This is stating the obvious, but unwanted facial hair is no fun if you’re a lady. And it affects sooo many of us.
I’ve heard many stories from women who struggle. Some spend up to an hour EVERY morning, armed with tweezers and a magnifying mirror, plucking upper lip, cheek, chin, and neck before they can even leave the house. And it breaks my heart because they’re too afraid to let even their significant other simply touch their face 😢.
I know how they feel and I’ve longed for a permanent facial hair removal solution.
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which results in random dark hairs sprouting on my neck and chin. And they grow FAST. When this started and I got my diagnosis, I was in my early thirties. Luckily, I’d already discovered home laser hair removal. So, I wasted no time zapping the little buggars. Now my skin is smooth again with regular top ups. I’m so grateful I knew what to do because I got my confidence back and feel feminine once more.
So, if that’s what you’re looking for too, then welcome 👋. This here round-up guides you to the best clinically-proven home laser and IPL hair removal devices that are especially good for long-lasting facial hair removal.
3 Best IPL & Laser facial hair removers
My favourite is the Iluminage Precise Touch home IPL because it’s easy and safe to use for ALL skin tones, you can pluck your hairs before zapping, and it works on fair hairs too. The cordless Panasonic ES-WH90 is next with superb quality and an ergonomic design, plus it doubles as an IPL complexion brightening tool. And finally, the cordless Tria 4X laser boasts precise coverage and the strongest hair zapping power for your longest-lasting results.
These devices are the easiest of all devices I’ve tested to flash around your facial contours. They’re also super choices for other small areas like underarms and bikini line (excluding the Tria 4X for an extensive bikini line). But they’re not good choices for large areas like legs because the sessions take ages.
Other choices for your face
There are several more IPL devices you can buy to use on your face. And although not quite as precise and easy as my top picks, they’re still easy enough and very effective. And most of these are also excellent choices if you want to zap large areas like legs too (check the table below). So, if you’re considering one of these, rest assured they’re fine choices.
✅ The Philips Lumea Prestige and Advanced, Braun Pro 5 and Pro 3, each have a small flash window for easy flashes around your facial contours.
✅ The Smoothskin Pure has one medium-size flash window which I find very easy to flash your face, and the Pure Fit model comes with a small precision window too.
✅ The Smoothskin Bare+ has one medium-size flash window which I find tricky to flash your face, and the Pure Bare+ Fit model comes with a small precision window too.
✅ The Silk’n Infinity has just one medium-size flash window, it requires a little more practise to get a flash. However, it doesn’t take long to master.
In this permanent facial hair removal at home guide:
The first part compares how to use these recommended devices from safety & sun exposure, preparing your hairs, how they feel, skin reactions, results and treatment schedules. The second part gives a round-up the pros and cons of each top recommended device.
Part 1: How to use them
- For women only (sorry chaps!)
- How to stay safe
- Simple steps to start zapping!
- Shave my face?! Try dermaplaning
- Can I pluck, wax, or epilate instead?
- How to get a comfy set up
- Which is your best intensity level?
- What will it feel like?
- Possible skin reactions & side effects?
- What results will I see and when?
Let’s get cracking!
For women only (sorry chaps!)
Now, this article is written for women because women can safely use home devices on their face from below the cheekbones (there’s an exception to this listed in this guide, but always avoid your lips and eyes). And these devices won’t work on fine and light peach fuzz hairs.
If you’re a chap wanting to zap away your whiskers, please bear in mind:
Most brands say men should not use IPL or laser devices on their face (and some say face and neck).
‼ 🛑 Men’s facial hair is usually thicker, denser, and deeper than lady and body hair. This means the device may not work, or it may cause skin reactions, or patchy results.
‼ 🛑 On the flip side, if it does work the results could be permanent, and if you change your mind later, well, your hairs won’t grow back.
If you want serious results it’s best to seek help from a professional clinic such as Sk:n in the UK. They can help with hair anywhere on the man face, and can also thin or reduce beard hair for a neater and more manageable look.
How to stay safe
Before you start your sessions, charge your device if it’s battery powered, and take time to read the user manual.
