IPL Reviews, WABB Recommends

Iluminage Touch review; safe for dark skin & effective on fair hair

Illuminage Touch Laura G
Illuminage Touch

4.1

It's safe to use the Iluminage Touch on dark and black skin tones and it's the only device proven to work on fair hair too. It's incredibly easy to use with fast treatment times on the lower intensity levels, best for dark skin. It's expensive, but great value replacement cartridges are available. It's a great choice for large areas, or full body and face treatments. Keep reading the Iluminage Touch review to learn if it's the best choice for you.

Safe and effective on ALL skin tones and most hair colours

The Iluminage Touch is manufactured by Iluminage Ltd (formerly Syneron Beauty Ltd), and it’s the rebranded improved next-generation version of the Me My Elos devices. The UK and Europe model comes with  300,000 flashes and 120,000 flashes in the USA.

  • Use on body & face
  • Mains-powered
  • Maunfactured by Iluminage Ltd (formerly Syneron Beauty Ltd)
  • Uses a gentle energy called Elōs energy
  • User score 3.5
  • Iluminage Touch price: ££££ / $$$

 

  • Suitable for all treatment types
  • Treat a total body area of 396,000 cm2
  • 100 full body treatments lasting 5+ years
  • Great value replacement cartridges available
  • Underarms take from 1:20 to 3:00 minutes
  • A full leg takes from 10 mins

Pros

  • Safe and effective on ALL skin tones
  • Combined IPL and RF energy is ultra-safe so there’s lower risk of pain or adverse reactions
  • Clinically proven to work on fair hair (light blonde and red)
  • Mains-powered so no need to wait for a battery to charge
  • No need for a skin tone sensor
  • Integrated UV filter
  • All the safety and treatment features you expect
  • FDA cleared and CE mark (EU declaration of conformity to meet safety requirements)
  • Fast treatment times on lowest energy levels – from just 10 mins to treat a full leg
  • Incredibly easy and comfortable to operate with a familiar electric shaver / epilator action
  • Get good coverage with less effort – flash each area 2 to 3 times so need to worry about too much overlap
  • Replacement cartridges are great value
  • Smaller precision attachment makes treating the face and uneven areas easier
  • Very good user feedback from Boots.com users
  • Very good support from Iluminage Beauty

Cons

  • It’s expensive, but the value for money is good
  • Models in the US give you just 120,000 flashes. Check before you buy
  • Takes longer than 10 mins per leg on the higher intensity levels
  • Poor user feedback from QVCUK (find out more in the full review)
  • It takes longer to see results when you epilate first, and that’s necessary for light blonde, red, white and grey hair
  • More comprehensive website information and access to the user manual would be an improvement
  • ‘Permanent results’ isn’t explained adequately and could be misleading. More on this in the full review

Suitable skin tones and hair colours

skin-tone-chart-i-to-vi-and-all-hair-coloursYou can use it on all skin tones from light to mid to dark brown, brownish black and darker skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin types I to VI).

You can use it on freckled skin too, but you can’t use it on very large freckles, birthmarks and moles or over tattoos and varicose veins.

You can use it on black, dark brown, brown, dark blonde, light blonde and red hair. Although no white or grey hair was tested in the clinical trials, Iluminage advise the Touch will have the same affect on hair this colour. However, you’ll need more than the advertised 7 weekly treatments to see results on fair hair. Keep reading for more information.

Tanning guidelines

As with all home laser and IPL devices it’s important to follow the guidelines on tanning and sun exposure. Unfortunately, the guidelines from Iluminage are very vague. The manual simply says you shouldn’t tan immediately before or after use.

After checking with Iluminage Beauty they advise to stay out of the sun for 2 weeks before a treatment, and to avoid the sun and tanning for 2 weeks after your treatment. There’s more on tanning and sun exposure here.

Where to buy the Iluminage Touch

I receive referral commission if you buy through these links.


Iluminage TOUCH device

Iluminage Touch, suitable for all skin tones and hair colours, for face and body

Buy from CurrentBody.com: UK & International orders, 90 day money back guarantee & 20% off with code CB20. Search "Iluminage Touch".

Buy from Amazon: UK & International orders

Buy from Boots.com: UK & International orders, choose country at top of page

In this full Iluminage Touch review:

How does it work on darker skin and what is Elōs energy?

Illustration of the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF) energies used in the Iluminage TOUCH

Illustration of the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF) energies used in the Iluminage Touch

IPL targets the concentrated dark pigment (melanin) in the hair follicle. Melanin is also present in the skin and there’s more of it in darker skin tones. This makes IPL unsafe to use on darker skin.

