Tried & tested | IPL & Laser Reviews

Gillette Venus Braun Silk Expert 3 IPL review

A quick summary…

by | February 28, 2018

The Silk Expert 3 IPL is a good and affordable investment. It’s special because it’s so simple to use. With an ergomic shape and a skin tone sensor which matches the best of 3 IPL intensities to your skin tone. It's best suited to smaller body areas like your face, underarms, forearms, tummy and bikini line. But takes too long to zap legs or larger areas.

3.9 / 5

Face & small bits


Safe Fitzpatrick skin tones:

Hair colours it works on:

Braun Gillette Venus Silk-Expert 3 IPL review

👉 There’s an updated version of this device called Braun Pro 3 IPL.

🛒 Braun Silk Expert 3 IPL deals

🇬🇧 UK

🇺🇸 US
Not available.
See Braun Pro 3 IPL instead

The Gillette Venus / Braun Silk Expert 3 is an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) device that’s safe for home use. The IPL energy disables the hair follicle and breaks the cycle of hair growth. After each treatment your hair grows back slower and finer, until eventually it doesn’t grow back at all. Periodic use disables new follicle growth and keeps you continuously smooth.

First available in early 2017, the Gillette Venus Silk expert 3 IPL 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 3 IPL and it meets EU standards with CE certification. Procter & Gamble market both, in partnership with Cyden Ltd who manufacture the device. There’s an updated model called the Braun Pro 3 IPL.

The Silk Expert 3 is the little sister of the Silk Expert 5. It keeps several of her excellent features but with a reduced spec. It’s positioned as a standard, mid-range device. But there’s more you need to learn about the speed of application and the power output of the device.

Is it good value?

It’s great value. You get more flashes than you’ll probably ever need.

With the Braun Silk expert 3 IPL you get 250,000 flashes. Combined with the 3 cm2 flash window this means you can cover a huge total body area of 750,000 cm2. That’s enough for approximately 150+ full body treatments (full legs, bikini line, tummy, underarms and face).

That’ll see you through the start-up phase and for 10+ years of monthly top-ups across all those body areas. Braun advise it lasts 12 years. It’s more than you’ll ever need. Especially as the longer you’ve used it the less frequently you need maintenance sessions.

N.B. only the bulb life calculates the years of use. General usage and wear and tear can also determine how long the machine keeps working.

What’s it like to use the Silk Expert 3?

The Silk Expert 3 comes in a sturdy black and purple cardboard box. It clearly shows the device and which accessory it comes with. That’s either the storage pouch or the Gillette Venus Razor. The design prominently shows its FDA cleared or clinically tested.

The Gillette Venus silk expert 3 for the USA and the Braun Silk Expert 3 box for the UK, side by side.
The design and content of the UK and US boxes is very similar. Both boxes show the words “Safe and effective – Permanent visible hair removal”. This needs further explanation to set realistic expectations.

The back of the box explains the key features of the advanced skin tone sensor, gentle mode, mains-power operation and the 250,000 flashes from the lamp. The sides cover how it works, the safe skin tones and effective hair colours chart.

Both the UK / Europe and the North America messaging use the words “Safe and effective – Permanent visible hair removal”. The word permanent needs further explanation for which you need to read the user manual. Or you can learn more on IPL permanency here.

What’s in the box?

  • Silk expert 3 IPL device
  • Gillette Venus razor (IPL3001)
  • Storage pouch (BD3005)
  • Power adaptor
  • Mains connector plug
  • User manual

Inside the box, moulded clear plastic protects the Silk expert 3 device. Below that is the white power pack, country specific mains cable / plug and a grey storage pouch, all wrapped in thin clear plastic, and 2 user manuals covering several languages.

First impressions

The device itself is majority white with a matching purple flash button on the top and stripe banding round below the flash window. The head is slightly bulbous and angled slightly from the tapered end. There’s a strip of LED lights on each side, air vents underneath and a small round ‘feather’ button below the purple flash button. It’s a minimalist, sleek design that looks professional.