There’s an important list of warnings and reasons you may be unsuitable to use home laser and IPL devices. These range from pregnancy and breastfeeding, to diabetes, epilepsy, chemical peels, and certain medications which can make you extra sensitive to the light. There’s more in each user manual so check the full list to stay safe and learn more about contraindications here.
You must also do a skin sensitivity test patch before doing your full session. There’s more on this in the next sections.
And remember, only use the device on your face below the cheekbones!
With these home devices, you must also protect your skin from sun exposure before and after your sessions. This is very important because your face is one of the most exposed body areas. Sunlight and tanning increase your skin’s sensitivity and so the risk of skin reactions and side effects.
Here’s the tanning and sun exposure guidance for each device:
|Device||Use on naturally tanned skin?||Use on artificially tanned skin?||Cover up & use SPF 30+||Avoid sun before sessions||Avoid sun after sessions|
|Iluminage Precise Touch||❌||❌||✅||2 weeks||2 weeks|
|Panasonic ES-WH90||❌||❌||✅||Not stated||Not stated|
|Tria 4X||❌||❌||✅||48 hours||48 hours|
N.B. Cosmetics with SPF don’t do the same job so invest in a good SPF30+ facial lotion or gel if you don’t use one already! This is my favourite SPF50.
Simple steps to start zapping!
Here’s how you prepare and then zap your areas!
- Clean your treatment areas and shave your hair. Don’t apply any creams or moisturisers
- Find a comfy area & get set-up
- Choose your best intensity level or treatment mode
- Position the flash window flush against your skin & flash
- Re-position & flash in the next spot, with just the right overlap so there are no missed bits!
- Repeat until you’ve covered the entire treatment area
OK, so that raises a few questions which I’ll now answer 🤓
Woah. Shave my face!? Nope – try dermaplaning instead
Removing your surface hair gives best results. That’s because there’s no hair on the surface to absorb the light energy. It’s all directed down the hair shaft, deep inside your follicle where it needs to be. There, it converts to heat and damages key areas, which stunts your hair growth and keeps it in a dormant state.
So, shaving your body hair gives hands-down the best results. But shaving your face is so masculine!
I know. So, instead I recommend dermaplaning.
A dermaplaning tool is an affordable teeny foldable sharp but safe blade. Use it on on your upper lip, chin, jawline, sideburns, and cheeks.
IMPORTANT: DON’T USE HAIR REMOVAL CREAMS because they may cause skin reactions with the light energy.
It’s a very quick and irritation-free way to remove unwanted hair on your face and around your body. No nicks or cuts and gentle enough to use everyday. It removes peach-fuzz and whiskery hairs, and also exfoliates your skin leaving it soft, smooth and extra absorbent for your skincare products.
Related: More about dermaplaning
I think dermaplaning is THE perfect companion to laser and IPL hair removal on your face. Check out the deal links at the end of this article.
Can I pluck, wax, or epilate instead?
If your hairs simply grow too quick, dermaplaning still may not be a good solution for you. You may wish to continue with your daily plucking routine alongside a home device until your hairs slow and stop growing.
With most home IPL and laser hair removers you must shave/dermaplane your facial hairs before your sessions. But fortunately, you can pluck, wax, or epilate your hairs with my top recommendation for facial hair removal – the Iluminage Precise Touch. And it’s clinically proven to work if you do.
In fact, you MUST remove your hairs at the root if you want to use it on fair hairs which are light blonde, red, grey, or white. That’s the only way it’ll work. However, whether you pluck light or dark hairs, it takes twice as long to see results compared to shaving away dark hair. You can learn more about this below in the round-up of why the Iluminage Precise Touch is best for zapping your face.
Here’s a comparison table of how you can prepare your hairs with my recommended devices:
|Device||Shave or dermaplane||Pluck/wax/epilate|
|Iluminage Precise Touch||✅||✅|
How to get a comfy set up
I also have a few helpful tips I wish I’d known before starting my home sessions. Here they are:
- Give yourself plenty of time. Until you know how long each session takes, make sure there’s nothing to rush you. I find a quiet Sunday or Monday evening works best for me.
- No interruptions either. You don’t want anyone bothering or distracting you. So, wait until you’ve tucked in your little kids, and your big kids are preoccupied with something else.
- Choose a comfy and private spot. Cordless devices are helpful because you can lock yourself away in the bathroom, but behind closed doors in your bedroom is just as good.
