Venus Silk expert/ Braun Silk expert 5 IPL review (5001, 5009, 5008); fast, safe & simple

Braun Silk-Expert IPL Laura G
Braun Silk-Expert IPL

4.5

No device is more straightforward and simple to use than the Braun Silk expert 5 IPL. It's great value and I recommend it for full body treatments and for treating large areas. That's because it is fast to apply to your skin and the flashes give many years of use. This Braun IPL review sums up the pros and cons, and all the good and bad bits from the online reviews. Find out how the best alternatives measure up and decide if you should buy the Braun Gillette Venus Silk expert 5 IPL .

Besy Buy for fast and powerful, safe and simple treatments

Who should buy it: the no fuss, no faff design makes it the perfect choice if you want something powerful but uncomplicated, quick and easy.

Here’s how the overall score breaks down.

Lamp lifetime
More flashes than you’ll ever need, lasting 15+ years of use. It’s up there with the best.
Ease of use
An advanced design yet elegantly simple to use.  It adapts to your skin tone before every flash, so your skin is protected and it’s virtually effortless to use.
Speed of application
Fast-paced flashes every 1 to 2 seconds mean it’s one of the fastest available. A full leg takes from 8:30 mins.
Support
A trusted brand delivering prompt, thorough responses and a helpful treatment App.
Feedback & results
The majority of online feedback is positive. They love the fast no-fuss treatments and report great results.
Budget range: £££ / $$ Exceptional value and offers are common. Spend a bit more to get the bonus exfoliator devices.

What is it?

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).

Fitzpatrick skin tone chart showing the Braun Gillette Venus silk Expert 5 IPL is unsafe on the darkest skin type VI. Hair colour chart shows it won't work in light blonde, grey and white hair.

You can use it on black, dark brown, brown, dark blonde hair and light to medium dark skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin types I to V).
You can’t use it on light blonde, red, grey or white hair and brownish black and darker skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin type VI), or on dark brown or black spots such as birthmarks, warts and moles.

 

First available in early 2016, the Gillette Venus Silk expert 5 IPL powered 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.

A reduced specification white and purple model is also available, called the Braun / Venus Silk Expert 3. This review focuses on the Silk expert 5 model but I compare the 2 later so you can see which is right for you.

You’ll need around 12 weekly treatments over 11 weeks to get best results, expect significant results after 6 treatments. Once you’ve completed the start up phase, you’ll need less frequent maintenance treatments to stay smooth.

The thoughtful design, build specification and performance features distinguish it as a stand-out choice. It’s highly rated by online reviewers, is fast even at higher intensity levels and it has an advanced skin tone sensor. I think it’s especially suited for large areas and full body treatments.

Read this full Braun Silk expert 5 IPL review for more detail, a summary of the online review feedback and how it stands up against the closest alternatives.

In this full Braun Gillette Venus Silk expert IPL review:

Is the Braun Venus Silk expert 5 IPL good value?

Yes, the lamp lifetime is super. You get more flashes than you’ll likely ever use.

Bar chart showing the Braun Silk-expert is great value in the top 3 home-use devices

The Braun Silk-expert 5 provides great value for money with plenty treatments. 300,000 flashes combined with the 3 cm2 body treatment window means you can treat a total body area of 900,000 cm2, or 200+ full body applications for 15+ years of use.

 

The Braun IPL was originally available with 120,000 flashes. The models on sale today have an improved 300,000 flashes. Combined with the 3 cm² treatment window you get a maximum treatment area of 900,000 cm². That’s enough for around 200+ full body treatments (full legs, bikini line, underarms and face). After the 12-week start-up phase, this will last more than 15 years of monthly top-up treatments.

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.

The Braun Gillette Venus Silk expert has a 3 cm² treatment window (1 cm x 3 cm). Coupled with the 300,000 flashes from the lamp you can treat a total body area of 900,000 cm². That’s excellent and likely more than you’ll ever need to stay fuzz-free.

 

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.