Side view of the Silk expert 3 with level 2 intensity illuminated on the side
The white & purple Gillette Venus Silk Expert 3 has a minimalist design and distinctive ergonomic shape that’s comfortable to hold. It’s smart and sleek.

It’s a good size, and although lightweight it feels solid. The cord fits securely in the bottom and it’s balanced as I practise different grips.

But first let’s read the user manual.

Read the user manual

The user manuals are slightly different by region. I prefer the US version as it’s a little easier to follow. It has a more logical order of information and the clinical trial results, which I find both interesting and reassuring.

There’s lots of information in the user manuals to digest. 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. It could be a bit friendlier. But please make time for it because it’s important. Start by reading the important safety information, contraindications, warnings and reasons not to use IPL so you stay safe.

N.B. The US user manual advises a start-up phase of 12 weekly treatments. The UK manual advises 4 to 12 weekly treatments, adjusting it to your needs. Some people enjoy faster results than others so it’s important you can commit to 12 weekly treatments should you need them.

Tanning & sun exposure

Braun advise not to use the Silk expert 3 on recently tanned or sunburned skin, including artificial tans. You should also avoid unprotected sun exposure by covering up after treatments and using a sunscreen of SPF 15+.

This is because your skin is extra sensitive after tanning, which 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 from the sun.

Braun say 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.

Skin sensitivity test

You don’t need to work out which intensity level is best for your skin. The Silk Expert 3 does that for you using its advanced skin tone sensor. There’s more on the skin tone sensor later.

So your skin sensitivity test is very straightforward. Following the instructions in the manual test each body area you’ll treat with 2 side-by-side flashes. If after 24 to 48 hours your skin shows no reactions you can continue with your full treatment.

Getting started

It couldn’t be easier. 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 3.
  5. Press the button to flash.

If not in use for 10 minutes, the device goes 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 goes into sleep mode with no lights on. To activate it again, just press any button or remove and replace the power cord. It doesn’t have an on/off button, so you need to unplug it from the mains and store safely after use.

Eye safety

The Silk Expert 3 won’t allow you to accidentally flash into open air and hurt your eyes. That’s because both skin tone sensors at the side of the flash window must be covered by your skin before it’ll flash.

Close up of the Silk Expert 3 flash window
2 small sensor windows sit on either side of the flash window. You must cover both with your skin before it’ll flash. This means you can’t flash into open air anywhere near your eyes.
The flashes you see as you treat are bright but harmless. Try wearing sunglasses if you find them uncomfortable.

Many reviewers mention the flashes are intense, uncomfortable and annoying after a while. The user manual does tell 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. Several think protective goggles should be provided.

Rest assured these flashes won’t harm your eyes. But if you do find it uncomfortable follow these tips:


  • Make sure you use it in a well-lit room so the flashes don’t seem overly bright.
  • Several reviewers recommend wearing sunglasses too. This reduces the intensity and you can keep your eyes on where your flashing too.

Egonomic shape

Loads of reviewers love the Silk expert 3 because it’s easy to handle, not too heavy and comfortable to hold.

Hand holding the Silk Expert 3 with their thumb on the flash button.
The Silk Expert 3 is comfortable in your hand and it’s easy to see the intensity indicators and nozzle end from most angles. Take some time to work out how to best grip it and manoeuvre it around your body.

You can press the flash button with your thumb or fore fingers depending on how you’re manoeuvring it. You can see the white intensity indicators from most angles. And there’s good visibility of the nozzle end so you can see where you’re placing it and moving to.

A few petite-handed users found it took a few sessions to master it. I find that’s because you need to change how you hold it frequently, for example as you move around your legs. Your grip on the device includes your thumb or finger on the flash button, so it can be awkward to stop / start as you shift positions. But you soon work out the best way.

“Very easy to use, love that it adapts to your skin tone and its not over priced. Instructions included were very easy to understand and the product itself seems to be very well made and easy to hold.” – Silk expert 3 review from

As one reviewer comments, you have “2.7m worth of cable to play with”. The cord is long, thin and flexible. It does sometimes wind into the wrong spot, I found this most with the backs of my legs. I suggest using a mains extension socket and sitting on your bed or next to a mirror. This gives you extra manoeuvrability so the cord won’t stretch making it simple to reposition as necessary.