To solve this problem the Iluminage Touch uses a combination of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF) energies (named Elōs energy). These energies work together to heat the hair shaft and follicle, damaging it and reducing hair growth. This combination means the Iluminage Touch uses a gentler, lower energy intense pulsed light (IPL) that’s safe and effective for all skin tones. Elōs energy reduces to possibility of skin sensitivity and reactions on all skin tones too.

You can also treat lighter hair colours (blonde and red) if you epilate or wax immediately before use. The Elōs energy focuses on the small amount of blood left in the follicle after it’s pulled out, this heats up which then damages the follicle to disable it.

The lower IPL energy also means the bulb flash repetition is fast, and instead of one flash per area of skin you’ll need 2 or 3.

Is the Iluminage Touch good value?

It’s expensive, around £375 in the UK, but the 300,000 flashes give you loads of treatments. And great value replacement cartridges are available too.

The Iluminage Touch is different to other devices because instead of flashing each area just once you cover it 2 or 3 times. It has a large 3.3 cm² treatment window and gives 300,000 flashes. Assuming you flash each area 2.5 times, you can cover a total body area of 396,000 cm2. You’ll get around 100 full body treatments (full legs, bikini line, underarms and face). That’s enough for the initial treatment regimen and monthly top-up treatments lasting just over 5 years. That’s great value.

Elos 300000 flash cartridge with silver RF contacts above and below the Quartz flash window


Each 300,000 replacement flash bulb cartridge provides about 100 full body treatments. Should you need a replacement cartridge, they are very good value with each full body treatment costing just £1.06 each.

The Iluminage Touch available in the USA costs around $400 and it comes with 120,000 flashes. It has the same large 3.3 cm² treatment window so you can cover a total body area of 158,400 cm². That’s just 40 full body treatments to last up to 2 years of treatments. The value isn’t as good here, but that’s not the end of the world.

If you should run out of flashes you can pick up a great value replacement cartridge. In the US they come with 120,000 flashes and cost about $150. So you can continue treatments without needing to buy an entirely new machine.

If you have the 300,000 Iluminage Touch model you may find you never need a replacement cartridge. But they are available. They come with either 120,000 or 300,000 flashesfor pretty much the same price (around £90) so be careful to buy the longer life bulb.

The Iluminage Touch is unique because it’s suitable for ALL skin tones and hair colours. That technology comes at a premium cost. If you need it precisely because you have black skin tones or fair hair, it’s easier to swallow because the replacement cartridges will prolong your usage at a great value price.

Read onto learn how the Iluminage Touch impressed me.

What’s it like to use the Iluminage Touch?

Top down view of the Iluminage Touch showing the pale blue mirror-like surface, simple controls and the applicator cradled in the centre.

The Iluminage Touch is a compact, understated, professional looking machine. Clean lines, simple controls and a cool pale blue surface make it both tactile and sophisticated

The Iluminage Touch arrives in an attractive, understated white and pale blue box. Inside is the compact mains-powered base-unit with a corded hand-held applicator.

What’s in the box?

  • Illuminage Touch system
  • Precision attachment (for face and trickier body areas)
  • Epilator head
  • Goggles
  • Power cord
  • User manual

The machine is styled in clean crisp white and is professional looking. A pastel, pale blue, mirror-like surface on the base unit and matching applicator badge, adds a touch of class. The controls on top of the base unit are simple and clearly laid out next to applicator cradled in the centre.

A thick flexible cord attaches the white applicator to the base unit. The applicator is about the size of an electric epilator. It’s light weight and extremely comfortable to hold.

Read the user manual

First read the user manual. Start with the warnings section to check for reason you shouldn’t use the device that apply to you such as pregnancy, pacemakers, sunburn, skin conditions and medicines related to photosensitivity.

The manual introduces you to the device with helpful diagrams, outlines your skin sensitivity test, how to use it, indicative treatment times, the treatment regimen, cleaning, storage, replacing the flash cartridge, troubleshooting common problems, warranty and specifications. It is clear, comprehensive, easy to read and well laid out.

The guidelines on tanning before and after use aren’t clear. The manual simply says you shouldn’t tan immediately before or after use. After checking with Iluminage Beauty they advise to stay out of the sun for 2 weeks before a treatment, and to avoid the sun and tanning for 2 weeks after your treatment. There’s more on tanning and sun exposure here.

There’s no skin tone chart with suggested energy intensity levels. You work out which intensity level to use during your skin test.

