The quick answer is...
Philips Lumea SC2009
Philips Lumea SC2005
Best budget lumea
- Great life span with 250,000 flashes
- Best budget Philips IPL hair removal system
- Not for use on the face
The SC2005 is great with just a couple of compromises. This has a body attachment but it lacks a bikini and face attachment. If you can overlook this then you can get yourself a bargain.
The backstory to IPL
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) has only fairly recently been used for hair removal and the first recorded time was in 1997. Over the last couple of decades however, it progressed quickly into salons and now into our homes. IPL isn’t just used for hair removal though, it’s actually very effective on many skin conditions too and the filters that are used to block out certain wavelengths of light can be changed around to target different types of cells and chemicals within the body.
How does IPL work?
IPL is operated using a hand-held flashgun that emits a burst of broad-spectrum light at the targeted area. Because different frequencies of light affect different cell types and chemicals, IPL hair removal devices contain specific filters to allow only the light that affects melanin through. These filters also protect skin from harmful UV light.
When the flash from an IPL unit hits the skin, it travels through until it reaches the hair root where the melanin is most highly concentrated. The light energy turns to heat under the skin and heats up the melanin to destruction. This is why you may feel a slight tingling sensation.
Because it’s the melanin that is targeted and destroyed, IPL hair removal is usually most effective in those that have dark, coarse hair. Those with very light blonder hair, for instance, simply don’t have enough melanin for the process to work.
Not all hair follicles are active at once and some will be inactive the first time you use IPL – this is merely a normal part of their growth cycle. IPL only affects active hair follicles and it’s for this reason that within the first 8 weeks, you will need more IPL treatments than in the proceeding months. Follicles that were inactive the first and second time you used IPL, may well be active the third time.
Read more: How to use a Philips Lumea
Does IPL work for everyone?
IPL is unfortunately only effective on certain skin and hair types as the light travels better or worse through different colours of skin. Light hair (naturally light) such as light blonde, grey and red hair are not compatible with IPL as they lack the melanin needed to be effective. IPL simply won’t do anything for people with this colour hair.
Those with very dark skin, even deeply tanned skin also cannot use IPL as there is too much melanin in the skin cells themselves for it to be safe. As the light emitted from IPL machines heats melanin to destruction, it can cause burns and blistering in those with naturally dark or tanned skin. It’s extremely important to use either Philips’ Lumea skin charts, the Fitzroy colour scale or the automatic skin tone sensor on IPL machines before using any IPL – this will ensure you stay safe.
IPL treatment works best on those with light to mid tone skin who also have mid brown to very dark, even black hair.
There are a range of medical conditions that also preclude people from using IPL and again, it’s very important to read the user manuals or find out which conditions prevent IPL usage before you try it. These range from eczema to diabetes and pregnancy. Those with sunburn or who have recently tanned must also avoid IPL. Some medications can also cause photosensitivity, that is, make you more sensitive to light. SmoothSkin have a very useful document that lists these medications and if you’re taking them, you shouldn’t use IPL.
This makes it sound like very few people can use the system but actually, a lot of people can. As long as you have a compatible skin and hair colour, you’re probably fine. Always check the medical conditions but most people with dark hair and pale skin will find that IPL works well for them.
Is IPL safe?
IPL has gone through rigorous testing over the decades it’s been in use and safety precautions are in place in most devices. As long as you check that you’re compatible with the system, you should be fine.
Devices like the Philips Lumea range and the Remingtons have sensors around the light window that must be in full contact with skin in order to release a flash. This stops accidental flashing, especially in the eyes. Always ensure that this ring is in full contact with skin even if the model doesn’t have this safety feature (although most do).
Most home IPL machines these days have around five light intensity settings and these correspond to different skin tones. This allows many people to use the same device despite their differing colouring. Some devices will come with colour charts to tell you which setting you need, others will have skin colour sensors that will set the number for you. Either way, if you feel an uncomfortable sensation then you can turn the setting down until you find one you can be comfortable with.
These settings are also useful for different areas of the body. For instance, you may require a different setting for the face, which may be a darker skin tone than the legs as it gets more sun exposure. Similarly, the bikini area is particularly sensitive and usually paler, so you might need a lower setting.
The light windows feature filters that protect you from harmful rays. Some brands such as the Philips Lumeas have extra UV filters in the facial attachments, as facial skin tends to be thinner and more susceptible to harmful rays than other parts of the body. This is important too as UV light ages skin and you hardly want to swap one beauty positive for a beauty negative right?