- Use in a well-lit room. First, you’ll be able to see what you’re doing, which is handy. Second, if you choose an IPL device, the flashes are bright and will seem more so (and irritating too) in a darker room.
- You’ll need a mirror. A handheld mirror, pedestal or wall mirror work equally well, but you must be close to it to get precise flashes on your skin for no missed hairy bits!
- Use a mains extension cable. If you choose a cabled device like the Iluminage Precise Touch, a mains extension cable comes in handy if you don’t have a socket close by in your chosen comfy spot.
Which is your best intensity level?
All three of my best for face devices recommend starting on the low intensity levels and working your way up until you find your most comfy power level. And you must remove your hair and zap a test patch of your skin at each level, and then wait a bit to make sure you’ve no skin reactions. Then you can carry on with your full session.
TIP: you can first test the sensation on the inside of your arm before zapping your face!
The lower intensity IPL flashes from the Panasonic ES-WH90 and Iluminage Precise Touch are safe for darker skin tones. All intensities of the Tria 4X laser are safe for light to medium skin tones. However, you’ve five ‘comfort’ levels to choose from because the higher levels create more heat and can sting. There’s more on what sessions feel like next.
What will it feel like?
My recommended devices are very intuitive and easy to use. You must concentrate to get good accurate coverage across your skin and so you don’t lose your place too. But all are easy on small facial areas which don’t take very long.
You’ll hear the cooling fan whir and a small pop with each IPL flash. The IPL flashes are bright but harmless when flush against your skin. If you find them irritating, sunglasses help ease the glare. But you don’t need protective goggles.
The Tria 4X laser is a bit different – the flashes aren’t visible. Therefore, so you know what’s going on, it beeps with each successful flash, and buzzes if it couldn’t flash properly.
And the flashes feel different with each device because they range in light energy power.
The Iluminage Precise Touch uses gentle IPL flashes 🐇coupled with Radio Frequency. It’s safe for all skin tones, but use the lower intensity levels on darker skin. The flashes feel warm on your skin. Plus, with this gentle IPL there’s lower risk of any skin reactions and side effects.
With the Panasonic ES-WH90 you can use the higher IPL intensities on fair skin. These feel hot 🔥 and can sometimes sting. However, you can simply lower the intensity so it’s more comfortable. And although you can use the lower levels on darker skin tones (to type V), I think the gentler Iluminage Precise Touch is a better choice for that.
For some using the higher intensities, the Tria 4X laser can sting ⚡ more than a bit! Not everyone feels this, but the number of user reports of pain are notably higher with the Tria 4X than with rival home IPL devices. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what it will feel like for you. However, if it’s too owie you can lessen the sting by simply lowering the intensity, applying ice or a topical numbing cream before zapping.
Here’s how the three devices compare for power and sensation:
|Device||Type||Power J/cm2||My sensation grade*|
|Iluminage Precise Touch||IPL & Radio Frequency||3 to 4|| ⚡
|Panasonic ES-WH90||IPL||Panasonic won’t share this info|| ⚡⚡⚡
Warm to hot
|Tria 4X||Laser||7 to 22|| ⚡⚡ to ⚡⚡⚡⚡⚡
Can sting a lot for some!
* Sensation grade is based on our tests and informed by feedback patterns & consensus from collated user reviews
What are the possible skin reactions & side effects?
Skin redness is a common skin reaction, as is hot and tingly skin. It can also feel dry and itch a bit too. These should wear off within 24 to 48 hours. To help, you can cover with ice, a cool face cloth, cooling water sprays, Aloe Vera gel or a non-scented moisturiser.
If you’ve no skin reactions after your session, you can apply your usual lotions, potions and cosmetics. Wear a sunscreen with minimum SPF30 too. This lowers your risk of experiencing some of the rare home IPL and laser side effects.
TIP: If your skin becomes irritated by your products, wash them off and cover your face/avoid the sun until your skin returns to normal.
Side effects are rare but can occur, usually if you use too high an intensity for your skin tone and/or have exposed it to excessive sunlight. Side effects include temporary or permanent patches of light or dark skin, burns, excessive redness and swelling around your hair follicles, blisters and scarring.
