best home laser IPL

Philips Lumea review and comparison (Spoiler alert: Philips Lumea Advanced is the best)

Want to buy a home laser hair removal or light (IPL) hair removal device but worried you will buy the wrong one? Wondering where to start with all the different options out there?

I’ve personally owned and used all the Philips Lumea models over the past 6 years.  After more hair removal sessions than I care to remember, I can highly recommend that Philips Lumea Advanced gives you the most value for your money. The Advanced model has all the features you need for quick and easy home IPL hair removal without the premium price tag.

You can take my word for it or read on to discover why I recommend the Philips Lumea Advanced over the Philips Lumea Prestige even though almost every other reviewer out there is recommending the Prestige. 

This Philips Lumea Comparison Table will give you a summary of the different features of each model. 

Model

Lumea Prestige

Lumea Advanced

Lumea Essential

Price range

$$$


$$


$

Attachments

4 attachments - body (curved), face (flat), bikini (curved), underarms (curved)

3 attachments - body, face, bikini (all flat)

Only flat body attachment

Tailored program

Yes

No

No

Hair reduction claim

92% in 3 treatments

75% in 4 treatments

Up to 75% in 4 treatments

Suitable skin types

I-V

I-IV

I-IV

SmartSkin Sensor

Yes

No

Yes

Flashes

> 250,000

> 250,000

200,000

Cordless option

Yes

No

No

Average speed for 2 lower legs

8.5 mins (corded)
15 mins (cordless)

15 minutes

15 minutes

Free Philips app

Yes

Yes

Yes

Philips Global Warranty

2 years

2 years

2 years

          Star rating

U.S / Canada / Global readers

Australian readers

Which Philips Lumea model should you buy?

The Philips Lumea Essential has a lack of attachments, less ergonomic shape and most of all, shorter bulb life. It is a good model to start with if you are only trying home IPL treatment out. However, if it is within your budget, I would recommend the Advanced or the Prestige model. Even though they are more expensive, they last longer and you will feel the difference. 

Both the Philips Lumea Prestige and Philips Lumea Advanced are excellent choices. Both will last for ages and are of exceptional quality. But which of these 2 models should you choose?

It comes down to your budget and which body areas you want to treat.

The Prestige is the top-of-the-range premium model that is suited for any body area due to all the different attachments. It can also treat up to Fitzpatrick Skin Tone Type 5.

The Advanced model, on the other hand, is a mid-range model. It doesn’t come with a cordless option and has fewer attachments. There is also no smart skin sensor and no tailored programs for different body parts. In general it is better suited for smaller body areas.

Both can be used in ‘stamp and flash’ and ‘glide and flash’ mode. The speed between flashes are different. The Advanced model flashes every 3.5 seconds while the Prestige model can flash every 2 seconds. The Advanced model also has a slightly smaller treatment window so for both these reasons, your IPL sessions take a bit longer with the Advanced model.

Having said that, I chose the Advanced model over the Prestige model for price difference. I couldn’t justify paying for the Prestige model despite its premium features and I have found the Advanced model to be perfectly adequate for my needs. My guess is, most women would find the Advanced model just fine to use.   

The Philips Lumea Advanced is perfectly adequate for my needs. My guess is, most women would find the Advanced model just fine to use.   

The story of how I started using Philips Lumea

I used to have coarse dark hair on my legs and armpits. I would shave regularly but the hair grows back within a few days and my legs would feel stubby and scratchy. 

I tried hair removal creams but got worried that all the chemical absorbing into my skin regularly was killing me. 

I tried epilators and waxing very briefly. OUCH!

Then I looked into having professional laser hair removal and IPL hair removal. It didn’t take me long to change my mind when I saw the sky-high prices the salons were charging. There was no way I could justify spending so much on vanity. 

Through doing all my research was when I first bought my first Philips Lumea way back in 2015. I’ve not looked back since. 

For sure, laser hair removal and light (IPL) hair removal at home are not as quick to show results as professional salon treatments but the massive price difference and convenience of being able to carry out treatments at home in my own time makes it all worth it. 

Fast track 5 years later, I currently own a Philips Lumea Advanced and have silky smooth legs. The icing on the cake? I got here with no pain and no mess.  

Detailed Buyer’s Guide

What is in the Philips Lumea hair removal range?

The Philips Lumea hair removal range is the latest generation of IPL devices by Philips. In essence there is the:

  • Entry model – the Lumea Essential
  • Mid-range model – the Lumea Advanced
  • Premium model – the Lumea Prestige

As expected, there are some differences in features between the models. I’ll talk about some of the key differences and how they might affect you.

philips lumea prestige

Philips Lumea Prestige

Philips’ most powerful device (in their words)

Philips calls this model their most power IPL hair removal device yet and claims that it can reduce 92% of unwanted hair in 3 treatments and after 12 treatments, you will be hair-free for 6 months. This would be awesome if it were true! Imagine the time you save from not having to do maintenance as often! But I would take this with a pinch of salt as most women have found it takes them a little bit longer get results.

Cordless and corded option

The Prestige comes with a built-in battery meaning it can be used cordless or corded. The battery lasts 30 minutes and takes about 1.5-2 hours to charge. The device is slower when it is being used cordless. However, the cordless option comes in handy when you need to maneuver in those hard-to-reach places like your bikini line or your face.

