Tried & tested | IPL & Laser Reviews

Braun Silk Expert 5 IPL review

Silk'n Infinity best home IPl safe for dark & black skin

A quick summary…

by | July 21, 2016

The Braun 5 IPL is a powerful, straightforward and simple to use device, with loads of flashes. It's safe for light to dark skin and works on dark hair. It's a solid choice, but be sure to check out the more recent Braun Pro 5 IPL for some worth-while improvements.

4.1 / 5

Face, small bits, legs & large areas

💰💰💰💰

Safe Fitzpatrick skin tones:

Hair colours it works on:

3 photos of the Venus Silk expert 5 IPL showing the flash window and skin tone sensor windows, flash button and gentle mode 'feather' button, and the IPL energy intensity level indicator lights
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TIP: Check out the newer model Braun Pro 5 IPL. It’s a slightly smaller and faster design, but with the same power and clever skin tone sensor which matches the IPL to your skin tone. And for around the same price too.

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The  Venus Silk expert 5 IPL / Braun Silk expert 5 IPL is a home-use device that uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to slow and prevent hair growth. It keeps you hair-free with continued top-up treatments. Use it on your body and face below the cheekbones (women only).

First available in early 2016, the Gillette Venus Silk expert 5 IPL by Braun is FDA cleared and available for sale in the US and Canada. In the UK, Europe and Australia it’s called the Braun Silk Expert 5 IPL and it meets EU standards with CE certification. Procter & Gamble market both in partnership with Cyden Ltd, who manufacture the devices.

The Braun Silk expert IPL and the Braun facial brush are housed in separate small white cardboard boxes.
The Braun Silk expert IPL 5008 comes with a Braun facial cleanser brush (as pictured). The Silk Expert IPL 5009 comes with a sonic body exfoliator, and the Silk expert IPL 5001 with a Gillette Venus ladies razor.

Special beauty editions also come with a bonus device; the Silk-expert IPL BD 5009 comes with a Braun Sonic Body Exfoliator, the Silk expert IPL BD 5008 with a Braun facial cleanser. The standard Braun / Venus Silk expert IPL BD 5001 comes with a Gillette Venus razor.

In this full Braun Silk Expert 5 IPL review:

First impressions

The packaging is attractive, but rather large if you get the special edition bonus device. There’s also a fair amount of plastic to secure the device. It’s a shame Braun aren’t using more recyclable materials to avoid waste going to landfill.

side front view of the black box packing of the Braun IPL.
The Braun Silk expert packaging is a fairly llarge because of the bonus device inside too.
Side of the Braun Silk expert IPL box showing 7 circular images of the suitable body areas (legs, underarms, bikini line, forearms, face, men's back, men's torso) and a skin tone and hair colour combination chart where ticks indicate suitability.
The box shows pictures of the suitable body areas you can use it on, and clearly shows which skin tones it’s safe for and with which hair colour combinations it works on.
Photo diagram of the Silk expert IPL device with the key features illustrated. Shown on the reverse of the Braun IPL packaging.
Lots of info on the back of the box in several languages.
2 photos, the first of the 2 smaller white boxes with clean images of their contents, inside the main black packaging box. The second image shows the lid opened on the Braun IPL white box with the IPL device inside protective, clear-moulded plastic
Two smaller white boxes inside the Braun Silk Expert 5 sturdy outer box
Photo of the Braun IPL in the white box, with a second photo showing the content once the IPL device is removed.
Below the plastic mould are 2 user manual written in different languages, the power pack and a UK plug power cable and a European socket power cable that plug into the power pack.
The contents of the Braun Silk expert box laid on a white surface.: x2 user manuals to cover European languages, the Silk-expert IPL device in protective moulded, clear plastic, the power pack and a UK and European socket power cable. They're all neatly contained in small plastic bags with cable ties.
The full contents of the Silk Expert 5 kit box.

What’s in the box?

