A battle for the best home IPL machine has begun since Braun launched their Silk Expert Pro 5 device. The Philips Lumea Prestige has been winning on every front, but this strong contender seems to be shaking up the DIY IPL market.
With salon results straight from your own home, technology is progressing at lightning speeds. Find out whether the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 is the first device to knock the Philips Lumea Prestige off the top spot, taking the crown as the Queen of IPL machines.
What is IPL?
IPL uses spectrum light and filters longer wavelengths intended for striking hair shafts. The light beams are absorbed by the hair pigment, resulting in the heating of follicles. The goal is to entirely destroy them by doing regular sessions. Handy IPL devices can now be bought and used at home as an alternative to salon treatments.
The results might not be permanent, but they can definitely and gradually reduce body hair growth. It will also give you long-lasting effects compared to your daily or weekly shaving, waxing, or plucking routine.
Now that we know a little about what IPL is, let’s have a closer look at the top two IPL brands on the market: Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 and Philips Lumea Prestige.
Which hair tones are these machines suitable for?
As mentioned, these IPL machines use light energy that penetrates melanin in hair follicles. With that said, not all hair tones would be suitable for these devices. IPL will not work on very light hair colors such as light blonde, white, grey, or red, as these have minimal amounts of melanin.
The Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 and Philips Lumea Prestige both work well for dark blonde, brown and black hair.
Which skin tones are they best suited to?
Like all IPL machines, the fairer your skin tone is then the more likely you are to have access to the strongest settings on the device.
The Braun Silk Expert most definitely comes up trumps here, beating the Philips Lumea in terms of usability for darker skin tones.
You do not have to worry about overexposure as these devices have smart skin sensors that detect your skin color before automatically selecting the most suitable setting for you.
NOTE: Although these devices are safe if you follow the guidelines, they shouldn’t be used if you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. It also shouldn’t be used anywhere near the eyes or on tattooed or sunburnt skin.
How many intensity levels do they have?
Whilst the Braun Silk Expert offers a whopping 10 settings vs the Philips Lumea Prestige at 5, the necessity of these are questionable. The Philips’ settings are more than sufficient and perhaps Braun has tried to overcomplicate things here.
Once you find a couple of levels you are comfortable with, you can normally ignore the rest. Both have a smart sensor or the option for you to manually choose the setting, so experimenting until you find the most appropriate one is not too much of a challenge.
If you have previously used laser or professional salon machines, you will not be disappointed with either of these devices in terms of flash strength. In fact, those with darker skin will be so impressed with the intensity levels that you’ll have to turn it down a notch!
How long will the machines last?
Now, you might think that your lamp flash count will dictate how long these machines last and this could influence your decision when choosing one. However, these machines are far more likely to punch out before you run out of any light!
Braun claims that this machine will last 20-24 years based on flash count, and Philips state 10-14 years. ‘Years’ are quite subjective though as this will be down to how often you treat areas and how large the areas are.
Getting dust into the ventilation system or overheating is far more likely to kill your machine before running out of flashes.
But having said that – the lamps can run out, and replacing them is not an available option.
Which has a better shape and design?
The Braun Silk Expert is a lightweight and ergonomically friendly device, particularly when treating large areas. Holding the machine is a doddle and reaching awkward areas is easy enough. It is also slightly quicker between flashes, reducing treatment times vs the Philips.
Having said that, the Philips Lumea Prestige has a larger window for treating areas. For example, you could complete the upper lip in 4 flashes, whereas you may need 6 or 7 with the Braun.
The Philips Lumea Prestige can get a little tricky to use when treating areas like the back of your thighs as the machine is quite heavy and cumbersome at times. As the head is fairly large, maneuvering it to reach areas (such as full bikini) can be a bit fiddly and worth nothing if this is the main area you want to treat.
How long do individual areas take to treat?
A lot longer than advertised for both machines!
