To help you make the right choice we:
- thoroughly test each device
- spend hours comparing product specifications & user manuals
- trawl through customer reviews searching for golden nuggets of information
- ask all the silly questions and experience firsthand the customer service on offer
- compare and contrast the devices giving you the facts that matter
Learn more about each product type test and review:
How I test home laser & IPL devices
First, I test the design, safety features, and how comfortable, precise and easy the device is to use. I test it on legs, bikini line, tummy, underarms and face. I also share how it feels. And I speed test it too, to see how long it takes to flash a full leg and my whole-body. That way you get an accurate comparison. And, using my standard formula, I calculate how long the flashes last too.
Next, I calculate the effort needed vs results during the start-up regimen and following top-up sessions. Some are far less time-intensive than others so it’s important you choose something you can stick with. And finally, I round-up the negatives. So you get fair, balanced and reliable recommendations.
I have a specific and exacting 5-star scoring criteria. This next sections explain what it is. I hope this gives you confidence to trust these reviews.
So first-up, let’s look at how each device is scored.
The review scoring criteria
- Lamp lifetime: how long the flashes will last
- Ease of use: the design, simplicity, speed & comfort
- Effort & results: how much effort it takes & the results you’ll get
1. Lamp Lifetime
Most devices have limited number of flashes. The lamp lifetime is therefore how long the device lasts you in terms of flashes from the bulb. Some manufacturers tell you how many years of use you should get from it. But the way they work this out varies per device so it’s not easy to compare and see which is best.
To help you compare in our reviews, we simply tell you the total body area you can cover with the flashes from each device.
We’ve then applied a consistent formula to calculate how many full body treatments you’ll get and how many years these will last. You can then compare and contrast each device to see which offers the best lamp lifetime value.
You want a device that completes your start up phase, and several years of monthly top-up treatments. This gives you peace of mind you’ll stay smooth for many years without having to buy another device.
If you want to understand more about these calculations, expand the section below.
More detail about these calculations+
- treatment window area 4.1 cm2 x 250,000 flashes = 1,025,000 cm2
- treatment window area 3 cm2 x 65,000 flashes =195,000 cm2
Example 1 gives way more treatments than number 2.
But on their own, these numbers don’t really explain how many full body treatments you’ll get over how many years. So, we apply a consistent formula to each device so you can compare like for like. Whoop!
- We guesstimate each full body treatment of full legs, underarms, bikini line, tummy, upper lip and chin totals a body area of 4,000 cm2
- Then, we divide the total body area coverage from each device’s lamp by 4,000 cm2
- The answer is the total number of full body treatments you’ll get
- Total body area coverage 1,025,000 cm2 / 4000 cm2 = 256.25 full body treatments
- Total body area coverage 195,000 cm2 / 4000 cm2 = 48.75 full body treatments
So, example 1 provides 256.25 full body treatments which is over 5 times as many as example 2 with just 48.75.
We’ve then calculated the total number of monthly maintenance treatments you’ll get, on top of the initial start up phase. So 256.25 full body treatments lasts approximately 21 years, and 48.75 treatments lasts just 3.4 years.
N.B. A few points to bear in mind.
- A full body treatment for you may be more or less than 4,000 cm2 . It varies by body size and we’re all very different! So, you personally may not get the exact amount of full body treatments we calculate. However, the numbers we share allow a consistent and fair way to compare devices and see which gives more or less than another.
- Some devices come with additional specialist treatment windows. We use the largest body treatment window size for the calculations.
- Also, the calculations are based on the lamp lifetime only and don’t take into consideration general usage, battery care and wear and tear that effect how long the machine keeps working.
So what lamp lifetime is good?
For treating your full body/large areas we recommend a machine with enough flashes for a minimum of 5 years of monthly whole-body sessions.
In reality, you’ll require top-up treatments less and less frequently the longer you’ve used it. So, it’s likely to last several years more than this. In my reviews, a minimum 5 years is very good and equates to a 4 star score.
Most recent devices now exceed this 5 year benchmark. Some will give 10, 15 or even 20 years of use. This is attractive when you contrast devices. But bear in mind that’s many more flashes than one user needs. They may as well say these devices have unlimited flashes. In our reviews, we score 5 stars for devices giving 10 or more years of use.
Some devices are specifically designed for treating smaller body areas like bikini line, underarms, tummy, forearms and face. They give a smaller total body area coverage because the treatment areas are smaller. You’ll find a note in the reviews saying if they’re best suited to smaller areas based on their lamp lifetime.
There’s a section dedicated to lamp lifetime in each review.
TIP: Bear in mind, some brands offer multiple models with a increasing lamp lifetime charged at a higher price. If you’re planning to use on just one person, I don’t think it’s worth paying more for a lamp lifetime above 10 years of use. For example, the Smoothskin Gold with 10 years versus unlimited flashes with the Muse. Both provide many more flashes than you’ll likely need, so look at the cost difference to help decide.
2. Ease of use
An average score of 3 stars means the device has all the basic features you’d expect such as a skin tone sensor, a functional shape, a glide mode, clear and simple controls, multiple intensity levels for different skin tones, a good build quality and an average treatment speed. This is what most ‘no-frills’ basic models are scored.
For 4 and 5 stars, the device has something special. It could be an extra comfortable and precise shape, cordless operation, or an advanced skin tone sensor that auto-adjusts othe intensity for your skin tone. Or perhaps specialist flash windows to fit different body areas or some of the fastest zapping sessions.
We trial and test the devices over several months to assess all of this. We also speed test each device on the same pair of legs and full body taking an average over several sessions. This means it’s a fair and comparison across all the devices we test. You don’t get that anywhere else.
Quality build, materials and finishing touches such as storage pouches, boxes and cleaning cloths also make the difference. Most premium, top of the range devices score between 4 and 5 stars.
3. Effort & results
With each device, there’s a start-up routine to get you to smooth, and then top-up sessions maintain your results. Your overall effort depends on the number of start-up sessions and how fast each session is. Therefore, we calculate this effort for each device based on our controlled tests, so you can compare and decide which is right for you. Then, we explain what results you can expect over the treatment schedule and further on to your top-up sessions.
More powerful machines score top marks because they promise faster results and longer lasting smoothness between top-ups. However, only light skin tones can use the hihest IPL intensities.
Gentler devices still score very highly because they work. However, you may need a few more sessions to get smooth. And you may need top-ups a little more frequently too.
Regardless, all the devices we test score 4 or 5 stars and are clinically proven effective.
How we test home skincare & anti-aging devices
First, we test and compare for quality, and how simple the device is to operate, to follow the routines, consumables you need, how it feels, any potential skin reactions and our thoughts on the overall treatment.
Second, we calculate and appraise the overall regimen effort versus the results you can expect. Some are less time-intensive than others, and it’s important to choose one you can stick with long-term that gives the results you need.
And finally, we round-up the negatives for you to consider. All these results are assessed by our testers to bring you fair, balanced and reliable recommendations.
We also use a helpful 5-star rscoring criteria for these devices too. Let’s look at that next.
The review scoring criteria
- Ease of use: the design, simplicity & comfort
- Effort: the level of commitment and time you need
- Results: what results you can expect and when
Thanks for taking the time to understand what makes the difference with our reviews. We hope you’re confident they’re the result of genuine hard work and attention to detail!
To start on your quest for the perfect at home IPL hair removal device we recommend you start with this Best home laser hair removal guide.
To find your perfect home skincare & anti-aging devices check out this Best home skincare & anti-aging devices guide.