Braun Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL review (IPL5001, BD 5009, BD 5008)

Posted By: Sales Team TSG In: News On: Thursday, November 3, 2016 Comment: 0 Hit: 2423
Braun Silk-Expert IPL

4.4

No device is more straightforward, safe and simple than the Silk-expert IPL. Treatments are a breeze. The SensoAdapt™ skin tone sensor checks your skin and selects the best intensity level before every flash. The glide mode and quick flash repetition rate let you treat large areas in double-quick time. And you get oodles of full body treatments to last you around 6 years. It’s fast, safe and straightforward so it’s great for beginners. Keep reading to decide if the Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL is right for you.

Fast, safe and simple

The Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL powered by Braun is available in the USA. In the UK and Europe, it’s called the Braun Silk-expert IPL. Both Gillette and Braun are Procter & Gamble brands. P&G has a partnership deal with Cyden Ltd, who manufactures the device.

The Silk-expert IPL is sold in combination with either a Gellette Venus razor, Braun facial cleanser or Braun body exfoliator.

  • Use on body and face
  • Mains-powered
  • Manufactured by Cyden Ltd
  • User score 4.6
  • Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-Expert IPL prices: ££ to £££ / $$ to $$$
  • Suited to all types of treatment
  • Treat a total body area of 360,000 cm2
  • 90 full body treatments lasts up to 6 years
  • Underarms take just 40 seconds to 1:16 mins
  • A full leg takes from just 8 mins

Pros

  • Safety and power are always in perfect balance. The skin tone sensor checks AND selects the perfect intensity level for your skin before every flash.
  • The fastest treatment times available – from just 8 mins to treat a full leg
  • Elegantly simple and comfortable to use – great for beginners
  • Use ‘Gentle mode’ to reduce the intensity. Great for delicate and sensitive areas like the bikini line
  • Enough full body treatments to last 6 years of monthly use
  • Suitable for a broader range of skin types (I to V)
  • All the safety and treatment features you’d expect
  • Integrated UV filter
  • FDA cleared and CE mark (EU declaration of conformity to meet safety requirements)
  • Online reviewers love it
  • Bonus edition exfoliators available with the device
  • A treatment calendar, reminders and track your progress on your phone with the Braun Silk-expert IPL App

Cons

  • At the full RRP it’s expensive
  • Could be improved with a smaller treatment window for the upper lip and other uneven and tricky areas
  • Very minor gripes from customer reviews such as the original packaging is not compact or sturdy enough to store it in and
  • No cleaning cloth or protective pouch provided

Suitable skin tones and hair colours

skin-tone-hair-colour-chartYou can use it on black, dark brown, brown, dark blonde hair and light to medium dark skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin types I to V).

You can’t use it on light blonde, red, grey or white hair and brownish black and darker skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin type VI), or on dark brown or black spots such as birthmarks, warts and moles.

Is the Silk-expert IPL good value?

Yes. The 3 cm² treatment window and 120,000 flashes give you a maximum treatment area of 360,000 cm². That’s enough for around 90 full body treatments (full legs, bikini line, underarms and face). After the 12-week start-up phase, this will last more than 5 years of monthly top-up treatments. Braun says it’s actually good for up to 6 years of monthly top-ups.

That’s great value and plenty treatments. If you’ll be treating smaller areas then it’ll last even longer. It provides loads of treatments to keep you smooth for years.

N.B. I’ve used only the bulb life to calculate the years of use. General usage and wear and tear can also affect how long the machine keeps working.

The body exfoliator and the facial cleanser brush get a lot of love in the customer reviews too. I think they’re an attractive bonus product. They add value because they are relevant to help you get super-smooth gorgeous skin.

Is the Silk-expert IPL easy to use?

Right from the start the Silk-expert exudes elegance and refinement. It’s not unlike opening an expensive Apple product.

First, there’s the large dark box showing the key product information in a sophisticated design. Inside are two smaller white boxes with a lifelike picture of the contents on top. Open the lids to find the IPL handset and accompanying cleanser / exfoliator in a protective transparent casing.

What’s in the box

  • Silk-expert IPL device
  • Power adaptor
  • User manual
  • Gillette Venus razor (IPL5001) or
  • Sonic body exfoliator (BD 5008) or
  • Facial cleansing brush (BD 5009)

 

Side on view of the Silk-experts sleek lines and ergonomic shape.

