I started using IPL and here’s everything I learned

In partnership with
John Lewis & Partners
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Can the new generation of at-home IPL hair-removal devices be as satisfying as a salon visit? Yes, says Suzanne Baum

I like to think I have a fairly high pain threshold, but when it comes to hair removal, I can become quite prickly. 

You name it, I’ve done it (with a grimace on my face); shaving, waxing, threading and tweezing – going fuzz-free has never been a pleasurable experience. 

However, no pain, no gain – unwanted body hair has been the bane of people’s lives for centuries. 

In-grown hairs, little bumpy spots and even the odd cut from a razor are all part and parcel of the hair removal process - or so I thought.

Then I discovered IPL, which I’d been avoiding for a long time for fear of it a) bankrupting me and b) hurting like hell. 

As it turned out, the reality was far from what I’d imagined. Here’s everything I learned…

  • 1. It’s simpler than it seems

    Adding a razor to my supermarket shop and making a threading appointment with my beauty therapist has been part of my routine for years.

    So although I was stepping out of my comfort zone by attempting to do an IPL treatment at home, I was rather excited at the prospect of a longer lasting hair removal option which I could do whilst watching Netflix.

    I’d previously thought that IPL seemed rather clinical, and more complicated than wielding a razor, but the process is actually very straightforward.

    IPL works by sending out pulses of light (the acronym stands for intense pulsed light) into the hair follicle.

    The pigment in the follicles then absorbs the light, turns it into heat and that destroys the hair. Simple.

  • 2. It’s smart

    The entire process is really easy and quick; you just turn the machine on, hold the device to your skin, and press the skin sensor button.

    The device then recognizes the most effective treatment intensity for your skin tone and suggests the setting that you should use.

    It’s suitable for most hair and skin types, but you’ll need to check before use as it doesn’t work for everyone.

    It’s flexible too - the Philips Lumea Prestige helpfully comes with a trio of unique attachments, each designed for easy access to the various areas of your body you might want to treat.

    Once you’ve got the correct attachment in place, all you need to do is tilt your device to a 90-degree angle on the skin, push the button and get to work.

  • 3. You’re the master of your pain threshold

    I’ve never been a fan of hair removal, but compared to some of the other methods out there, IPL is pretty easy to deal with.

    Sensation-wise, it feels kind of warm and prickly, which is something of an upgrade on the alternative options.

    Crucially, as it’s me in control and not a salon therapist, I can glide it over my skin as quickly or slowly as I want, depending on how sensitive the area is.

    If like me you don’t like putting your bikini line or underarms at the mercy of a stranger, you should find it a much more pleasant experience.

  • 4. Do your prep beforehand

    If you’re a newcomer to IPL, there are a few dos and don’ts I’ve picked up along the way.

    Before you start your first session, remember to remove all traces of deodorant and moisturiser, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.

    You’ll also want to shave all the areas you’re focusing on, as hair on the skin can stop the light from reaching the root.

    Finally, don’t get too excited if there’s no hair growth for a few weeks, as hairs have a growth phase as well as a resting and falling-out phase.

    That’s why you’ll initially need to perform several regular sessions, spaced at two week intervals for the first eight weeks, to cover the typical length of a hair-growth cycle.

    After that, you can revel in your newly smooth skin to your heart’s content.

  • 5. The results speak for themselves

    How effective is it? In a word, very.

    I hardly seemed to get any hair regrowth after just two sessions, and in some areas, the hair has disappeared completely.

    The skin on my legs is completely smooth and when the hair does grows back, it’s very fine.

    After five sessions I’m pretty much hair-free and I can’t quite believe it.

    Granted, most IPL devices will cost you a significant amount up front (the Philips Lumea is £475 with John Lewis & Partners, including a two-year guarantee), but in the long run, that’s a fraction of the price you’d spend on salon treatments. 

Enjoy a two year guarantee as standard when you shop the Philips Lumea Prestige range at John Lewis & Partners.