The best IPL or laser hair removal machine will remove unwanted hairs for good – these are our tried and tested favourites
Ditch the razor and cancel your next waxing appointment. With the best IPL or laser hair removal machine, you can painlessly rid your body and face of unwanted hairs in a flash at home, without a clinic or professional in sight. It’s not nearly as daunting as it sounds.
Until now, laser hair removal machines have been reserved for reality stars and models, but with the latest technological advances, everyone can enjoy a fur-free finish without breaking the bank. That’s not to say a high-quality IPL or laser hair removal machine won’t set you back a tidy sum, but if you’re tired of dealing with unwelcome hairs, it’s an investment you won’t regret.
So here’s our pick of the best laser hair removal and IPL machines to banish unwanted hairs for good.
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Best IPL and laser hair removal machines: At a glance
|Best value IPL
|SmoothSkin Pure Fit (~£265)
|Check price at Current Body
|Best all-round IPL
|Philips Lumea Prestige (~£490)
|Check price at John Lewis
|Best cordless IPL
|Philips Lumea 9000 (~£500)
|Check price at John Lewis
|Best laser hair removal machine
|Tria Laser 4X (~£400)
|Check price at Amazon
How we test IPL and laser hair removal machines
At Expert Reviews, we only recommend IPL devices and laser hair removal machines we’ve thoroughly tested. Our testing process involves using the devices as directed for at least 12 weeks – longer if the device instructions state that more time is needed to see results. During this time, we assess pain levels, ease of use, the usefulness of any app compatibility, as well as the obvious effectiveness.
We note down how the results look after every treatment, including how thick hair regrowth is, how long hairs take to grow and the size of any bald spots. We also time how long the “long-term” results last after completing the final treatment. Further to this, we time the flash rate, how long it takes to treat below the knee, as well as a full leg. Any supplied attachments will also be tested for their intended use, and we’ll use the device on all suitable areas of the body once or twice to assess pain levels and the ease of treating those areas.
This data is then aggregated in a huge spreadsheet, where our reviewer can directly compare the performance of different models, allowing us to give you accurate recommendations, backed by thorough testing. For example, the graphs above show the flash rate of three popular models of IPL, as well as the time it took to treat each area of the leg.
How to choose the best IPL or laser hair removal machine for you
How does a laser hair removal machine work?
Both intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser hair removal machines manipulate light to weaken hair follicles until they can’t grow back. The light is absorbed by dark pigments found in hair follicles, called melanin, where it’s converted into heat. This damages the hair follicle to permanently stop regrowth.
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What is the difference between IPL and laser hair removal machines?
A laser hair removal machine emits a single burst of red light to remove the hair follicle. IPL machines use a spectrum of colours and wavelengths to gradually weaken and damage the hair. With an IPL hair removal machine, you will have to treat the area several times and will experience slight regrowth.
Do laser hair removal machines hurt?
Yes, using a laser hair removal machine can hurt but that all depends on your pain threshold and the level of intensity you set on the machine. Some compare laser removal to a rubber band snapping against their skin, while others experience slight discomfort. The same patch of skin will never be lasered twice, but it can be a lengthy process.
Are laser hair removal machines suitable for everyone?
Since the light is absorbed by melanin (dark pigments found in hair), laser hair removal machines tend to work better with medium to dark hair. However, there are some machines particularly suited for fairer hair.
It can be dangerous to use laser hair removal machines on dark skin, as they can cause discolouration and hyperpigmentation. This isn’t something you need to worry about, though, as the machine will lock if it thinks your skin is too dark or your hair too fair.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Don’t wax before treatment, as the follicle needs to sit above the skin. For best results, most people advise that you use the laser hair removal machine just after shaving. Also, be careful not to use the machine on intimate areas or the upper lip as the skin is too delicate.
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The best IPL and laser hair removal machines you can buy in 2024
1. Philips Lumea Prestige: Best all-round IPL hair removal machine
Price when reviewed: £490 | Check price at John Lewis If you want to splash the cash on one of the best IPL machines you can buy, this Philips Lumea is our pick. In terms of value for money, it gets you all the best features of the more expensive Lumea 9000, for far less money. That includes four attachments, a fast 2.5-second flash rate, which makes treatment far quicker than the Lumea Advanced, and comfortable curved treatment windows that fit around the body’s curves. The only feature you miss out on is the cordless operation, but luckily our reviewer found the cord plenty long enough to make treatments easy. We also found that corded operation was far faster than cordless treatments.