The Braun Gillette Venus Silk-expert has a very sleek, smart design. It looks expensive, feels good to hold, never runs out of power, is fuss-free and fast.

The device is a chic white hand-held applicator with a satin rose gold treatment head. It has patterned air vents on the underside and LED strip lights along each side. With just 2 buttons on top, the minimalist design boasts simplicity and ease of use.  It’s a good size and weight, so it’s balanced and feels good in your hand.

Let’s start with the user manual.

Read the user manual

The US and UK versions of the user manual are slightly different. The US version is a little easier to follow. It has a more logical order of information and a friendlier tone of voice. It also has the clinical trial results, which I find both interesting and reassuring.

There’s lots of information in the user manuals. You’ll find helpful diagrams, information on how IPL works and how to use the Silk-expert IPL. You’ll also find instruction on caring for your device and troubleshooting any problems.

Start by reading the important safety information, contraindications, warnings and reasons not to use IPL so you stay safe during use. The guidance on facial use is different between the US and UK / European models. Keep reading to learn more.

Facial use

Women treating her facial area with the Braun Silk-expert IPL

The European Braun Silk-expert IPL is suitable for use on the face below the cheekbones by women only. In the US the Gillette Venus Silk-expert is marketed for body treatments only. Find out more here.

The Braun Silk-expert IPL marketed in the UK and Europe is suitable for female facial treatments below the cheekbones. The Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL marketed in the US has clear warnings in the user manual “Do not use on the face”. But both devices are the same, so why is this?

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must provide official clearance for all marketed devices. Clearance is usually granted on the basis that a new device is “substantially equivalent” to another that’s already cleared. So a manufacturer sends evidence to show their device closely matches a cleared device. If that device isn’t cleared for facial use, you can’t market yours as safe for facial use either.

The legislation is different in Europe. There the Silk-expert IPL has been tested and conforms to all the relevant EU safety and best practise standards and so can be marketed as safe for facial use.

The UK and Europe user manual states the ideal body areas for use include:

“Women: Legs, arms, underarms, bikini area and face (below cheek bones)
CAUTION: Do not use the device near the eyes and along the forehead.

Men: Shoulders and below (chest, back, arms, stomach, legs)
CAUTION: Do not use on the face, neck or genital area. Usage on male beards or facial hair may lead to permanent or uneven results which may produce changes in facial characteristics that may not be desirable.”

Read the manuals thoroughly and if you are on any doubt consult your doctor or physician.

Next, make sure you follow the skin patch test instructions and understand how the skin tone sensor works.

Do a skin patch test

The Silk-expert IPL takes most of the guesswork out of home IPL treatments. You don’t choose your intensity level because the skin tone sensor does it for you. It chooses the safest and most effective intensity level for you. Most other devices don’t do that. There’s more on the skin tone sensor later.

This makes your skin sensitivity test very straightforward. Following the instructions in the manual test each body area you’ll treat. If after 24 to 48 hours, your skin shows no reactions you can continue with your full treatment.

Getting started

Using the Silk-expert IPL is simplicity itself. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Shave, cleanse and dry your treatment area.
    Braun customer support advises you can wax or epilate too, but wait 2 or 3 days after waxing / epilating before your IPL treatment. This allows the hair follicle to grow a bit so giving the IPL something to target. This information is not in the user manual but is shared in the customer reviews.
  2. Set yourself up. You’ll need to be near a power socket. Try using an extension cable so you can choose the most comfortable area, like your bed, or close by to a mirror.
  3. Plug it in and the device will immediately power up in ready mode. The side-strip LEDs will light up once on each side and you’ll hear the fan start up inside.
  4. Press the handset head firmly against your skin and the power intensity indicator lights will illuminate white to show your level, from 1 to 10.
  5. Press the flash button and the device will flash.

If not in use for 10 minutes, the device will go into standby mode. One power indicator light will flash on each side of the device to show it is in standby mode. After 60 minutes, it will go into sleep mode and no lights will be on. To activate it again, just press any button or remove and replace the power cord. It doesn’t have an on/off button, and this was a common theme in the customer reviews. Keep reading to see what they said.

Eye safety

Lots of reviewers mention the flashes are bright and uncomfortable. For this reason the user manual tells you to look away for each flash. But several users comment this becomes tiresome and it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve flashed.