The body exfoliator and the facial cleanser brush get a lot of love in the customer reviews too. I think they’re an attractive bonus product. They add value because they are relevant to help you get super-smooth gorgeous skin.

Buy it

 

Is the Braun Venus Silk Expert IPL easy to use?

Right from the start the Silk-expert exudes elegance and refinement. It’s not unlike opening an expensive Apple product.

First, there’s the large dark box showing the key product information in a sophisticated design. Inside are two smaller white boxes with a lifelike picture of the contents on top. Open the lids to find the IPL handset and accompanying cleanser / exfoliator in a protective transparent casing.

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
side front view of the black box packing of the Braun IPL.

The Braun Silk expert packaging is a fairly long black box which shows the bonus device in a white strip down the right hand side.

 

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.

The reverse of the box is a bit harder to read because it’s translated into multiple languages. It gives a diagram overview of the 5 key features (Intelligent SensoAdapt skin tine sensor, Gentle mode, Body & face use, Flash activation button).

 

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

Inside the sturdy black box are 2 smaller white boxes. They each show a picture of the device inside and I’m reminded of refined and minimalist Apple packaging. The Silk expert IPL device is cradled inside a protective plastic mould.

 

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.

The full contents of the box are 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. I like that the majority of the packaging is recyclable cardboard.

 

Once out of the plastic I examine the device. It’s 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. With just 2 buttons on top, the minimalist design boasts simplicity and ease of use.  It’s a good size and weight, so it’s balanced and feels good in your hand.

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.

 

Let’s start with the user manual.

Read the user manual

The US and UK versions of the user manual are slightly different. The US version is a little easier to follow. It has a more logical order of information and a friendlier tone of voice. It also has the clinical trial results, which I find both interesting and reassuring.

There’s lots of information in the user manuals. You’ll find helpful diagrams, information on how IPL works and how to use the Braun IPL device. You’ll also find instruction on caring for your device and troubleshooting any problems.

Start by reading the important safety information, contraindications, warnings and reasons not to use IPL so you stay safe during use. For older models the guidance on facial use is different between the US and UK / European models. This is because initially the device was not cleared by the FDA for facial use. It is now and the latest, updated user manuals reflect this.

Buy it

 

IMPORTANT: TANNING AND 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.

Buy it

 

Getting started

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

  1. Shave, cleanse and dry your treatment area.
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. Plug it in and the device will immediately power up in ready mode. The side-strip LEDs will light up once on each side and you’ll hear the fan start up inside.
  4. Press the handset head firmly against your skin and the power intensity indicator lights will illuminate white to show your level, from 1 to 10.
  5. Press the flash button and the device will flash.

If not in use for 10 minutes, the device will go into standby mode. 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. It doesn’t have an on/off button, and this was a common theme in the customer reviews. Keep reading to see what they said.

Eye safety

Lots of reviewers mention the flashes are bright and uncomfortable. For this reason the user manual tells you to look away for each flash. But several users comment this becomes tiresome and it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve flashed.

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. These sensors illuminate blue when the device is powered on. This is to stop any accidental flashes into your eyes.

 

Rest assured it is designed to keep your eyes safe. You can’t accidentally flash near your eyes because your skin must cover both sensors before it will flash. The flash you can then see is harmless to your eyes. But if you do find it uncomfortable make sure you use it in a well-lit room so the flashes don’t seem overly bright. And many reviewers recommend wearing sunglasses too so you don’t need to look away as it flashes.

Shape and design

The Silk-expert 5 feels good in the hand. It’s lightweight yet robust, it’s a quality bit of kit. The ergonomic shape is easy to grip in several ways and gives good visibility of the treatment head. It feels comfortable to hold and it’s easy to press the flash button.

Some reviewers with smaller hands comment it took a few sessions to learn how to best grip and manoeuvre it around their body. But after a while, it felt quite natural.

“It is very easy to use and set up. The machine is really well made and of good quality. It’s pretty sleek and light to hold – a nice bit of kit. It fits in my hand nice and snugly and I can easily see the area I am aiming at and move it around with no problems.” – Braun silk expert review on Amazon.co.uk

2 photos of a hand holding the Braun IPL device demonstrating the 2 grips.