Of course, it also comes with powerful IPL flashes, which prevent hair growth just as effectively as the high-end model. It has the same 450,000 flashes included, which is enough to complete well over twenty years of full-body treatments. Another handy feature is the Sense IQ button, which scans the skin before treatment to recommend the most comfortable intensity setting for your skin tone. We found this really intuitive to use, allowing us to skip the trial and error that is necessary to achieve a comfortable treatment with other IPL devices.
Better still, all Philips Lumea devices come with a 100-day money back guarantee, which means you can return the device if you’re unsatisfied with the treatment.
Read our full Philips Lumea IPL Prestige review
Key specs – Type: IPL; Corded or cordless: Corded; Attachments: 4; Intensity options: 5
2. SmoothSkin Pure Fit: The best value IPL machine
Price when reviewed: £269 | Check price at Current Body
The SmoothSkin Pure Fit IPL device offers remarkable value for money and is perfect for those who want a device that provides fast, effective treatment. In our tests, it offered the fastest flash rate of any device we’ve tested, with a single leg treatment time of just over nine minutes. Compare that to the next fastest IPL device, the Silk’n Infinity Fast, which treated the same area in almost 18 minutes and the difference is staggering.
Not only is the SmoothSkin Pure Fit perfect for those in a time crunch, it also offers a highly effective IPL treatment. It’s safe to perform weekly treatments and I started seeing a significant reduction in hair growth after just four weeks. The results last too – my legs were still hair-free months after my final treatment, despite skipping out on top ups.
Its controls are simple, too. There are three operation modes to choose from, including “power”, “comfort” and “fast”, as well as a large flash button to control the flashes. The safety sensor continually measures the skin, which ensures that treatments are always set to a safe level. Furthermore, the device comes with a precision attachment to help treat smaller areas like the face, bikini line and underarms.
That being said, the device doesn’t come with an app to help track treatments. Also, if you are particularly sensitive to pain, the SmoothSkin Pure Fit is the most uncomfortable IPL treatment I’ve tested. Where other IPL machines make the skin feel a little warm, this felt more like a hot snapping sensation in particularly sensitive areas. This, however, can be easily fixed by switching to “comfort” mode, which stops any pain completely. You’ll just need to do one or two more weekly treatments to compensate for this.
Read our full SmoothSkin Pure Fit IPL review
Key specs – Type: IPL; Corded or cordless: Corded; Attachments: 1; Intensity options: 3
3. Philips Lumea 9000: Best cordless IPL hair removal machine
Price when reviewed: £500 | Check price at John LewisCordless operation is a game-changer here, freeing you from having to be next to an electric socket so you can tackle unwanted hairs in privacy. As with other Philips Lumea IPL devices, there’s also an app that helps you devise a treatment schedule and send reminders for your next session, which saves you from having to put it in your diary. Our reviewer found the app simple to use, and the reminders were a godsend in a busy schedule.
Like the Philips Lumea Prestige listed above, it comes with a SmartSkin sensor that can automatically detect the correct intensity level for your skin tone. Its four curved attachments – for body, face, bikini and underarms – are simple to swap and use. With no cord to get tangled in, no matter how contorted your position, the ‘ready to flash’ light stretches across the whole machine head, making it easy to see when it’s safe to flash the device. So, if you’re hoping to buy an IPL that offers top-tier cordless convenience and highly effective treatment, then this is our reviewer’s top recommendation.
Read our full Philips Lumea IPL 9000 review
Key specs – Type: IPL; Corded or cordless: Both; Attachments: 4; Intensity options: 5
4. Silk’n Infinity: Best compact IPL hair removal machine
Price when reviewed: £295 | Check price at LookFantastic
If you’re on the hunt for a dinky IPL device you can pack away without taking up much space in a suitcase, then the Silk’n Infinity is a good option. During our testing, the Silk’n Infinity provided a fabulous reduction in hair growth on arm and leg hair after just four treatments and the smooth results lasted for well over a month.