Mainly, you should always, always read the instructions in depth before using any IPL system, even if you’ve used a different one before. If you’re using it during and after summer then remember that you may need a different setting from the one you used over winter as your skin may have changed colour.
Note: Never use any IPL machine in the shower! These devices are not waterproof and should never get wet.
Who makes IPL home systems?
Philips has an IPL system range called ‘Lumea’ and it has had a fantastic reputation since inception several years ago now. The range has a wide selection of products and they’re generally high tech, highly efficient and have the best lifespans of any IPL system on the market.
Considering they can last around ten years each, the price for the Philips Lumea IPL systems is actually very good and they never require any replacement parts unlike also every other brand. These are true one-off purchases in a brand with a great design department.
Remington only has a tiny selection of IPL machines, the i-Lights. While Philips has a wide range to suit everyone’s budgets, Remington has only two or three choices. Nevertheless, the i-Lights are extremely effective and have their own set of bonuses.
The power base allows them to also be neat and easy to store and the skin tone sensor means that the setting will always be correct for your skin. While they don’t have the lifespans of the Lumea range, they do have replaceable bulbs and the Infinity bulb of the latest model will last for a couple of years.
Veet only produce one IPL system but it isn’t a bad one. It features a very user-friendly interface on the top of the device that has indication lights and it can have a fairly long lifespan depending on the cartridge/attachment that you’re using. Veet have been experts in hair removal for a long time now and while it feels like they’ve only brought out an IPL machine to keep up with other brands, this is still a good product. They may well produce more in the future and it’s a brand to keep an eye on.
Panasonic feel like they’ve gone into hair removal products rather half-heartedly and they only produce one IPL machine. It looks really neat and it does work but it just lacks the technology of other brands. It doesn’t have a precision attachment which means you’ll be doing your legs and face with the same light window – this will either mean legs are slow to do or face isn’t targeted enough. With a 5.4cm light window, doing areas like upper lip will be a bit annoying.
Compared to almost every other brand, this IPL machine has a very short lifespan too of only 20,000 charges. It comes with an additional bulb but this just means having the faff of changing it. IPL systems are supposed to remove hassle!
SmoothSkin are a British company who have specialised in a single IPL system and have worked their magic on it. They’re going down the GHD sort of path, make something that works excellently and looks even better and the customers will come. They haven’t done too badly and their IPL machine is definitely the best looking on the market. It’s also good quality and works well with an excellent lifespan of 120,000 flashes.
Best IPL System
Philips Lumea Prestige SC2009/00 IPL Hair Removal System for Face, Body and Bikini
If you’re looking for the best IPL hair removal machine then, to be honest, it’s not particularly difficult to work out which one it is. Philips Lumea systems are all pretty fantastic and their dedication to technology, usability, lifespan and value for money is a head and shoulders above the rest.
The Lumea SC2009 is just a fantastic all-round IPL system that comes with body, face and bikini attachments. Many brands shy away from having different attachments and go for a one glove fits all kind of approach, getting the user to select intensity settings instead.
But the SC2009 is much better; the bikini attachment is a precision tool with a small window and is specifically designed to work on the coarser hair in that area. The facial attachment has extra UV filters to protect the more fragile, facial skin as well as being only 2cm wide for precision. The body attachment is 4cm wide and can be used on a continuous flash mode, allowing for fast and effective hair removal.
With 250,000 flashes, we’ll be driving in hover cars before you need to buy a new one of these and it has the best lifespan of any IPL system on the market. Not only does it work for this long but you never need any replacement parts at all. Compared to the Remington IPL6500 which states you never need to replace its 65,000 flash Infinity bulb….well, you can see the difference.
The price of the SC2009 is spread out over about 10 years, so it’s not expensive in the slightest.
Best Budget IPL System
Philips Lumea Prestige SC2005/00 IPL Hair Removal System for Body
For those who still want a fantastic quality IPL system but don’t want to spend loads, the SC2005 is a great compromise. It’s the same as the SC2009 but, because it comes without the face or bikini attachments, it’s a great deal cheaper. This model means that you can have smooth legs for a decade!
With 370 flashes between charges and a tiny charge time of just 100 minutes, this is the ultimate no-faff budget model and you’ll never need to buy any replacement parts at all.
It has 250,000 flashes in total and only takes around 8 minutes to do an entire lower leg. Considering you only need to treat your skin every four to six weeks after the initial period, hair removal can finally rest at the bottom of your priority list.
The lifespan of this Philips Lumea SC2005 means that the cost is spread out over a very, very long time. It’ll be cheaper than shaving and waxing by a long shot and the time you’ll save will allow you to take up a whole new hobby.
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