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Get silky smooth skin with our best at-home IPL and laser hair-removal machines

Get silky smooth skin with our best at-home IPL and laser hair-removal machines
We tested the best at-home hair-removal machines in the UK, from IPL to laser removal, available from Amazon, Argos, Boots and more

If you’re looking for a painless, long-lasting hair-removal solution, put down the razors and waxing strips and consider investing in an intense pulsed light technology device, better known as an IPL or laser-removal machine.

They’re designed to glide across the skin and destroy hair roots via energy produced by light waves and, with continuous use, hair regrowth can be reduced almost entirely. But they don’t come cheap, often costing upwards of £150.

Lasers, meanwhile, disable the pigment in hair follicles over time, by converting the laser beam into heat upon contact with skin.

Many devices on the market take just minutes to treat the face, underarms, legs and bikini line. However, for the best results you will need to be committed, as many require a 12-week treatment programme, with top-ups often necessary in future. Your skin also needs to be as smooth as possible to get the best results, so have your razor at the ready in between treatments.

How we tested

In our lengthy testing period, which spanned over three months, we measured each device by how easy it was to set up and use, any sensation felt during use, value for money, how quickly we saw results and the rate of hair regrowth.

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Ahead are the eight which made the cut, and are IndyBest-approved to be worth the investment.

The best IPL and laser devices for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Bondi laser hair removal handset: £199, Bondi-body.com
  • Best for fast results – Philips lumea BRI/923: £300, Argos.co.uk
  • Best for legs – Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair removal device: £266, Currentbody.com
  • Best for first-time users of IPL – SmoothSkin bare+ ultrafast IPL hair removal device: £160, Currentbody.com
  • Best for underarms – Silk’n infinity permanent hair remover: £295, Silkn.co.uk
  • Best corded IPL machine – Braun silk expert Pro 5: £300, Boots.com
  • Best cordless IPL machine – Philips lumea IPL 9000: £439, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for laser hair removal – Tria hair removal laser 4X: £299, Triabeauty.co.uk

Bondi laser hair removal handset

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Features: Eight speed settings
  • What’s in the box: Device, adapter, pouch, safety glasses, user guide
  • Usage: For the face, neck and intimate areas, use once a week for 12 weeks; for legs, arms, underarms, stomach, chest and back, use twice a week for 12 weeks
  • Flashes: 300,000

One of the more affordable models on the IPL market is this Bondi laser handset, created by Trish Coulton who has over two decades of experience in hair removal. The protective sunglasses are a nice touch, especially as the flash is quite bright, and many of the more expensive devices we tried didn’t include a pair.

It has eight intensity settings and a very simple setup process: simply plug it in, pick your setting, put the head flat on the skin and press the black button to zap the hairs. Suitable for sensitive skin, it’s also designed to target light brown, medium brown, dark brown and black hair, and while it’s completely painless, it emits a slight warmth.

This device is recommended for use once to twice a week for 12 weeks, and after three weeks, we began to see sparser hair regrowth on both our underarms and legs – the speediest we’ve ever experienced with an IPL machine. This is perfect if you’re keen to enjoy the long-lasting, painless results of IPL without the lengthy wait while also being great value for money.

Read the full Bondi laser hair removal handset review

Philips lumea BRI/923

Best: For fast results

Rating: 8/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: No
  • Features: Skintone sensor, large treatment window
  • What’s in the box: Device, attachments, Philips satin compact trimmer, storage pouch
  • Usage: First four treatments carried out every two weeks, touch up every four weeks
  • Flashes: 250,000

The set-up process for this machine is simple – just plug it in, press the on button on the head and take your pick from five intensity settings. It’s surprisingly lightweight and, despite being corded, being tethered doesn’t stop you reaching trickier areas, like the back of the legs. To efficiently treat each section, it needs to sit flat on the skin before it flashes, and there’s a handy white light on the back of the device which indicates when it’s working.

It’s almost painless, delivering a slight warm sensation between settings one to four, but by five there is a pinch, though it’s not so strong that we had to stop. The main head is perfect for gliding over larger areas like the upper and lower legs, but for underarms the precision head is ideal – to use, stamp it, wait for it to flash and lift. It’s efficient but not built for speed, so you’ll need approximately 30 minutes to treat your legs.

As the flash is very bright, we would have liked to have seen a pair of protective glasses included for the price. Lastly, it requires use every two weeks for the first four treatments, then a touch up every four weeks. That big gap in between means it can be easy to forget when you next need to treat your body hair, so we’d recommend setting a reminder in your calendar to stay on top of it.

