PRODUCT EXPERIENCE: AT-HOME IPL, PT.1

We’ve all heard the expression “Summer Bodies Are Made In Winter”, and while that definitely does apply to fitness, it also applies hair removal. If you’ve ever considered laser hair removal, the dead of winter is a great time to go for it. I’d tried out salon laser removal a year or two ago, and while it was great, I stopped going back due to a combination of having exposed my skin to sunlight and the fact that it was exquisitely uncomfortable. I mean, we’re talking real pain here– I wanted to kick the nice lady administering the treatment, especially when it came to the bikini region.

Now that it’s winter again and my skin hasn’t seen sunlight for three or four months, I wanted to go back again, but just couldn’t stomach the thought of both the pain and paying over €100 per session– and that was just for underarms and bikini. The solution? At-home IPL.

Great strides have been made in the area of at-home laser treatment in the last few years; while previously you needed expensive replacement heads and sometimes gels, the newer models come with long-life lamps which means you can get years worth of treatments (140,000 flashes, apparently) without having to buy replacement parts. Still, even without having to buy replacement parts, these things are not cheap.

I got a pretty great deal on this Philips Lumea Precision Plus from Boots in the sale, and only had to part with €400 instead of the usual price of €530. That’s still no small chunk of change, but it’s a good deal compared with salon prices, where six treatments for underarms, bikini, and legs works out somewhere in the €750 region, and any subsequent treatments are extra. This way, I’m saving upwards of €350 just on the basic outlay, and any subsequent treatments are a bonus.

I’ve only used mine once, so I can only give an initial report on the experience of using the device at this point, but I will update this in the future with how effective it is in terms of long-term hair removal. For now, though, let’s take a look at what you get and how it works. For your €400 (or €530, now the sale has ended), you get a Manual, a Quick Start Guide, a cleaning cloth, a storage bag, the charging cable, two application heads (one for face and one for body), and the laser device itself.

lumea

The device is hairdryer sized and shaped, and has five intensity settings. The guide explains which one is likely to work best for you based on your hair and skin colour. (Basically, the bigger the difference between the two, the higher the setting that you can use– with my super pale skin, I’m cleared to use Level 5, but if you’re darker, you probably shouldn’t go higher than 3.) There’s a separate head for use on the face which has an extra filtration layer, and a larger, less filtered head for use on the body. Both heads have a pressure-sensitive, multi-segment protection ring, and all parts of the ring must be depressed before the flash will trigger. That helpfully means you can’t accidentally flash it in front of your face, but it also means that you need full-on contact with the skin in order to get it to work…. And that’s not always easy.

The trouble with doing this yourself is that you need to be flexible. Like, properly, ready-for-Ringling-Bros flexible, because you have to be able to put the device where it’s needed, and with the right degree of pressure, while also being able to see where you’re making contact so you can move it to the next spot without too much overlap or skipping any areas in between.

For places like your lip or your ankles, this is not so hard. For the underarms and the back of the thighs, it’s a bit of a different story. I did manage it, but I am flexible, and I also didn’t have a flinch reflex because it wasn’t hurting. If you struggle to bend in half (i.e., if you can’t stand up and put your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees), this may prove difficult for you.

Things might be further complicated if you’re petite, as you’re going to have to press in quite hard when using the body head, because it’s big, and your smaller limbs mean that your shin or ankle may not be much wider than the head itself– and slightly curved, to boot.

So those are the downsides. There are, however, numerous upsides (aside from the price). If you’re wondering if it’s safe, apparently it is; no goggles are supplied with the machine, and there’s nothing in the manual saying you need protective eye gear. (Despite this, however, I took my own precautions, and wore some UV-filtering sunglasses while I was using it just to be on the safe side. Still, it’s nice to know I can go without if need be.)

It’s also nice and quiet. While using the device, it makes a sort of whirring noise, like one of those useless low-power hotel hairdryers, or the fan on your computer when you’re looking at a particularly Flash-heavy website. It’s nowhere near loud enough to cause a problem, but it did surprise me a little bit, so I’ll mention it here. As for battery life, you will need to charge between uses, but it’s still better than expected. One charge was enough for me to do my legs, underarms, and bikini line, which I thought was pretty great.

The surprising big plus is that this hurts a lot less than the salon treatment. I mean, a lot less. At the salon, it hurt quite a bit to have my underarms done, and my bikini-line was basically torture. With this, neither my underarms nor legs hurt at all (I didn’t even bother trying to get my legs done at the salon)– it was exactly as described: a warm sensation. That was using Level 5, too. I am duly impressed, and if this is half as a effective as the salon version, I’ll be delighted.

When I came to the bikini line, though, having remembered how unpleasant it had been at the salon, I turned the intensity down to 3. I was jolly glad I did, because it still hurt, in places. Some rather badly. This was a bit of a disappointment, but I suppose in areas where the skin is thin and there’s little fatty or muscle tissue underneath, it’s just going to hurt no matter what you’re using, and I’m going to have to suck it up.

In the hours after treatment, my legs and underarms were heat- and blemish-free. I wouldn’t have known I’d done anything to them other than shave in the shower that morning. My bikini area was another story. It hurt. And was a little red. It was absolutely no worse than it was from the salon treatment, and it didn’t last too long, but was still irritating. The salon had suggested a warm facecloth and then the application of some aloe gel in the case of redness, which I duly followed, and it helped quite a bit. By the next morning, there was no problem whatsoever.

A few days later, I had hair regrowth, which was an unpleasant surprise. With the salon treatment, my regrowth was diminished instantly, and I didn’t have to even look at a razor for about a fortnight. I’m hoping this isn’t a sign it’s not effective over the long-term and simply means it’s not effective in the short-term– something I can absolutely deal with, so long as it does work in the end. I’ll keep you guys posted on how it works out for me in the long run, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Would I recommend this to others? Well, tentatively yes. For me, the convenience of being able to do it in my home, at a time of my choosing, to the level that I’m comfortable with, and to be able to take breaks as desired offsets the drawback of having to contort myself into all kinds of pretzel shapes and get a sore wrist from pressing a light-flashing hairdryer into my skin. What really remains to be seen, though, is how effective this is.

The two or three treatments I had in the salon definitely reduced the amount of hair growth in my underarm and bikini-line area, and I’m hoping this will more or less kill it off completely. If it can manage that, it will absolutely be worth its price… But I can’t say that it has yet. The jury’s out on this one, folks, but I’ll definitely update to let you know how I get on.

Have you tried IPL, either at home or at the salon? Have you tried out this product? Or do you find the whole thing just too scary and potentially painful to bother with? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

2 Comments

  1. Posted January 19, 2015 at 21:14 | Permalink | Reply

    Fab post and so detailed. I’ve always been intrigued by such devices but have never got around to trying one!

    Carys x

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 23:29 | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks! Will keep you guys posted on how I get on. I’m really hoping it works out because this thing was expensive as hell, haha.

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