Four ‘intelligent’ attachments

The Prestige comes with 4 attachments. When the different attachments are fitted on the device, they trigger a tailored program for that specific body part, making it more effective and safer, especially when used on delicate and sensitive areas. This gives you peace of mind as you won’t have to worry if the light is too intense when you use it on your bikini line or face.

The attachments are:

  • The facial attachment which is flat. It has a small 2 cm² window size and a special light filter. This makes it safer when you perform facial hair removal as you won’t have to worry that you’re zapping your lips and nostrils in the process.
  • The underarm attachment which is curved-out to fit around the contours of your armpit better. It has a bigger 3 cm² window size.
  • The bikini attachment which is also curved-out and has a 3 cm² window size. The difference between the bikini attachment and the underarm attachment is the bikini attachment has an extra transparent filter to allow more light through and the light intensity is adjusted automatically when the attachment is added to the device as hair in the bikini area tend to be stronger and thicker than other body hair. Smart huh?
  • The body attachment which is curved-in with a big 4.1 cm² window size. The curved-in feature improves device-to-skin contact as you will use this attachment on your legs, arms and stomach and these body parts all tend to curve out 🙂

SmartSkin sensor

The Prestige has a smart skin sensor to detect your skin tone. When the device is placed on your skin, it recommends the most effective safe setting for your skin tone. There are 5 settings with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest light intensity. Especially if you have different skin tones across body areas (which most of us do, due to sun exposure etc.), it removes the guesswork. You can still bring the light intensity down a notch or two when you use the device on your more sensitive areas.

The smart skin sensor and ability to adjust the light intensity enables the Prestige to treat slightly darker skin tones than the other 2 models. It treats skin tones I-V based on the Fitzpatrick skin tone chart.

skin tone chart

Ergonomic design

The Prestige is shaped liked a hair dryer with a long handle. This makes it easy to maneuver, especially since it is a bit heavier at 560g due to the in-built battery. However, you can twist your wrist this way and that with ease while holding it and the long handle also helps prevent the device from being caught in the electrical cord when you are trying to get to hard-to-reach places.

Delivers more than 250,000 flashes

Whoa! That sounds like an insane number of flashes and it is. Philips estimates that 250,000 flashes covers 200+ full body treatments and more than 15 years of monthly top-up treatments. However, I doubt that the device will last you 15 years as this estimate is only based on bulb life and is not taking into consideration general use, battery life, wear and tear etc. 

 Philips Lumea Advanced 

Three attachments

The Advanced model comes with 3 attachments, all flat (non-curved), which is obviously not as good as curved attachments, but is more than adequate for safe and effective use over most of your body. Unlike the Prestige model, there is no tailored program for individual attachments.

The attachments are:

  • The facial attachment which also has a 2 cm² window and like the Prestige model, includes an additional light filter for extra safety. You can use it for facial hair removal to treat the upper lip, chin and sideburns.
  • The bikini attachment which has a slightly smaller 2 cm² window and like the Prestige, has a special filter for treating the coarser hair in the bikini area.
  • The body attachment which comes already attached to the device and stays attached. It has a slightly smaller 4 cm² window size compared to the Prestige. You can use this attachment for anywhere on your body below the neckline other than the bikini area.

Skin tone sensor

While the skin tone sensor doesn’t recommend a treatment setting based on your skin tone like the Prestige model, it still analyzes your skin tone and if it detects a skin tone that is too dark for treatment, the device will automatically disable.

The Advanced model is able to treat Fitzpatrick Skin Tones Type I-IV

skin tone chart

Ergonomic design

The Advanced model is also shaped like a hairdryer (some call it gun-shaped) but with a slightly different head design and a shorter handle compared to the Prestige. It is lighter than the Prestige and despite the shorter handle, is very easy to maneuver.

philips lumea essential

Philips Lumea Essential

SmartSkin Sensor

Surprisingly, the latest generation of the Essential model also has a SmartSkin sensor like the Prestige and can advise you on the best setting to use for your skin tone. As with the other 2 models, it comes with 5 different settings.

The same as the Advanced model, the Essential model treats Fitzpatrick Skin Tones I-IV. 

No extra attachments

The Essential model comes with one large window that can be used to treat all body areas including your face. However, as you can imagine, having a larger window makes it harder to perform facial hair removal and increases your risk of burning your lips and nostrils. 

All models have these features

Integrated safety system

All models have an integrated safety system that prevents unintentional flashing without skin contact.

philips app

Free support app

Philips also offers a free app for their Philips Lumea users. You can create tailored treatment schedules for each area of your body, get advice and tips. It also reminds you of your next IPL session. It is a useful app when you initially start using the IPL device to help get you into the groove and for advice. But the device is pretty simple to use and I can see this app falling by the wayside as you get used to your new routine.

What are the pros and cons of the Philips Lumea?

