No pain no gain is a saying taken just a tad bit too literally by beauty companies. No matter what the promise of the new product, the quest to keep your skin baby smooth always seems to have a draw back: waxing and epilating might last longer but there's no question that both hurt, and even if you avoid shaving rash or nicks around your ankles, wielding a razor every day isn't much fun. Depilatory creams have come a long way (the old-school smell still haunts us) but they're hardly fuss-free either and before long you're battling stubble again.
Given the painful history most women have with hair removal, Philips Lumea seems almost too good to be true. Zero stubble, zero pain. Using Intense Pulsed Light or IPL to produce heat, it causes the hair to shed naturally and then puts the follicle into its dormant or resting state. As long as you keep using the device every two to four weeks, that unwanted hair will never been seen again.
With five settings based on your skin and hair colour, it's suitable for legs, underarms and your bikini area. If you've got dark hair and pale skin, for once this will come in useful, as the colour contrast means it's easier for the device to target the follicle. If your hair is very fair or your skin very dark, unfortunately it may not suitable - check your combination in the chart below.
The cordless hand-held rechargeable device, which looks more like a slim line hairdryer than anything else, couldn't be easier to use. Simply set it to the right setting for your skin, point it at the area of skin you want to target, and once all four corners are touching, a green light comes on to show you it's ready to use. Then, press the button and repeat. At most, you might feel a slight tingle but otherwise it is completely pain-free.
You soon settle into a rhythm, shifting the device over the skin until you've covered the whole area - two half legs takes around 30 minutes, while bikini area and underarms take only a couple of minutes.
Do shave your legs before using it the first couple of times to ensure that Lumea's light can be effectively channeled to the hair root, and avoid fake tan, moisturiser or deodorant. If you've got any bruises, moles or broken skin, it's important to skip those areas - although you can use a while eyeliner pencil to cover moles - otherwise the device can't distinguish between the pigment in the hair and the skin. And never repeatedly use it on one single patch of skin or more than once a fortnight.
So does it actually work? It's not a quick fix but three sessions in, I'm very impressed. To begin with, you need to use Lumea every fortnight as hair grows in phases, but after roughly four sessions it stops growing. Even after my first test, the hair returned more slowly and finer than usual. After session three, around 80% had given up, with only patches left to deal with.
After the first couple of months, you only need to use the device every two weeks to keep the hair in its resting stage, or every four weeks on your legs. It's not cheap at nearly £400 but this is a fraction of the cost of expensive professional salon treatments, and there are no ongoing usage costs such as contact gels or replacement lamps.
Despite still getting the occasional stray, the thought of no stubble, no ingrown hairs and no clenched teeth during sensitive waxing sessions is well worth it.
Pihilips Lumea, £399.99. It is also available from Boots, Argos, Amazon, John Lewis, Littlewoods with up to £50 off. Visit Philips www.philips.co.uk/lumea for more information. Visit www.facebook.com/PhilipsLumeaUK to meet other women who love their Lumea!
Is the Lumea the answer to your hair removal dreams? Check your skin type on the chart below.