About Iluminage Hair Removal
Tired of fighting body fuzz or enduring the stubble from shaving? Iluminage claims that their revolutionary hair removal technology can do what no other at-home hair reduction laser can: work on every skin tone and hair color.
The luxury beauty brand offers two at-home laser devices, the IluminageTouch, and Precise Touch, that promise permanent hair reduction for both the face and the body. Of course, each model has its perks. (We’ll get there shortly!)
Before we do, let’s refresh with a brief introduction to hair removal, then take a look at how the Touch and Precise Touch work, what customers are saying, and similar products on the market.
Who’s Behind Iluminage?
The first question that comes to mind when considering at-home lasers involves safety, leading us to ask, “Do the folks at Iluminage know what they’re doing?”
- LipoLite, an FDA-approved laser device for use in lipolysis. (Thermal fat-reduction that’s not as invasive as liposuction.)
- Matrix RF, an FDA-approved radio-frequency (RF) device for use in dermatological procedures.
- VelaShape, an FDA-approved body contouring device used to reduce cellulite
- Elure Advanced Skin Lightening System, a skin-brightening lotion that won Allure’s Best of Beauty Breakthroughs award in 2011.
- GentleMax Pro, a device intended to remove hair and treat pigmented vascular lesions.
Each of Syneron Medical’s previously released products have been intended for use only by licensed medical professionals providing in-office treatments. So, what brings them to offer their first device for at-home use?
Likely, funding from their partner, Unilever. This heavy-hitter owns over 400 brands in the beauty, health, and wellbeing industry. In answer to our question about experience, both of the brands behind Iluminage appear to be well-versed in developing products in this category.
Now that we’ve assessed how much Iluminage knows about hair removal, let’s make sure that we’re up to speed as well.
How does Iluminage work?
Iluminage uses Elos, which stands for Electrical Optical Synergy. In a really basic sense, Elos uses two sources of energy to destroy the hair follicles.
These two sources, both radiofrequency (RF) and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), work together to better identify each individual hair:
- The IPL energy heats up the hair follicle.
- The RF energy is attracted to the heated hair follicle, heating it further to damage it, which inhibits hair growth.
Hair can grow up to two weeks after an initial treatment with Iluminage Touch or Precise Touch. However, the company claims that, if you follow their recommended protocol, you can see:
- 46% Of all hair removed after just two treatments
- Up to 94% hair reduction after seven weeks
While touch-ups might be required, Iluminage claims that users will see a permanent reduction in growth.
The Basics: There Are Two Types of Hair Removal
There are two basic types of hair removal: depilation and epilation. In laymen’s terms, depilation only affects the part of the hair that’s above the surface of the skin. This includes shaving and chemical depilatories (like Nair), which dissolve the strands of proteins to disintegrate hairs down to the skin.
Epilation removes the entire hair, including the part growing beneath the skin and the follicle bulb. Since the bulb has to reform before the hair can grow back, unwanted growth is delayed even longer. Types of epilation include waxing, sugaring, epilation devices that snag the hair, threading, intense pulsed light, and lasers.
Both depilation and epilation result in temporary hair removal—meaning that hairs will grow back. However, lasers do more than just ‘zap’ unwanted hair. By concentrating heat (laser) or light (IPL) energy, these devices can destroy hair follicles, which may lead to the permanent removal or reduction of unwanted hair growth.
Comparing The Iluminage Touch and Precise Touch
Both the Touch and Precise Touch claim to disable the hair follicle so that unwanted hair doesn’t grow back. Additionally, both the Touch and Precise Touch:
- Can be used by both men and women
- Can be used to remove hair on the arms, legs, chest, and back
- Can be used on all skin tones, and with all hair colors
- Should not be used on the head, ears, nipples, or intimate areas
Note that, in their FAQ section, Iluminage states that “Both our hair removal devices can be used on women’s facial hair below the cheek line. Common facial areas include mustache/ upper lip, sideburns, jawline, and chin/ neck.”
According to their FAQs, use of the device hasn’t been tested on the male face, and therefore isn’t recommended. While the Iluminage folks don’t say so directly, we gather that it’s because men have denser facial hair growth than women, over a larger area.
This could mean either there are safety concerns (flashes to remove hairs closer to the eye), or just the risk of less-than-awesome results.
What’s the difference between the two models? The size of The Precise Touch is specially designed for a woman’s facial hair below the jaw line, underarm, and bikini area. (It also costs only half as much—more on this soon.)
Technically, you can use both the Touch and Precise Touch on the same areas. However, with it’s smaller head, the Precise Touch offers what its name implies—more precise applications.
How To Use IluminageTouch and Precise Touch
Both the IluminageTouch and Precise Touch are corded devices, so there’s no need to wait for them to charge before your first use. Just remove the protective seal from the device and it’s ready to go.
Depending on which body area you’re treating, and whether you’re using the IluminageTouch or Precise Touch, there are specific treatment instructions that can be found in the product’s instruction manual. (Links to PDF of each can be found here: IluminageTouch and Precise Touch.)
Here’s a brief outline of the process:
- Perform a skin sensitivity test on the lowest Elos level before treating any new area of your body. Wait 30 minutes to check for a reaction before proceeding with treatment.
- Prep the area that you want to treat by shaving, wiping clean, then patting dry. If you are treating your face or have very fair hair, it’s recommended that you shave, wax, or epilate before treatment for best results.
- Activate the Elos and chose your energy level. It will default to the lowest setting if none is chosen.
- When you’re ready to begin treatment, place the applicator so that the two silver RF contact bars are in complete contact with the skin. It’s only when both bars are touching your skin, that the device will emit flashes of light.