Pros

  • The device is solid and the ergonomic hair dryer shape is easy and comfortable to use
  • Having up to 5 light intensity options means it operates at a higher IPL power than many other devices and it can treat a wide range of skin tones and hair colour
  • The different attachments for different body areas made the Philips Lumea (Prestige and Advanced) much easier and safer to use
  • The attachments are quick and easy to switch and as you can see from the video, the Philips Lumea is really easy to use
  • For the Prestige model, the different attachment curves fit snugly to the contours of bikini lines, underarms and legs. The intelligent attachments also tell the device what program to use
  • The Prestige model also has a cordless option so you can remove the cord for smaller or harder to reach areas. Keep in mind it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to fully charge and the battery lasts 30 minutes. The device also flashes slower in cordless mode.
  • The Philips Lumea is quiet!!! I use it during baby and toddler naps all the time.
  • It is effective. You will see a big difference even after the first use.
  • It is painless… most of the time. But whatever discomfort you experience is fleeting and can be reduced by doing good skin prep. It is definitely less painful than waxing, epilating and threading!
  • The Philips Lumea lasts a long time, According to Philips, their Advanced and Prestige models have more than 250,000 flashes, which covers > 1million cm² of body area, 200+ full body treatments and more than 15 years of monthly top-up treatments. You could share it and still get years of use. Of note, Philips have only based their assumption on bulb life, not taking into consideration general use, battery use, wear and tear etc.
  • All devices in the Philips Lumea range comes with a 2 year global warranty. I have claimed this twice and they have honoured it both times.
  • No more shaving rash or bumps and no ingrown hair! Your skin is softer, smoother and less dry
  • The black dots associated with hair growth that you get with shaving disappears
  • No scratchy armpit or bikini line stubble!

Cons

  • It is expensive compared to other cheaper home hair removal kits. It took me awhile to buy my first IPL device. But it is value for time because after the initial phase, you don’t have to do maintenance very often. As a busy mom, this really helps. And if you have been going for salon treatments, a home IPL device is definitely cheaper and more value for money. In fact, in the long run it saves you a small fortune.
  • Most IPLS have a specific number of flashes that they will deliver before the lamp dies and you have to replace it. This certainly happened with my first two older generation Philips IPL devices way back in 2015 and 2017. The new generation of Philip Lumea devices comes with >250,000 flashes (200,000 flashes for the Essential model) that is supposed to last you more than 15 years
  • The flash rate for the Philips Lumea Advanced model is a ‘slow’, 3.5 seconds. It doesn’t worry me but for some people, this can feel like a long time. The Prestige model is a lot faster at 2 seconds.  
  • If you glide too fast you will miss spots. This happened to me. I had patchy areas of hair that would regrow and I had to continue treating every 2 weeks up to 8 times.
  • Home IPL treatment requires consistent effort and persistence over months to years. 
  • Some people say you won’t feel as smooth afterwards compared to a wax but hey, no pain!
  • Not everyone can use IPL treatments (read ‘who is IPL treatments not for’ above).  
  • The Advanced model isn’t heavy but the Prestige model is heavier at 560g due to its in-built battery. Some people have said that it is heavy to use for longer periods of time but once you are experienced, you don’t actually need to use it for long and it’s easy to rotate and pivot as needed.
  • The handle on the Advanced model is a bit shorter so sometimes the power cord can get in the way.
  • Some people (including me) struggle to get the body attachment on the skin properly around the shin, ankle and knee areas.

Why Philips Lumea hair removal range and not any other brand or model?

There are so many brands out there like Braun, Smooth Skin, Sensica, Silk’n, Illuminage, Remington, and lots more selling home IPL hair removal devices. Some are more expensive and others are cheaper than the Philips Lumea range of devices.

So why did I choose to review the Philips Lumea range?

For the simple reason that I have used one Philips Lumea device or another for the last 5 years and I’ve been very happy with all my devices. Before I bought my first IPL device, I researched the crap out of it because it was the most expensive hair removal tool I have ever bought in my life until then.

Looking at all the options available back then, I dipped my toes into the water by buying the older model of the current Philips Lumea Essential and have not looked back since. It is fair to say that Philips was and is the market leader in home hair removal products. It is a top-notch brand and it meets all the safety and manufacturing standards.

How does the Philips Lumea Advanced work?

When I got my first Philips Lumea, I was ecstatic! And also scared. There were hardly any guides or tutorials around. I was terrified I would make a mistake and hurt myself, or worse, damage my most expensive home hair removal device yet.

Looking online recently, there were still not many tutorials about the Philips Lumea Advanced specifically. So to save you from the confusion I went through, I’ll go through a step-by-step tutorial, demonstrating with my Philips Lumea Advanced device.

Philips Lumea AdvancedPhilips Lumea Advanced

N.B This is not a new package. I have had the Philips Lumea Advanced for almost a year now.  

First impressions

The box is compact and well-designed. It was also packed well, with no chance of anything getting moved and damaged in transit.

Before you start

Read the manual

The manual is quite boring and comprehensive. Unfortunately, it is important to read the manual, especially if it is your first time with an IPL device. There is a long list of warnings and contraindications. But there are also very helpful diagrams, explanation of skin tone and hair colour charts, information on how IPL technology works, troubleshooting and lots more important information to help you do home IPL hair removal treatment safely.

Do a skin test

Especially if you have sensitive skin, it is very important to make sure your skin does not react to the treatment. It also gives you a chance to test what is the highest light intensity setting your skin would tolerate.

