I’m pretty damn hairy. There, I said it.
Philips Lumea Review – the short answer
The intruction manual is horrific. In fact, I think my car manual is both shorter and more absorbing with fewer safety warnings.
For me (and a lot of other people leaving reviews for Philips’ IPL at home device), it’s one of those products that has a list of pros and cons and whether it’s worth buying and trying comes down to your specific needs and, let’s face it, body hair.
Tip needed – I struggle to get the leg head to align with the thinner parts of my leg, mainly around the shin. There just isn’t enough width/flesh of my shin for the machine to make contact. This means I have to point the IPL at odd angles to get it to work. I find this the most frustrating part of using the Philips Lumea so any tips welcome on how to do this better.
Philips Lumea Review in detail
Answer: yes and no.
Knowing it was too late to send the IPL machine back, I decided to give it another full go. And that’s when I started to see results. I don’t know if I’m harming myself by doing this (hopefully not and nothing has happened to my skin in the year I’ve been doing this) but I think a few ‘initial treatment’ phases are required to really have a noticeable impact on your hair.
What I do include below is some pictures of my underarms and legs a few weeks after doing IPL (after doing a few courses of it). I haven’t edited the photos and they’re not pretty – pale legs that are in desperate need of some sun and am I the first person to take a series of underarm selfies? Not easy to do, I can tell you.
Why I wanted to try IPL at home
It’s worth noting where I was hairwise before I started IPL – I’d been waxing for about 10 years (legs and underarms). I rarely look a razor to my legs but would regularly shave my underarms between waxing sessions. I was slower to the waxing table with my bikini area (pain and embarrassment were factors), so there was definitely more work to be done. Coupled with the fact that ‘those’ hairs are more fierce anyway and I wasn’t surprised to have less success downstairs.
Answer – yes and no. On my underarms I feel zero pain. On my legs, a couple of zings that people have likened to having an elastic band snapping on you. I didn’t find it that bad…on my legs. But oh Lordy Lord does it hurt down there.
But will it leave you hair free? The answer is no. However, no at home hair removal machine will do that. And any advertising material that tells you otherwise is telling big, fat hairy lies.
If I wrote this review after the initial phase, this would have been filled with ‘don’t bother, waste of time, waste of money’ comments. I was genuinely disappointed. My hair didn’t seem any different.
- watching the waxing lady put the used hot wax back into the pot after she pulled it off my legs in Bolivia. I had open wounds in the form of mosquito bites at the time. Cue: years of worrying I had a communicable disease every time I had any form of cold or flu symptom.
- being waxed with strips of denim in India. That would have been cool if it wasn’t used/worn denim and didn’t hurt like hell.
- having an old-school veet strip applied to my bikini area which removed not one bit of hair it was so old and dried. The beautician persisted like this for half an hour before turning to the tweezers (Peru).
- laughing as a friend (in the same room because, ‘no space’) had wax pulled from her butt cheeks with sheets of A4 paper. She only wanted her legs doing. Paper cuts at stake (Cambodia).
- agreeing to a wax then finding out it was actually a threading (Vietnam).
- giving myself bruised welts because I thought I could use the microwave wax like all the other ladies did in Spain.
- burning myself in a place I can’t even talk about trying epilation cream ‘down there’ when I’d become too jaded by my waxing experiences overseas but wanted to hit the beach (Mexico).
The science behind the initial phase is that each follicle has two hairs and they grow at different rates. I knew this from years of waxing. By zapping the blighters over an 8-10 week period, you make sure you get all of them at every stage of growth.
What about professional IPL?
It’s taken me over a year to write this. Not because I’m lazy…or because I’ve been sat at home marvelling my silky soft legs. It’s because my review is mixed and I’ve wanted to give the Philips Lumea a good run for its money before coming to a conclusion.
I do find the app a bit frustrating – it’s useful the first time as it tells you what to expect, what to do and gives you some encouraging words for your hair zapping journey. But by the time you’re doing your 3rd ‘initial treatment’ you don’t want to have to tap through 6 screens for each body part just to record it’s been done. If you’re organised enough, just use your calendar after the first few sessions.
I imagine the results will vary from person to person and body area to body area but after three initial treatments with breaks in between (some caused by lack of motivation, some due to travel), my hair reached a point where it was noticeably patchy. Not ideal for your lady garden if it’s being regularly visited and you need to explain you don’t have downstairs alopecia. Or worse, something communicable (I still worry about that wax in Bolivia). But in terms of taking a lady rug to a hot country, it was noticably cooler (and, sorry to be disgusting, but less sweaty) down there.
Months passed and I basked in the confidence that I’d zapped my hairs but month by month they started to gain strength. I shaved, I waxed but, especially in winter, I couldn’t bring myself to stand in the cold and use my Philips Lumea. And the hairs came back. Not quite as strong as they’d been before but enough that I’ve just decided it’s time to do another initial phase – I’ve let things get way past maintenance.