The Silk-expert is designed to keep your eyes safe. You can’t accidentally flash near your eyes because your skin must cover both sensors before it will flash. The flash you can then see is harmless to your eyes. But if you do find it uncomfortable make sure you use it in a well-lit room so the flashes don’t seem overly bright. And many reviewers recommend wearing sunglasses too so you don’t need to look away as it flashes.

Shape and design

A hand holding the Braun Silk-expert IPL device and pressing the flash button with the thumb.

The hand-set is ergonomically designed to provide good grip at various angles. You can press it with your thumb (as pictured) or using your index finger. After a few uses you work out the best and most comfortable way to hold it.

Some reviewers with smaller hands comment it’s a bit awkward at first. It took a few sessions to learn how to best grip and manoeuvre it around their body. But after a while, it felt quite natural.

For most the Silk-expert feels good in the hand. It’s lightweight yet robust, it’s a quality bit of kit. The ergonomic shape is easy to grip in several ways and gives good visibility of the treatment head. It feels comfortable to hold and it’s easy to press the flash button.

“It is very easy to use and set up. The machine is really well made and of good quality. It’s pretty sleek and light to hold – a nice bit of kit. It fits in my hand nice and snugly and I can easily see the area I am aiming at and move it around with no problems.”
Amazon.co.uk review

The matching white power-cord is long and provides plenty of room to manoeuvre without getting all tangled. But take care and make sure the cord isn’t too taut. A few reviewers advise the weight of the power pack can pull the cord out of the bottom of the handset.

Safe and simple skin tone sensor

braun-gillette-venus-silk-expert-ipl-sensoadapt

The SensoAdapt technology has 2 skin tone sensors that check your skin before each flash and choose the safest most effective intensity level for your skin. The chosen intensity is shown on the side-strip indicator lights.

Most skin tone sensors simply check your skin tone and won’t flash if it’s too dark. They will flash if your skin tone is suitable, but you must decide on the right power intensity level to use.

This Silk-expert skin tone sensor is different. Braun calls it SensoAdapt™ technology and it’s rather special.

The two skin tone sensors on either side of the flash window check your skin 80 times per second. If your skin is too dark, a power indicator light will show red on each side and the skin tone sensors disable the flashes.

Not so different so far.

But, when they detect a safe tone, the sensors actually choose the safest and most effective intensity level for you. And because the sensors check your skin 80 times per second they choose the perfect intensity level for every flash, for every varying skin tone on your body. Only one other device does this too.

You get the perfect balance of power and safety in every flash. Not too much and not too little. It adapts to the several skin tones you have even on the same limb! And you don’t need to do anything more than position the treatment window. You’ll see the side-strip LED power indicators light up from 1 to 10, to show the chosen intensity level.

“I have used other IPL apllicances and I have to say the fact that this one adjusts to the skin tone does cut out a lot of faffing trying to work out what type of skin and hair colour you are.”
Amazon.co.uk review

“I felt completely safe whilst using this and had no worries about over doing it or anything going wrong, The device checks your skin tone beforehand to make sure it is safe to use.”
Amazon.co.uk review

Top view of the silk-expert device showing the larger flash button and small 'feather' gentle mode button.

Press the ‘feather’ button to activate gentle mode. This reduces the intensity for sensitive areas like your bikini line. Press it again to return to standard mode.

Gentle mode for sensitive areas

Sensitive areas like the bikini line, smart a bit on higher intensity levels. So the Silk-expert has a ‘gentle mode’.

Press the ‘feather’ button once. The button illuminates, the energy intensity reduces and you see fewer white power indicator lights on the side. Press the button again to go back to the standard power mode.

Tip: Some reviewers who are new to IPL, used the gentle mode for their first few sessions to get used to the treatments. This is a great feature to use particularly if you’re cautious, but bear in mind you’ll get faster results on the higher energy intensity levels.

Glide and precision

You get the usual single flash (‘Precision’) and continuous flash (‘Glide’) modes.

For Precision you press and release, then re-position and repeat. Do this to get better coverage on uneven surfaces like knees, shins and ankles.

For Glide keep the button pressed and after each flash slide (or ‘hover’) the handset over your skin to the next position. The flashes come every second or so. This makes the motion smooth and fast on large areas like legs.