Philips Lumea Skin Test

  1. Choose a small area in the body part you want to treat. Make sure it is prepped (more on this later), clean and dry. 
  2. Select Setting 1 and put the device against your skin.
  3.  When the device stops blinking, press the flash button to release the flash.
  4. Slide the device over the skin to the next area.
  5. Increase the setting by one level, apply a flash and slide to the next area (look at the screenshot above for guidance).
  6. Repeat this for all levels until you reach the recommended light intensity for your skin tone. For example, if you have Skin Tone Type 4 (mid-brown), you can test the light intensity up to setting 4.
  7. Repeat the process from setting 1 in a small area in other body parts you intend to use the IPL device on. For example, if you tested an area on your leg initially, now test your armpit, arm, stomach, face and bikini line as well.

Use the Fitzpatrick Skin Tone charts above to help you decide what skin tone you have. The table below helps guide you as well.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type

Skin Tone

Description

Intensity Setting

I

White

You always sunburn, never tan

Use setting 4/5

II

Beige

You easily sunburn, tan minimally

Use setting 4/5

III

Light brown

You sunburn easily, tan slowly

Use setting 4/5 

IV

Mid-brown

You rarely sunburn, tan easily

Use setting 3/4

V

Dark brown

You rarely sunburn, tan very easily

Use setting 1/2/3

VI

Brownish black

You rarely or never sunburn, very dark tanning

IPL is not for you 

If there is no skin reaction after 24 hours, you are good to go.

If your skin did show a reaction, choose the highest setting that did not result in a skin reaction for subsequent use.

How to prepare your skin before IPL treatment (pre-treatment prep)

You’ll need to shave the body area you want to treat before applying IPL treatment. This allows the light to target the hair directly at the follicle. If IPL is used on longer hair, it can singe the hair and you’ll get a burning smell. Using IPL on longer hair can also be more uncomfortable and increase your chances of experiencing pain or discomfort. 

When you shave, try to be careful so that there are no nicks, abrasions or cuts as they can sting during and after IPL treatment.

Even though Philips says you can wax or epilate to prep your skin, I don’t recommend waxing or epilating because for IPL to work effectively, some hair is required to allow the light to target it.

BUT if you are one of those women who can’t shave for whatever reason and need to wax or epilate, just be aware results will be slower. If you are waxing, wait 24 hours and make sure there are no traces of wax left when you start your IPL treatment.

Don’t use hair removal creams as they may cause skin reactions with the IPL treatment.

After a few treatments and your hair have stopped growing back, you can skip the pre-treatment prep.

Special word about natural or fake tanning and IPL treatment

You should really make sure that your skin is as tan-free as possible, whether  you have a natural or fake tan. There are two major reasons for this.

  1. For safety. The combination of having a tan and using IPL light treatment increases your risk of having skin reactions.
  2. For better effect. Tanning darkens your skin so you will need to use a lower light intensity level. However, as explained before, the higher settings are more effective for hair removal so the fairer your skin is, the more effective IPL treatment will be.

If you are tanned, the official recommendation is to wait at least 2 weeks after tanning before using IPL treatment.   

Time to start your very own home IPL hair removal treatment!

Choose where and when you set up

I usually choose a time when my daughter is asleep and I know I have the next half hour free. It would be almost impossible to do IPL treatment in peace with her running around and getting into things. I also don’t want to expose her sensitive and still maturing eyes to IPL because I imagine it can be quite bright to little toddlers.

I like to set up somewhere comfortable, usually the lounge chair in my living room, so that it is easy for me to bend over to do my legs. Some women might prefer sitting at the edge of their bed or even on the floor. Whichever place is most comfortable for you is fine.

I can do IPL treatment on my legs (including back of legs) and armpits just fine on my lounge chair but some women find being in front of a mirror helpful, especially for their bikini line, underarms, and back of legs. This is where having a cordless device (the Philips Lumea Prestige) is helpful so you can just unplug and move to the mirror as needed.

If you are using IPL treatment on your face, being in front of a mirror definitely helps 🙂 I definitely don’t recommend doing facial hair removal ‘blind’. Just saying.

Philips Lumea Advanced attachments

Photo above: those are the 3 attachments – body, bikini line and face (L – R)

Choose the body attachment you want to use

I usually start with my legs first, then armpits. With the Philips Lumea Advanced, the body attachment comes with the device so you can just start flashing.

If you are using the face or bikini attachment, gently pull the body attachment off then snap the new attachment onto the light exit window.

Step-by-step guide to using the Philips Lumea Advanced 

Plug in the power cord and press the power button. The buttons will illuminate white and you’ll hear the fan start up inside.

Philips Lumea AdvancedThe power button is at the back, just behind the setting numbers. 

Select your intensity level manually based on your skin tone and comfort levels. For Prestige users, the SmartSkin Sensor will analyze your skin tone and suggest the highest, most effective and safest intensity for your skin tone in that area. You can choose to follow its suggestion or bring the level down a notch if you want, especially for the areas that are more sensitive.