That said, we saw our hair begin to decrease in density and thickness after three treatments, which is faster than most of the devices we tried.

Read the full Philips lumea BRI/923 review

Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair removal device

Best: For legs

Rating: 7/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Features: Six intensity settings, five attachment heads, skintone sensor, two treatment modes
  • What’s in the box: Device, treatment heads, charging cable, storage bag and instructions
  • Usage: Every two weeks for the first four weeks, then once every four weeks afterwards for body hair. For facial hair, use it every two weeks for the first five weeks, then every four weeks
  • Flashes: Unlimited

Sensica’s device is much larger than many on our list and a tad bulky, balanced out by its cordless design, which helps to target harder-to-reach areas, as well as the freedom to use it in any room, rather than having to sit by a plug socket.

As soon as it landed on our doorstep it was ready to be used straight away, with a skintone-detection option and six energy settings to choose from. There’s two heads to pick between, a large treatment window and a precise head, which combined can be used on legs, arms, stomach, back, shoulders, bikini area, underarms and face.

For the most effective treatment with every use, the machine head needs to be flat on the skin, and there’s a handy pulse and glide mode, which allows you to glide it across an area without needing to continuously press the button – perfect for legs. Simply press the button down for three consecutive pulses. For smaller sections, such as underarms, Sensica recommends using a stamp motion and pressing the button each time.

Despite its large size, it’s not difficult to use or manoeuvre around the thighs, shins or contours of your underarms, and within four weeks we saw our hair becoming less dense with slower regrowth, while each treatment remained painless.

Read the full Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair removal device review

SmoothSkin bare+ ultrafast IPL hair removal device

Best: For first time users of IPL

Rating: 9/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: No
  • Features: Skintone sensor
  • What’s in the box: Device, instruction manual
  • Usage: Once a week for 12 weeks and then top-up every two to four weeks
  • Flashes: 100

This chic black and gold corded design won top marks for its compactness, fitting perfectly in the palm and being easy to store. The accompanying instruction booklet is easy to follow and perfect if you’re a first time user of IPL and are keen to get it right.

To use, you press the button on the centre of the device until it flashes white, then place it flat on the skin. It will flash red if it’s not laying flat, so you are always aware when it’s working or if you need to readjust the position. With each treatment it gets easier, and we loved using this while watching Netflix, as there was a little warmth but besides that, no painful sensation at all.

We found that when treating our underarms, the best way was to use a stamping motion rather than gliding it across the skin (the latter works better on the legs). After two treatments our hair was growing back thinner and, by week three, it grew back but seemed unable to get longer than an initial prickle. By the time week six rolled around, hair regrowth had dramatically dwindled.

Read the full SmoothSkin bare+ ultrafast IPL hair removal device review

Silk’n infinity permanent hair remover

Best: For underarms

Rating: 7/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: No
  • Features: Five intensity settings, skintone sensor, treatment plan on app
  • What’s in the box: Device, storage case, cleaning cloth, adapter, user manuals, warranty booklet
  • Usage: Every two weeks for the first two months, then every four weeks, and then top up treatments as needed
  • Flashes: 400,000

This corded device comes in a padded protective box which makes it easy to store when not in use. The simple design is lightweight enough to operate using one hand, pressing continuously down on the large button.

There are five intensity settings and they can be customised using the Silk’n infinity app. It also allows you to set reminders for your next treatment, a feature we loved as it can be easy to forget.

Surprisingly, when placed flat on the skin the flash is not so bright, but if you have sensitive peepers, we’d recommend using it during the day. Silk’n uses eHPL – the brand says this mix of galvanic and optical energy, widens your pores and lets the light reach hair follicles without irritation.

By week four we saw underarm hair thinning and after treatment five, regrowth was minimal. It’s totally painless and reasonably priced for its fast results.

Read the full Silk’n infinity permanent hair remover review

Braun silk expert pro 5

Best: Corded IPL machine

Rating: 8/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: No
  • Features: Skintone sensor
  • What’s in the box: Device, adaptor cord, precision head, Venus razor, suede pouch
  • Usage: Once a week for 4-12 weeks and then top-up every one to two months
  • Flashes: 400,00

This is one of the chicest devices we tried, arriving in a soft suede, zipped, compartmentalised pouch, making it easy to store and less bulky than most. It’s incredibly lightweight with slick gold detailing and a lengthy cable so that, while it isn’t cordless, it’s not restrictive. It also has an accompanying blue and green Venus razor, which is ideal for ensuring your skin is smooth before use so that you achieve the best results.

