So, what is IPL? Is it different to Laser Hair Removal?
I didn't even really know what IPL was when the WH80 Hair Removal System arrived - so I did a quick bit of 'genning up' on the internet. I knew what laser hair removal was so I was prepared for a machine to arrive whereby I would have to wear goggles and it would really hurt! Luckily I was totally wrong - IPL stands for intense pulsed light and is a form of light therapy that sends light wavelengths into the skin, which targets pigment and kills the growing cells that make the hair. The purpose of IPL is 'permanent hair reduction' - meaning that the hair grows back much more sparsely depending on the area (leg hair, I believe, can be almost completely 'killed off', but armpit hair is so much more dense, meaning it can be reduced but perhaps not removed forever).
It's not suitable for people with red hair, very light blonde hair or white or grey hair, but all other hair colours and skin tones are fine (check the guidance here for more) which is a progression from the original IPL machines that first came out, which were only suitable for those with fair skin and dark hair.
How does it work? Is it easy to use?
The IPL system works via a handheld, cordless machine that feels a little like a big electric razor - it has a lightweight body with the flash window at the top that you hold against your skin. It really is just like holding a razor really - it's very lightweight and easy to use. It charges via a Li-on battery that lasts a long time between charges and plugs into the mains. The system has five different levels of intensity and you progress through them as you continue with usage. You can initially only use it once a fortnight on your legs and arms, and once a week on your underarms and bikini line. Again, as you continue with usage, you can increase the frequency - but don't expect that you can dive in straight away, use it daily and see results as you do have to pace yourself between usage in order not to damage your skin.
One thing I didn't immediately realise is that you have to shave the hair you're targeting with the hair removal system prior to using it. This seemed kind of counter-productive to me as it felt like a bit of an extra faff when the whole point was to make hair removal less time intensive. However, if you do use it without shaving it can cause ingrown hairs, and you get that awful 'burning hair' smell, neither of which are very desirable. Also - some people really like the fact that you can keep hair free between treatments (rather than, like with waxing, having to grow the hair until you get it removed). Once the skin is hair free and dry, you're ready to use it. You wait for the beep to indicate that you can place it on the skin, and then press the guard against the area you want to remove the hair from and wait for the red flash of light. As soon as it flashes, you slide the device along the skin to the next area. It's really quick as there's only a waiting time of five seconds between flashes, so you can do your underarms in less than two minutes, and legs take about five minutes to do. I was pleasantly surprised by how speedy it was to do my armpits, legs and bikini line - the whole thing took around ten minutes, which is easy to fit into your post-shower routine once a week.
Does it hurt, and does it affect your skin?
I was actually really nervous to use it as I was convinced that it was going to hurt - I was even worried that it might hurt my eyes as when I tried it for the first time I noticed that the flash was quite intense. Luckily it wasn't painful, though some flashes on particularly sensitive skin such as the bikini line did feel a little bit sensitive, but really barely anything - just a bit of a hot feeling. The only time it did hurt is when I used it on the tattoo on the back of my legs without even thinking, that was really painful! From then on I avoided areas that were tattooed, which I think is the general consensus as to what to do with tattooed skin.
So, does it work?
I've been using the Hair Removal System now for around ten weeks. I've been using it as per the instructions and now use it on some areas twice a week, and I've increased up to level four so far. The hair on my legs and bikini line is definitely more sparse and patchy, especially when the first regrowth starts to come through and you then shave and IPL. Strangely, I haven't really noticed any difference in my armpit hair regrowth (that's a sentence I didn't think I would use on the blog!) which still grows back at the same thickness and rate. If you're looking for a quick solution to hair removal that means that you can put away the razors forever - perhaps for a holiday or special occasion then this may not be for you. After three months you're not going to be hair free - but you will definitely see results. If you're willing to be committed to using it for a prolonged period, and are looking for long-term results then I definitely would consider the ES-WH80. £300 is a hefty price tag, but you're paying for the technology, which really is very impressive, and something that's amazing and a real time-saver to be able to do at home rather than booking appointments for. It's also very lightweight, easy to use, and incredibly quick to cover the area you need to, which are all plus points.
Have you tried IPL before? Is it something you'd consider using at home? If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments - also if you're thinking of buying one and a video would be helpful then just let me know as I'm doing a few videos lately and I'm happy to do a quick little tutorial for this (though it's so easy to use!)
You can buy the Panasonic ES-WH80 online from retailers like Amazon and Boots, priced between £289 and £299.