The Philips Lumea IPL Prestige offers effective hair removal at a reasonable price, but only for those with certain hair and skin tones
- Comfortable curved windows
- Fast flash rate and Sense IQ
- App connectivity
- No cordless operation
- Results take time
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) has changed the game for those seeking a method of long-term hair removal, with devices like the Philips Lumea IPL Prestige providing a convenient way of reducing hair growth at home.
The technology uses intense flashes of light to damage hair follicles at their roots, preventing them from growing back, and is typically a lot less painful than laser hair removal. There’s one big caveat, however – the best IPL machines tend to be very expensive.
The Philips Lumea IPL Prestige is Philips’ mid-range IPL device, sitting between the entry-level Lumea Advanced and premium Lumea 9000. It lacks the cordless capabilities of its more expensive stablemate, but otherwise cherry picks the best features from both devices, while producing similar hair-reducing results. If you’re after comfortable, fast treatment without a huge upfront investment, it’s our pick of Philips’ Lumea lineup.
Philips Lumea IPL Prestige review: What do you get for the money?
If you search online, you’ll find there are various model numbers that fall under the Philips Lumea Prestige banner, with the key differences relating to the number of attachments and accessories included.
The BRI-949 and BRI-948 both come with face, body, bikini and underarm attachments, with the former also including a “Satin Compact” pen trimmer. At the time of writing, that model was actually £10 cheaper than the BRI-948 at £370. If you’re willing to sacrifice the bikini and underarm attachments, the BRI-945 is available for £360. Given the two models currently cost very similar amounts, the BRI-949 is the obvious choice, especially as you can’t purchase the additional attachments separately.
The attachments are designed to treat each part of the body as safely and effectively as possible. For example, the face attachment has a red-tinted filter to protect the more sensitive skin on the face, and the bikini attachment has a coarse hair filter as the hairs on the bikini line tend to be more stubborn.
Unlike the Lumea Advanced, which has completely flat treatment windows that are tricky to fit around the contours of the body, the Lumea Prestige has the same curved treatment windows as the Lumea 9000. Each attachment is designed to fit around the area of the body it treats; the body attachment is concave to fit around the contours of the limbs, whereas the armpit attachment is slightly convex.
Another improvement on the lower-end model is that the Lumea Prestige has the same fast flash rate as the Lumea 9000. That means it flashes once every 2 seconds, compared to once every 3.5 seconds. With the Prestige model, I could treat a whole leg in 18 minutes, compared to the 27 minutes it took using the Lumea Advanced, which is a massive time saving.
On a similar note, Philips says the bulb on the Lumea Prestige lasts for up to 450,000 flashes, improving on the 250,000 flashes delivered by the Lumea Advanced and matching the lifespan of the Lumea 9000. That’s a lot of flashes and enough to treat many hundreds of legs, which, based on Philips’ usage recommendations, should mean the device will keep your body hair at bay for decades.
Perhaps the most useful feature in terms of keeping the treatment comfortable, is the SenseIQ button, which uses a SmartSkin sensor to suggest the correct light intensity for your skin tone. This ensures that the treatment is comfortable and safe for your skin throughout. Without this, you’d have to decide this yourself with trial and error.
Philips Lumea IPL Prestige review: How does it work?
IPL uses flashes of intense light to damage hair at the root. Energy from these flashes of light heats hair follicle cells and gradually breaks them down over the course of successive treatments. Hairs will grow back thinner and lighter until eventually, no hair grows at all. This normally takes around four correctly timed treatments but can take many more in stubborn areas like the armpits.
It’s important to note that hair colour is a big factor in how effective IPL treatment is. Dark colours absorb light and heat, while light colours reflect it. This means that those with darker hair and lighter skin will see the best results with IPL treatments. Unfortunately, that also means if you have light hair which is blonde or grey, you won’t have much luck using IPL.
That’s as bad as it gets in terms of hair colour, but skin colour is a different issue. As melanin in the skin absorbs light, IPL isn’t suitable for those with darker skin because it could cause burning and hyperpigmentation. Of course, that’s a safety issue, but fortunately every Philips Lumea has a sensor that prevents it from flashing if your skin is too dark, and SenseIQ will help you choose the most comfortable light intensity setting.
Before you purchase one, be sure to check out Philips’ colour safety guide to make sure IPL is suitable for your skin. If you purchase one and are unhappy with the treatment, or the Lumea won’t flash on your skin, you can always use the Philips 100 day money back guarantee.
While it typically only takes four treatments to see results, you will have to be patient, as you must wait two weeks between each of the initial four treatments to catch the hairs at the correct point in their growth phase. After this point, you should only need to treat the hair every four weeks. There’s no cutting corners either: using the Lumea Prestige more often won’t speed up the hair removal process and will only lead to possible skin irritation.