- To treat your body, glide the applicator across your skin in one continuous motion, moving after each flash. To treat your face, remove the applicator from the skin after each flash, then move the next target area.
How long will it take to treat each area?
According to Iluminage, treatment times for each body area are as follows:
- Underarms: 1 minute each
- Bikini: 2 minutes per area
- Arms: 3 minutes per arm
- Legs: 10 minutes per leg
- Shoulder: 2 minutes each
- Abdomen: 5 minutes
- Chest: 10 minutes
- Back: 12 minutes
Remember, these treatment times are estimated with the IluminageTouch—treating large areas with the Precise Touch will take considerably longer due to its smaller coverage area.
The times listed above are per each treatment, but hair doesn’t go away in just a day. For the best results, Iluminage suggests that you follow their seven-week protocol:
- Treat each area once a week, for seven weeks.
- Use temporary hair removal methods in between treatments.
- After initial protocol, they claim that you should only require the Iluminage for touch ups.
Who Shouldn’t Use IluminageTouch or Precise Touch?
The Iluminage might be the first device cleared by the FDA for all skin and hair tones, but it’s important to remember that it can only be used safely on your natural skin color. If you tan, use self-tanner, or have tattoos, the lasers won’t be able to tell the difference between darker pigmented skin and hairs, which can result in burning and scars.
According to Iluminage, because of the nature of this device (flashing lights and electrical pulses), those with epilepsy or active implants, like a pacemaker, shouldn’t use their hair removal devices.
Pregnant or breastfeeding? You’re also advised not to use the devices, as hormonal changes might make your skin more sensitive to IPL and EF energies.
If you’re using any medication, topical or oral, that increases your sensitivity to light, consult with your doctor about stopping usage before using Iluminage. These include steroids, antibiotics, AHAs, BHAs, Retin-A, Accutane, and many others.
Iluminage Pricing & Refund Policy
The IluminageTouch is available for $445. Each unit comes with a cartridge that supplies 120,000 flashes.
The Iluminage Precise Touch is available for $245, and comes with a cartridge that supplies 150,000 flashes.
Available supplemental products include:
- Replacement cartridges for IluminageTouch $150. (There are no replacement cartridges for the Precise Touch available at this time.)
- A shaver cartridge is available for $50.
- An epilator cartridge is available for $50.
- A Precision Adapter for the IluminageTouch is available for $50.
Shipping is free for any order over $100.
If you’re unhappy with your purchase, Iluminage states that you can contact their Customer Care team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 1-877-651-1177 within 60 days for a full refund. Note that this 60-day policy is only applicable to purchases made through the official Iluminage website, www.iluminagebeauty.com.
The IluminageTouch and Precise Touch are covered by a 12-month warranty from manufacturing defects. Dropping the unit, placing it in water, or using a charger other than the one that came with the device can void your warranty.
What Are Customers Saying About IluminageTouch and Precise Touch?
While Iluminage does list reviews on their product pages, we headed to Sephora’s customer reviews to ensure an unbiased sampling.
Out of 60 Sephora customer reviews, the IluminageTouch was given a score of 3.7/ 5. But, instead of the majority rating this device in the middle, that score is earned by averaging 34 five-star reviews and with 18 one-star reviews. Why the wide gap between those who were happy with IluminageTouch and those who aren’t?
- Customers with dark hair, even in combination with dark skin tones, seemed to have the highest satisfaction levels with IluminageTouch.
- Those with fair hair against fair skin tones reported the least satisfaction, with many stating that there was no change in growth.
- Those who were the most satisfied commented that it cut down on the time they had to take shaving or removing hair.
- Those who were least satisfied mention that the device didn’t leave them completely hairless.
Given the range in satisfaction, we feel it’s fair to say that those who regularly struggle with removing thick, coarse, and dark hair will benefit the most from the IluminageTouch. However, fair-haired guys and gals might find that it’s not worth the cost.
Out of 24 reviews, the Iluminage Precise Touch received the same 3.7/ 5-star rating on Sephora. However, customers who had purchased this product were less divided. About half commented that it’s easy to use. However, even strictly sticking to the recommended protocol didn’t deliver completely hair-free results.
Do Other At-Home Laser Hair Removal Products Work Better?
Perhaps. Dr. Thomas Rohrer, M.D., clinical associate professor of Dermatology, Boston University Medical Center, tells Dermatology Times that “We are getting to the point where, for certain things, patients may be able to treat themselves safely and fairly effectively at home.”
However, Dr. Rohrer points out that these treatments are still less effective than the devices used by physicians: “They’re not going to be nearly as powerful.”
Similar products include the Tria Laser 4X, which received positive reviews from two HighYa readers (and a one-star review from the third). The LumaRx and sensiLight Mini, both of which are reviewed by customers at this time. There’s also the NoNo Pro, which holds the lowest score, at 1.5/ 5-stars averaged from 106 HighYa reader reviews.
Should You Buy The IluminageTouch or Precise Touch?
Considering that professional laser treatments cost an average of $900 per session, and that multiple sessions are required, you can understand why some consumers are still interested in at-home laser hair removal, despite so many mixed reviews.
Whether or not at-home hair removal lasers are worth the cost comes down to your expectations.
In an article published in the Archives of Dermatology, scientists treated 20 individuals with two different lasers. At nine months follow-up, patients noted about a one-third reduction in unwanted hair growth.
So, a better question might be: Is the cost of the IluminageTouch or Precise Touch worth a one-third reduction in your unwanted frizz? If you have coarse, dense hair, the answer might be yes!
If not, remember that there are other options available. These devices are similar, but very striped-down versions of the devices physicians use in their clinics. With that in mind, those who want total hair removal might find it worthwhile to save up for an in-office treatment.