Prepping your skin

For best results on dark hair, shave before your treatments. As you progress through your treatments the need to shave becomes less until you may not need to anymore. Be sure to still complete the full treatment regimen.

Epilator attachment in front of its Iluminage Touch branded box

Wax or epilate first if you have light hair (light blonde, red or white / grey). An epilator attachment is provided. This attaches next to the treatment window so you can epilate and treat in one.

For best results on light hair (light blonde, red and grey) wax or epilate before your treatments. Waxing and epilating causes a small bit of blood to form in the hair follicle. The Elōs energy targets this blood during the first treatment and, because the blood stays in the follicle, it can target it again for the subsequent treatments. During the treatment regimen you should epilate or wax away any new hair that grows before each treatment.

Please note: The Iluminage Beauty support team confirmed that on light hair, you will require more weekly treatments than the 6 week regimen to see results. It’s frustrating this isn’t made clear in the user manual or on the website, and Iluminage Beauty could do a much better job at setting expectations here. Please be prepared that perseverance and patience is key to getting good results.

Try the intensity levels during your skin sensitivity test

After prepping your skin, select a small area of skin for each body part you will treat. Start at LOW and flash your skin. If that’s comfortable move to another spot and flash at MEDIUM.  And if that’s ok, repeat on a new spot at HIGH. Wait 30 minutes and check for any reaction. If your skin is clear use the highest level that is comfortable and do your full treatment.

Getting started

It’s simple to get started.

  1. Shave if you have darker hair, or wax / epiliate for lighter hair. You can shave, wax or epilate when treating the face. Make sure your skin is clean and dry.
  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. Make sure you are in a well-lit room and the flashes won’t seem too bright.
  3. Set up the system and turn it on. When the red light turns green select your Elōs intensity level, press the activation button on the back of the applicator so it turns blue and the fan starts. It won’t flash until its on your skin.
  4. Place the applicator with the contact bars squarely on your skin and bright light pulses will flash.
  5. Glide the applicator over your skin until you have covered the area, it will continue to flash with complete skin contact (no need to keep the button pressed).
  6. Then start again and retreat the same area. Repeat this 2 to 3 times in total.
  7. If not in use for 30 seconds the applicator will turn itself off. Press the activation button on the applicator to turn it on again.
  8. If not used for 3 minutes the device will go into standby. Simply press the power button to turn it back on.

All skin tones shown in a wheel of skin tone colour swatches, for Fitzpatrick types I through to VI

No skin tone sensor required

There’s no skin tone sensor because the device is safe for all skin tones. Start with the LOW intensity level and only move up if it’s comfortable. This way there’s very little risk of feeling any pain during your treatment.

Safety enhances ease of operation

Iluminage Touch applicator image showing the 2 silver RF contacts above and below the flash window.

Two silver RF contact bars at the top and bottom of the flash window prevent accidental flashes AND control continuous flashes from the active applicator. There’s no need to keep pressing any flash button! This makes the Iluminage Touch the most simple device to operate.

Like the other devices, the Iluminage Touch has a safety system to prevent accidental flashes.

Two silver RF bars at the top and bottom of the treatment window must be in full contact with your skin before it will flash. But these RF bars have a further clever use. They control the continuity of flashes too.

This makes the Iluminage Touch the most simple device to operate.

You simply press the activation button on the applicator and then position it where you want it on your skin. The RF bars sense your skin and keep the flashes coming. You can glide it for continuous flashes over your skin. Or lift it off in a stamping action so it flashes each time it touches your skin. The difference is subtle in description, but obvious in operation.

Unlike all other devices, you don’t press any button during the treatment. There’s one mode that reacts based on how you position the device.

There’s no stress and strain on your grip from keeping a button pressed in. You can shift it however you like or even swap hands without any break in operation. The applicator stays active for 30 seconds so, if you do briefly break contact with your skin, the flashes will start again once the RF bars are back in contact. And the flashes are fast which makes it even more effortless. It’s very comfortable and easy to manoeuvre. It’s simple and intuitive.

It’s different when using the precision attachment. More on that below.

Easy to use applicator

The applicator is light and it’s easy to manoeuvre too because of the long flexible cord. You can roughly gauge where the light exit window is, but getting painstaking and precise coverage isn’t such a big deal as it is with other devices. This is down to the ease of operation described above, and the fact you must cover each area with 2 or 3 non-consecutive flashes. So getting precise overlap of the device is not as important because you pass over the area multiple times.

“So quick and easy to use, a few zaps and everything is done! Would defiantly recommend”
Boots.com review

TIP: For full coverage on difficult to treat areas (e.g. underarms) move the applicator in two directions; left/right and up/down.