  • Braun Silk-expert 5 IPL device with…
  • Gillette Venus razor (5001) or
  • Sonic body exfoliator (5009) or
  • Facial cleansing brush (5008)
  • Power adaptor
  • User manual

Quality & design

The Silk Expert 5 is a chic, white hand-held applicator with a satin rose gold treatment head. It has patterned air vents on the underside and LED strip lights along each side. The materials are tactile and the build quality excellent with close seams and a solid contruction. It feels expensive.

With just 2 buttons on top, the minimalist design boasts simplicity and ease of use.  It’s lightweight yet robust, and the ergonomic shape is comfy to grip. The angled shape gives good visibility of the treatment head and it’s easy to press the flash button on top. It feels good to hold. It comes with a 2-year warranty.

3 photos of the Braun Silk expert IPL at various angles
The Braun Gillette Venus Silk-expert has a very sleek, smart design. It looks expensive, feels good to hold, never runs out of power, is fuss-free and fast.

The matching white and supple power-cord is long and provides plenty of room to manoeuvre without getting all tangled. But take care and make sure the cord isn’t too taut. That’s because the weight of the power pack can pull the cord out of the bottom of the handset.

You’ll find different models available with varied number of flashes from the IPL bulb. The best has 300,000 flashes. This is enough for 200+ whole body sessions which equates to 15+ years of monthly sessions – that’s many more flashes than you’ll ever need.

Check the product detail to see how many flashes you get before you buy. That’s because you can still pick up the older model with 120,000 flashes. It’s not always clear which is which and the prices for both can be similar. The 120,000 model gives you over 5 years of full body monthly top ups so it’s still good. But do double check with your retailer to get the best deal.

Close up of the Braun IPL rectangular treatment window with 2 smaller sensor windows at each end.
With 300,000 flashes you’ll have enough for 200+ whole body sessions, lasting 15+ years of monthly use.

N.B. I’ve used only the bulb life to calculate the years of use. General usage and wear and tear can also affect how long the machine keeps working.

Before you start

Before you start, first read the user manual and do a skin sensitivity test.

The user manual is unexciting but a quick and easy read. IYou’ll find the safe skin tone and hair colour chart, a diagram of the IPL device, a brief explanation of how IPL works, contraindications and warnings, how to use it, about your skin patch test, the treatment plan, cleaning and storage, possible side effects and a troubleshooting guide.

Spend time checking the important safety information, warnings and reasons you should not use the Braun Silk-expert Pro 5. These include being pregnant, having epilepsy, taking photosensitising medications, skin conditions, on tattoos or after skin peels. Learn more about IPL contraindications here to ensure it’s safe for you.

IMPORTANT: Tanning & IPL

Braun says don’t use it on recently tanned or sunburned skin, including artificial tans. After your treatments, you should also cover up and use a sunscreen of SPF 15+ to avoid unprotected sun exposure.

This is because your skin is extra sensitive after tanning, and that increases the risk of side effects from IPL, such as burns, blisters, discolouration and scarring. Your skin is more sensitive after your IPL treatments too so there’s a higher risk of sunburn if you go out in the sun.

Braun advise you to wait 7 days after sunbathing before treatments, or to wait for your tan to fade. They also advise to avoid the sun for 7 days after your treatment.

Next, make sure you follow the skin patch test instructions and understand how the skin tone sensor works.

Do a skin patch test

The Silk-expert IPL takes most of the guesswork out of home IPL treatments. You don’t choose your intensity level because the skin tone sensor does it for you. It chooses the safest and most effective intensity level for you. Most other devices don’t do that. There’s more on the skin tone sensor later.

Side view of the Braun Silk expert IPL intensity indicators.
The advanced skin tone sensor makes your patch test so easy. No need to faff around choosing your intensity level because it does it for you.

This makes your skin sensitivity test very straightforward. Following the instructions in the manual test each body area you’ll treat. If after 24 to 48 hours, your skin shows no reactions you can continue with your full treatment.

How to use it

It’s simplicity itself to get started. Here’s how you do it.

