This is it. The new Philips Lumea Prestige has arrived. It's beautiful to look at and so comfortable to use, either cordless or mains-powered. You can choose because it does both! New, curved treatment windows fit the contours of your body so no more faffing and frustration trying to get a flash! The advanced skin tone sensor advises the best intensity level, but still let's you decide. I love it because it's the fastest, most precise and comfortable to use with unrivaled design & quality. It just got serious.
Best overall home IPL hair removal
What is it?
The Philips Lumea Prestige uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) that’s safe for use at home. It slows and reduces hair regrowth after each treatment. Eventually hair stops growing and periodic use will keep you fuzz and stubble free.
The models have CE certification to meet EU safety standards and are available in the UK and Europe. They don’t have FDA clearance and so aren’t available in the US. They aren’t yet available in Australia.
You can use them on body and face, and the array of specialist attachments makes the job as easy and effective as possible. They’re suitable for all but the darkest skin tones and on hair that’s dark blonde to black.
You’ll need about 4 to 5 treatments (taking 8 weeks) to see significant hair reduction results. Then less frequent maintenance treatments will keep your skin smooth. I experienced noticeable results after just 2 treatments, and hair-free skin after 4.
It’s been a few years since we’ve seen any major advancement from the Philips Lumea. The competition has since gained ground. Well, trust me, that’s about to change. This Lumea Prestige BRI956, new in March 2017, is something special and with it I predict Philips will once again dominate the pack. Read the full in-depth review to learn why.
Quick check specification
The Lumea Prestige BRI956 / BRI950 has an impressive specification (below) if you know what you are looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, don’t worry. Keep reading on to the pros and cons for a concise appraisal of what I like and don’t like about the BRI956 / BRI950. And if you want get a real feel for the device, continue to my first-hand and in-depth user review. It will answer all your questions.
Lumea BRI956 / BRI950
- Safe for body & face
- Cordless and mains-powered in one!
- Manufactured by Philips
- CE Certified (meets EU standards)
- Treat a total body area of 1,025,000 cm2
- 200+ fully body applications lasts 15+ years
- 2 seconds between flashes (used corded)
- Underarms take up to 59 seconds
- A full leg takes 6.5 minutes
- Prevents accidental flashes
- Integrated UV filter
- Suitable for skin tones I to V
- Advanced skin tone sensor
- Body & face
- Black to dark blonde hair
- Mains-powered and cordless in one
- 5 intensity levels
- Suggests best intensity for you
- Or manually select intensity
- Stamp & continuous flash mode
- 8 week start-up phase (5 treatments)
- 1 curved body attachment (4.1 cm²)
- 1 curved facial attachment (2 cm²)
- 1 curved bikini attachment (2 cm²)
- 1 curved underarm attachment (2 cm²)
- Striking, refined, retro gun-shaped design
- Ergonomic design is comfortable and effortless to use
- Distinctive build quality – feels solid and safe in your hand
- Treat a massive body area, more flashes than you’ll ever need
- Mains-powered so you can finish in one session
- ‘Use it anywhere’ convenience of cordless operation when you want it
- Specialist attachments with filters to safely treat stubborn hairs
- Curved attachments fit your body for faff-free position and flash
- Philips Lumea 100 day money back guarantee – visit Philips.co.uk to to learn more
- Suitable for a broader range of skin types (I to V)
- Skin tone sensor to check your skin tone is safe
- Skin tone sensor suggests your best intensity level
- You have total control over the intensity level you use
- All the safety and treatment features you’d expect
- Integrated UV filter
- CE mark (EU declaration of conformity to meet safety requirements
- Cleaning cloth and padded storage pouch provided
- Excellent reputation and customer service from Philips
- Treatment calendar and reminders on your phone with the Lumea App
- Very expensive at the full RRP
- You’ll want the most expensive one with all the specialist attachments!
- It’s quite heavy because of the rechargeable battery inside
- Not suitable for the darkest skin tones
Is it good value for money?
Yes. It gives more flashes that you’ll ever need.
You get a minimum of 250,000 flashes. Combined with the 4.1 cm² body treatment window that means you can treat a humongous total body area of up to 1,025,000 cm².