Precision and epilator attachments

The Iluminage Touch comes with 2 accessory attachments; a precision attachment and an epilator.

They’re easy to attach. With the power off, remove the attachment protective cap next to the activation button, and the attachments simply slide and click into position next to the treatment window. Note, the flash cartridge stays in place.

White plastic precision attachment and its Iluminage touch branded box

The small precision attachment clips over the treatment window and reduces the size of the flash area to 2 cm2 providing more accuracy. You need to press the flash activation button each time you want a flash.

The small precision attachment sits over the treatment window and reduces the size of the flash area to 2 cm2. This makes it easier to treat your face. When using this attachment it emits only 1 flash at a time, so you need to reposition the window and press the activation button each time. This is so you always carefully position the window around sensitive areas like the lips.

There’s an epilator attachment too for those with lighter hair. This sits beside the flash window and allows you to epilate ahead of the flashes. Press the accessory activation button once for low speed, or twice for high speed. You might like the sound of this if you can epilate quickly. Personally, epilation is slow going (and torturous), much slower than the speed of the Iluminage Touch treatments. But, you can still wax or epilate before using the device.

The tricky bits

Reaching some areas is tricky, like the backs of your knees and upper legs, and involves twisting and turning in front of a mirror. The power-cord is long enough and easy to work with once you find the best way to reach all the necessary areas.

Tips:

  • Use an extension cable in front of a full-length mirror so you can see and manoeuvre around your whole body
  • I prefer holding the applicator sidewards and working in rings around the contour of my legs. That way it’s easier to keep track of where I’ve flashed.

 

So how quick are the treatments?

How quick are the treatments with the Iluminage Touch?

Let’s compare it to other devices and see how long it takes to treat a pair of underarms.

The Iluminage Touch has a 3.3cm² treatment window and it flashes every 0.9 to 1.9 seconds, depending on the intensity level used. Assuming you flash each area between 2 or 3 times as instructed it’ll take you between 1:20 to 3:00 minutes to cover a pair of armpits (an area roughly 120 cm²).

Iluminage say it takes 10 minutes per full leg. This is probably true if you use a lower intensity level. User feedback says it takes longer than this on the higher intensity levels. So treatment times are variable. If you have darker skin and use it on the lower intensity settings it’s good. But if you have paler skin and can use it on the highest setting it’s going to be slower.

Good customer support

You get a standard 2 year manufacturer warranty from Iluminage Beauty and they give good customer support too.

You can contact them with questions through an online form (telephone support would be an improvement) and in my experience they respond quickly within 24 hours.

Iluminage Beauty could provide much better pre-sales information such as user manual downloads, more about Elos energy and set clearer expectations on results for users with light hair (I hope I’ve clarified it in this review).

A note on permanency of results

There are several uses of the attention-grabbing word ‘permanent’ on the Iluminage Touch packaging, in the user manual and on the website.

For example the user manual claims “the only at-home hair removal device to use patented elōs technology that is clinically proven to be safe and effective for all skin tones for permanent results.

The box shows “permanent hair reduction” in 3 places but I can’t find anywhere that it is actually explained. And it’s important to have realistic expectations, because when we see this phrase, we tend to think once we’re finished with the initial treatments we’ll never need it again and we’ll be forever hair free.  It’s misleading because it’s not the full picture. You can find out more about the permanency of IPL here.

What do the online Iluminage Touch reviews say?

The overall score for the Iluminage Touch is a good 3.5 stars. This is collated from all the online Iluminage Touch reviews.

User score 3.5 stars

It’s reassuring there are zero reports of faulty devices. But there are lots of low ratings from QVCUK users. Read on to learn why.

The bad bits

Some reviewers report it’s very time consuming and it takes much longer than the suggested treatment times on the highest intensity setting. Quite a few explain problems fitting the attachments , finding them “counter intuitive”.  But other reviewers (having read the user manual) explain the attachments work with the flash bulb and not in place of it.

There are many low ratings from QVCUK users saying they have seen no results. This is in contrast to Boots.com where only a handful reported it didn’t work for them. Why is this?

I suspect the high number of critical reviews from QVCUK shoppers is in part down to heavily promoting the device for use on light hair during the TV demo, coupled with poor expectation setting and information shared around results on fair hair. Iluminage Beauty could do a better job at setting expectations here, especially as it is the only device of its kind to work on lighter hair.

They recommend an initial regimen of 7 weekly treatments (taking 6 weeks) and then top-up treatments as required (usually monthly). The regimen is the same for all hair colours but based on guidance Iluminage Beauty shared during research, it takes longer to see results on light hair.

