Say sayonara to unwanted hair with these at-home IPL hair removal devices.

We’ve come a long way since the noughties, when celebrity magazines would routinely circle women’s armpit hair – or indeed any other ‘ungroomed’ area – in paparazzi shots for our collective disapproval and, apparently, disgust. And thank god. Body hair is, after all, far from disgusting; rather, it is natural, normal – and absolutely a personal choice.

As ever, choice is the key to the de-fuzz vs go au naturel question (as it is in most matters). For those women who favour pruning or removing hair, whether they happen to be on the body or the face, it is likely to be something that takes both time and money to achieve – and can frequently be painful, too. Shaving or waxing have their benefits and their drawbacks, while professional laser hair removal, threading or electrolysis can be expensive and time-consuming.

Enter, then, the IPL. These home-use devices are hand-held, easy to use and pain-free. So called because they use intense pulsed light to remove hair, these hand-held machines direct a beam of light at the hair follicle, thus damaging the root and inhibiting regrowth. The good news is that they can be used on the whole body, gliding over large areas such as legs while, for smaller areas such as the upper lip, you can apply them in a stamping motion for effective de-fuzzing. Do note, though, that prior to use, you must shave the area in preparation; there needs to be a little hair for the light to identify and then target it, but it shouldn’t be too long either.

Whilst an IPL is not as powerful as laser hair removal (which aims to halt hair growth permanently), IPLs can be used at home; do not require a professional; and weaken hair growth, typically over a period of three months. Do note, however, that they are most effective on dark hair, and most particularly for those with light to medium skin tones (the contrast in the hair colour against the skin being key).

IPL devices from reputable brands may be upward of £200 each, but they can save a lot in professional treatments; they’re quick to use (usually around ten minutes per session); they gradually reduce regrowth – and they’ll save many disposable plastic razors going into landfill. For our money, these are the best ones to buy now in good time for a fuzz-free summer, should that be what you wish for.

Silk’n Infinity, £265

Neat and compact, this handy little device arrives in a smart case, along with its plug and a very comprehensive user guide. Its smaller size as compared to competitors makes it handier for reaching more contained concentrated areas (such as the upper lip), and the five intensities enable you to choose exactly the right setting for you – plus there is a skin sensor which matches your skin tone to the right mode. Use it once a fortnight for the first two weeks, and then once a month thereafter, until no longer necessary. An excellent investment for those who want easy, pain-free hair removal without fuss at a mid-range price. Buy it here.

Philips BRI947/00 Lumea Prestige IPL Hair Removal Device, £449

This IPL may be a little more expensive, but for that extra outlay, it comes three different attachment heads: one for the bikini line, one for the face and another for the body. There are five intensities, and two different modes: stamp (for upper lips and other smaller areas) and glide, for larger areas you want to treat. Its results are excellent when used over a 12-week period. The price tag may be high, but this is a serious investment piece that is well worth the money for those who are committed to de-furring face and body for the long term. Plus, it comes with a two-year guarantee. Buy it here.

Panasonic ES- WH90 Cordless IPL, £268.27

Powered either by the mains or by battery, this device recommends more frequent usage than some of others, advising every three days for two months. Whilst it can be used all over the body, this one is particularly recommended for the face, thanks to its well-designed facial attachment that removes dead skin cells as it goes, thus brightening the complexion into the bargain. There is also a UV filter which protects the skin from damage. The perfect device for those with peach fuzz on upper lips or pesky stray hairs on the chin. Buy it here.

SmoothSkin Pure IPL Hair Removal Device, £230

First of all, we applaud the sleek design of this handy little number, which proves that hair removal doesn’t have to be a wholly unglamorous business. The SmoothSkin device is wholly pain-free, and for those wanting simplicity, there are just three intensity settings on offer, as well as two different treatment types. Using light energy, it promises 96 per cent fewer hairs in three months when you commit to weekly ten-minute treatments. After the first three months, use it just once every four-to-eight weeks. An excellent buy. Buy it here.

Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro 5, £429.98

Unlike most of its competitors which have five settings as standard, the Silk Expert Pro comes with ten, meaning that those with sensitive skin can experiment until they get it just right – something that is made easier by the presence of its inbuilt skin tone sensor. It comes with its own razor too, so no digging about for a handy one at the back of the bathroom cabinet for a quick pre-use shave. There are two treatment heads – glide and stamp – and it comes with a very long shelf-life. A really excellent device for keeping stray or unwanted hairs at bay, and super-quick to use, too. Buy it here.

By Nancy Alsop
January 2022

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.