I found I needed to alternate my grip depending on the angle I hold it at. Either with my thumb on the flash button gripping it underneath, or my forefinger on the flash button gripping it underneath with my fingers and thumb.

 

The matching white 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. A few reviewers advise the weight of the power pack can pull the cord out of the bottom of the handset.

Buy it

 

Safe and simple skin tone sensor

Most skin tone sensors simply check your skin tone and won’t flash if it’s too dark. They will flash if your skin tone is suitable, but you must decide on the right power intensity level to use.

This Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL skin tone sensor is different. Braun calls it SensoAdapt™ technology and it’s rather special.

Diagram of the Braun IPL treatment head area showing the skin tone sensor windows at eaither end of the window, and the intensity indicator lights on the side of the handle.

The SensoAdapt technology has 2 skin tone sensors that check your skin before each flash and choose the safest most effective intensity level for your skin. The chosen intensity is shown on the side-strip indicator lights.

 

The two skin tone sensors on either side of the flash window check your skin 80 times per second. If your skin is too dark, a power indicator light will show red on each side and the skin tone sensors disable the flashes.

Not so different so far.

But, when they detect a safe tone, the sensors actually 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. Only one other device does this too.

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.

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. You’ll see the side-strip LED power indicators light up from 1 to 10, to show the chosen intensity level.

“I have used other IPL apllicances and I have to say the fact that this one adjusts to the skin tone does cut out a lot of faffing trying to work out what type of skin and hair colour you are.” – Braun silk expert IPL review on Amazon.co.uk

“I felt completely safe whilst using this and had no worries about over doing it or anything going wrong, The device checks your skin tone beforehand to make sure it is safe to use.”
Amazon.co.uk review of Silk Expert IPL

Buy it

 

Gentle mode for sensitive areas

Sensitive areas like the bikini line, smart a bit on higher intensity levels. So the Silk-expert’s answer is a ‘gentle mode’. It’s recently been updated, so you may find both the older and newer versions are being sold.

So what’s the difference?

The older models have a single button below the large flash-activation button. You press this ‘feather’ button once. The button illuminates and the energy intensity reduces so you see fewer white power indicator lights on the side. Press the button again to go back to the standard power mode.

top down image of the older Braun IPL device showing the Flash button and the 'feather' icon gentle mode button.

Older models of the Silk expert 5 IPL have a ‘feather’ button on the top. This is a simple gentle mode. Press it and reduces the intensity for sensitive areas like your bikini line. Press it again to return to standard mode.

 

The newer version lets you select 2 types of gentle mode; Gentle and Extra Gentle. The ‘feather’ button is replaced with a little ‘sun’ icon. Press this button once and it lights up blue and activates Gentle mode. This reduces the intensity output. Press the ‘sun’ button again and the light flashes blue and activates Extre Gentle mode. This reduces the intensity level even further. Press the ‘sun’ button again to return to normal mode.

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.

 

So the intensity is most powerful on normal mode, it’s reduced on Gentle mode and it’s at its lowest on Extra Gentle mode. The Braun website has a chart to illustrate this.

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.

This is the intensity chart that shows how the normal, Gentle and Extra Gentle modes works in accordance with your skin tone. Personally, I think Braun have confused and over complicated the simplicity of the original approach.

So why have Braun added this? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s to distinguish these models from the lower spec DB3001 and BD3005 which has just the simple Gentle mode.

Personally, I find it a bit confusing. If the Extra Gentle mode has been added to give more control to the user  I think it would be simpler to let you select your own specific level in the first place. It contradicts the plug and play simplicity and less faff approach of the earlier models and detracts from how convenient and clever the skin tone sensor is.

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.

Glide and precision

You get the usual single flash (‘Precision’) and continuous flash (‘Glide’) modes.

For Precision you press and release, then re-position and repeat. Do this to get better coverage on uneven surfaces like knees, shins and ankles.