Make sure your skin is dry and clean. Don’t apply any moisturizers or deodorant beforehand. For your armpits, make sure you have washed them and they are free of deodorant, especially the long-lasting kind as it can increase your risk of reaction.

Press the treatment window on your skin at a 90 degree angle (screenshot above). Wait for the ‘ready to flash’ light to stop blinking and press the flash button. You will hear a soft popping sound with each flash. If there is no blinking light, it means the sensor detects that the device is not properly placed on your skin. Reposition the device.

You can then use the ‘slide and flash’ or ‘stamp and flash’ mode depending on which body area you are treating. I definitely find the ‘slide and flash’ mode easiest and fastest on big areas like my legs, arms and stomach. The ‘stamp and flash’ mode is better for small or curvy areas like the knees, ankles, armpits and face.

With the ‘slide and flash’ mode, you keep the flash button pressed while you slide the device against your skin to release several flashes in a row. 

With the ‘stamp and flash’ mode, you place the device on your skin and flash once. Then you remove the device and place it beside the area you just flashed and press the flash button again. 

Slowly slide or stamp the Lumea device across the treatment area while flashing. Avoid flashing the same spot twice. Don’t mark off treated areas as it can cause a skin reaction.

Once you are done with one area, move on to the next body area.

When finished, press and hold the power button for 2 seconds to switch it off.

And you’re done! That’s how easy it is 🙂 Most beginners can take up to half an hour for the legs and 5-10 minutes for the armpits. The time you will need for your bikini line and face varies, depending on how big an area you want to cover and how sensitive you are. As you continue with treatments and become surer of yourself, your speed improves as well.

With the Philips Lumea Advanced, it takes 3.5 seconds between flashes. It doesn’t sound like much but you definitely feel the wait between flashes. It doesn’t worry me in general but some women might find this pause a bit annoying. If you want a quicker session, the Philips Lumea Prestige only takes 2 seconds between flashes.

You might feel a slight occasional sting, but there is no way that you will find IPL treatment as painful as waxing, epilating or threading. It can smart if you have a small cut or blister so avoid these areas. It also tends to be more uncomfortable in the more sensitive areas like your bikini line and underarms so use a lower setting if need be.

What is the recommended treatment schedule for Philips Lumea?

Initial phase

Every 2 weeks for the first 4-5 treatments. 

Why does the initial phase go on for 8-10 weeks? Because IPL technology is only effective when the hair is in its growing phase. Not all hairs are in the growing phase at the same time. That is why the initial 8-week treatment schedule.

I actually treated myself every 2 weeks for about 8 treatments as I was a wuss and used a lower intensity than recommended for my skin tone. I was also being super careful about not overlapping flashes and ended up leaving small strips of skin unflashed during each treatment. Obviously hair grew back quite quickly in these areas.

Touch-up phase

Every 4-8 weeks when you see hairs growing back.

Times between treatments may vary based on your individual hair regrowth and also across different body areas.

When I eventually got to touch-up phase, I only needed to touch-up once every 4-6 weeks initially then I left it for months on end because I got lazy. If you stop touching up, over time you will find that more hair will grow. If you leave it for too long like  I have on more than 1 occasion, you will need to restart from the initial phase to get your rogue hair under control again.

What is the difference between laser hair removal and intense pulsed light (IPL) hair removal?

Many people confuse laser hair removal and intense pulsed light (IPL) hair removal including me. Both laser and IPL devices use light to heat hair follicles and prevent regrowth. They sound like they are the same thing but the technology is actually different with the key difference being the light source used.

Laser hair removal uses a laser beam that is made up of precisely controlled pulses of energy in a single spectrum which is absorbed by the melanin or pigment in the hair, reaching into the active hair follicles beneath the skin. When the energy is absorbed, it creates heat from the tip of the hair right down to the bottom of the root, safely destroying the hair without damaging surrounding skin.

Home laser hair removal devices use lower energy levels than salon ones to make them safe for home use. But actually, when you hear people talk about home laser hair removal devices, they often actually mean home IPL hair removal devices as most home devices actually use intense pulsed light (IPL) instead of laser.

IPL is not a laser treatment even though IPL devices also release pulses of energy which is absorbed by the pigment in your hair. The pulses of light stimulate the hair follicle to go into resting phase and therefore stops it from re-growing. But IPL devices use a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths, causing more unfocused energy around the hair and skin area. IPL energy is scattered and much weaker compared to laser energy. IPL devices are usually fitted with filters to filter out unnecessary light wavelengths and UV light.

Words like ‘unfocused’ and ‘weaker energy’ don’t sound like good words to describe hair removal devices. But this makes IPL hair removal gentler than laser hair removal.   

Who can use IPL hair removal devices?

The greater the contrast between your hair colour and your skin colour, the more effective IPL hair removal can be. Therefore it works best on those with light skin and dark hair. I have medium brown skin and black hair but found IPL hair removal works very well for me.

Who is IPL hair removal treatment not for?

IPL hair removal treatment is not for women with white or grey, light blonde or red hair, whatever your skin colour. This is due to the low pigment concentration in your hair.

It is also not suitable for women with very dark complexion as your skin has too much melanin.

Also, if you are strapped for cash, please don’t spend it on this. Even though being able to do your own IPL hair removal treatment at home is awesome, it is still a ‘luxury’. There are much cheaper ways to remove unwanted body hair.