That’ll give you over 200 full body treatments (full legs, bikini line, underarms and face). That’s enough to last over 15 years of monthly top-up treatments. More than you’ll ever need.
You could share it and still get years and years of monthly use. And the longer you’ve used it for, the less frequently you’ll actually need treatments. You don’t need to worry about ever running out of flashes. It’s superb value and a great choice especially for treating your full body or large areas like back, torso and legs.
N.B. 15+ years of use is based on the bulb life only and doesn’t take into consideration general usage, battery care and wear and tear that effect how long the machine keeps working.
What’s the BRI956 like to use?
The box is small and sturdy. It clearly shows the device and labels the 4 different attachments for body, face, bikini and underarms.
One side visually explains the 8 week recommended treatment schedule and follow-up treatments. And I’m happy because nowhere do I see the word ‘permanent’. Instead, Philips say, “Prevent hair growth to feel continuously hair-free”. This still needs further explanation but it certainly doesn’t set misleading expectations like other brands do.
I lift the box to remove the tamper-proof clear tabs. This thing is surprisingly weighty! What’s in there!?
As I unfold the box, I see the device head fitted with the body attachment. Underneath some protective pastel pink cardboard is the handle and 3 additional treatment attachments. A clear, moulded-plastic shield secures them all and I can lift it easily from the cut out cardboard support it rests on.
“From the moment you get it out of the box you know it’s quality.” Amazon.co.uk Lumea Prestige review
This cardboard support hinges open, and underneath that is the cardboard-secured power cable, small A5 size instruction manual, Lumea coaching App leaflet, battery recycling leaflet, and warranty paper. Finally, at the bottom is a white cleaning cloth and padded storage pouch in thin protective cellophane.
It’s very well packaged and protected. There’s no chance of anything moving around in transit. The packaging design is neat, economic and easy to get into and it’s mostly made of recyclable cardboard.
I remove the clear plastic shield and take out the device. It’s bigger and heavier than I expect. But it still looks and feels great.
What’s in the box?
- Lumea Prestige gun-shaped device with
- 1 curved body attachment (4.1 cm²)
- 1 curved facial attachment (2 cm²)
- 1 curved bikini attachment (2 cm²)
- 1 curved underarm attachment (2 cm²)
- Power pack and long cable
- Instruction manual
- Lumea App info slip
- Storage pouch
- Cleaning cloth
The white and rose gold colour-way is feminine yet refined. There are just 4 control buttons and, along with the 5 intensity indicator lights, they sit on the top. They’re easy to see but hard to unintentionally adjust.
It’s cool to the touch, and I instantly recognise the same quality materials I love from the Advanced and older Prestige. It’s solid. Nothing creaks or cracks when you squeeze it.
It’s time to get acquainted with the user manual.
Start with the user manual
The user manual is comprehensive and an easy read. The instructions are clear and it’s well illustrated.
You’ll find comprehensive device diagrams, skin tone and hair colour charts, information on how IPL works, what to expect from your Lumea, instruction for your skin test, how to use it and aftercare guidance.
Spend time checking the important safety information, warnings and reasons you should not use the Lumea. It’s actually a good idea to check the user manual on the Philips website before you buy.
Important: tanning and IPL
When using any home IPL device you must follow the guidelines on tanning and sun exposure. Philips advise you to avoid the sun for 2 weeks before a treatment, and to avoid the sun / tanning for 48 hours after your treatment. Use a sunscreen of SPF 30+ on your treated skin for 2 weeks after your treatments, or cover them up in the sun.
It’s best to avoid tanning altogether, both sunlight and artificially, during your start-up treatments.
Do a skin test
The user manual says to perform a skin patch test on every treatment area using each of the safe intensity levels for your skin. If after 24 hours there’s no reaction, you can continue with your full treatment. If you do have a reaction, they suggest proceeding with the highest level that didn’t result in a reaction.
If you have fair skin and all 5 intensities are suitable, it implies you should do your skin test with each. This guidance is thorough but it’s a bit of a faff. You’d need some way to mark each intensity test patch for a start.
Personally, I test at my highest safe intensity level (which is 5 for me) and a level or 2 below that. If I had any reaction from this, I’d think twice about using it anyway, regardless of the intensity level. But to stay safe, you should follow the instructions as best you can.