For Glide keep the button pressed and after each flash slide (or ‘hover’) the handset over your skin to the next position. The flashes come every second or so. This makes the motion smooth and fast on large areas like legs.

“Glide functionality – wow – where have you been? This must be my favourite aspect of the new Braun Silk-expert! Now we are all busy ladies, and this feature really minimises the time of each treatment – which for me can be the make or break in keeping up with my weekly treatments.” – Braun silk expert IPL review on Amazon.co.uk

Reviewers love the speed of the Silk-expert. Read on to learn just how quick it is.

Fast treatment times

Fast 'as lightning' treatment iconThe second standout benefit of the Silk-expert IPL is it covers large areas fast. It has a big 3 cm² treatment window and it flashes every 1 to 2  seconds (it’s fastest on the lower intensity settings). To treat a pair of underarms (roughly 120 cm²) it takes between 40 seconds up to 1:16 minutes.

Braun says you can treat a full leg in just 8 minutes. Most reviewers say it takes longer from around 10 minutes per full leg. Although not as quick as advertised, it’s still one of the quickest out there at higher intensity levels. Reviewers also report a full body takes around 50 minutes to 1 hour. This makes the Silk-expert a firm favourite for full body treatments over and done in one sitting. It’s quick, only one device beats it and one other device matches it.

You can learn more about these in the alternatives section below.

Re-zap reminders

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.

“Loving the app idea, to remind you when you need to re-zap.” – Amazon.co.uk review

This is another great feature that makes the Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL so easy to use.

Helpful tips from other users

There are some helpful user tips in the reviews. I’ve collated them here to make things easy.

woman using the Silk-expert IPL on her legs from side to side

A helpful tip from the user reviews is to turn the device sideward 90 degrees to get better contact on areas like your shins. You can also work around your legs and arms in rings to better keep track of which bits you’ve flashed.

  • Some users find the treatment window gets hot after a while. They suggest do your sensitive areas first, like face and bikini line, and leave less sensitive areas, like legs, to last.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Buy it

 

Minor improvements

There are a few suggested small improvements. Some suggestions actually come from the positive 4 and 5 star reviews. They really are minor niggles and none of these should detract from its almost near perfection.

  • A smaller precision attachment would be very helpful for 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 is an issue for some. The packaging could be a bit smaller and sturdier so it would be suitable to store it in. Try a shoe box or buy a storage case for it.
  • There’s no storage pouch provided either to help protect the treatment window if you store it in a draw.
  • A cleaning cloth would be a nice addition too to keep the treatment window clean and free from treatment debris!

 

What the online Braun Silk expert IPL reviews say

The overall score from the collated online Braun Gillette Venus Silk expert IPL reviews is an impressive and reassuring 4.6 stars.

User score 4.6

There’s lots of very good quality reviews with loads of helpful information and user tips that I’ve included in the sections above.

Let’s see what the negative lower-rated reviews say.

The bad reviews

There are relatively few negative reviews for the Silk expert 5 IPL. Lower ratings include a faulty device, one found it too painful, and a few  who received it free and weren’t that interested in it to start with. Neutral 3 star reviews came from a pregnant woman who couldn’t use it and a handful of reviews left too early in the start-up phase to see any results.

The collated user score for the Silk-Expert is 4.6 out of 5 starsSo why so few negative reviews?

The Braun Silk–expert is a new device, available since early 2016. Most reviews so far focus on positive initial impressions about how easy it is to use. Relatively few are left after longer term use to provide balanced feedback on usage and hair reduction results.

As the number of longer term reviews increases, I’d expect more negative reviews to appear. These will be from people who feel their results do not justify the effort, or who take longer than expected to see results. A small percentage will come from people who don’t see any results after several months of use. This unlucky group of “non-responders” are common to all established IPL devices.

Now, what about the good stuff?

The positive reviews

A high number of reviewers clearly state they’ve received the Silk-expert free of charge in exchange for an honest review. And the vast majority are pleasantly surprised and impressed right from first opening the box. Several even go on to declare their love for it!