Choosing the best laser hair removal machine
What’s the point in throwing down £300-£500/0-0 if it’s not going to make you hair free? That was my biggest deliberation when I was trying to decide whether to buy a Philips Lumea or not. But here’s the thing, even that £3,000 professional laser treatment isn’t going to remove your hair permanently or totally. Nothing is. Or at least nothing that you want to try. Skin flaying, anyone?
A word on sponsorship: I paid for my Philips Lumea with my very own money. I’ve not been paid or sponsored by Philips to write this. If you do buy the Philips Lumea through a link on this page, I will make a small commission (at no extra cost to you). But that hasn’t swayed my Philips Lumea review in the slightest. If it did, you’d be about to read a glowing ‘go buy it’ review together with photoshopped pictures of sleek and smooth legs instead of the patchy fuzz on my dry, vein riddled lallies.
Does the Philips Lumea work? I googled this extensively before I bought my IPL machine and, I couldn’t really get a straight answer. So I decided to go ahead, buy one and write a Philips Lumea review myself.
Setting your expectations for IPL at home
I use a cheap bikini trimmer before using the Lumea(the Philips one, funnily enough – promise this isn’t sponsored).For my legs and underarms, I use a plain old disposable razor.
The general idea is that you give your hairs one good and consistent zap over the initial phase and then enter into a maintenance program.
My Philips Lumea IPL experience
Quality of the Philips Lumea
A word on pre-care. You have to remove all the hair from the area you zap before you do it. If you don’t, its not only less effective, you’re going to smell a lot of singed hair. (Do you really want your neighbours to smell something burning and call the firefighters in while your wearing a backwards g-string and pointing a gun-like machine at yourself? Oh? You do…go for it, then.) When I first started out, the advice was to shave, which I hate on my bikini area because it causes horrific ingrown hairs. I’ve just re-read the advice and apparently waxing is also ok, which is good news as I get less angry ingrows. But at the same time becomes a double-whammy of time and cost. So, I do tend to stick to the cheaper shaving option as I assume most people will do.
And all of this is without mentioning the dreaded ingrow. I suffer terribly with ingrown hairs in my bikini area. Given I tend to go for a Brazilian wax, I’ve lost count of the number of products (and amount of money I’ve spent) on post wax/shave/epilation gels, creams and balms. Some work better than others but none work completely. Which often leaves me with red lumps, bumps and spots. Painful and, I’m not afraid to be vain, very unattractive.
Philips Lumea Instructions
And we’re full circle back to the summary at the beginning.
If you’re impatient and want the nutshell version of whether the Philips Lumea IPL works, my best ‘sum up’ answer is: yes, but not as well as you probably hope or expect.
The IPL hair zapping phase
Out of the box, the IPL machine has a high quality feel – smooth, ergonomic looking and, best of all, a neat pouch to put everything in and keep the various attachment heads safe. It’s pretty compact though the battery on the plug is huge so often takes up more than one space on my power bank.
Out of the box, it took me under 5 minutes to get set up and ready to zap my hairs.
Sadly, I tend to pack light so it’s overall too big and heavy for me to take on my travels, which means I still need to plan my IPL sessions around being at home, but for most people that won’t be an issue.
Not convinced? Here’s some of my worst waxing and hair removal experiences overseas:
The IPL maintenance phase
Then zap away. You can do this by pressing the trigger to zap, then repositioning to the next area, and zapping again. In the case of larger areas like legs, you can keep your finger on the trigger and just move the head over your legs.
Was it easy to use the Philips Lumea?
It’s easy to see this as a downside – the regular maintenance – but at the same time, it’s a huge plus having the machine already there and paid for and ready to go. I’d have been much more furious if I’d skipped the maintenance on a £3k treatment and started to see the hairs regrow with force.
Compared to the user manual, the app is slick. It’s also used to remind you of your next IPL session, to keep you on track. The trouble arose when I skipped a session and I couldn’t see how to change the date (and therefore change further dates). After some fiddling around with it so I could write this review, it turns out you just go in and hit ‘start treatment’ and it logs the new date for you. That simple, huh?
For the record, I ended up buying the Philips Lumea Prestige. Why this machine? Very simply, it was the one that was on offer on Amazon when I hit buy on Black Friday. IPL machines are the perfect buy on Black Friday or during holiday season sales. I saved well over £100 on my machine which made the decision to try IPL at home that much easier.
Until next time.
- you do not need a white pencil to mark the areas – it blocks the laser (I mention this because there are lots of articles about it on the inter webs);
- it’s quicker (you’ll have less recharge time between each zap) if you use the Lumea plugged in – the zaps will be almost instant.
- if you’re not doing anything vaguely Brazilian, I’m sure you’ll feel low to no pain.
- I take the intensity level down as I reach my more sensitive areas. I’ve had to trade less results for less pain because otherwise I just can’t do it to myself.
- what about getting the Brazilian shape right? I’ve been wearing a skimpy g-string on backwards. It also makes me feel like I’m protecting the very sensitive inner parts from accidentally getting shot.
