The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is Braun's flagship IPL machine, and one of the very best IPL machines around. If you're not familiar, IPL stands for 'intense pulse light', and these machines can be used at home to significantly (and painlessly) reduce the regrowth of body hair. They won't banish body hair for good, but for certain skin tones and hair types they will seriously reduce the amount of hair and make staying hair-free a whole load easier.
The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is designed to be speedy, safe and effective, with a built-in SensoAdapt feature that continuously adjusts the intensity of light based on the skin tone. There are a few different models (we tested the Silk-expert Pro 5 PL5124) but the different options refer only to the extras included – you get the same base machine with all of them.
I've been using one for the past 8+ months, and have been very impressed. This is an extremely good IPL machine – in fact, in many areas it outperforms our #1 rated device right now (head to our Philips Lumea Prestige vs Braun Silk-expert Pro 5 face-off for an in-depth comparison). Read on for my full Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 review.
Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 review: Features and extras
The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is a top quality IPL machine with a few extras to help it stand out. One headline feature is the SensoAdapt skin tone sensors, which continuously read your skin shade and automatically adapt the light intensity for effective and safe use. There are 10 different intensity levels; an indicator bar on the side of the device shows which one it's operating at, which isn't that useful but looks quite cool and does suggest this feature is actually doing something.
There's also a 'Gentle mode', designed for 'beginners and treating sensitive areas', which enables you to manually reduce the intensity of the light. Press the feather button to toggle through standard, gentle and extra gentle.
Two different sized heads can be swapped over to suit different areas. The wider head is ideal for tackling large, flat areas at speed, while the narrower one is useful for smaller or more awkward areas. Note – the precision head isn't included with all packs, so check before you buy.
You can also choose between glide and stamp mode, which auto-activate depending on the motion you make with the machine. The former is designed for effectively covering large, flat areas quickly – slide the Silk Expert Pro 5 along the skin and it'll flash intermittently. The latter is for when you need more precision, and is activated by firmly pressing and releasing on the area you want to treat.
Design-wise, we can't really fault it. In fact, the only only real drawback is that there's no cordless option.
The Silk Expert Pro 5 has a bulb life of 400,000 flashes. By way of comparison, the top-of-the range Philips Lumea Prestige (our #1 rated IPL machine at time of writing) only has 250,000. Braun says it's equivalent to 22 years of treatment, which makes that price tag sound much more reasonable.
It also operates twice as fast as the previous Silk Expert. You should be able to treat both legs in under 5 minutes at the lowest energy level. If you're worried about safety, don't be – there's a recommendation from the Skin Health Alliance (a leading international skin health organisation working with dermatologists and scientists) for extra peace of mind.
Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 review: Who can use it, where and how?
The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 can be used on the body, including underarms and bikini line. It's also suitable for removing sparser facial hair, but not full beards and not anywhere around the eyes.
As with all IPL machines, the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is most effective for those with dark hair and a light to mid skin tones. Essentially, the bigger the difference between the colour of the hair and the colour of the skin, the better. IPL machines, including this one, are unlikely to be effective for those with fair body hair or dark skin. This one comes with an extra warning, though: due to the SensoAdapt skin tone sensors, it's definitely not suitable for use on dark skin.
You'll need to remove hair using an alternative method such as shaving, waxing or epilating before targeting with IPL. Use once a week for a start-up period of 4-12 weeks, then continue as required for maintenance after that.
The Silk Expert Pro 5 is very easy to use and also almost completely painless. Sometimes the head feels a little hot, and occasionally you'll get a tiny twinge – possibly where you've been inefficient in removing hair beforehand – but compared to waxing or epilating, it's a walk in the park.
Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 review: Does it work?
Yes. I've been using the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 for eight months or so, and my body hair is significantly sparser, slower growing and finer. It has been least effective on my legs, which is unsurprising as the hair there is fairer, finer and the skin is more tanned. But elsewhere the difference is massive.
At this point I should probably emphasise that as a white-skinned person with dark hair, I'm basically an IPL machine's dream. How effective it is for you will vary depending on your skin and hair type. It's also worth saying that if you don't keep up with occasional top ups, your hair will start to return to its original state over time.
The start up period is a faff – shaving and IPLing what feels like your entire body once a week is quite the intense routine. However, after two or three uses I noticed there was significantly less hair growing back, and after that it was all very smooth sailing. Maintenance, even with the annoying two-step hair removal process, is quicker and much longer lasting than any other hair removal method I've tried (and I have pretty much tried them all).
The resulting finer, sparser hairs also means I haven't experienced ingrown hairs or irritated skin, which can be a side-effect of other hair-removal methods. Finally, there's also the added benefit of not having to grow back the hair to a certain length before removing it – so in the summer, there's no sweating it out in long trousers for a week before you can effectively wax or epilate.
Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 review: Verdict
I was extremely impressed with the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5. It's easy to use, with an ergonomic shape and intuitive controls, and it's almost completely painless. How effective it is for you will depend on your skin tone and hair type, but for me, it was very effective.
The price is high, but then long-term hair removal is never cheap. Bear in mind too that deals are not uncommon (check the widget below for the best current price in your area). And with a lifespan of 22 years, I'd argue it's more than worth it.
There's no doubt this is one of the best IPL machines you can buy.