They love that it feels premium and expensive. From the sophisticated packaging, the chic white / rose-gold colour way and the elegant lines, down to the balanced ergonomic engineering and simple controls. One reviewer sums it up as a “very sleek smart design” – and it’s easy to see why.

Reviewers love the chic wite and rose gold colourway, the elegant lines and ergonomic shape of the Braun IPL. It’s a good looking device with simple controls and the power cable is flexible and long.

Next, they love how it’s fuss-free. They say how the SensoAdapt skin tone sensor makes it extremely easy to use. It cuts “out a lot of faffing” because it chooses the best intensity level for you so it’s real simple to get started. And it’s fast. The quick flash repetition and glide mode make light work of large areas like legs.

Several love that you never run out of charge because it’s mains-powered. There’s no tangles with the long power cord either. There’s almost no pain (much less painful than epilating anyway). The App gets some mentions too because it’s a big help to stick to your treatment schedule.

What results do users report?

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.

Loads of reviews come from early in the 12 week start-up phase. Some after 2 or 3 weeks (3 or 4 treatments) are yet to see any results, or they see just slight changes in their hair growth. But many at the same point report more noticeable 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, one reviewer could “go 1 or 2 weeks without resorting to the razor”.

From those further into start-up at 5+ treatments, they see more significant results. Hair reduction is from 50% up to 90%. For other users it takes the full 12 treatments to match this.

“This is amazing. After 5 weeks my legs and underarms are nearly bare. Nearly painless, less than shaving! Just thrilled with how well it works, and how little time I need to invest in order to eliminate all the shaving I used to do.” – Gillette Venus Silk Expert IPL review from Amazon.com

“UPDATE AT WEEK 9 (using once a week on lower legs): Amazing results! The rate of hair growth is much slower and I would say 75% hair is gone. Even though some hair still grows back, it’s finer and less noticeable and I could still go out in a skirt without people noticing (unless they looked REALLY closely). Hopefully by week 12 there won’t be much left at all!” – Braun Silk expert review from Amazon.co.uk

So the speed and amount or hair reduction differs by individual. Some report it differs by body part too, but no distinct pattern emerges.

The Silk-expert has a lot going for it and it’s easy to see why it gets a high score. But what are the alternatives and how do they measure up?

Buy it

 

Braun Venus Silk expert 5 IPL vs Silk expert 3 IPL

There are 2 different models of the Silk expert IPL available with different specifications. The 2 models are differentiated by their colours and the model numbers.

  1. The White & Rose Gold version is available with a Gillette razor, body exfoliator and facial cleanser with the respective model names IPL 5001, BD 5009 and BD 5008. It’s called the Silk expert 5.
  2. The White & Purple version is called the Silk expert 3 and it has the model name BD 3001.
The White and Purple Braun Silk expert IPL 3 (BD 3001)

The white and purple version is called the Silk expert 3 and it has the model name BD 3001. It’s less expensive with a reduced feature set compared to the Silk-expert 5 IPL model. I give the Silk expert 3 a score of 4.1 stars vs 4.5 for the Silk expert 5.

 

Let’s start with what’s the same.

The Similarities

Both models have the same multi-use 3 cm² treatment window, are suitable for the same skin tones and hair colours on body and face. You can use them both in a stamp or continuous flash mode. They both have the same SensoAdapt skin tone sensor which checks your skin tone and then selects the optimum intensity level for you.

Both are widely available in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia, but the Silk expert 5 has a few extra features with a higher price tag to match.

The differences

The Silk expert 5 IPL has a higher specification than the Silk expert 3. The differences are in the lamp lifetime, intensity levels and power output, Gentle modes, speed and cost.

Lamp lifetime

First up, you get a longer lamp lifetime from the Silk eEpert 5 . With 300,000 flashes it gives 15+ years of full body treatments vs 250,000 flashes and 10+ years from the Silk expert 3. Both provide ample flashes, and I’d be happy with either.

Intensity levels

Secondly, the Silk expert 5 has 10 intensity levels and is more powerful (up to 6 J/cm²), whereas the Silk expert 3 has only 3 (up to 4 J/cm²). With IPL, you get optimum results the stronger the intensity level you can use that’s still safe for your skin.

