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
Here’s how the overall score breaks down.
Expensive, unique technology for which you’ll pay a premium. Offers are becoming more common.
What is it?
The Iluminage Touch is manufactured by Iluminage Ltd (formerly Syneron Beauty Ltd), and it’s the rebranded next-generation version of the Me My Elos devices. You can use it on both body and face (below cheekbones). The Touch has CE certification to meet EU safety standards. It also has FDA clearance. You can buy it in the UK, Europe and the USA.
First available in 2016, it works with combined energy of Radio Frequency and Intense Pulsed Light. This gentle energy is branded Elōs energy. It slows and reduces hair regrowth after each session, and eventually stops your hair growing back at all. Periodic use keeps you smooth.
This same technology is gentler than regular IPL so you can use it on the darkest skin tones. It’s also proven to work on fair hair. You can learn more in the full review.
The UK and Europe model comes with 300,000 flashes and 120,000 flashes in the USA.
You’ll need 7 weekly treatments (taking 6 weeks) to see significant hair reduction results. Then top-up treatments as required (starting monthly). You’ll need more treatments on light hair as it takes longer to see results.
The Iluminage Touch is the one to choose for full body and face treatments if you have dark skin because it’s designed especially for you and it’s safe. The slightly dated design (with a base unit and wand) is still very comfortable to use and it’s fast on the lower intensity levels suitable for the darkest skin.
It’s the only machine clinically proven to work on fair hair (blonde and red) too. But you’ll need more than the advertised 7 weeks to see the same results as on dark hair. It’s your only option for fair hair, but decide first if you can stick with it to see results.
The Iluminage Touch wins my Best Buy award for full body and face treatments on dark skin. Learn more in the full review.
In this full Iluminage Touch review:
- How does it work on darker skin and what is Elōs energy?
- Is the Iluminage Touch good value for money?
- What’s it like to use?
- Are the treatment times quick?
- What does permanent really mean?
- What’s the feedback from the online Iluminage Touch reviews?
- What alternatives should I consider?
- The Pros and Cons of the Iluminage Touch
- Should I buy it?
- Where to buy it
How does it work on darker skin and what is Elōs energy?
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?
The UK and Europe model comes with 300,000 flashes and 120,000 flashes in the USA.
Let’s start with the UK and Europe version first.
With the Iluminage Touch you must flash each area of skin 2 to 3 times, vs once with other IPL machines. This is because of the gentler, reduced intensity IPL energy. Let’s assume we’ll flash our skin twice over.
You get a minimum of 300,000 flashes and the treatment window is 3.3 cm². So, with this model you can cover a total body area of 396,000 cm². That’s the same as about 100 full body treatments (full legs, bikini line, underarms and face). It’s enough for the start-up phase and monthly top-up treatments lasting just over 5 years. That’s great value.
Onto the 120,000 model available in the USA.
It has the same treatment window size at 3 cm². And with the 120,000 flashes you can cover a total body area of 158,400 cm². That’s 40 full body treatments to last up to 2 years of treatments. That’s lower than other premium machines and less than I’d recommend. The value isn’t as good as the UK version here. I hope Iluminage will soon make the 300,000 model available in the USA. But if not soon, I guess it’s not the end of the world.
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 (costing $445).
Read onto learn how the Iluminage Touch impressed me.
What’s it like to use the Iluminage Touch?
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
- 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.
There’s no skin tone chart with suggested energy intensity levels. You work out which intensity level to use during your skin test.
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.
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.
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 than the 7 weekly to see best 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.
It’s simple to get started.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the applicator with the contact bars squarely on your skin and bright light pulses will flash.
- 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).
- Then start again and retreat the same area. Repeat this 2 to 3 times in total.
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.
If not used for 3 minutes the device will go into standby. Simply press the power button to turn it back on.
No skin tone sensor required
There’s no skin tone sensor because the device is very gentle and 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
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 exceptionally simple 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.
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.
So 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, on the lowest setting, 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 hand-held 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.
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 epilate quickly. Personally, I find epilation is slow going (and torturous), much slower than the speed of the Iluminage Touch treatments. So 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.
- 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 underarms (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 and faster options are available.
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. When I see this phrase, I think once I’m done with the start up phase I’ll never need it again. I can throw away my razor and I’ll be forever hair free! But it’s misleading because it’s not the full picture. You’ll still need periodic top-ups to stay smooth.
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.