It’s very easy to use, with just three settings, and while it’s a tad noisy, it’s extremely reactive, taking us only 15 minutes to glide it across the top and lower legs, underarms and face. There’s a precision head which you can switch out when treating smaller areas like the face or armpits, which clicks on and off with ease. As pleased as we were with it, we would have liked to have seen a pair of protective glasses included.

Progress was slow and subtle but if you stick with it, we found hair regrowth was sparser and thinner, particularly on our underarms by week five.

Philips lumea IPL 9000

Best: Cordless IPL machine

Rating: 8/10

  • Machine type: IPL
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Features: Skintone sensor, five speed settings
  • What’s in the box: Device, adaptor, four attachments for body, face, bikini and underarms,
  • Usage: Every two weeks for the first four treatments, then top-ups every four weeks
  • Flashes: 450,000

This newer IPL device from Philips is much larger than the lumea BRI/92, more expensive and comes with greater versatility. There are specific detachable heads for the device that are designed for the face, legs, bikini and body, each coming with a helpful diagram so you always use the right one. There’s also a quilted bag for easy storage included (although fitting it all in was a tight squeeze).

The biggest difference between this and the other Philips model is the size – this design is a third bigger, but not hugely heavier, with double the number of detachable heads. Secondly, this one can be used both corded and cordless: ideal if you want the best of both worlds. The skintone sensor is a clever feature, being able to detect your skintone and recommend the best intensity setting out of the five available. The interface was the most detailed we tried, but not overly complicated. At the back of the head of the device there’s a light strip that flashes white when it has full contact with skin, and orange if your skin is too dark to treat.

While we found this effective at reducing hair regrowth, it did take six treatments before we noticed a real difference – slightly longer than the other devices on our list. We did enjoy using the Lumea app to schedule treatments and set reminders, making it easy to stay on top of scheduling. As useful as the cordless offering is, we did find using it corded worked better as the flashes emitted faster, speeding up the treatments.

Tria hair removal laser 4X

Best: For laser hair removal

Rating: 7/10

  • Machine type: Laser
  • Power: Mains
  • Cordless: Yes
  • Features: Skintone sensor, five intensity settings, LED display
  • What’s in the box: Device, adaptor, charging pack, instructions
  • Usage: Every two weeks 12 weeks
  • Flashes: N/a

This cordless laser device is another big design with a fast setup, taking our reviewer less than 30 seconds to get zapping away. To start, you turn it on and hold the red light at the base (the skin sensor) on the area you want to treat. Once it has beeped twice, it’s safe for use. There’s five intensity settings, which can be adjusted by pressing the pink button, and Tria recommends placing the laser head across the skin in overlapping circles. The head is small, which does take some patience when treating your legs and underarms, and diligence is key to avoid varying hair growth.

In terms of sensation, this one was painful, delivering a hot feel on level three and by level five, it had increased to a pinching, sharp sting that hurt less than waxing, sure, but was painful nonetheless. This did subside slightly with frequent use, however, as there’s less hair to zap with each treatment.

You’ll know you’re using it correctly when it beeps (it needs to be sitting flat on the skin) and it emits a different sound if it’s not placed properly. The LED display will also tell you each time you’ve stamped each area and keep a tally. We began to see results by our sixth treatment, with fewer, thinner and sparser hairs. Our only gripe is that it recommends using it with Tria’s calm soothing gel (£35, Triabeauty.co.uk), which, despite the cost of the machine, doesn’t come included.

Read the full Tria hair removal laser 4X review

Home laser and IPL hair removal machine FAQs

What is IPL hair removal?

IPL stands for intense pulsed light. It’s a type of light therapy used to treat unwanted hair. It works by targeting a certain colour in your skin, and the higher the contrast between your skin and hair colour the better, which is why it is often said to be most effective on those with light skin and dark hair. When the skin is heated, it destroys the hair follicle to prevent the hair from growing again, without burning the skin.

What is the difference between IPL hair removal and laser hair removal?

IPL is similar to a laser treatment. However, a laser focuses just one wavelength of light on your skin, while IPL releases light of many different wavelengths. Plus, the light from IPL is more scattered and less focused than a laser. They both, however, penetrate down to the second layer of your skin (dermis) without harming the top layer (epidermis).

Are home IPL machines safe?

The light from an IPL at-home machine is much less concentrated than salon treatments, and so they can be used safely in the comfort of your home, so long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidance.

How often can you use a home IPL machine?

It depends on the body part that you’re concentrating on. Most instruction manuals would recommend using an at-home IPL device once every four weeks in order to catch the new hair that is starting to return in its growth cycle.