IPL hair removal is also not for:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women (because it hasn’t been tested for safety in these women, not because it is actually dangerous to you or your baby)
  • Those with certain skin conditions, for example, psoriasis, vitiligo, porphyria etc. 
  • Those with certain medical conditions, for example, diabetes, heart failure, poor wound healing, epilepsy with flash light sensitivity, bleeding disorders, immunosuppressive diseases including HIV
  • Those who have active devices implanted, for example, pacemakers, neurostimulators, insulin pumps etc. You can use IPL hair removal devices if you have breast implants. 
  • Those with a history of skin cancer or pre-cancerous skin lesions in the areas you want to treat

If you are one of these women, unfortunately IPL hair removal treatment is not for you. I’ll write an article on other home hair removal methods later. For all other women where IPL hair removal is suitable, read on.

What to consider when buying a home IPL device?

  1. The number of flashes – this is the number of times the device can emit a flash. Once the lamp runs out of flashes, you will need to replace the device. Having said that, I ran out of flashes in the 2 year warranty period twice with my older IPL models and Philips replaced my device without hassle.
  2. The number of attachments – depending on which body area you want to use it for, having additional attachments specifically for those areas make it easier and safer for you.
  3. The level of light intensity options – this is important so you can adjust the light intensity based on your skin tone, which body area you are treating and your comfort levels.
  4. Speed – the shorter the time between flashes, the quicker the treatment process.
  5. Corded or cordless option – all devices come with a corded option but only some have a cordless option. Having a cordless option makes the device easier to use and also more transportable. Bear in mind, most devices tend to be slower when in cordless mode.
  6. User-friendliness – choose a device which is user-friendly and straightforward. Life is complicated and busy enough.

What are the side effects that I might expect from IPL treatment?

Philips has a long list of possible side effects or skin reactions in their manual but the most common side effects I (and other reviewers) have experienced are:

  • Tingling sensation during light flashes
  • Slight redness and warmth after an IPL session
  • Dry skin and itching

Other rare side effects include:

  • Excessive pain
  • Burns
  • Excessive redness and swelling
  • Skin discolouration
  • Blistering
  • Skin infection
  • Scarring

Often these rare side effects are due to using a light intensity setting that is too high for your skin tone. If you use your IPL device according to instructions, there shouldn’t be any major issues.

Continue reading to see how you can take care of your skin after IPL hair removal sessions to reduce your risks of side effects.

After-care post-IPL treatment

After an IPL hair removal session, your skin may feel warm, dry and itchy. This is normal and it wears off after a short while. You can try using an ice pack or wet face cloth to sooth it. I use cold moisturizer. You can also try cooling water sprays and aloe vera gel.

When out in the sun, cover exposed treated skin with sunblock SPF 50+ for the first 48 hours and sunblock SPF 30+ for the next 2 weeks. We should all be using SPF 30+ on sun-exposed skin anyway at all times.

After each treatment, if you can’t wait to get back to tanning, please wait at least 48 hours and only tan if your skin does not show any signs of irritation.

Also, avoid anything that can trigger sensitivity on your skin like perfumes, deodorants and hot showers.

What results can I expect from IPL treatment?

Unless you have very stubborn and coarse hair, you will find that your hair will grow slower and finer after just one treatment. It can also grow back with bald patches. As you continue on with treatment, your hair growth will be slower and sparser and eventually stop growing back for long periods of time. 

IPL treatment takes time and effort, not unlike any other hair removal method. There is a start-up routine and you will also need to do top-up sessions to maintain the results. Over time you will find that you don’t have to do maintenance treatments as often and can sometimes go for months without needing to repeat IPL treatment. 

Long list of don’ts with IPL treatment

Other than the long list of people listed above that IPL treatment is not for, there is also a long list of don’ts for people who are using IPL treatment. You’ll need to read this list carefully to avoid bad side effects from IPL treatment. 

Don’t use IPL devices on these areas:

  • Nipples and areolas
  • Inner part of your vulva and any part of your vagina
  • Around and in the anus
  • Inside your nostrils
  • Inside your ears
  • Around your eyes
  • Eyebrows

Also, don’t perform IPL treatment on these areas:

  • Darker pigmented areas, for example, moles, birth marks, warts
  • Large veins, for example, varicose veins
  • Scars
  • Skin abnormalities, for example, skin tags
  • Tattoos
  • Permanent make-up 
  • Over or near anything superficial like silicone implants or piercings

Don’t use IPL treatment if you’re taking or have recently taken these medications:

  • Photosensitive treatments like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), topical isotretinoin and azelaic acid in the past week
  • Isotretinoin Accutane or Roaccutane in the last 6 months
  • Other photosensitive medications where you have been told to avoid the sun
  • Chemotherapy or radiation in the past 3 months
  • Painkillers which can reduce your sensitivity to heat
  • Immunosuppressive medications
  • Anti-coagulation medications including heavy aspirin use. You will need to stop these medications for a few days to 1 week depending on their wash-out period. If you can’t stop them, you shouldn’t use the device.
  • If you have had surgery in the body areas you want to treat in the last 3 weeks

If you have these conditions, you should also wait until they are healed or widely avoid the area when you are using your IPL device:

  • Active skin infections
  • Eczema
  • Skin burns
  • Inflammation of hair follicles (folliculitis)
  • Open wounds
  • Abrasions
  • Cold sores
  • Bad bruise
  • Irritated skin
  • Sunburned skin
  • Recently naturally tanned or fake-tanned skin

Special don’ts for men (if you are thinking of sharing with your husband):     

Men must never use the IPL device on their face and neck including beard-growing areas, nor on the whole genital area. Why? Because your hair in these areas might never grow back or worse, only grow back in patches and you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Burning questions you might have about home laser or IPL treatment in general and Philips Lumea specifically

Is home laser or IPL hair removal safe?

