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The 7 Best IPL Hair Removal Devices for Smooth Skin

Jan 19, 2024

Every item on this page was chosen by an ELLE editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

No ingrown hairs or stubble in sight.

I’ll tell you firsthand that laser hair removal can work wonders. As someone with dark, thick body hair who has tried nearly every form of hair removal—from depilatory creams to shaving, waxing, and sugaring—nothing has left me as smooth as my salon laser treatments. However, I won't lie to you and say these haven't put a significant dent in my wallet (for reference, a single Brazilian session has cost me upwards of $150). For a more affordable and reasonably effective alternative, consider investing in the best at-home IPL hair removal devices.

Although often referred to as a type of laser treatment, IPL, which stands for Intense Pulsed Light, isn't technically a laser. While both methods use heat to destroy the hair follicle, each differs slightly in its approach and results. "IPL devices use a broad spectrum of light, which is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle, causing the hair to heat up and eventually be destroyed," explains dermatologist Dr. Cameron Rokhsar. "On the other hand, laser hair removal uses a single wavelength of light that is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle, producing a more targeted and precise effect."

That said, IPL devices may be a better choice for you for various reasons. They tend to be significantly cheaper than at-home and salon laser treatments and can also cover larger areas of the body. "This can make them faster and more convenient for treating places like the legs, back, and chest," says Dr. Rokhsar, who notes that many at-home options can still be used on smaller areas like the upper lip, cheeks, and bikini line, too. And because IPL isn't quite as potent as laser technology, some people find IPL treatments to be an overall less painful experience.

Remember that, like lasers, IPL isn't suited for all hair and skin types, and IPL devices won't permanently remove hair. However, with consistency, you may experience noticeably thinner and fewer hairs over time.

To help you prepare for the skin-baring season, we did extensive research and found the 7 best IPL hair removal devices customers can't stop raving about. Plus, we tapped Dr. Rokhsar and fellow dermatologist Dr. Kseniya Kobets for additional tips on how to use these devices safely.

Braun's FDA-approved device takes much of the pain and guesswork out of IPL hair removal and is designed to visibly reduce hair growth in just four weeks. For one, it has a sensor that automatically adapts the light intensity to your skin tone to maximize comfort without sacrificing results. Additionally, it features three "comfort" settings (standard, gentle, and extra gentle) and two interchangeable heads for precision in different areas like the face, underarms, and bikini line. Oh, and did we mention it comes with a cute travel case and a five-blade razor to help get you started?

Amazon rating: 4.4/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "I never write reviews; however, this product has compelled me to share how amazing I think it is with the world! Over the last 20 years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars and lots of time on professional laser treatments only to still have to shave with a dark shadow left on my legs. I used this machine for four weeks, and the hair on my legs was practically gone. I have very dark, coarse Indian hair and a medium complexion, and this device has been game-changing. I would highly recommend this."

If splurging on an IPL hair removal device isn't exactly within your budget, look no further than this $50 option with hundreds of four and five-star reviews. The FDA-approved device has five intensity levels, an auto and manual mode, as well as a skin sensor to detect and limit sensitivity. Moreover, it includes up to 999,900 flashes for extended use and a large LCD screen for easy viewing.

Amazon rating: 3.8/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "This is definitely worth the money. I am so happy I got this because I have very dark, coarse hair on my upper lip, lower cheeks, and under my chin. I’ve been using it every other day for about a month, and even when taking a break for two weeks, I can barely even see the hair in those areas—whereas before, I would have to shave it every few days."

With over 10,800 reviews and an average four star-rating, the XSOUL is beloved by countless shoppers for being easy to use and "truly effective." There are five settings you can work your way up through depending on your tolerance, as well as two straightforward modes (one auto and one manual) for targeting large and smaller areas. Since it's equipped with over 999,999 flashes (which should last you up to 10 years!), it's also a solid long-term investment.

Amazon rating: 4/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "This is a great product with lots of flashes. The instructions are easy to follow. If you are just getting started with laser hair removal, this is the product for you."

Have a low pain tolerance? Ease your skin into the world of IPL hair removal with Nood's The Flasher 2.0. The patent-pending, FDA-cleared device has seven intensity levels to choose from, and even when using it on the highest settings, many customers mention they experienced only mild discomfort. Another perk: You don't need to wear this one with glasses, as it has a safety feature that prevents flashes until the device is pressed directly against your skin.

Amazon rating: 4.1/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "This device is so convenient, portable, adorable, and it WORKS! For the best results, use it on level 6 or the highest level 7. Both settings were doable in terms of pain—it's like a snap of a rubber band but only on sensitive areas (bikini line, etc.). I could barely feel a thing on my underarms and legs! The automatic setting is great once you get the hang of the device, and everything fits perfectly in a makeup bag, so that you can take it with you wherever you go."

Aopvui's FDA-cleared device is a number one best seller on Amazon, complete with a whopping nine intensity levels and two flash modes. It even comes with two extra settings for skin rejuvenation and acne in case you want to combat multiple concerns in one go. Some shoppers report their hair grew back noticeably thinner within weeks, and one even mentioned significant results after a single use.

Amazon rating: 4.3/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "You can start on a low setting and work your way to higher settings as you get used to it. I am used to laser hair removal, so I set mine pretty high. I did my arms and armpits and also my legs. The hair literally disappeared with a single shot, and later when I saw spotting from places I missed, I went back over it and did it again. This is such an awesome product. It works best on areas where the hair is dark or coarse, but overall it gets rid of the hair. It's very user-friendly and easy to get the hang of."