Finding the maximum safe level is easy.
Choose the right attachment and power on the device. Press the Smartskin sensor button and place the treatment window on your skin. It scans your skin and white indicator lights show which of the 5 intensity levels are safe. Press the confirmation button to choose the suggested highest level. Then just follow the instructions in the manual to complete your patch test.
Wait 24 hours after your skin test and if it’s good you’re ready to get started. It’s simple. Here’s how you do it.
- Shave, cleanse and dry your treatment area.
IPL treatments are most effective when you shave before. However, you can wax or epilate, 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. Expect results to take longer.
- Set yourself up. You’ll need to be near a power socket. Try using an extension cable if necessary so you can choose the most comfortable area, like your bed, or close by to a mirror.
- Plug it in and press the power button. The buttons illuminate white and you’ll hear the fan start up inside.
- Press the Smartskin sensor button and place the treatment window firmly against your skin. Then press the confirmation button to select the suggested intensity level. Or to use the manual controls, press the toggle button to scroll up through the 5 levels until the desired level illuminates white.
- The back of the device illuminates white when the treatment window has full contact you’re your skin. Press the trigger button to flash the device.
- When finished, press and hold the power button for 2 seconds to switch it off.
You’ll hear a gentle ‘pop’ sound with each flash. The flashes are bright, but harmless to your eyes. Use it in a well-lit room so they don’t seem so intense and try not to look directly at the flashing end. (That’s difficult I know because you need to direct the flashes!) You don’t need protective goggles but can wear sunglasses if it’s more comfortable.
I treated my full legs, extended bikini line, underarms and face. Here’s my thoughts and feedback. I hope you find it helpful!
Intuitive gun-shaped design
It looks futuristic, yet elegant and feminine. The shape resembles the retro-styled Lumea Advanced, but this is larger and heavier. I admit this worries me. Is it too big and unwieldly? I keep an open mind, and off I go!
The gun-shape is decidedly intuitive and comfortable. My hold feels relaxed and my grip secure on the long, tapered handle. My index finger rests naturally on the trigger. It’s easy to find because there’s a small braille-like circle on the trigger.
The gun-shape makes it easy to use too. I can check the controls with a glance because they’re clearly visible on the top of the gun. The long X cm power cable fits snuggly into the end of the tall handle, keeping it well out of my way during use. And I can clearly see the edges of the flash window end. I can precisely position each flash for perfect coverage.
Is it too heavy?
It weighs 560g.
That’s heavier than the Lumea Advanced (368g) and the Smoothskin Gold (374g). The weight comes from the in-built rechargeable lithium battery. You need that use it cordless. And that’s a handy feature for hard to reach areas.
Frankly, I forget about the weight during use. I can rotate and pivot my wrist without any strain. I find it almost effortless to manoeuvre throughout my treatment. And that’s because the gun-shape is perfectly balanced and secure to grip. Oh and it’s fast too, so you won’t be holding it for a long time anyway. More on that later.
Skin tone sensor & safety system
The BRI956 now comes with an advanced skin tone sensor. It’s the small window above the flash window. To use it, press the Smartskin button and place the treatment window firmly against your skin. The intensity lights illuminate the maximum suitable level. You then press the tick button to choose it and start your treatment.
It won’t flash if the skin tone it detects is too dark, and the ‘ready’ light shows red.
This is a neat feature. It’s a reassuring safety check, which then helpfully recommends the optimum level to use. You don’t have to guess or work it out yourself. It’s particularly effective if your skin tone changes with the seasons or varies by body area. But what I really like is that you can adjust the suggested setting manually.
The Braun IPL and Smoothskin Gold have a similar advanced skin tone sensor, but they select the intensity level for you. You can’t manually adjust it. If it feels too high, you can activate ‘gentle’ mode. But, this effectively halves the intensity so you may end up using a much weaker level than is ideal.
With the BRI956, you can’t set it any higher than the suggested intensity, so your skin is always safe. But, you can take it down a bit if it stings. I felt this on my bikini line and loved I could take it down just a single notch to a comfortable, but still high intensity level. Personally, I prefer this extra control.
You don’t have to activate the skin tone sensor. You can use the up / down controls and manually set the intensity. The sensor will still check for a suitable skin tone periodically throughout your treatment though.