Yes, home laser or IPL hair removal is safe, provided the device is from a reliable, trusted brand and you follow the safety instructions. Occasionally some people may experience side effects such as redness, discomfort, and rarely burns. I go into how you can prep your skin to reduce your chances of this happening above in my detailed tutorial.

Also, just like professional treatments, home laser and IPL hair removal has no link to cancer or infertility.

Does home laser or IPL treatment hurt?

Most of the time IPL treatment doesn’t hurt but this can vary from person to person.  Sometimes I have felt a slight tingle like an elastic band snapping against the skin but some people find it much more painful than that.

The process is quite quick though so the discomfort doesn’t last long and you can reduce the light intensity setting to make it more comfortable, especially in areas that are more sensitive.

Does home laser and IPL treatment really work?

Yes, laser and IPL treatment at home works. However, it takes more time (more sessions) for you to see sustained results compared to salon treatments as home laser and home IPL devices are not as powerful as salon machines. This is so that these devices are safe to use in a home setting.

Is the flashing light of the IPL device safe for my eyes?

Yes it is. And the whole Philips Lumea range has a safety system to prevent flashing when not in full contact with the skin. Make sure you make good skin contact to avoid unnecessary scattered light and never use in the area around your eyes or for treating your eyebrows. 

Should I wear goggles or sunglasses anyway? The woman at the salon does. 

It is not necessary to wear eye protection but you obviously can if you want to. The light from a home IPL device is much less concentrated than salon machines. The light is bright but harmless. Try not to look directly at the flashing end.

After my first treatment, I could actually place the device on my legs ‘blind’ and move automatically by glide without looking directly at it. Try to use the IPL device in a well-lit room so that the light is less glaring to your eyes.

Can using IPL cause increased hair growth?

You wouldn’t think so but yes it can, in some women. The women at highest risk are from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage when they use IPL on the face and neck.

Can I use my IPL device more often to speed up hair loss?

No, doing IPL treatment more often than the recommended 2 weeks will probably do the opposite due to the hair growth cycle. It would also probably lead to irritated skin.

Will home IPL treatment leave me permanently hair-free?

Generally, no. But no home hair removal device would. IPL treatment would leave you with much slower, finer and lighter hair growth over repeated use. It should be called permanent hair reduction rather than permanent hair removal.

Will I be ‘totally smooth’ with IPL treatment?

Yes for some women, after prolonged IPL treatment and continued maintenance. For other women, they will never go to ‘totally smooth’ but hair growth gets slower, finer and lighter with every regrowth. 

What safety features does the Philips Lumea range have?

All Philips Lumea devices have a sensor around the flash window. This means the device will only flash when it is completely against your skin. So you can’t flash accidentally into open space and potentially near your eyes even if you were a bit careless and clumsy like me. 

All devices also have a skin tone sensor that detects if your skin is too dark. If it is, the device won’t flash. This prevents you from burning yourself by accident.  

There is also a UV filter in the IPL flash bulb to stop UV light from hitting your skin.

Are Philips Lumea devices safe for children?

According to Philips, the Philips Lumea range is not intended for children under 15 years old. Teenagers between 15-18 years old can use the device with consent and/ or assistance from their parents.

I have not used my IPL device with my toddler daughter in the same room, partly because she would never let me flash in peace, but mostly because I don’t think the bright light would be good for her young sensitive eyes

*this is not based on scientific evidence but based on mommy instinct* 

Does the Philips Lumea hair removal device work on my face?

Yes, it is very effective for facial hair removal. The Prestige and Advanced model comes with a smaller facial attachment with a special UV filter to make it safer.

Can I use the Philips Lumea for a full bikini area depilation like a Brazilian or Hollywood?

According to Philips, yes it is safe and gentle enough. I haven’t been game to try it and some courageous reviewers have said it hurts like crazy because of how sensitive the area is. Shaving your groin first would definitely help I’m sure but I suspect it would cost a bit of suffering. Has anyone tried this? I would love to hear your experience.  

Can I wash my Philips Lumea?

Those of you who are thinking of sharing the device might wonder if you can wash it before use. Unfortunately the answer is no. Never immerse the device in water and do not rinse under tap. You can wipe it down with a damp soft cloth but don’t use scouring pads, soaps, petrol or nail polish remover to clean the device.

Can I carry my Philips Lumea with me while travelling?