Unlike other hair removal machines, the Silk’n Infinity uses eHPL technology. This combines “galvanic and optical energy” to supposedly penetrate deep into pores for better access to hair follicles, which might explain how the results had such longevity. Silk’n claims that it can be used on darker skin tones too – just be sure to do a test patch first.
Other than its good value price point, what sold us on the Silk’n Infinity was its size. It’s ergonomically designed to fit snugly in the palm of your hand and is perfect for use away from home – it also comes with a hard shell travel case and plug adaptor.
The only downsides to this is that the accompanying treatment tracking app isn’t very useful – you’d be better off keeping a diary instead. It also lacks any attachments to help access and treat smaller areas of the body, such as the bikini line or face. That doesn’t mean treatment is impossible in those areas, but it’s not as easy as with other devices.
Read our full Silk’n Infinity review
Key specs – Type: IPL; Corded or cordless: Corded; Attachments: No; Intensity options: 5
5. Silk’n Infinity Fast: The best fast IPL machine for treating large areas
Price when reviewed: £300 | Check price at Silk’n
IPL is time-consuming – both in terms of how long you may have to wait to see results and the time it takes to complete a treatment. This is mostly down to the slow flash rate of most IPL devices. As the name suggests, the Silk’n Infinity Fast offers a noticeably faster flash rate than most, meaning you can complete treatments in a fraction of the time it typically takes.
The Silk’n Infinity fast uses the same eHPL technology as the original Silk’n Infinity device listed above, so it unsurprisingly performed just as well in our tests. The only significant difference is that the flash rate is almost twice as fast when using the same intensity level. Essentially, if you spend a little extra cash, you’ll get the same great results but in far less time.
Aside from colour, the design and feel of the device is also almost identical to the Silk’n Infinity, which means it has the same problems with the lack of attachments for different areas of the body. That being said, it’s still a great, speedy device for a fair price if you’re mainly going to use it to treat large areas of the body, such as the legs.
Key specs – Type: IPL; Corded or cordless: Corded; Attachments: None; Intensity options: 5
6. Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X: Best laser hair removal machine
Price when reviewed: £350 | Check price at Amazon Tria Hair Removal is the only laser device that’s FDA-approved for safe use at home. Designed to deliver permanent hair removal, not reduction, the Tria uses a diode laser that’s more effective than IPL machines. This laser has a wavelength that penetrates deep into the hair follicle, causing irreparable damage.
The Tria comes equipped with five intensity settings, so choose a lower level for your first couple of treatments. To make it a little easier, the Tria comes with a cooling gel, which you can apply before the laser. Although it’s not essential, this can make the treatment a little more comfortable.
Our thoughts? Impressively, the Tria delivered noticeable results after the second treatment. Most unwanted hairs were removed with any remaining hairs growing back a lot thinner. The hair removal machine was perfect for using on the face thanks to its small laser head but we thought a larger attachment would have been better suited to use on larger parts of the body.
Key specs – Type: Laser; Corded or cordless: Cordless; Attachments: No; Intensity options: 5
7. Philips Lumea Advanced: Best affordable Philips Lumea IPL
Price when reviewed: £350 | Check price at John Lewis The Lumea Advanced is the entry-level Philips Lumea IPL device, which means you don’t get the whole range of fancy features, but we found that the bare-bones IPL treatment is just as powerful and effective. With a price tag of £150 less than the next model up, the Philips Lumea Advanced is fantastic if you have a limited budget.
It comes with three attachments specifically designed for the body, face and bikini area, five intensity settings and 250,000 flashes. That’s almost half the amount included in the higher-end models but is still enough to treat 544 full legs, which is over 20 years’ worth of treatments. As there are no complicated bells and whistles included, the Philips Lumea Advanced is incredibly easy to operate and features a comfortable, lightweight gun-shaped design to make treatments as easy as possible.
The main caveat of this IPL machine is its slower flash rate – it only flashes once every 3.5 seconds, leading to a slower treatment time overall. For reference, that means a full leg treatment took our reviewer 27 minutes, compared to 18 minutes using the Lumea Prestige. However, if you’ve got the patience and are willing to invest the time into your treatments, the Philips Lumea Advanced produces the same great hair reduction.
Read our full Philips Lumea IPL Advanced review
Key specs – Type: IPL; Corded or cordless: Corded; Attachments: 3; Intensity options: 5