“Glide functionality – wow – where have you been? This must be my favourite aspect of the new Braun Silk-expert! Now we are all busy ladies, and this feature really minimises the time of each treatment – which for me can be the make or break in keeping up with my weekly treatments.”
Amazon.co.uk review

Reviewers love the speed of the Silk-expert. Read on to learn just how quick it is.

Fast treatment times

Fast 'as lightning' treatment iconThe second standout benefit of the Silk-expert IPL is it covers large areas fast. It has a big 3 cm² treatment window and it flashes every 1 to 2  seconds (it’s fastest on the lower intensity settings). To treat a pair of underarms (roughly 120 cm²) it takes between 40 seconds up to 1:16 minutes.

Braun says you can treat a full leg in just 8 minutes. Most reviewers say it takes longer at between 10 to 20 minutes per full leg. Although not as quick as advertised, it’s still the quickest out there. They also report a full body takes around 50 minutes to 1 hour. This makes the Silk-expert a firm favourite for full body treatments over and done in one sitting.

Re-zap reminders

There’s also a helpful Braun Silk-expert IPL App. It teaches you more about the SensoAdapt skin tone sensor, how to use the Silk-expert IPL device, and there’s a treatment calendar to keep track of the areas you’ve treated, when you treated them and get reminders for your next treatment.

 

“Loving the app idea, to remind you when you need to re-zap.”
Amazon.co.uk review

This is another great feature that makes the Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL so easy to use.

Helpful tips from other users

There are some helpful user tips in the reviews. I’ve collated them here to make things easy.

woman using the Silk-expert IPL on her legs from side to side

A helpful tip from the user reviews is to turn the device sideward 90 degrees to get better contact on areas like your shins. You can also work around your legs and arms in rings to better keep track of which bits you’ve flashed.

  • Some users find the treatment window gets hot after a while. They suggest do your sensitive areas first, like face and bikini line, and leave less sensitive areas, like legs, to last.
  • The big treatment window is easy to position on larger flat areas. However, it can be a little hard to activate on uneven and awkward areas like shins, ankles and knees. You can try pulling your skin taut and, on areas like your shins, rotate the device sideward 90 degrees.
  • It’s also tricky to position on your upper lip. Try pushing your lips together or push your your tongue behind your lips to create a flat surface.
  • It’s not easy to reach the backs of legs and keep track of the areas you’ve zapped. If you can’t find a helpful assistant, try working in rings around your legs and mark off the areas you’ve done with a cosmetic pencil.

Minor improvements

There are a few suggested small improvements. Some suggestions actually come from the positive 4 and 5 star reviews. They really are minor niggles and none of these should detract from its almost near perfection.

  • A smaller precision attachment would be very helpful for small and tricky areas like the upper lip. It takes a bit of practise and lots of face-pulling to find the best technique here.
  • Storage of this rather expensive kit is an issue for some. The packaging could be a bit smaller and sturdier so it would be suitable to store it in. Try a shoe box or buy a storage case for it.
  • There’s no storage pouch provided either. This would help protect the treatment window you store it in a draw.
  • A cleaning cloth would be a nice addition too to keep the treatment window clean and free from treatment debris!

What do the online reviews say?

The overall score from the collated online Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL reviews is an impressive and reassuring 4.6 stars.

User score 4.6

There’s lots of very good quality reviews with loads of helpful information and user tips that I’ve included in the sections above.

Let’s see what the negative lower-rated reviews say.

The bad reviews

There are relatively few negative reviews for the Braun Silk-expert IPL. Lower ratings include a faulty device, one found it too painful, and a few  who received it free and weren’t that interested in it to start with. Neutral 3 star reviews came from a pregnant woman who couldn’t use it and a handful of reviews left too early in the start-up phase to see any results.

So why so few negative reviews?

The Silk–expert is a new device, available since early 2016. Most reviews so far focus on positive initial impressions about how easy it is to use. Relatively few are left after longer term use to provide balanced feedback on usage and hair reduction results.

As the number of longer term reviews increases, I’d expect more negative reviews to appear. These will be from people who feel their results do not justify the effort, or who take longer than expected to see results. A small percentage will come from people who don’t see any results after several months of use. This unlucky group of “non-responders” are common to all established IPL devices.

Now, what about the good stuff?