Safe & simple skin tone sensor

Most home IPL devices come with a basic skin tone sensor. If they detect a skin tone that’s too dark they won’t emit a flash.

The Silk expert does this too. 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.

But the Silk Expert 3 skin tone sensor is more advanced than that. It uses what Braun calls SensoAdapt™ technology.

When the SensoAdapt sensors detect a safe skin 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 before every flash, for each varying skin tone on your body. All you need to do is position it on your skin.

Left side view of the Silk Expert 3 showing level 2 energy intensity is ready
The Silk Expert 3 has 3 intensity levels ranging from 3 J/cm2 to 4 J/cm2. The skin tone sensor scans your skin x80 per second and chooses the best energy level for your skin. The level it chooses illuminates on the sides. It balances safety and power with each flash. All you need do is move it along for each flash.

It has 3 intensity levels to choose from (in normal mode – more on the modes later). You’ll see the side-strip LED power indicators light up from 1 to 3, to show the chosen intensity level.

“the best feature to my mind and which gives it a well-deserved five stars, is the automatic calibration to your skin type when using, no faffing about doing your own calibrating. Supremely easy, genuine plug and go. Excellent product.” – review for Silk Expert 3

Gentle mode

The Silk Expert 3 has a small round feather button on the top. Press this button and it illuminates to show you’ve activated Gentle mode. This reduces the intensity level so you’ll see fewer intensity indicator lights on the side. Press the button again to return to normal mode.

Close up of the 'Gentle' feather button on top of the Silk Expert 3 handset.
Press the small round feather button to activate ‘Gentle’ mode. This reduces the energy output so you’ll see fewer lights illuminate on the side. It’s good for more sensitive areas like the bikini line and underarms. If you’re a bit nervous about IPL you can also use it to get used to the treatments.
But note that you’ll get faster results on the highest intensity levels safe for your skin, so only use it if normal mode feels too uncomfortable.

Braun suggest use this mode if you’re new to IPL, perhaps a bit nervous, and want to ease yourself into the treatments. You can also use it on sensitive areas like your bikini line or underarms which can smart a bit.

Several reviewers mention the Gentle feature. Some think it a good idea but don’t feel the need to use it. Others use it on their underarms but find slower results compared to other areas like their legs. The user manual confirms this:

“Gentle mode reduces the light intensity. More treatments may be required to see the desired effects.” Braun Silk Expert 3 user manual

So, you’ll get faster results in normal mode with the higher energy intensity levels.

Glide & precision

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

For Precision you position, press and release, then re-position and repeat. Do this to control the flashes precisely and 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. This way you don’t have to press the click the flash button down each time. It’s more comfortable as it works with your grip on the handset and reduces potential strain on your hand.

In the online reviews, a handful of people shared they weren’t quite sure how fast to slide the flash window when gliding. That’s because Glide implies a smooth, continuous motion but in fact you need to wait up to 3 seconds between the flashes. As one reviewer comments, it’s more of a ‘stutter’ than a glide.

TIP: You need to slide it along 1 cm after a flash, wait for the next flash and repeat. 1 cm is the height of the flash window therefore this gives you adjoining but not overlapping flashes.

So, is it fast to apply?

How quick is it?

The speed of application is average.

The Braun Silk expert 3 has a 3 cm2 flash window and it flashes every 2 to 3 seconds. It’s fastest on the lowest intensity level.

Lady treating her underarms with the silk expert 3 IPL
The Braun Silk expert 3 has a 3 cm2 flash window and it flashes every 2 to 3 seconds. It’s time consuming for full body treatments. Read the tips below to help make them more manageable.

This is average. On they don’t mention the speed of application for the Silk Expert 3. I can’t find reference to how long it takes to treat a leg, and it’s not in the user manual either. But we can compare it to other devices with a similar speed such as the Philips Lumea Advanced. This takes around 14 mins per leg.

