Braun Silk-expert 5 IPL with Silk-epil SkinSpa Exfoliator Review (BD5009)
The Braun Silk-expert 5 uses IPL (intense pulsed light) technology which has been FDA cleared for safe consumer use at home.
It can be used on the body and female face (excluding eyebrows or anywhere near the eyes).
It is designed for corded use only and is plugged directly into the mains using the adaptor provided.
This particular model includes a separate Silk-epil SkinSpa exfoliator device, for ultra-efficient exfoliating between treatments.
The device is loaded with a mighty 300,000 flashes, plenty for many years of use and the light intensity automatically adapts to your skin tone during treatment, providing added safety and efficiency.
The 3 cm sq treatment window is not as large as some other models, but with between 1 - 2 seconds between flashes, and its glide function, it is still quick and easy to use for larger areas.
What's in the Box?
This is what is included in the box for the Silk-expert BD5009 model:
- Silk-expert 5 IPL Device
- Transformer including power cord and plug
- Silk-epil SkinSpa exfoliator
A Closer Look at the Product
The sleek, well designed nature of the body makes it easy to hold and it feels comfortable in the hand.
The 3 cm sq treatment window is sufficient to treat larger areas such as legs and arms quickly, when combined with the glide function, and taking into account the speed of the flashes.
I feel the option of a smaller treatment window would be beneficial for using on the smaller facial areas e.g. upper lip, but it is certainly usable for such.
It is good to have the versatility in a single device of being suitable for use on both body and face, should you wish, which is not the case for all such IPL machines.
The Braun Silk-expert 5 BD5009 is loaded with 300,000 flashes, which is sufficient for up to 15 years of full body treatments, or much longer if only used on lower legs, bikini-line, face and underarms (estimated at around 35 years).
No need for the ongoing cost of expensive replacement light cartridges, as there is with other cheaper devices with far fewer flashes.
The built-in safety features include skin contact sensors, located by the treatment window, which ensure that the device will not flash unless it is completely flush to the skin and in full contact.
This acts as a safeguard against accidentally flashing the device openly and causing damage to the eyes.
It also means that it is not necessary to wear protective glasses during treatment sessions.
Another safety feature, unique to Braun, is the trademarked "SensoAdapt" skin tone sensor:
This sensor continuously reads your skin tone throughout the treatment session, and automatically adapts the light intensity to suit.
This is important, as IPL is only suitable for lighter skin tones, and there is a danger of severe side effects, such as blistering and burning of the skin if used inappropriately.
The reason for this is explained in the next section.
Furthermore the Silk-expert 5 can be used in any of its 3 modes; normal, gentle and extra gentle, as illustrated below:
- Normal mode - in normal mode, the machine will give you maximum power, adapted to your skin tone, during the full session
- Gentle mode - gives you the same adaptation but on a lower power level
- Extra-gentle mode - gives you the minimum energy level whatever the skin tone (best for first-time users, sensitive areas or maintenance)
If you like a bit of tech to help you plan, Braun have developed an app to help you keep track of your treatments and follow your progress.
IPL takes time and patience to show permanent results and the app is designed to help you create a personalized programme, using an intuitive treatment calendar.
It also show you how the skin tone sensor works and how to use the device.
What is IPL and How Does it Work?
IPL (intense pulsed light) works by using broad spectrum light rays (typically between 500 - 1200 nms) to target dark pigment, known as melanin, which is found in hair and skin.
The darker the hair or skin, the more melanin is present.
The light pulses are absorbed by the melanin to produce heat which damages the growing cells at the root of the hair and cause it to fall out, usually within 1 - 2 weeks following treatment.
The aim is to damage the hair follicle sufficiently to prevent any regrowth.
It is for this reason that IPL is not suitable for darker skin tones, as the rays are not only absorbed by the hair, but also by the skin - leading to burns and blistering.
It is also the reason why IPL is not effective for lighter hair, as there is insufficient melanin present.
Essentially, the greater the contrast between hair and skin the more effective the technology is, which is why the best results are usually achieved by those with dark hair and light skin.
Who Can Use the Product?
The device can be used on body hair by both males and females (over the age of 18) but on facial hair, by females only.
IPL is most effective for those with light skin and dark hair and is not safe for dark skin tones or effective for those with light blond, red, white or grey hair.