The following table is created based on data supplied in the user manuals. It shows the increments of power intensity possible for each model. The power output per level is calculated as power per cm² (J/cm²).

Number of white intensity lightsWhite & Rose Gold
Max. energy (J / cm2)
White & Purple
Max. energy (J / cm2)
14.02.77
24.223.33
34.443.77
44.67
54.89
65.11
75.33
85.56
95.78
106.0

So, with the Silk expert 5 , it can choose a more bespoke level (from more and stronger energy increments) to give you the best possible results in the shortest time. The Silk expert 3 still works, but won’t be as targeted for your skin tone.

Extra Gentle & Gentle modes

Next, the Silk expert 5 has the Extra Gentle and Gentle mode whereas the Silk expert 3 has only the Gentle mode. I discuss this feature earlier in the review, and personally I’m not convinced it’s a valuable or necessary feature on top of the Gentle mode.

Speed of application

For me the stand-out difference is the Silk expert 5 is much faster. It flashes every 1 to 2 seconds (fastest on the lowest intensity levels) and can cover a full leg in around 8:30 mins. The Silk expert 3 flashes every 2 to 3 seconds and it’ll take around 16 mins for a full leg. If you’re treating large areas and want to get everything done in one session, this makes a huge difference. I think the faster application time is worth it.

But if cost is the deciding factor you can always split your treatment sessions across multiple days. This makes it less tedious and more manageable. For example, full legs one day, then smaller areas the next.

So what is the cost difference?

Cost

And finally, there’s the cost. The Recommended Retail Price for the Silk expert 5 is £399 / from $399 USD, and for the Silk expert 3 it’s £299 / $299 USD. Offers for both models are common and you can find them on sale for up to 50% off.  For their cost, I prefer the higher spec of the Silk expert 5 model because it’s fast and gives a more bespoke, targeted treatment.

The specification differences are shown in the comparison table below:

Braun Silk Expert White & Rose-gold
Models: IPL5001, BD 5009, BD5008
Braun Silk Expert 3 White & Purple
Models: BD 3001
White & Rose Gold Braun Gillette Venus Silk-Expert IPL device
Scores 4.4
  • User rating 4.6
  • £££ / $$$
  • Available in UK, Europe, USA, Australia
The White and Purple Braun Silk expert IPL 3 (BD 3001)
Scores 4.1
  • User rating 4.5
  • ££ / $$
  • Available in UK, Europe, USA, Australia
Safety
  • Prevents accidental flashes
  • Integrated UV filter
  • Suitable for skin tones I to V
  • Skin tone sensor chooses intensity
Safety
  • Prevents accidental flashes
  • Integrated UV filter
  • Suitable for skin tones I to V
  • Skin tone sensor chooses intensity
Treatments
  • Body & face
  • Black to dark blonde hair
  • Mains-powered
  • 10 intensity levels
  • Max 6 J/cm² energy output
  • Gentle & Extra Gentle mode
  • Stamp & continuous flash mode
  • 11 week start-up phase (12 treatments)
  • Multi-use treatment window (3 cm²)
  • Braun IPL treatment App
Treatments
  • Body & face
  • Black to dark blonde hair
  • Mains-powered
  • 3 intensity levels
  • Max 4 J/cm² energy output
  • Gentle mode
  • Stamp & continuous flash mode
  • 11 week start-up phase (12 treatments)
  • Multi-use treatment window (3 cm²)
  • Braun IPL treatment App
Speed
  • Underarms take 1:16 mins
  • Full leg takes 8.5 mins
Speed
  • Underarms take 1:56 mins
  • Full leg takes 16 mins
Lamp Lifetime
  • 300,000 flashes
  • Treat up to 900,000 cm²
  • 15+ years / 200+ full body treatments
Lamp Lifetime
  • 250,000 flashes
  • Treat up to 750,000 cm²
  • 10+ years / 150+ full body treatments

So should you choose the Silk expert 3 IPL model?

