Philips Lumea Precision IPL hair removal kit May 2012
Does this IPL hair removal system work?
The Philips Lumea Precision uses pulses of light to prevent hair growth and promises effective and long-lasting hair removal at home. We gave it to one of our researchers to try out over two months. Here she brings you her first impressions…
I’ve always found shaving quite a chore, so I jumped at the chance to try out the new Philips Lumea Precision hair removal system, which uses light to banish hair growth and promises ‘smooth skin every day’. But after two months using it, I haven't noticed any difference in the rate of my hair regrowth.
I’ve been tempted by similar laser hair removal treatments before, but having it done in a beauty salon always seemed like a long and pricey process, that requires a fair bit of effort in terms of booking and attending multiple appointments.
And while the Lumea Precision isn’t cheap (it's on sale for around £400 at John Lewis and Boots) the fact that you can do-it-yourself at home appealed, as it sounded like much less hassle.
How does the Philips Lumea works
The Philips Lumea uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology to prevent hair growth. You have to shave before you use it, then you zap the areas you would like to be hair-free and it prevents the hairs growing back - or at least that’s the theory.
Sleekly designed, it looks like a futuristic ray gun from a sci-fi movie. It’s a similar shape to a hair dryer but smaller, and has simple and easy-to-use controls in the handle. The light is emitted through a small window at the front.
You choose from five intensity settings, and to activate the light you simply press the light window onto your target area until the green ‘ready’ light comes on, and then press the ‘flash' button.
The Philips Lumea comes with a mains charger and a hard plastic case, and the Precision model I tried comes with two heads that you can attach to the light window – a larger one for treating the body and a smaller one for targeting smaller areas on the face and other sensitive areas, such as a bikini line.
Using the Philips Lumea
On getting started, I found the Lumea Precision was incredibly easy to get to grips with. It comes with a full user manual which Philips recommend you read before use, but there’s also a helpful quick start guide which show you how to get going.
For the best results Philips recommends you use the Lumea every two weeks for two months. After that you should have smooth and hair-free skin and need only to repeat treatment every four to six weeks.
I wanted to give the Lumea a fair trial so decided to do the full two months treatment on my left armpit – figuring this was a small enough area to have time to zap every two weeks (it took less than five minutes) and I could compare the effect easily against my untreated right armpit.
I also tried the Lumea once on my legs to see how easy it would be to cover a much larger surface area. I found quite tricky to keep track of where I’ve already zapped and it took longer – around 20 minutes per half leg - but I guess it could save you many hours of shaving in the long run.
Light intensity levels
Philips says the Lumea works effectively on (naturally) dark blonde, brown and black hairs. It is not effective on (naturally) red, grey, light blonde and white hairs and is not suitable for very dark skin.
For my colouring - white skin and brown hair - the instructions suggested I should try the highest light-intensity levels of four or five. And these instructions clearly state that ‘the method is more effective at higher intensities’.
However, they also warn that ‘you should reduce the light intensity if you experience any pain or discomfort’. And when I tried level five on my armpit, it was quite uncomfortable – it felt a lot like an elastic band being twanged on your skin, leaving it a little sore after (although nowhere near as painful as epilating).
Level four was fine on my legs, but level three was the highest level that was comfortable on my armpit – so that’s the one I used over the two months.
Does the Philips Lumea work?
After two months of using it on my armpit, the Philips Lumea did not seem to have had a significant effect – I still had to shave my left one as often as the right.
However, this isn't to say it won’t work for everyone – especially those who are able to use the higher intensity light settings.
But if you are thinking of investing in the Lumea and there’s any chance you can try before you buy then I’d recommend this. Ideally you’d want to try it out over a few weeks or months to see whether it has the desired effect – but even if you can just try out the different levels of intensity on your skin to see which would be comfortable for you that would be a good idea.
And my top tip for those about to start zapping? Don’t try to do this in the same room as people watching TV – apparently the flashing is very annoying!
Pros: Very easy to set up and use, looks sleek and futuristic
Cons: Didn’t stop my hair growing, tricky to make sure you don't miss any spots on of larger areas