Comments from the online reviews say it takes around 20 mins to do both lower legs. Another does both lower legs, bikini line, face and armpits in 30 mins. Many who are treating larger areas say it’s quite time consuming . One specifically recommends it for treating smaller areas because of this.

It can be tedious and uncomfortable to treat your full body with a slower device. Faster options are available and they’re better suited to treating a full body in one session. Check out my favourites here. But you can avoid long and dull full body treatments with the Silk Expert 3 by following my tips below.

Tips for full body treatments:

  • Find a helpful assistant! This means you don’t have to bend and contort to reach all areas so it’s much more comfortable for you.
  • If you must go it alone try splitting your treatments into 2 sessions lasting around 30 mins each. For the first session treat your legs. And in the second finish with your underarms, face bikini line and tummy! This way you can concentrate on getting the best coverage possible, and not on how long it is taking.
  • As several online reviews mention, use the Braun Silk Expert App to plan and track your sessions so you don’t lose track of where and when you’ve treated.
  • Use an extension cable in front of a full-length mirror so you can use all the power-cord to manoeuvre around your body.

Tips for tricky areas:

From the onlin reviews, several find it tricky to activate on uneven knees and toes, bony ankles and shins, and curvy upper lip because both sensors must touch your skin. They share the following suggestions.

  • For shins, ankles and knees try turning the handset 90 degrees so it’s placed along the ridge and not across it. This also works well for hobbit-feet!
  • Squidge your toes together and place the flash window across them
  • For your upper lip try blowing out your cheeks or folding your lips in to create a flatter surface

Tips for best coverage:

A handful have trouble keeping track of where they’ve treated. I find this especially on legs when trying to work in up-and-down strips.

  • Instead, you can try working in rings around the contours of your legs, from front to back
  • Use a cosmetic pencil to mark off the sections you’ve flashed

Effort & results

You’ll need between 4 and 12 weekly treatments to complete your start-up phase. This’ll take up to 11 weeks. You should notice a change after 4 or so sessions, with hair reducing quickly after that. When you no longer see hair growing you can switch to monthly top-up treatments to stay smooth. You may need these even less frequently as time goes on.

The flash rate is rather slow on the Braun 3 IPL, and a full leg flashing takes longer than 10 minutes. So, it’s best suited to smaller body areas such as underarms, bikini line, forearms and face. For those smaller areas you’ll be done in under 30 minutes tops which is very manageable and easy to stick with.

Braun Silk Expert 3 IPL Review Summary

The Braun Silk Expert 3 is a good choice from a trusted brand. Its simple ‘plug in and go’ treatments are thanks to the advanced skin tone sensor so it’s incredibly easy to use and safe for your skin. But there are faster alternatives if you want to treat your full body or legs. Check out my favourites here.

Braun Gillette Venus Silk-Expert 3 IPL review
Lamp lifetime


Excellent. The flashes give you 10+ years of full body treatments, more than you’ll likely need.

Ease of use


A comfy, simple medium-powered IPL device. Adjusts each flash to your skin tone for non-stop no-faff sessions. But takes too long to zap legs.

Effort & Results


Up to 12 weekly sessions for long-lasting hair-free results, then top-ups every month or so to keep it so.


  • Attractive mid-range price and offers are common
  • Auto-selects the best intensity level for your skin before EVERY flash
  • Gentle mode for sesntive areas
  • Fast, straightforward plug-&-zap simplicity
  • Clinically proven, CE certified & FDA-cleared


  • Slow to treat large areas like legs
  • Could be improved with a smaller treatment window for the upper lip and other uneven and tricky areas
  • Power cord can get in the way

🛒 Braun Silk Expert 3 IPL deals

When you shop via my links I earn a small commission (but your price stays the same). And I really appreciate your support 🙏!

🇬🇧 UK
Or see newer model Braun Pro 3 IPL.

🇺🇸 US
Not available.
See Braun Pro 3 IPL instead

Laura Gladman
I'm a bit obsessed with at-home beauty devices. It's a habit I've had for around 9 years now. I love the science, testing and reviewing them, and sharing my experience and feedback on my site I'm also a crazy dog lady, and I don't care.

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