Another extremely rare side effect on the face and neck is called Paradoxical Hypertrichosis. Paradoxical Hypertrichosis is increased hair growth in the treatment areas. The reasons behind it are unknown but it’s thought to occur more frequently in users with darker skin tones.
What results will I see and when?
All home laser and IPL devices recommend a start-up treatment schedule, followed by less frequent maintenance sessions.
Here’s a facial areas comparison schedule for the Precise Touch, Panasonic and Tria 4X:
|Device||# of start-up sessions||Frequency||Top-ups|
|Iluminage Precise Touch|| 7 for dark hair
14+ for fair hair & plucked hairs
|Weekly||As needed, usually every 4 weeks|
|Panasonic ES-WH90||10||Weekly||Every 2 to 4 weeks, or as needed|
|Tria 4X||8||Weekly||Start monthly, then as needed|
TIP : previously shared information from Iluminage customer support advises you can use the gentle Precise Touch on your face up to 2 to 3 times per week.
So, although the number of start-up sessions varies for each device, most users respond as per the following:
- After 1 or 2 sessions you’ll still see hair. And it doesn’t fall out immediately. Shave/dermaplane as you need to and before your next session.
- After 3 to 5 sessions you should see finer and lighter hair which grows much slower.
- After 6+ sessions hairs should be very fine with just light regrowth, or may even be gone altogether! You may not need to shave/dermaplane between sessions.
- After that, continue as directed to complete the full regimen or start your maintenance phase with top-ups every 4 weeks or so.
Some users experience very fast results, whereas others need 2 or 3 times as long. It varies by individual and all brands state this in small print or in their user manuals. So, if you don’t see results within a few goes, don’t give up! Stick at it and give it more time.
And your top-ups are super important to. A recent long-term study of home IPL devices found that the top-up sessions continue to work on your hair follicles. The effect deepens, so the more you do the longer your hair-free results last. If you have the best results this means smooth skin for several months at a time. A Tria 4X study shows the same and they suggest a total of 12 sessions for smoothness that lasts several months.
However, everyone is different. You may need more regular top-ups than this. Also, inactive hair follicles can wake up and sprout new hairs that you’ll need to zap! This is especially relevant if you want to manage hair growth due to PCOS. So, keep this in mind and keep any unrealistic expectations in check (along with the over-exuberant marketing claims made by some brands!)
The Pros & Cons: best devices for your face (& small areas)
Now’s time to look at the pros and cons of each recommended device in detail for long-lasting facial hair removal…
#1 Iluminage Precise Touch
Best for all skin & hair colours
& you can shave or pluck hairs
👍 Face & small areas
❌ Not legs!
Price range 💰💰💰
Iluminage Precise Touch deals:
When you shop via my links I earn a small commission (but your price stays the same). And I really appreciate your support 🙏!
The Precise Touch sits in the top spot for facial sessions not only because the design works very well, but because it’s clinically proven safe for ALL skin tones, works on ALL hair colours and you can pluck as well as shave before your sessions. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Design & quality
The design works very well for facial sessions because the Precise Touch has a small 1 by 2cm flash window. This fits nicely on the upper lip and against other facial contours (such as the jawline) for easy flashes. Despite the boxy design it’s not too heavy, is comfy to hold and, thanks to the tapered end, it’s easy to see where you’re positioning it when looking in a mirror too.
The build quality is decent too, with a 175cm slightly-tangly mains cable. There’s enough slack next to a power outlet, but an extension cable gives extra flexibility. And you get plenty of flashes for face and small body areas to last 10+ years of monthly sessions. Buy from CurrentBody.com for a 2-year warranty, but unfortunately there’s no money back guarantee.
TIP: If you want to treat your legs too try the Iluminage Touch instead.
It’s very simple to operate with just a power button, and Elos button which scrolls through the three intensity levels. There’s no skin tone sensor, but it’s not vital because the IPL is gentle.
There’s no flash button to press either. These come automatically (give it a second or two!) when the two silver RF contact bars are against your skin. Place the window flush and firmly against your skin. After it flashes move to the next spot and repeat, covering your skin in adjacent flashes.
And the Precise Touch is slightly different to other devices because, instead of flashing your skin just once, you must do it 2 or 3 times. This is so enough IPL energy reaches down into the follicle. Wait a minute in between passes. I like this because I’m less worried about overlapping flashes and missed areas.
