You’re reading this, I suspect, because you’re wondering; “Will one of these things stop me from having to shave my legs ever again?”
Well, the answer is ‘no’. But, ask me if I recommend you invest in a Philips Lumea, and the answer is ‘yes’. Definitely.
This isn’t a quick-fix method of hair removal and I’ve been testing out the Lumea Precision Plus for almost six months, which is probably long enough to be able to give some feedback on how it’s worked for me so far – and then it’s up to you…
We’re all different in terms of how much body hair we have, how thickly it grows, how coarse and what colour it is. While I have loads of coarse black hairs on my legs (seemingly several hairs coming out of each follicle) I remember my best friend as a 20-something had a few sparse, fine blonde ones and I felt pretty hard done to; whereas I shaved my legs daily out of necessity, she would only bother herself with the hassle if it was a special occasion.
Over the years I’ve tried most forms of hair removal and found that generally, they just don’t do the job. Hair removing creams, even the ones specifically for dark, coarse hair, have never given me smooth legs (I’d need to shave them immediately afterwards), while waxing leaves me looking like a plucked chicken (and one in a whole world of pain at that.)
My excitement at the arrival of ‘epilators’ in the early 90s was short-lived; initially I felt like a sophisticated teenager, making one of my first ‘expensive’ beauty buys, until I used the thing and discovered it was excrutiating and would have taken months of pain before even beginning to have any effect.
So, for the last 30 years I’ve been shaving my legs daily…until now.
The Philips Lumea Precision Plus is one of a new generation of at-home hair removal devices that use IPL (intense pulsed light) technology, targeting the hair root with gentle pulses of light. [Cue: the science bit] The melanin in the hair and hair root absorbs the light pulses which results in the follicle going into a resting phase and the hair shedding naturally. There are different versions of the Lumea available (I think the improvements are the increased battery time per charge and the lifetime of the of the device’s lamp), and other IPL devices from other manufacturers.
What’s it like to use?
In a nutshell, very simple and essentially painless, although not without some minor challenges. Start by shaving the areas to be treated otherwise you’ll be faced with the lovely smell of singed hair. The Lumea is cordless so very mobile and you hold it like a gun (although, I presume, not many of us have actually ever held a gun!) Set the intensity by repeatedly pressing the button on the handle, which takes it from level one to five. I used this on level five for my legs and between four/five on my underarms and bikini line.
All you then have to do is press the plastic ‘window’, where the light comes out, lightly into your skin, so effectively it creates a seal so the light can’t escape. The green ‘OK’ light will come on and you press the button which fires the hair removing light. In most cases you don’t feel anything, but if you do catch a more sensitive area, you will get a slight ping, often described as similar to having your skin flicked by an elastic band (it’s over in a split second so it’s almost not worth mentioning.) You then move the Lumea along your leg in ‘lines’ going along the length of the leg until you’ve covered the whole area. It sounds monotonous, but does only take around 10 minutes per leg.
What didn’t go so well for me was trying to get the Lumea to work on the less fleshy bits of my leg, so along my shin bone and around the knee/ankle, because the whole window needs to press into your skin. What you need to do here is rotate the device around until it connects enough and the green light comes on. It is a bit fiddly and can involve getting into some interesting positions (and certainly isn’t reflected in the official ‘how to use’ video) but it’s not the end of the world. You also need to be very methodical each time about positioning the Lumea’s window next to the immediate area you’ve just zapped, so you don’t miss any. I definitely recommend making sure you relax your calf muscle as the softness makes it easier to lightly press into your leg and engage the Lumea.
Bikini line and underarm areas are really straightforward to cover and take just a couple of minutes but, as mentioned, may need a lower setting as they’re more sensitive.
Does it work?
According to Philips, initial treatments should be done every two weeks, and then a treatment once every two to four weeks will stop hair roots from becoming active again and prevent new hair from growing back. They suggest that results can be seen after just a couple of sessions.
The blurb in product brochures always seems to be written from a ‘glass half full’ perspective, and perhaps there are some people who do get immediate results. I found that it wasn’t until after about five sessions – or ten weeks, when I’d just about convinced myself it wasn’t going to work – that I started to see results, with hairs definitely becoming more sparse.
The density of the hairs on my legs has now decreased a lot, and the hairs coming back feel much finer (although perhaps this is because there’s not so many of them). I do still shave my legs but maybe now just once or twice a week, but I am very happy at the lack of prickly stubble. And of course, this may still improve as I keep using it.
Where I think the Lumea has excelled is on my underarms and bikini line where the regrowth is far less and I no longer have the awful ingrowing hairs (and itching) I used to get with shaving. I had fewer hairs here to start with, so perhaps for anyone whose legs aren’t as hairy as mine were, you’d see these great results on your legs too.
There is a special attachment which enables you to use this on your face. I’ve not tried this out but I suspect it would deliver very good results on facial hair.
The main downside has to be the cost as the Philips Lumea Plus will set you back £350 – £450, depending on where you buy it and any promotional offers. However, if you are currently paying for salon hair removal you’d soon recoup this cost, and save yourself a lot of time. There’s also the option of buying on interest-free credit if you have an Argos or other store card and spread the payments out each month, so that’s not so bad. Do bear in mind the Lumea won’t last forever as the lamp used in it has a finite lifetime of around 140,000 flashes (for this model). I can’t put a timescale on that but I think it would be fair to say it will ‘last a while’! The only other negative is that it won’t work on darker or black skin types, or blonde/red/white/grey hairs (sorry).
The fabfitand40something verdict
Overall, for me, the cost has been far outweighed by no longer having to go through the hassle of shaving my legs every day (sometimes twice!), being able to forget about my armpits for a week, and not having to endure itchy regrowth in ‘other’ areas. It’s been quite liberating and I totally recommend it.