Yes, you can. The package even comes with a bag you can carry all the bits in. Be forewarned that it is a bit heavy and bulky. I’ve never brought it along, even on long trips as I find it’s not a big deal to schedule my IPL treatments around trips.  

What do other reviewers think?

There are quite a few reviews out there for the Philips Lumea range as the various models has been around for many years. Most reviewers seem pretty happy with their device. 

Good Housekeeping Institute called the Philips Lumea Prestige ‘the best IPL hair removal device’ based on the reviews of their testers.

Marie Claire recommends the Lumea IPL range as an ‘Amazon fan favourite’.

The Philips Lumea Prestige is the ‘Editor’s Choice’ in ‘Our Good Living Formula’

Body Beautiful called the Philips Lumea Prestige ‘the best overall IPL device’ with premium features for fast, precise and easy sessions with excellent results.

On average, the Philips Lumea Prestige has 4.3 stars, the Advanced model has 4.2 stars and the Philips Lumea Essential has 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Time to wrap up (at last!)

It is time to answer the most important questions on your mind. 

Should I start home IPL hair removal treatments?

If you are a busy woman or mom with lack of time, the answer is yes. Doing your own hair removal treatments at home means you don’t have to find a block of time and someone to take care of your kids while you spend hours in the salon having your unwanted hair removed.

And of all the home hair removal treatments that you can use, IPL or laser hair removal is the only method that is painless and will need less sessions and maintenance over time, saving you more time and energy to deal with the rest of your life.   

Most busy women eventually end up using laser or IPL hair removal.

Should I buy a Philips Lumea hair removal device?

Yes, if owning a home IPL device is in within your budget and you would like to start doing your own home IPL treatments. I have not tested other brands of IPL devices because I started off with Philips and really liked it. There are some brands that are cheaper and of course, others that are more expensive. I went with Philips because of their established global brand and haven’t regretted it.

Most sellers on Amazon offer a 30-day money back guarantee but you will have to check this when you buy. Philips itself offers a 2-year global warranty for the Philips Lumea range and as mentioned before, I have claimed this warranty twice with older models of the Philips Lumea and both times, the warranty was honoured.

Which Philips Lumea model should I buy?

I owned 2 older models of the Philips Lumea Essential and while I have been happy with both models, there were limitations with lack of attachments, the less ergonomic shape and most of all, shorter bulb life. It is a good model to start with if you are only just dabbling in IPL treatment and you’re not even sure if you want to continue on with home IPL treatments for long-term.  But if it is within your budget, I would recommend the Advanced or the Prestige model. Even though they are more expensive, they last longer and you will feel the difference when using it. 

Both the Philips Lumea Prestige and Philips Lumea Advanced are excellent choices. Both will last for ages and are of exceptional quality. But which of these 2 models should you choose?

It comes down to your budget and which body areas you want to treat.

The Prestige is the top-of-the-range premium model that is suited for any body area due to all the different attachments. It can also treat up to Fitzpatrick Skin Tone Type 5 (if you don’t know what this is, check the chart at the beginning of this article).

The Advanced model, on the other hand, is a mid-range model. It doesn’t come with a cordless option and has fewer attachments. There is also no smart skin sensor and no tailored programs for different body parts. In general it is better suited for smaller body areas.

Both can be used in ‘stamp and flash’ and ‘glide and flash’ mode. The speed between flashes are different. The Advanced model flashes every 3.5 seconds while the Prestige model can flash every 2 seconds. The Advanced model also has a slightly smaller treatment window so for both these reasons, your IPL sessions take a bit longer with the Advanced model.

Having said that, I chose the Advanced model over the Prestige model for price difference. I couldn’t justify paying for the Prestige model despite its premium features and I have found the Advanced model to be perfectly adequate for my needs. My guess is, most women would find the Advanced model just fine to use.   

Let’s look at the Philips Lumea comparison table again to help you compare the models:

Model

Lumea Prestige

Lumea Advanced

Lumea Essential

Price range

$$$


$$


$

Attachments

4 attachments - body (curved), face (flat), bikini (curved), underarms (curved)

3 attachments - body, face, bikini (all flat)

Only flat body attachment

Tailored program

Yes

No

No

Hair reduction claim

92% in 3 treatments

75% in 4 treatments

Up to 75% in 4 treatments

Suitable skin types

I-V

I-IV

I-IV

SmartSkin Sensor

Yes

No

Yes

Flashes

> 250,000

> 250,000

200,000

Cordless option

Yes

No

No

Average speed for 2 lower legs

8.5 mins (corded)
15 mins (cordless)

15 minutes

15 minutes

Free Philips app

Yes

Yes

Yes

Philips Global Warranty

2 years

2 years

2 years

          Star rating

U.S / Canada / Global readers

Australian readers

I would be happy to help answer any questions you may have about the Philips Lumea range and home IPL treatment. Just ask me in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get back to you within 24 hours.

I’ve made a lot of effort to be as accurate and honest as possible. But if I’ve written something that doesn’t quite seem right, just let me know and I’ll research it and get it fixed.

And that is the end of my review 🙂 Does anyone else have any experience with home IPL treatment that you would like to share with us? Please leave a comment below.

For more articles and reviews on anything and everything that can help you reconnect to your sensuality, subscribe to my newsletter. 

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