Safe for dark skin
The Iluminage devices combine very gentle IPL with Radio Frequency (RF) energy. RF is a painless electric current which travels through your skin and down to the hair root, creating gentle resistance, and so heat. This gives the IPL flashes easier passage through your skin by following the path of the RF. Therefore, it can use much gentler (but still effective) IPL, that’s safe for dark and black skin. The flashes are also the most comfortable of the devices we’ve tested, and with the least skin reactions.
Works on fair hair too
The Precise Touch is also clinically proven effective on fair hair (blonde and red) if you pluck, wax, or epilate immediately before your sessions. This helps the IPL work on hair colours without the melanin pigment found in dark hair. Instead, the IPL energy targets the small blood droplets left behind in the follicle after it’s pulled out.
Note: Although the Iluminage clinical tests don’t include grey/white hair, it should be effective in precisely the same way as blonde and red hair.
I love the Precise Touch works on all hair colours because it means, as you get older and your hairs turn grey, you can still zap them away!
Pluck or shave
The clinically proven fair hair regimen also means if you really don’t want to shave your dark facial hairs, you can continue plucking as usual. Just zap the plucked follicles 2 or 3 times after (with a break between zaps).
However, there’s just a teeny droplet of blood for the IPL to work on. So, be prepared you’ll likely need double the sessions overall vs shaving (14+ sessions). And because you remove the entire hair, it’s harder to tell how it’s working. Stick at it.
Here’s a quick recap of why the Iluminage Touch is #1 for facial hair removal, plus the negatives too:
✔️ Decent quality & comfy
✔️ Safe for ALL skin tones
✔️ Decades of flashes for small areas
✔️ Works even if your dark hairs turn grey
✔️ Clinically proven & FDA-cleared for fair hair
✔️ Small accurate flash window & easy flashes
✔️ Can pluck, wax, or epilate hairs before sessions
❌ No money back guarantee
❌ It’s quite expensive at full RRP
❌ Several more sessions than advertised for fair/plucked hair users
If you need more info read my in-depth Iluminage Precise Touch review. But if you’ve decided the Precise Touch is for you, please support my future reviews and shop via my links. I earn a small commission, but your price stays the same.
#2 Panasonic ES-WH90 IPL
Best quality & also a facial brightening tool
👍 Face & small areas
❌ Not legs!
Price Range 💰💰
Panasonic ES-WH90 deals:
When you shop via my links I earn a small commission (your price stays the same). I really appreciate your support 🙏!
The Panasonic ES-WH90 comes highly recommended for facial use because of the top-notch quality and precise design, cordless operation, and you can use it around your face to fade discolouration and brighten your complexion.
Top-notch quality, design & cordless
This thoughtful design makes zapping your face particularly easy. The long smooth wand-shape is intuitive to grip and the angled end gives excellent visibility for flashing your face whilst looking in a mirror. The small face flash window perfectly fits all facial areas and it’s very easy to flash. You press the raised lip into your skin to make a flash. Lift, reposition and repeat in adjacent flashes covering your skin. You can see and feel exactly where your flashing. Plus, there’s less escaping bright light.
It’s very simple to operate to with just a power button and intensity level select button. But there’s no skin tone sensor, so start on the lowest level and move up only if comfortable. There’s no cord to get in the way either so you can use it anywhere. It takes 3 hours for a full charge and this lasts around 600 flashes which is many more than you’ll need for your face, and a few small areas if you choose so (but not legs!)
And the materials and build quality are superb. It feels solid and robust, without any creaks or cracks. It’s fairly heavy (360g) because there’s a rechargeable lithium battery inside. But this simply adds to the expensive feel.
You get plenty of flashes too. They last more than 15 years of monthly whole-body sessions, so that’s decades of flashes for just your face! It also comes with a 2-year warranty, but unfortunately there’s no money back guarantee.
Note: there’s also a large flash window attachment you can use for faster treatments on the rest of your body.
Beauty tool to brighten complexion
Not only does the ES-WH90 zap your facial hairs, but you can use it to brighten your complexion too. The IPL heats melanin pigment in your outer skin layers. This encourages the surrounding skin to repair and refresh it for a smoother, brighter, and more even skin tone. The effects build gradually.