Your skin must fully cover the flash window or it will not flash. This safety system means you can’t accidentally flash into open space, potentially near your eyes.
Mains-power or cordless?
Mains-powered and cordless each has their own benefits.
Cordless means no tangles as I twist and bend to get to those hard to reach areas.
But it also means it needs charging before you use it, sometimes the power annoyingly runs out mid-use, and the battery degrades quickly if you don’t charge it every few months rendering it useless. It’s more expensive too.
Mains-power operation is less hassle, just plug it in and go with no interruptions.
But… sometimes the cord gets in the way! Don’t you wish you could have both in one?
I do. And now I can because the BRI956 / BRI953 does both. Genius.
I use it corded on my legs because they’re easy to reach. Also the flashes are faster when corded and I want my pins over and done with as quick as possible! The long handle keeps the cord well out of the way of the treatment area when sitting and standing. No problems there, not even on the backs of knees and thighs.
I tried it cordless when treating the general vicinity of my bikini line. This involves twisting and bending (I’m very thorough). I really appreciated no cord being twisted, tangled or obscuring my view. Top marks. I love having the choice.
Here are a few important things to note about the dual operation of the BRI956.
- Charge the lithium battery for X mins before using it cordless, or you can plug it into the mains and use it corded whenever you want
- The flashes are X times faster when using it corded
- It’s designed to use corded mostly, with the option to use cordless when it’s more convenient
- You still need to care for the battery, fully charging it every couple of months. If the battery does degrade over time you’ll still be able to use it corded
I love the simple, thoughtful changes Philips have made, and the Lumea stands out because of them. And there’s more.
Curved treatment attachments
Most devices have just one moderate to large sized treatment window and possibly a smaller facial attachment too. They get the job done. So do you really need these various specialist attachments?
I do. I need these in my life.
These attachments are different and better. They’re born of a very simple idea that makes application so much easier. So, what’s the idea?
Our bodies are not flat. We are made of wonderful curves! We should have curved treatment windows to hug the contours of our body!
With the BRI956 you get a body, face, bikini and underarm attachment. The shape, size and filter for each is different:
- The body attachment is a large 4.1 cm2 curved–inwards window, which fits the contours of your legs, arms and tummy / top of bikini area. By laying my legs out flat, I easily and properly cover my knobbly-knees, without rotating the device stretching my skin and other general faff! The curve makes it easier to ‘glide’ over my skin too.
- The underarm attachment is a medium-size 3 cm2 curved-outwards window, and it fits all the indentations in this area. However, I do find the body attachment works just as well and, as it’s bigger, it’s a bit quicker to cover too.
- The bikini attachment is a medium-size 3 cm2 curved-outwards window, which fits the contours of your bikini line where it joins your leg. It has an extra transparent filter for increased effect on those coarser, more stubborn spider-leg hairs! It’s effortless, but I use it in combination with the body attachment in this general vicinity i.e. tops of inner legs / bum, for a thorough, ‘no follicle missed’ application!
- The face attachment is a small 2 cm2 flat window for precise positioning, with an extra, integrated filter for safe facial use. I don’t think a curved surface would help here, but the smaller size certainly does. I still need to pull a few faces when doing my upper lip, but it’s easy by treatment #2.
Glide and precision
You get a stamping mode, where you position and press the flash trigger, then move to the next spot and repeat. This is best for your face, bikini line and other delicate areas.
Then there’s glide. Position it, and holding the trigger down glide it over your skin. It’s magic on large areas like legs. The curved design of the body attachment really makes it slide smoothly over your skin. It makes for fast treatment times. Read on to learn how fast.
How quick are the treatments?
The body attachment is big at 4.1 cm2 and when used corded it flashes every 2 seconds. It covers a pair of underarms in under 1 minute (about 59 seconds). Lickety-split. That is fast.
Philips say a full leg should take 6.5 mins. It’s fastest when used corded, so expect it to be slower if used cordless, at around 11.5 minutes.
It took me about 7 mins per full leg. The flash rate combined with the curved body attachment and glide mode are simply the best I’ve tried. I’d say even my legs are now the easiest area. I didn’t get bored, or lose my place because it’s fast. I used stamp mode on my bikini line and never had to wait for it to be ready. I used the body attachment on glide for my underarms with no problems. And I used stamp mode and the face attachment for my upper lip and chin. I was done in under 35 mins.