Because of the speed of application, I think it’s better suited to smaller areas like the bikini line, underarms, forearms and face. That’s because these areas don’t take many flashes to cover so they won’t take ages anyway. Or for full body treatments you may need to split your treatments into more than 1 session.

Overall, I award the Silk expert 3 a score of 4.1 stars. Braun target this device at smaller budgets. However, at full price I think it’s a bit steep. It’s much better value and an easy decision if you can find it on offer.

But if you want a premium device that’s faster and with more bespoke intensity levels, stick with the Silk expert 5 IPL and check out the worthy alternatives up next.

Next, I discuss the closest alternatives to the Silk Expert 5 IPL.

What are the alternatives?

There are 2 premium alternatives to the Silk expert 5 IPL to consider; the Smoothskin Gold and Philips Lumea Prestige. All are suitable for the same skin tone range and for body and face treatments.

Braun Silk expert 5 vs Smoothskin Gold

This Smoothskin Gold model has been around for a few years and, aside from the distinctive black colour, it’s almost identical to the Silk-expert. It’s not surprising because Cyden Ltd manufactures both.

The online reviews love them both. They score 4+ stars, 4.3 for the SS Gold and 4.6 for the Braun IPL. Both give fast and fuss-free treatments. And they both have the same intelligent skin tone sensor, although they give them different names. They both have Gentle mode too, but only the Braun IPL has Extra Gentle mode.

They’re both available in the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA. The Smoothskin brand has been available in the UK since 2009 so there’s lots of trust there. However, in the USA there’s more trust and recognition with Braun / Gillette. Don’t let this put you off though, because the customer service and support from Smoothskin.com is exceptional.

There’s not much between them and prices are often very similar. I’ve awarded both my Best buy for fast, safe and simple treatments.

So which should you choose?

They’re both great choices. If you like the bonus exfoliator or cleanser that come with the Silk expert, choose that. Otherwise just look for the one with money back guarantees and the lowest price tag. Be sure to check you’re comparing models with the same number of flashes.

Braun silk expert 5 IPL vs Philips Lumea Prestige BRI956

The Lumea Prestige BRI956 and BRI950 are definitely worth your consideration if they’re available where you live and you have a bit extra to spend.

Photo comparison of the Braun Silk Expert 5 IPl and Philips Lumea Prestige BRI956 IPL hair removal devices

I love the Lumea Prestige. It’s packed full of premium features and sensitive design details. For example you can use it both mains-powered for non-stop operation, or switch to cordless for those harder to reach areas. But you may not need all the extras or want to spend the extra cash. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide.

Powerful & great reputation

Both devices operate at similar high IPL intensities, have excellent online reviews, customer service and are trusted and reputable brands.

Each is of quality build and craftsmanship, robust and durable. They feel great in your hand with an ergonomic design that’s comfortable to hold and easy to manoeuvre. And both have a 5-star lamp lifetime that’ll last for 15+ years of full body treatments.

Flash window

The Lumea Prestige comes with up to 4 specialist flash windows. I love them because they’re curved to match your body contours so it’s even easier to get great coverage. But you don’t need them. The Silk-expert 5 still does the job. It has one multi-use flash window. It’s the right shape (1 cm by 3 cm) to cover large areas fast, to position on your upper lip and work around knobbly or uneven surfaces with just a bit of manoeuvring.

Advanced skin tone sensor

Both have advanced skin tone sensors that check your skin tone’s safe for treatments. And both choose the best intensity level for you. They’re equally helpful in different ways.

The Philips Lumea does this at the start of your session or when you activate the sensor. I like the control it gives by allowing you to turn it down a notch or two if it’s a bit uncomfortable. It keeps your skin safe and won’t let you turn it up above the suggested level.

The Braun IPL is different because it checks your skin tone and adjusts the intensity level before every flash. I like this because your skin tone can be different across body areas – darker in some areas and lighter in others. With the Braun IPL you don’t need to stop, check and adjust. It keeps it simple and foolproof. It selects the highest and safest intensity for your skin tone. You just keep flashing and it does the hard work for you.