The good reviews

A high number of reviewers clearly state they’ve received the Silk-expert free of charge in exchange for an honest review. And the vast majority are pleasantly surprised and impressed right from first opening the box. Several even go on to declare their love for it!

The collated user score for the Silk-Expert is 4.6 out of 5 starsThey love that it feels premium and expensive. From the sophisticated packaging, the chic white / rose-gold colour way and the elegant lines, down to the balanced ergonomic engineering and simple controls. One reviewer sums it up as a “very sleek smart design” – and it’s easy to see why.

Next, they love how it’s fuss-free. They say how the SensoAdapt skin tone sensor makes it extremely easy to use. It cuts “out a lot of faffing” because it chooses the best intensity level for you so it’s real simple to get started. And it’s fast. The quick flash repetition and glide mode make light work of large areas like legs.

Several love that you never run out of charge because it’s mains-powered. There’s no tangles with the long power cord either. There’s almost no pain (much less painful than epilating anyway). The App gets some mentions too because it’s a big help to stick to your treatment schedule.

What results do users report?

The Silk-expert start-up phase is 12 weekly treatments taking 11 weeks to complete. Around 6 weeks in, you should see a reduction in hair growth, but don’t stop there! Complete the treatments to make sure you treat all hairs during their active growing state. Once you’ve completed 12 you can do monthly top-up treatments, or as frequently as you feel you need them, to maintain your results.

Loads of reviews come from early in the 12 week start-up phase. Some after 2 or 3 weeks (3 or 4 treatments) are yet to see any results, or they see just slight changes in their hair growth. But many at the same point report more noticeable results.

Hair reduction results include hair that grows slower and slower with increased use. The number of hairs reduces and bald patches eventually appear. The hairs that do grow back are lighter and finer. You need to shave less frequently, so instead of shaving every day or every other day, one reviewer could “go 1 or 2 weeks without resorting to the razor”.

From those further into start-up at 5+ treatments, they see more significant results. Hair reduction is from 50% up to 90%. For other users it takes the full 12 treatments to match this.

“This is amazing. After 5 weeks my legs and underarms are nearly bare. Nearly painless, less than shaving! Just thrilled with how well it works, and how little time I need to invest in order to eliminate all the shaving I used to do.”
Amazon.com review

“UPDATE AT WEEK 9 (using once a week on lower legs): Amazing results! The rate of hair growth is much slower and I would say 75% hair is gone. Even though some hair still grows back, it’s finer and less noticeable and I could still go out in a skirt without people noticing (unless they looked REALLY closely). Hopefully by week 12 there won’t be much left at all!”
Amazon.co.uk review

 

So the speed and amount or hair reduction differs by individual. Some report it differs by body part too, but no distinct pattern emerges.

The Silk-expert has a lot going for it and it’s easy to see why it gets a high score. But what are the alternatives and how do they measure up?

What are the alternatives?

The Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL is a great choice, but there are a few high scoring alternatives worthy of your consideration too. It could be a tough choice.

The Philips Lumea Prestige SC2009 and SC2007 doesn’t beat the Silk-expert’s fast treatment times and it doesn’t have a skin tone sensor either. But it does score big. Its standout feature is the premium, gun-shape, cordless design. So comfortable and easy to manoeuvre, it’s a pleasure to hold. This flagship model comes with some superb design touches and extras you can learn about in the review. Awarded the highest score of all, it wins Best Buy for full body and face treatments.

And finally, let’s not overlook the Philips Lumea Advanced SC1999 and SC1997. It’s the mains-powered and usually lower-priced version of the Philips Lumea Prestige above. I love the easy manoeuvrability and comfort of the gun-shape design. You get way more flashes than you’ll ever need and the additional treatment windows come in handy too. Just like the Philips Lumea Prestige the build quality is exceptional. It’s superb value for money.

Should I buy the Braun Silk-expert IPL?

Yes. It’s one of the best.

Braun Gillette Venus Silk-Expert IPL deviceThe treatments are fast so you can finish a full body treatment before getting bored and tired. The SensoAdapt skin tone sensor keeps you safe, and guarantees simple and straightforward treatments. It’s a great fuss-free choice for beginners. You get plenty of flashes for years of use too. And the bonus exfoliator and cleanser will help you make the most of your soon-to-be smooth, hair-free skin.

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