I researched the price of professional laser hair removal before buying my Philips Lumea and there was a huge cost difference. IPL charges per area and is around £1,000 per zone (,500 equivalent). That would be around £3,000 to treat my lower legs, bikini and underarm. I suspect it would be more if I wanted more than just my bikini ‘line’ blasted away. And that’s not taking the upper leg into account.
So, that’s my Philips Lumea review. If you want to go ahead and buy one, you can find some of the best prices usually on Amazon UK or Amazon USA. Try to buy around a holiday and you’re likely to get a heavy discount.
How long does IPL take?
It’s worth noting, that the professional IPL price is for a finite number of treatments – 8 – which means that top up treatments at extra cost are likely. And most importantly, it still doesn’t promise to make you hair free. In fact, I can expect up to a maximum of 90% deforestation only.
- under 5 minutes to do both armpits.
- under 5 minutes to do my bikini area (longer if you spend time chanting ‘I can’t do it – be brave – I can’t do it’).
- under 10 minutes for each lower leg. (I’m 5ft tall. You probably need to add an extra minute per leg if you’re 6ft tall.)
I’m also a fan of Philips products more generally. I have their Hue lightbulbs in my house (‘Alexa, turn off bedroom light…because I’m too darn idle to get out of bed’) and I use the Philips SAD Lamp in winter and for jet lag because…winter and jet lag and most recently I’ve splurged on the USB charging toothbrush for travel. I’ve always found Philips products deliver better compared to cheaper alternatives I’ve tried.
Does the Philips Lumea work?
Does the Philips Lumea work?
The machine itself I’d give a 9/10 on ease of use.
Overall, it was a pretty significant win, with better results possible if I could just persist at shooting elastic bands at my bikini area.
Also on the plus side, my waxing lady thinks I’m not too far off a genuine maintenance routine. She has seen how many of my hairs (even in my bikini area) have weakened significantly. And this had the bonus of making my wax trips that bit less painful.
Go into ‘inspector’ mode and hold the head of the machine over your body part so it can choose a setting that’s right for your skin and hair colour in that area.
Now I’m going to jump into the full review. I won’t bother going into what is IPL hair removal or the fact that it can only be used by people with certain skin tones and hair colour. I presume you already know that. Otherwise click on those links above if you don’t.
What if you don’t do the IPL maintenance?
You can check prices for the Philips Lumea here for Amazon UK or here for Amazon USA.
I know, that’s not the most helpful reply but you’ll understand why when you read the detailed review below.
I’m frustrated with myself. If I’d got my arse into gear and spent just 30 minutes once a month, I’m sure I could have kept things under control. As it is, I’m not back to square one. I at least have reduced hairs to work on, but I need to do that initial 8-10 weeks again.
Sure, I’m British but I have dark hair and it gets darker the further south you go, if you know what I mean.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all go a million other things to do besides hair removal. Which is one of the reasons we want to do IPL in the first place. But here’s the thing – both with at home IPL and professional IPL, it requires upkeep. And this is where I fell down.
Is the Philips Lumea app any good?
Compared to a Philips Lumea at around £300, which also doesn’t promise complete hair removal, but can be used for infinite sessions, it was a no brainer to give the Philips Lumea a go first.
Thankfully, there is a free app which is much more user-friendly.
Philips Lumea pros and cons
Pros of Philips Lumea
- it actually thins and even kills lots of hairs, which shaving definitely won’t and waxing takes a long time to achieve
- I can go weeks, even months without thinking about dealing with my leg hairs
- if I keep up the IPL, my underarm hairs become wisps of nothing
- it’s significantly cheaper than professional IPL
- it’s quicker than going to appointments for waxing or IPL
- it’s quicker and therefore less painful than waxing
- there’s no waxing swelling or welts or rash (assuming the shaving doesn’t trigger that for you)
- it’s less embarrassing than a wax (if that bothers you)
- you have the machine for life so you can dip back in and out as the mood takes you – you’ll have slower results but less commitment than professional IPL
- I’ve definitely recovered the cost in one year compared to waxing appointments
Cons of Philips Lumea
- it’s not pain free
- it’s not 100% effective
- it requires persistence – over months and even years
- you have to remove your hair before using it which is expensive if you opt to wax first
- it’s less effective on the bikini area compared to the legs or underarms (or at least it was for me)
- is it really suitable for the more intimate parts of the bikini area?
- the leg attachment isn’t a good fit for bony shins
- you’ll never feel as smooth afterwards compared to having a wax
- it’s boring so your commitment and therefore hairlessness might wane
- you need to time it right before sunshine exposure (probably also true of waxing?)
- there are some areas to avoid – scars, moles, varicose veins
Add the fact that I often go to developing countries. or countries where I don’t speak the language and you can start to see why getting a regular wax is a challenge.
I’m probably in the same boat as the rest of you – I’d have zero problem going for professional IPL…if someone else was going to pay for it.
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