If you want to just glide over areas and hope that you’ll eventually cover everything over several sessions, then the times quoted by Braun and Philips may be fairly accurate.
However, if you are the type to go over skin inch-by-inch in one session then you can double the following times at a minimum!
Average Treatments Times
- Lower Legs: 5-10 minutes
- Facial hair: 1-2 minutes
- Underarms: 3-5 minutes
- Bikini line: 3-5 minutes
How often do areas need to be treated?
The ideal usage of an IPL device is weekly or fortnightly for your first three to four treatments, followed by monthly treatments thereafter. Using them more frequently will not help to reach your goals of being hair-free with flawless skin.
This is because hair grows in cycles, and once you’ve zapped a hair follicle then the job is done. The new hair that sprouts is not from the same follicle that you’ve already treated, but a new follicle that was not ready in its cycle at the time of previous treatment.
What do Braun and Philips recommend?
Braun Silk Expert Pro 5
- Start-up treatment: Use it once a week for the first three months
- Follow-up treatment: Once a month, or once every two months
Philips Lumea Prestige
- Start-up treatment: Fortnightly for the first five treatments
- Follow-up treatment: Once a month, or once every two months
Now, although both have different recommended treatment frequencies, we would say that this should be taken with a pinch of salt. Both pretty much provide the same results irrespective of their recommendation.
Using either machine fortnightly for the first four sessions, followed by monthly top-ups will be sufficient for most people.
You may suffer from more stubborn hair in places, particularly fine facial hair. If this is the case, it is likely that you will require continued fortnightly use to keep yourself completely hair-free. Still a far better option than salon visits!
Which one treats large areas the fastest?
Philips Lumea has a larger flash window size (1.5cm x 3.5cm) than Braun Silk Expert (1cm x 3cm). However, Braun is a teeny-tiny bit quicker between flashes.
Although the Philips Lumea can be used without a cord, we wouldn’t recommend it for high-intensity treatments as the time between flashes increases exponentially. Braun can only be used on mains connection as they have identified that this provides a far better experience.
It’s a close call. If we really had to put any money on it we’d say Philips wins here due to the larger window.
What results can you expect?
Philips Lumea seems to be living up to its reputation for being the most effective DIY home IPL machine. Users are blown away with how fast and effective this device is. Most have agreed that they see significant hair growth reduction on legs in just one month.
But since Braun launched the Silk Expert Pro 5 they have been giving Philips a run for their money. The most important factor is that it works better on darker skin.
When either machine is used on the highest setting for your skin tone on the most densely populated growth area (underarms/bikini), then you can expect to see a major reduction after just one session, sometimes up to 90% if you cover every inch.
Both brands offer a 100-day money-back guarantee, although we’re certain you won’t want to part with it anyway!
Which one is the Queen of IPL?
The Philips Lumea Prestige has been the best-selling IPL machine for years on Amazon and many have tried their hardest to knock it off the top spot. We must say, that the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 looked very promising on paper, but overall didn’t quite cut the mustard.
The Prestige is a solid, well-built device that is not an overly complicated piece of kit to use. It does what it promises to do and always has done.
We are struggling to justify the additional cost of the Braun Silk Expert Pro 5, based on the same results and outcomes from both machines.
That being said, if you have a dark skin tone you may want to be safe and head for the Silk Expert, as the Prestige is yet to make minor improvements here. Either way, if you are looking for a DIY solution to silky smooth skin, then you won’t be disappointed with any of these!
Philips Lumea Prestige vs Braun Silk Expert Pro 5
We can all agree that DIY home IPL devices can be considered a fairly significant investment. But it’s worth every penny if it means saying bye-bye to weekly shaving, fortnightly waxing, or expensive trips to the salon.
If being hair-free is your ultimate goal then we can promise one of these devices will be your new best buddy.
The Philips Lumea Prestige vs Braun Silk Expert Pro 5 battle is over for now, until next time.
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