For legs, it is once every eight to 12 weeks as the hair growth rate on this body area is much slower. It’s worth noting if you’re anxious to exceed these time frames, it won’t speed up hair loss – in fact, it will probably do the opposite and may also lead to irritated skin.

How do at-home IPL machines compare to salon treatments?

Home IPL devices operate at a lower intensity than those used professionally and therefore their ability to disable the hair follicle sufficiently is less than with a salon treatment. However, it goes without saying that the convenience of being able to carry out the treatments at home, in your own time, is a game changer for long-term hair removal. Plus, there is a substantial financial difference, as professional in-salon treatments tend to be very costly.

How permanent is laser hair removal?

Provided you have committed to the recommended treatment plan for an at-home laser device, which can range from weekly to fortnightly for the first 12, typically hair regrowth is dramatically reduced. The best results can be achieved over time, so it’s important to be patient, and to not expect to see no hair regrowth after your first time using a laser device.

That said, with laser hair removal, there’s no guarantee that after a treatment cycle you’ll never grow hair on the treated areas again. It depends on the individual, the area being treated (i.e. facial hair may grow quicker than your leg hair) and things like hormone fluctuations which can cause hair to grow back. That’s why top-up treatments are recommended, if necessary.

Are there any side effects?

Laser hair removal can be painful and uncomfortable, and after treating an area, it’s possible to see redness, tenderness or blistering.

Also, it’s often not as effective on white, blond, red, or grey hair, as these colours are unable to absorb as much of the energy needed to disable the hair follicle. While uncommon, a very rare side effect can be increased hair regrowth.

If you’re undergoing laser hair removal in a clinic, you will be informed by the administrator if your hair is not suitable for treatment, while with at-home devices, make sure to carefully read the instructions and carry out thorough research before investing.

Laser vs wax: Which hair removal method is better?

Results from laser hair removal typically last longer, but require a bigger commitment, with at-home devices often needing 12 treatments for the best results. Laser works by targeting pigment in the hair follicles– as the laser beam hits your skin, it’s converted to heat where it is absorbed by the pigments.

Over time, this heat damages the follicle at the root, which is why you eventually see reduced hair regrowth and need less treatments after the initial 12.

Waxing removes the hair from the root, and with continuous sessions, it will grow back a thinner texture. However, to get the best from waxing, depending on which part of the body you’re treating, you may need repeat treatments just weeks later.

The biggest factor is cost – laser appointments in a clinic can cost thousands for a treatment plan, while waxing, again depending on which area you’re treating, can often be less than £100. At-home laser devices don’t come cheap either, with most retailing from £150.

Ultimately, both can be effective methods of hair removal, so it depends on how much effort, time and money you’re willing to spend.

Is laser hair removal painful?

Initially yes. There’s a sharp, pinching sensation that can make you flinch, especially with the first few treatments.

As you persevere, it will become progressively less painful as there’s less hair growing back to zap.

What to consider when buying an IPL hair-removal device

  • The number of treatment heads: If you plan on using the IPL device on small areas, such as your bikini line or face, check that it comes with an attachment that can work on this size of area – it’ll be more efficient.
  • Speed: The shorter the time between flashes, the faster the treatment will be.
  • The number of flashes: This is the number of times the device can emit a flash of light – while most machines have a minimum of 100,000, once this runs out, you’ll have to replace the lamp. For some devices, you’ll be able to buy replacement heads, but others, notably the reviewed Sensica sensilight pro IPL hair removal device (£266, Currentbody.com), have an unlimited number of flashes.
  • Skin and hair colour: Not all devices are compatible with all skin and hair colours, so it’s worth making sure the IPL device you intend to buy is right for you. Similarly, keep an eye out for an automatic skintone sensor, which will mean the IPL device can detect the optimum intensity and safest settings for your skin tone.
  • Cordless or corded machine: Some IPL devices are cordless, which can make them easier to use and transport.
  • Treatment area size: Depending on the size of the area you want to treat, you’ll want to consider the size and power of your IPL device. If you’re treating a large area, such as your legs or torso, it’s best to consider a machine that is not battery powered, as it can take a while to recharge cordless models.

The verdict: Home laser and IPL hair-removal machines

Over the course of a three-month-long testing period, the standout winner was the Bondi laser hair removal handset. Great for beginners, the time conscious or the lazy, it had a fuss-free setup and we saw fast results. It was one of the only devices we tried which included a pair of protective glasses, but it also delivered no discomfort and can be used twice a week, which sped up how fast we began to see a reduction in hair regrowth.

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