And if it smarts a bit in more sensitive areas such as the bikini line or underarms, you can always activate one of the gentle modes.

Application speed

They’re the fastest IPL devices available that operate at higher intensities. The Silk Expert 5 maximum IPL intensity output is 6 J/ cm2. The Philips Lumea maximum is 6.5 J/ cm2 and both with a flash repetition rate of one flash every 2 seconds.

But for legs and large areas the Lumea is slightly faster. That’s because it has a larger body area flash window (4.1 cmvs 3 cm2) . And you may find it easier to glide over your skin thanks to the curved-in shape. So, what’s the difference in speed?

With the Lumea Prestige it’s around 7 mins for a full leg. And the Braun Silk Expert is just below 10 minutes. Both are fast, much faster than the competition, and both give great results.

Smart choice

The Braun Silk-expert 5 is a smart choice. It uses advanced technology and sensitive design giving you balanced power and safety in use. With its plug-in-and-go design, it’s simply foolproof. And faff-free.

Here’s a quick round-up of all the Silk expert 5 IPL’s pros and cons to help you decide:

Pros

  • Durable build & ergonomic, attractive design
  • Elegant, plug-in-and-go simplicity does all the hard work for you
  • Perfectly balanced power and safety. Advanced skin tone sensor detects and selects the best intensity before every flash
  • Great for anyone with varied tones across their body
  • It’s fast. One of the fastest at higher IPL intensities, from 8:30 + mins a full leg
  • ‘Gentle mode’ reduces the intensity. Great for delicate and sensitive areas like the bikini line
  • Lasts 15+ years of monthly use for your full body
  • Suitable for a broader range of skin types (I to V)
  • All the safety and treatment features you’d expect
  • Integrated UV filter
  • FDA cleared and CE mark (EU declaration of conformity to meet safety requirements)
  • Online reviewers love it
  • Bonus edition exfoliators available with the device
  • A treatment calendarand reminders to track your progress on your phone with the Silk expert IPL App
  • Special offers are common, around £££ / $$$
  • Available worldwide

Cons

  • At the full RRP it’s expensive, but offers are common
  • Not suitable for the darkest skin tones
  • 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

Should I buy the Venus Silk expert IPL?

Yes. It’s one of the best.

It wins my award for Fast, safe and simple treatments.

The treatments are fast so you can finish a full body treatment before getting bored and tired. The SensoAdapt skin tone sensor keeps you safe, and guarantees simple and straightforward treatments. It’s a great fuss-free choice for beginners. You get plenty of flashes for years of use too. And the bonus exfoliator and cleanser will help you make the most of your soon-to-be smooth, hair-free skin.

You can check prices or buy the Braun Silk expert IPL / Venus Silk expert IPL using the links below.

Where to buy the Braun Silk Expert 5 IPL

If you found my review helpful and decide to buy, please support WeAreBodyBeautiful.com by shopping through my links (I earn commission for sales but this doesn't increase your price).
Please also check for any taxes or customs duties applicable for delivery to your home country.
Compare prices of all Silk expert IPL models on Amazon
Buy the Braun Silk expert IPL 5001 here Braun Gillette Venus Silk Expert IPL 5001, for face & body
Buy from Amazon: UK, Europe, USA, Canada & Global shipping options
Buy from Shavershop.com.au, no razor included: Australia orders, with 90 day money back guarantee
Buy the Braun / Gillette Silk-Expert IPL BD 5009 Braun Silk expert BD 5009 for face & body, plus body exfoliator
Buy Braun silk expert 5 from CurrentBody.com: UK, Europe, USA, Canada & Global shipping options.
Buy from Amazon: UK, Europe, USA, Canada & Global shipping options
Buy the Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-Expert IPL BD 5008 Braun Silk Expert BD 5008 for face & body, plus facial cleanser
Buy from Boots.com: UK & International orders, choose country at top of page

Still not sure? Check out my recommended Best Buy home laser and IPL hair removal machines here

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