When you’re always on the go or simply don't have the patience, this Lubex device is designed to achieve a full body treatment in just eight minutes. And there are plenty of glowing reviews to prove it. Among over 2,000, over 80 percent of shoppers gave the device five stars for being fast and potent. In fact, it's been clinically shown to reduce hair by 96 percent after six weeks of treatment.

Per some users, the diamond-shaped head and slim handle make the device super easy to maneuver.

Amazon rating: 4.7/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "The Lubex IPL Hair Removal System has exceeded my expectations. It delivers permanent hair reduction, features fast-speed flash technology for efficient treatments, offers multiple functions and energy levels, and is a cost-effective alternative to salon appointments. If you’re looking for a reliable and effective hair removal solution, I highly recommend trying the Lubex. It's a gift to yourself that keeps on giving."

Whether you’re targeting your upper lip area or bikini line, this model makes it easy to get into every nook and cranny via its 330-degree rotating head. And all the while, it helps reduce pain by keeping your skin at a crisp 41 degrees Fahrenheit. On top of featuring a cooling sapphire screen, the FDA-approved device uses a narrower spectrum of light pulses designed to improve results, has six temperature settings, and six modes for tackling various hair textures and thicknesses across the body. Plus, the device even has a special post-treatment setting designed to lighten dark spots and soothe redness.

Amazon rating: 4.3/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer says: "I’ve tried many at-home laser devices before, but I didn't find them beneficial. This is one of the best hair removal treatments I’ve used. Its cooling effect is good and you can adjust the intensity according to your body parts. I have used it three times and noticed results similar to those from professional lasers. The rotating feature is a plus, as it makes the device very convenient to use at different areas of your body. Also, you don't need to worry about the pain and it is easy to use and handle."

Most at-home IPL and laser devices are best suited for people with fair to medium skin tones and hair colors that are darker than their complexion. This is because both technologies work by targeting the pigment in the hair follicle. "The contrast between the pigment in the hair and the skin allows the device to more effectively target the hair follicle without causing damage to the surrounding skin," explains Dr. Rokhsar. "So, people with darker complexions or lighter hair may not be good candidates for at-home IPL or laser devices, as these may not be able to effectively distinguish between the hair follicle and the surrounding skin." If you have a darker complexion, Dr. Rokhsar says in-office lasers are your safest option. "These can work on a wider range of skin tones since the targeted wavelength can be adjusted to avoid damage or discoloration."

Similar to at-home laser devices, Dr. Rokhsar notes that some over-the-counter IPL devices can also be used for other cosmetic purposes like combatting acne and dark spots. (To note, dermatologists may also use professional IPL devices to treat vascular lesions.)

Additionally, "at-home IPL devices are useful for people who want to treat larger areas of the body, as they can cover a larger treatment area than laser devices," Dr. Rokhsar says. But for those with incredibly stubborn or thick hair, remember that IPL may not be the most effective choice. "IPL isn't usually as successful as a laser at permanently removing hair," Dr. Rokhsar says. "Due to its mild energy heating profile, IPL may not penetrate as deeply into the skin or target the hair follicle as precisely."

"Like laser hair removal, IPL offers permanent hair reduction," explains Dr. Kobets. "This eventually removes most of the treated hairs, but some hairs may continue to grow back—especially if there is a strong hormonal component to the hair growth. You should start to see hair reduction even with the first treatment, but sometimes six or more treatments are needed to get to the desired results."

Keep in mind that other factors like skin tone, hair color, and thickness can also affect success. "Some people may experience complete hair loss in the treated areas, while others may require occasional touch-ups to maintain smoothness," adds Dr. Rokhsar. "It can take several months to see the full results of IPL hair removal, as the hair growth cycle is gradual and some hair follicles may require multiple treatments to effectively be targeted. The results of IPL hair removal can last for months or even years, depending on the individual."

"IPL hair removal can cause some discomfort or mild pain during treatment, but the level of discomfort can vary depending on based on an individual's skin sensitivity, the treatment area, and the intensity of the device," says Dr. Rokhsar. "However, most people report that IPL hair removal is less painful than other methods such as waxing or threading."

To help reduce the chances of pain, Dr. Kobets recommends choosing a device with cooling technology. For an in-office treatment, she's a fan of Sciton's BBL. "This professional-level device has an ‘In Motion’ option where the heat and energy build up gradually, and the crystal keeps the skin surface cool," she says. "The latest HERO version also pulses continuously to avoid any ‘striping’ and is relatively safer."

Dr. Rokhsar and Dr. Kobets recommend a few essential tips:

"First, choose the appropriate setting for your skin type and hair color," explains Dr. Rokhsar. "Start with a lower setting and gradually increase the intensity if necessary. Next, apply a cooling gel to help minimize discomfort during treatment (you can also apply a cooling gel or ice pack to the skin after your treatment). Then, hold the device against the skin and press the button to emit a pulse of light. Move the device to the next area and repeat the process. Be sure to overlap each pulse slightly to ensure even coverage. When you’re done, moisturize the treatment area to help soothe the skin and minimize dryness or flakiness between sessions."

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar is a double board-certified dermatologist practicing at New York Cosmetic, Skin, and Laser Surgery Center.

Dr. Kseniya Kobets is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York.

Sam Peters is a seasoned commerce writer and editor with over five years of experience covering fashion, beauty, and lifestyle topics. For this story, she interviewed two dermatologists and scoured customer reviews to find some of the best at-home IPL devices on the market. When choosing between styles, factors like the number and types of settings, comfort features, and amount of flashes for each device were considered. A range of top-rated, FDA-approved devices were also included.

Sam Peters is a Senior Commerce Editor at Hearst covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Her writing has appeared in WWD, Footwear News, Real Simple, PopSugar and Bridal Guide, among others. She enjoys unpacking the latest trends and testing and reviewing some of the most innovative, emerging products on the market.

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