It’s reassuring there are zero reports of faulty devices. But there are lots of low ratings from QVCUK users. Iluminage Beauty used QVCUK to promote the device in 2016. I think it backfired a bit. 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 haven’t seen results. This is in contrast to reviews for the Iluminage Precise Touch and 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 the TV demo. Here they heavily promoted it to use on light hair but didn’t set clear expectations. They didn’t caveat that you’d likely need more than the advertised 7 weekly treatments, because it takes longer to see results on light hair. Iluminage shared this information during my research.
It’s noteworthy the Iluminage Precise Touch doesn’t suffer this negative feedback (it wasn’t featured on QVCUK).
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.
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.
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!”
Iluminage Touch vs the Iluminage Precise Touch
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 uses the same technology. It’s safe for dark and black skin tones and works on fair hair. It’s much smaller than the Touch. It’s a hand-held applicator (with no base unit) and has a small 2 cm² flash window. This is designed for use on the face and smaller areas.
If you’re using it on smaller areas like forearms, bikini line, underarms and face I estimate you’ll get around 6 years of monthly maintenance treatments. It’s great value and it costs less then the Touch too.
What are the alternatives?
There is only 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 to the Iluminage Touch clinically proven to work on fair hair.
If your skin tone is light, medium, medium-dark or dark there are a few alternatives. They’re safe to use on all but the darkest skin tones (up to Fitzpatrick type V). Check out the Smoothskin Bare, Smoothskin Gold, Braun Silk expert IPL, and Philips Lumea Prestige BRI956.
The Smoothskin Bare
If your skin tone is medium-dark to dark, you may like the Smoothskin Bare. It’s available in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. It’s a bit different.
It emits IPL at one low intensity of 3 J/cm which makes the flashes ultrafast. You can finish a leg in around 4 mins! The lower energy means it takes a bit longer to see results and you’ll need regular top up treatments to stay smooth. But if you have dark skin you’ll need a low intensity setting anyway. I really like this device. It’s my Best Buy ultra-fast budget choice. I think it’s game-changer.
The Smoothskin Gold and Braun Silk Expert IPL
The Smoothskin Gold is available in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. It’s a very attractive choice.
You can use it on skin tones I to V, and black to dark blonde hair. It’s effortless to use and has a very special skin tone sensor that checks your skin tone and chooses the best intensity level for you. I recommend the Smoothskin Gold 200 as it costs £75 less than the Iluminage Touch and provides 10+ years of full body treatments.
You can also try the Gillette / Braun Silk-expert IPL. It’s almost identical to the Smoothskin Gold (they’re both manufactured by Cyden Ltd) and costs just a bit less than the Iluminage Touch. Promotional offers are common too.
Both devices have very positive online feedback scoring 4+ stars. And they’re both my recommended Best Buy for fast, safe and simple treatments.
Philips Lumea Prestige BRI956
The Lumea Prestige is available in the UK and Europe. It’s not yet available in the USA and availability fluctuates in Australia.
You can use it on skin tones I to V, and black to dark blonde hair. It’s of exceptional build quality and has an advanced skin tone sensor that recommends your optimum intensity level. You can manually adjust it down if you need to.
You can also use it corded and cordless. So you choose which is most convenient. The gun-shaped design is unrivalled for comfort and ease. And it has unique curved treatment windows to match the different contours of your body. So it’s much easier to position and cover your skin on legs, face, bikini line and underarms.
And finally the Lumea Prestige is the fastest at higher intensities. A full leg is done in around 6.5 minutes vs 10 with the Iluminage Touch, and 8:30 with the Braun IPL.
The only downside is it’s expensive. But you can find it on sale with a similar price to the Iluminage Touch.
To help you decide here’s a quick summary of the Iluminage Touch pros and cons.
- 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
- It’s expensive at full price
- 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
- 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
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.
You can check prices and buy the Iluminage Touch below.
Where to buy the Iluminage Touch and Iluminage Precise TouchI receive referral commission if you buy through these links.
|Buy the Iluminage Touch.
Suitable for ALL skin tones and hair colours. Best for full body and large area treatments
Buy from Sephora.com: Search 'Iluminage', USA orders, Free delivery
Buy from CurrentBody.com: UK & International orders, 90 day money back guarantee and other offers. Search "Iluminage Touch".
Buy from Amazon: UK & International orders
Buy from Boots.com: UK & International orders, choose country at top of page
|Buy the Iluminage Precise Touch.
Suitable for ALL skin tones and almost all hair colours. Best for face and small area treatments
Buy from Sephora.com: Search 'Iluminage', USA orders, Free delivery
Buy from CurrentBody.com: UK & International orders, 90 day money back guarantee and other offers. Search "Iluminage Precise 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 my recommended Best Buy home laser and IPL hair removal machines here