Choose a safe intensity for your skin tone and, with the face attachment on, cover your face in adjacent flashes. Always avoid the eyes and lips. Do this every 3 days for 2 months and Panasonic say you’ll have ‘fine, smooth skin that glows’. Panasonic provide brief details of their 32 subject clinical trial on their website.
The Panasonic ES-WH90 is a very good and affordable choice for just IPL facial hair removal. But I love this additional use as a simple skin brightening beauty tool for light to medium skin.
Here’s a quick recap of why the Panasonic ES-WH90 is our #2 for facial hair removal, plus the negatives too:
- Clinically proven
- Quality, comfy & precise shape
- Cordless design for bathroom use
- Small flash window & easy flashes
- Very accurate push-flash mechanism
- Doubles as a beauty tool to brighten your complexion
- No skin tone sensor
- No money-back guarantee
- Not yet FDA-cleared in US
If you need more info read my in-depth Panasonic ES-WH90 review. But if you’ve decided it’s for you, please support my future reviews and shop via my links. I earn a small commission, but your price stays the same.
#3 Tria 4X laser
Most powerful for your longest-lasting results
👍 Face & small areas
❌ Not legs (& extended bikini line is difficult!)
Price range 💰💰💰💰
Tria 4x laser deals:
When you shop via my links I earn a small commission (your price stays the same). I really appreciate your support 🙏!
The Tria 4X laser is a firm favourite for facial hair removal on light to medium skin tones because it’s cordless, easy to use and the small laser aperture covers facial contours very well. But mostly because it’s the most powerful home device for your longest lasting smooth results.
Cordless & easy to use
The shape, design, and weight of the Tria 4X laser suits the small movements needed to cover your skin in laser zaps. And it works very well on your face too.
The long, tapered handle is comfortable to hold and the teardrop-shaped head means you can see clearly in mirror exactly where your placing the small laser aperture. The 600g weight is mainly in the head, but it feels balanced in your hand. This, and the teeny 0.5cm laser aperture ensure close, accurate contact along your skin.
It requires close concentration, but it’s easy to position and flash around your facial contours. There’s no flash button. With a safe skin tone, unlock the device using the sensor on the bottom. Choose your intensity level and place the laser aperture flush against your skin. Once it beeps, move it 0.5cm along your skin for the next flash. This creates an overlapping pattern of circles along your skin.
TIP: The precision and close concentration needed makes an extended bikini line (i.e. between and around your legs) rather difficult with the Tria 4X. Ask a helpful assistant or use an IPL device with a bigger flash window.
And there’s no mains cord to get in the way because it’s battery powered. Each charge takes 2 hours and lasts for 500 to 600 zaps which is roughly 25 to 30 minutes of use. This is ample for your face, and a couple other small areas if you fancy (but not legs!) Charge it after use so it’s ready to go for the next time, and to maintain the battery. You’ll get at least 3 years (and probably more) of regular use from the Tria if you care for the battery.
Most powerful home device
But the biggest draw of the Tria 4X is that it’s the most powerful home device you can buy.
The power intensity ranges from 7 to 22 J/cm2. So, if you can use it on the highest intensity, it promises you your longest lasting results of all home devices once you’ve finished the start-up schedule. How this compares to IPL devices it’s not possible to say because everyone’s results are different. And you’ll still some top-up sessions for maintenance too.
Also, remember that for some users, this extra power stings and is very uncomfortable. Therefore, you may need to use one of the lower intensity levels.
Here’s a quick recap of why the Tria 4X laser is our #3 for facial hair removal, plus the negatives too:
- Easy to use
- Years of laser zaps
- Most powerful home device
- Use anywhere cordless design
- Clinically proven & FDA cleared
- Small, precise laser aperture for accurate coverage
- Battery lasts plenty long enough for facial zappings
- It’s quite heavy
- Hurts for some!
- Expensive at full RRP
- Difficult to get close enough to zap a precise extended bikini line!
If you need more info read my in-depth Tria 4X review. But if you’ve decided it’s for you, please support my future reviews and shop via my links. I earn a small commission, but your price stays the same.
Dermaplaning tool deals
Links with 🍃 have a handle made from biodegradable materials.