In my testing, I saw noticeable results on my legs after just two treatments, which included most hairs growing back thinner and lighter and some hairs stopped growing completely. However, it’s important to note that I have dark brown hair and light skin, which makes me the ideal candidate for IPL treatment.
Philips Lumea IPL Prestige review: What’s it like to use?
It can be difficult to keep track of IPL treatments; the first four must be completed two weeks apart, after which point the top-up treatments should be done every four weeks. This sounds simple enough but sometimes life gets in the way and you end up missing treatments. In that case, it can be tricky to know how to get your treatments back on track.
That’s where the app comes in. It schedules handy alerts on the day of and the days leading up to treatments to help remind you when your treatments are due. And, if you fall behind on treatments it automatically re-shuffles your treatment plan to help ensure you keep seeing positive results.
While the app doesn’t connect to the device directly using Bluetooth, simply enter your model number and you’ll be greeted with specific pre-treatment, set up, and aftercare instructions for the Lumea you’re using. This helps guide you through the treatment process so you never miss a step. It also features handy blog posts and video guides from other Lumea users offering practical advice.
All this information is useful to have, but I did find one limitation to the app’s functionality. Once I had passed the initial treatment phase, there was no option to go back and add in an extra fortnightly top-up treatment in between the monthly treatments if rogue hairs started growing back. In the grand scheme of things, however, this is a minor issue in a feature that simplifies the IPL treatment to no end.
Ease of use
While it takes a bit of time getting into the required routine, the Lumea Prestige itself is incredibly easy to use. On top of the device, five indicator lights tell you which light intensity setting you’re using, below that are left and right arrows that allow you to scroll through the intensity settings. The SenseIQ button is also here, which helps decide which setting to use by scanning the skin; when the test is done, the optimum light indicator will flash, and you can press the tick button to confirm that intensity level.
Aside from the obvious power button, the final button is the trigger, which is conveniently located on the handle of the Lumea Prestige. During treatments, when the treatment window is flush against the skin, the indicator light on the back of the device lights up, which means that the Lumea is ready to flash. Simply press the flash trigger at this point to flash the skin, then move the device to the next area of the skin, and repeat.
In my testing, a single leg took me 18 minutes, which is the same treatment time as the Lumea 9000. This makes a lot of sense because both devices have the same two-second flash rate and treatment window size and curvature.
As it isn’t cordless, the Lumea Prestige is also lighter than the Lumea 9000, weighing in at 492g, rather than 545g. However, the devices look almost identical, with the same comfortable handle and controls; the main cosmetic difference is the colour of the body and the battery light indicator on the Lumea 9000.
Of course, the Lumea Prestige loses out on the cordless convenience offered by the more expensive Philips Lumea 9000, which means you need to be sat close to a plug for the duration of the treatment. Luckily, the two-metre cord is long enough to manoeuvre around your body during treatments.
When testing the Lumea Prestige, I found that there was little to no pain using the highest intensity level on most of the body. The legs, for example, only had a slight tingling sensation with each flash, but in more sensitive areas like the armpits, it felt like a rubber band was being snapped against my skin. This was by no means unbearable, just slightly uncomfortable.
Remember, if the thought of discomfort seems off-putting to you, you can always adjust the intensity level down until it’s comfortable again. The SenseIQ button also helps with this by suggesting the most comfortable setting for your skin tone.
In my testing, I found the Philips Lumea Prestige to be very effective at reducing hair growth on my limbs. After two treatments, the hair on my legs grew thinner, lighter, and slower than before – some bald patches were already starting to show. After the full four treatments, there was pretty much no hair growing back at all, aside from a few stragglers I’d missed during treatment. To reiterate though, I do have pale skin and brown hair, which means IPL treatments are expected to work well on my colouring.
As with the other Philips Lumea devices I tested, I found the treatment to be less effective on areas of the body where hair grows thicker and coarser, like the armpits. In these cases, it took four treatments for the hairs to grow back thinner, slower and lighter. I expect that with prolonged treatment, bald spots would also start to show in these areas, the results simply take time.
Philips Lumea IPL Prestige review: Should you buy it?
If you’re on the hunt for an effective, comfortable IPL device at a reasonable price, the Philips Lumea Prestige is among your best options. It’s got most of the features found on the more expensive Lumea 9000, including big, curved treatment windows and a faster flash rate, but comes with a smaller price tag. In fact, you’re only really missing out on cordless functionality, which isn’t essential and doesn’t speed up or make the treatment more effective.
There’s also lots to gain by spending the extra cash on the Lumea Prestige over the Advanced, as you have more ergonomically designed treatment windows and a much faster treatment time. It won’t work for everyone – those with certain skin tones and hair colours will need to seek alternative methods of hair removal treatment – but overall, the Prestige is the best value Philips Lumea IPL device you can buy.