear grow back bushier each time you shave, IPL machines are an easy and convenient solution to making sure your body remains hair-free. While they won’t remove the hair for good, you can usually go a good month before the odd touch up is required.

IPL stands for 'intense pulse light', and unlike laser machines, it uses different wavelengths to target pigment within the hair. Once the light reaches the pigment, it’s heated to a level which kills the growing cells, eradicating the hair. 

Experts say that IPL machines aren’t as effective or as efficient as laser hair removal, but as handheld devices that you can conveniently use at home, they are far more accessible to the everyday person. 

With popular brands such as Phillips, Braun and Remington all producing products for the IPL market, it’s far easier for people with busy lifestyles or limited bank accounts to invest in something that can be used whenever a schedule allows or can be purchased at a one-off price. 

Their use is limited, though; brands won’t recommend that you use an IPL machine on delicate areas, whereas a laser machine used by a professional could be used to de-hair more sensitive areas. Most IPL machines have a limited number of flashes before the lamp has to be replaced,too, with many offering 100,000-200,000 flashes. 

IPL machines are best suited for people with fair skin and dark hair because of the clear difference in pigmentation, although devices designed for darker tones do exist. It does mean the market limits itself, despite IPL machines being available from well known retailers including Boots, Currys and Very. 

Our list rounds up the best IPL machines from various retailers so you can discover the best one for your requirements. 

The 7 best IPL machines

1. Philips Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Removal Device

A cordless IPL machine for easy hair removal

Specifications
Best for: All over treatment
Cordless: Yes
Use on: Body, face, bikini line, underarms
Reasons to buy
+5 different light settings+3 different attachments available

The device works by applying gentle pulses of light to the hair and can be used twice weekly for 3 to 4 weeks until skin is smooth and hair-free. With different attachments for the body, face, bikini line and armpits, you can make sure the level of light is most effective for the skin area, and you can even be advised of the best energy setting for your skin tone to ensure the best results. 

Phillips suggest that you may need to top up every 4 to 8 weeks, which leaves plenty of time for you to enjoy your hair-free skin in the form of a big holiday or plenty of nights out before it starts growing back. 

2. SmoothSkin Bare IPL Hair Removal Device

A glide mode and stamp mode makes this IPL machine the best for large and small areas

Specifications
Best for: Convenience
Cordless: No
Use on: Body, face, bikini line, underarms
Reasons to buy
+Quick and easy to use+Features a glide mode for continuous flashes
Reasons to avoid
-No variation in light settings 

Using an IPL machine can be time consuming, but thanks to the glide mode on this machine, you can hold down the activation button and just move it up and down the skin - perfect for dealing with legs and arms quickly and efficiently. Alternatively, there’s a stamp mode, which requires placing the skin on the device for each flash - this mode has been designed for delicate areas, such as the bikini line, where accuracy is key. 

With a black and gold aesthetic, this machine is just as stylish but much cheaper than our first pick. While it doesn’t offer varied light settings, it’ll only flash if your skin tone is suitable, so you don’t damage pigment. 

3. Braun 5001 Silk-Expert IPL

An auto-adapting IPL machine for safe and effective hair removal treatment

Specifications
Best for: Permanent removal
Cordless: No
Use on: Body, face, bikini, underarm
Reasons to buy
+Always receive the right level of light +Permanent visible hair removal 
Reasons to avoid
-Not wireless

If you’re worried about using the right setting for your skin, this IPL machine features sensor technology to ensure the correct intensity. Working beneath the skin, after enough sessions and the occasional top up, you can break the cycle of hair regrowth by preventing unwanted hair from ever reaching the skin surface - great if you’re looking for a more permanent solution. 

As with our second product, you can benefit from a glide option, which means easy and convenient hair removal for larger areas, such as legs and arms. You can also choose between normal, gentle and extra gentle modes to target more sensitive areas, such as the bikini line or underarms. 

4. Iluminage Touch Permanent Hair Reduction Device

Combining IPL with radio frequency, this device is suitable for all skin tones

Specifications
Best for: All skin tones
Cordless: No
Use on: Body, face, bikini, underarm
Reasons to buy
+For all skin tones+Treats blond hairs
Reasons to avoid
-Results aren’t permanent  

Those with fair hair or darker skin will be thankful that this machine is suitable for both, due to the safer combination of IPL and radio frequency. Having said that, the consensus seems to be that results aren’t as effective as other models in our list, especially for thicker, darker hair. Iluminage give you the recommending timing for body areas so you can gauge how long each session will take you, great if you’re looking to weave hair removal sessions into a busy schedule. The device includes a precision adapter, which is particularly helpful if you require the device for removing unwanted facial hair. 

5. Remington iLight Pro IPL Hair Removal System

Remington promise professional results and permanent hair reduction

Specifications
Best for: Professional results
Cordless: No
Use on: Body, face, bikini, underarm
Reasons to buy
+Five light speeds+Permanently reduce hair loss 
Reasons to avoid
-Only 100,000 flashes before light replacement 

With 5 speeds to choose from, you can ensure that sensitive areas only receive a low amount of light, while main body areas receive more. Remington recommend that beginners use a lower light level at first, just so their skin gets used to the sensation; they can then work their way up to stronger light intensities once they feel comfortable. 

Used to permanently reduce unwanted hairs, this machine is almost as effective as our third pick however, the bulb is only capable of 100,000 flashes rather than 300,000, which could explain the significant difference in RRP. 

6. SmoothSkin Gold IPL 200 Hair Reduction Device

An incredibly effective machine that promises speedy hair removal

Specifications
Best for: Speedy hair removal
Cordless: No
Use on: Body, face, bikini, underarm
Reasons to buy
+1 flash per second +Automatically detects skin tone
Reasons to avoid
-Results may take a while to show 

More expensive but including more features than our other SmoothSkin pick, this is almost a match for our number one product. Thanks to it’s claimed position as the fastest and most powerful on the market, larger areas shouldn’t take too long to cover, while gentle mode means people with sensitive skin are covered, too. 

It also features a glide and stamp mode, which helps you to apply the most effective treatment to different body areas. With effective treatment and dedication, most users should get to point where only occasional top up is required to keep hairs at bay. 

7. Tria Hair Removal Laser Precision

A slim, lightweight machine perfect for those hard to reach areas

Specifications
Best for: Speedy hair removal
Cordless: No
Use on: Body, face, bikini, underarm
Reasons to buy
+Dermatologist preferred technology+Designed for precision and hard to reach places
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life is fairly short

This small and lightweight device has been designed with ease of use in mind. It’s battery powered so you don’t have to tackle any wires while using it and thanks to its size, sensitive areas should be easy to cover. 

As with our Braun pick, this machine aims to stop hair-regrowth after continued use, so you shouldn’t have to worry about shaving or waxing again. Users seem to report quick results, although it lacks the variation in light strength settings that other IPL machines seem to offer.