If you have fair hair be aware you’ll need more than the suggested 7 weekly treatments to see results. It could take several weeks longer. In fact, 2 reviewers with blonde hair reported no results after around 3 months of treatments.

Not all QVCUK reviewers note their hair colour, but at least 10 are from users with fair hair (blonde, auburn, red, white and grey) and who epilate first. Most tried for at least the 7 weekly treatments, but it’s unlikely that’s long enough.

user-rating-3-5 The’re also a few QVCUK reviewers who say it’s hard to tell if and when you have hair reduction after waxing / epilating pre-treatment because you’ve already taken the hair out at the root. This is interesting and shows that results are harder to detect compared to shaving pre-treatment.

Another handful also report no results after a few treatments, saying there’s no difference in their usual post waxing / epilating regrowth. This reinforces that light hair needs longer to see results than the suggested time frame and that results are less obvious than with shaving.

There are just a handful of low ratings from Boots.com users. The majority of these customers left overwhelmingly positive reviews.

The good bits

Loads love how easy the Iluminage Touch is to use, that it’s painless, compact and easy to store, and that underarms and bikini line take just minutes to do. Some even comment that a full body treatment is ‘fairly quick’ for them.

Some reviewers love their devices but don’t share specific feedback on their experiences or results.  Loads say it works, and their reviews come at varying stages from just a few treatments to a few months of use. Early reviews report promising results with varying degrees of hair reduction, patchy and finer regrowth and slowed growth rates.

Reviews left after more than 6 weeks of treatments tell of the best results. There are a few reviews from users with darker skin tones, and just a couple with lighter hair too.

“I have been using the Illuminage for three weeks now out of the recommended seven. I am very impressed by the ease at which you can use it and the time it takes. I am starting by just trying it out on my underarms, and it takes just a couple of minutes for each one! As a real wimp, I was also pleased to find out that it is completely and utterly painless, unlike conventional laser treatments. All in all, you will never get it done professionally for a price like this and it can all be done from the privacy of the bedroom. Highly recommend!”
Boots.com review

What are the alternatives?

iluminage-precise-touch-review If you like the sound of the Iluminage Touch but want to treat just your face and small areas, the cost of this bad-boy can seem a bit too steep. Fret not. The Iluminage Precise Touch is safe for dark and black skin tones, works on fair hair, and is designed for use on the face and smaller areas. It costs less too.

There is one alternative suitable for all skin tones – it’s not reviewed yet – but you can find it here Silk’n Glide Infinity

There aren’t any alternatives the the Iluminage Touch clinically proven to work on fair hair.

Smoothskin Gold 120, 200 and 300 reviewFor darker skin tones, up to Fitzpatrick type V,  check out the Smoothskin Gold. It’s a very attractive choice. It’s very easy to use and has a very special skin tone sensor that checks your skin tone and chooses the best intensity level for you. The’re 3 models to choose from but Smoothskin Gold 200 costs £75 less than the Iluminage Touch and it will provide more full body treatments. It wins the Best Buy for fast no-fuss treatments award.

Philips Lumea Prestige SC2009 gun-shaped device with the bikini and facial attachment by its side.Also suitable for skin tones up to Fitzpatrick type V is the Philips Lumea Prestige. This is an easy to use cordless model providing 15 years of full body treatments. It also comes with extra attachments to make easy work of small, sensitive and uneven areas like the upper lip, underarms and bikini line. The treatment times are good and it’s Best Buy for full body and face treatments.

 

Should I buy the Iluminage Touch?

Yes, this is the device for you if you have the darkest skin tones. And it’s the only device proven to work on fair hair too (you’ll need more treatments though). The Elos technology makes it safe and effective.

It stands-out as an intuitive, easy and comfortable device to use. If you have the darkest skin tones you’ll use it on the lowest intensity levels so treatments are quick. And if the price of the machine plus a replacement cartridge is competitive when compared to other devices on your shortlist, then it’s a sound choice.  It’s loads cheaper than professional treatments.

If you have lighter skin tones and can use a higher intensity level then treatments with the Iluminage Touch are slow, so try the alternatives suggested above.

Where to buy the Iluminage Touch

I receive referral commission if you buy through these links.


Iluminage TOUCH device

Iluminage Touch, suitable for all skin tones and hair colours, for face and body

Buy from CurrentBody.com: UK & International orders, 90 day money back guarantee & 20% off with code CB20. Search "Iluminage Touch".

Buy from Amazon: UK & International orders

Buy from Boots.com: UK & International orders, choose country at top of page

 

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

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