This beats all other comparable devices that allow you to set higher intensity levels for treatments. This includes the Smoothskin Gold and the Braun IPL.
What do the online Philips Lumea BRI956 reviews say?
The score from the collated online Philips Lumea BRI956 reviews is a very reassuring and worthy 4.6 stars.
There’s a lot of great quality, helpful reviews. The majority come from reviewers who received a free sample in return for an honest review.
So what didn’t the reviewers like?
The bad bits
There aren’t any low ratings for the BRI956 or BRI950 at the time of writing.
There are a couple of neutral 3 star ratings. One reviewer has plenty of positive things to say about using the Lumea, but can’t award it more than 3 stars as they’ve used it only once. Another has used it on their legs for 8 weeks but hasn’t seen any notable effects on their hair regrowth.
There are a few noteworthy gripes with the Lumea Prestige.
Whilst a handful of reviews say it’s lightweight easy to manoeuvre, first impressions from some are it’s larger and heavier than expected. However, this doesn’t result in any difficulty or problems using it.
“…it’s weighty as well but the weight is re-assuring and it feels like a quality product…” Lumea BRI956 review from Amazon.co.uk
It is more robust and sizable than other brands and many love this because it adds to the luxury, high tech feel of this quality bit of kit. I have to agree.
A few wish the quality of the padded storage pouch was better. One reviewer notes, “it does the job, but at this price, I want a luxurious case!”
And the most frequently mentioned is the premium price tag. Starting at £520 for the BRI950 and up to £575 for the BRI956, it’s one of the most expensive on offer. Most reviewers haven’t actually bought it, so I’m curious as to what a paying customer would feel. But several reviewers think it’s worth it because of the luxurious and thoughtful design. Not to mention it’s a great investment compared to years of salon waxes or just a single a course of professional IPL treatments.
Philips aim the BRI956 at those who unashamedly demand the best, and it’s a hard choice to ignore.
The best bits
Boy. There’s a lot of love for the Lumea BRI956 and BRI950.
Most reviews feedback on how easy it is to use and on the specific features they like. They accept and acknowledge the Prestige works to reduce hair growth, with just a handful noting how long it took to see results. Some see noticeable hair regrowth reduction from the first treatment, and for others it takes a few treatments more. Hair growth is softer, finer and slower.
I think the general acceptance the Lumea works is no doubt down to the strong and long reputation of the Philips Lumea brand. Hundreds of positive and quality reviews are available for the earlier models. There’s bags of trust and confidence in the Prestige.
“This is a high end device at a premium price. It maintains the usual Philips quality and works better than any other IPL device I have used before.” Amazon.co.uk review
So what specifics do the reviewers love?
They love the complete freedom of movement from the cordless design. But that it’s ALWAYS ready to go with mains-power – no need to wait for a charge.
The controls are simple to use, easy to see and the device fits comfortably in the hand. The luxurious design and feel ‘oozes superb build-quality’. The contoured attachments impress too. For those used to IPL they note they’re easy to change, fit to your skin and make it easy to get a flash.
“The product is supplied with several easily exchanged heads. Each has a different shape and size, and they are designed to use on different parts of the body. They make quite a difference to the ease of use of the machine, particularly in the all important requirement to have a good contact with the skin. Nice touch has to have a little symbol on the heads to identify which is which. “ Amazon.co.uk Philips Lumea BRI956 review
Then there’s the reassuring skin tone sensor. No more looking at skin tone charts and guessing any more – it tells you your optimum level and prevents use on too high a setting for your skin tone.
I’m surprised not more reviewers mention how fast it is to apply. But if it’s their first experience of home IPL I appreciate they may not realise just how boring it can be! Some comment it’s much faster than the SC2009 and other devices too, and no one mentions it is slow or tedious.
I’ll monitor the online feedback and update this review over time to give an accurate snapshot summary.
Lumea BRI956 vs Lumea SC2009
This table compares the features and specs of the Lumea Prestige BRI956 and the previous Lumea model SC2009.
|Philips Lumea BRI956||Philips Lumea SC2009/00|