First shave, cleanse and dry your treatment area. If you don’t want to shave your face, try dermaplaning instead.
Braun customer support advises you can wax or epilate too, but wait 2 or 3 days after waxing / epilating before your IPL treatment. This allows the hair follicle to grow a bit so giving the IPL something to target. This information is not in the user manual but is shared in the customer reviews.

Set yourself up. You’ll need to be near a power socket. Try using an extension cable so you can choose the most comfortable area, like your bed, or close by to a mirror. Plug it in and the Silk Expert will immediately power up in ready mode. The side-strip LEDs will light up once on each side, the skin tone sensors shine blue, and you’ll hear the fan start up inside.

Press the handset head firmly against your skin.

photo of the flash window with the 2 skin tone sensors activated and illuminated bright blue.
Before it will flash, your skin must cover both of the small skin tone sensors at either end of the flash window.

Once against your skin, the skin tone sensors on either side of the flash window then scan your skin. When they detect a safe tone, the sensors choose the safest and most effective intensity level for you. And because the sensors check your skin 80 times per second they choose the perfect intensity level for every flash, for every varying skin tone on your body.

Therefore, you get the perfect balance of power and safety in every flash. Not too much and not too little. It adapts to the several skin tones you have even on the same limb! And you don’t need to do anything more than position the treatment window. The indicator lights illuminate white to show your IPL intensity match, from 1 to 10.

A photo of the intensity indicator lights illuminating white. A second photo of the indicator lights showing red.
The intensity indicators light up 1 to 10 depending on the optimum level the skin tone sensor chooses.
If it detects your skin is too dark the lights show red.

Then, press the flash button! Slide the treatment head over your skin about 1 cm (the height of the flash window) and flash again. Continue until you’ve covered all your target area. Keep the flash button pressed for continuous flashes. The flashes come every second or so. This makes the motion smooth and fairly fast on large areas like legs.

The Silk Expert doesn’t have a power button. It’s a little confusing, but just unplug it from the mains once you’re done. If you forget, it goes into standby mode after 10 minutes of no use. One power indicator light will flash on each side of the device to show it is in standby mode. After 60 minutes, it will go into sleep mode and no lights will be on. To activate it again, just press any button or remove and replace the power cord.

What’s it like to use?

If you have smaller hands, it takes a few sessions to learn the best grips and manoeuvre it around your different body areas. But you soon get the hang of it.

2 photos of a hand holding the Braun IPL device demonstrating the 2 grips.
Different grips for different body areas – it occassionally feels awkward and too big.

If you find the flashes smart a bit on more sensitive areas (ahem, bikini line!) you can press the ‘sun’ button on top to turn on gentle mode. This lowers the IPL intensity a notch or too for gentler flashes. You’ll see fewer white lights on the side too.

Top down view of the Braun IPL showing the new Gentle mode controls
The newer model of the Braun Gillete Venus Silk expert IPL has a ‘sun’ button on top and 3 illustrations below it to denote the intensity settings. They are normal (3 power bars), Gentle (2 power bars) and Extra Gentle (1 power bar). The small light illuminates blue (as pictured) on Gentle mode and it flashes blue on Extra Gentle mode.
Chart showing 14 increasing energy intensity level from left (1) to right (14). 10 skin tones are plotted on the chart for each mode. Normal mode plots the lightest at point 14 and plots backwards to the darklest at point 5. Gentle plots the lightest at point 10 and the darkest at point 1. Extra Gentle denotes all skin tones receive energy at point 1.
An intensity chart showing how the normal, Gentle and Extra Gentle modes works in accordance with your skin tone.

Tip: Some reviewers who are new to IPL, used the gentle mode for their first few sessions to get used to the treatments. This is a good feature particularly if you’re cautious, but bear in mind you’ll get faster results in normal mode with the higher energy intensity levels.

And sessions are fast with the Silk Expert versus other rivals. It has a 3cm² flash window abd flashes every 1 to 2  seconds (it’s fastest on the lower intensity settings). Braun say you can treat a full leg in just 8 minutes. However it’s closer to 10 minutes for me. And I can zap my whole body in under an hour.

There’s also a helpful Braun Silk-expert IPL App. It teaches you more about the SensoAdapt skin tone sensor, how to use the Silk-expert IPL device, and there’s a treatment calendar to keep track of the areas you’ve treated, when you treated them and get reminders for your next treatment.

Helpful tips

I’ve collated a few helpful tips to make things easy.

woman using the Silk-expert IPL on her legs from side to side
  • Do your sensitive areas first before the flashing end can get warm!
  • The big treatment window is easy to position on larger flat areas. However, it can be a little hard to activate on uneven and awkward areas like shins, ankles and knees. You can try pulling your skin taut and, on areas like your shins, rotate the device sideward 90 degrees.
  • To keep track of where you’ve zapped, rotate the device 90 degrees and work in rings around your leg.
  • It’s also tricky to position on your upper lip. Try pushing your lips together or push your your tongue behind your lips to create a flat surface.
  • It’s not easy to reach the backs of legs and keep track of the areas you’ve zapped. If you can’t find a helpful assistant, try working in rings around your legs and mark off the areas you’ve done with a cosmetic pencil.

Minor improvements

I think the Silk Expert 5 would benefit from a few minor improvements. (Check out the Braun Pro 5 IPL because it has them all!)

  • A smaller precision attachment would help on small and tricky areas like the upper lip. It takes a bit of practise and lots of face-pulling to find the best technique here.
  • Storage of this rather expensive kit could be better. The packaging could be a bit smaller, sturdier and more suitable to fit in a draw. You can use a shoe box or buy a storage case for it.
  • There’s no storage pouch either to help protect from dust and scratches.
  • I’d like a cleaning cloth too to keep the treatment window clean and free from treatment debris!

Effort & results

The Silk-expert start-up phase is 12 weekly treatments taking 11 weeks to complete. Around 6 weeks in, you should see a reduction in hair growth, but don’t stop there! Complete the treatments to make sure you treat all hairs during their active growing state. Once you’ve completed 12 you can do monthly top-up treatments, or as frequently as you feel you need them, to maintain your results.

Hair reduction results include hair that grows slower and slower with increased use. The number of hairs reduces and bald patches eventually appear. The hairs that do grow back are lighter and finer. You need to shave less frequently, so instead of shaving every day or every other day, you can go 1 or 2 weeks without resorting to the razor.

The speed and amount or hair reduction differs by individual. It can differ by body part too.

Braun Silk Expert 5 IPL Review Summary

The no fuss, no faff design of the Braun Silk Expert 5 makes it the perfect choice if you want something powerful but uncomplicated, quick and easy. However, check out the newer Braun Pro 5 IPL for even better design and performance for te same price.

The no fuss, no faff design makes it the perfect choice if you want something powerful but uncomplicated, quick and easy.
Lamp lifetime

⚡⚡⚡⚡⚡

More flashes than you’ll ever need, lasting 15+ years of use. It’s up there with the best.

Ease of use

👍👍👍👍

A comfy and ergonomic design.  It adapts to your skin tone before every flash, so your skin is protected ,and it’s virtually effortless to use.

Effort & Results

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Silky skin after 4 to 12 weekly sessions, then top-ups every month or so to stay smooth.

Pros

  • Durable build & ergonomic, attractive design
  • Powerful IPL adjusts to your skin tone before every flash
  • Gentle mode for stingy bits!
  • Fast sessions (but the Pro 5 IPL is  faster!)
  • Clinically proven, CE certification & FDA-cleared

Cons

  • At full RRP it’s expensive
  • Could be improved with a smaller treatment window for the upper lip and other uneven and tricky areas
  • No cleaning cloth or protective pouch provided

    View Braun Silk Expert 5 deals

    Found this review helpful? Please support future reviews and shop via these links. I earn a small commission, but your price stays the same.

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    Laura Gladman
    I'm a bit obsessed with at-home beauty devices. It's a habit I've had for around 8 years now. I love the science, testing and reviewing them, and sharing my experience and feedback on my site Wearebodybeautiful.com. I'm also a crazy dog lady, and I don't care.

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