You can check your own suitability using the chart below:
There are certain medical conditions which preclude the use of this product which include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Chronic skin disease e.g. psoriasis
- Damaged skin e.g. sunburn, infections or open wounds
- If you have photosensitivity or certain medications that may make the skin more sensitive e.g. Retin A or Accutane
- If you have any chronic medical condition
If you have any doubts whatsoever if this device is safe for you, or if you are on any regular long-term medication, consult your physician before purchasing and using any IPL device.
Misuse can lead to serious burns, blisters, discoloration or scarring.
Where Can it be Used?
The Braun Silk-expert 5 is suitable for use all over the body i.e. arms, legs, underarms, bikini-line, back and chest.
It may also be used for female face, cheek, jaw, upper lip (avoiding the actual lips and nostrils), neck and chin - in fact anywhere below the cheek bones.
It is not suitable for male facial hair, nor should it be used for eyebrows or lashes, forehead, scalp or anywhere near the eyes.
It should not be used on any area where the skin may have a darker tone and/or greater hair density, which include the nipples, genitals and anal areas.
Any area with dark brown or black spots, freckles, moles, warts, birthmarks, tattoos or permanent make up must be avoided, as well as tanned or sunburnt skin and varicose veins.
It is very important that you read the manufacturers instruction manual, paying particular attention to all safety guidelines, warnings and precautions, prior to use.
How to Use the Product
Here is a brief guide as to how the product is used, just to give you an idea, but not as a substitute for reading the full instructions provided.
- Shave - the area to be treated should be shaved to remove any visible hair. You should not use any method of hair removal that plucks the hair out by the root, such as waxing, as it needs to be present for the treatments to be effective.
- Clean - the area must be clean from all cosmetics, deodorants, oils etc. and perfectly dry
- Power - once plugged in and switched on, the LED power bars will light up and you will hear a fan noise - the device is ready to use
- Patch Test - 48 hours prior to first use it is highly recommended that you carry out a patch test, following the instructions, to ensure that you do not experience adverse reactions
Using the Device
- Select Intensity - the device automatically defaults to normal mode (white light). To change to gentle mode (blue light), press the setting button once, or for extra gentle (flashing blue light), twice. If pressed a third time it will return to normal.
- Skin Tone Reading - when the sensors have skin contact, the correct light intensity is automatically selected, indicated by white lights on the power bars (the paler the skin, the more lights are illuminated and the higher the pulse intensity). No LED lights indicate that there is not skin contact, so the device will not operate. A red LED light indicates that the skin tone is too dark and again, the device will not operate.
- Select Mode - gliding mode enables faster treatment, particularly for larger areas, precision mode is better for sensitive or smaller areas.
- Gliding Mode - place window against skin so that sensors are in contact with the skin and the power bars are illuminated. Press and hold the flash button as the device flashes and move the device slowly across treatment area from bottom to top. Once completed, remove device and replace on adjacent area and repeat the process, thus treating in parallel lines.
- Precision Mode - place window against skin so that sensors are in contact, but press and release flash button straight away. Once the device has flashed, lift the device off and place on the next adjacent area (in a grid-like fashion) and when the power lights show, press and release flash button again and so on.
Avoid missing areas by treating in a methodical manner, placing the window directly next to the previously treated spot, whilst making sure not to flash the same area of skin more than once in any treatment session.
As a guide, you should expect to treat each area once a week for the first 4 - 12 weeks until you achieve the results you desire.
After this, maintenance treatments as and when required when you see hair growing.
Is it fully rechargeable?
No - the device is designed to be powered straight from the mains for corded use
Why can't it be used on male facial hair?
Male facial hair is very dense and coarse and is therefore more difficult to treat effectively. Clinical trials have not been carried out on male facial hair.
Why so many treatments to see results?
IPL only works on hair that is in the actively growing phase. There are 3 phases of hair growth and the hairs on your face and body are always in varying phases. So you need to carry out multiple treatments over a period of time, to catch all of the hairs in the growing phase. If you would like more information, see: The Lifecycle of Hair and Electrolysis/Laser Hair Removal
What does "permanent hair reduction" actually mean?
The FDA definition of permanent hair reduction is: "the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a treatment regime, which may include several sessions. The number of hairs regrowing must be stable over time greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles, which varies from four to twelve months according to body location. Permanent hair reduction does not necessarily imply the elimination of all hairs in the treatment area".
Can it be used wet?
Absolutely not - it is an electrical item, operated whilst plugged into the mains.
Can I epilate instead of shaving between treatments?
No - the root of the hair needs to be in place for IPL to be effective, therefore any form of hair removal that pulls the hair out by the root, such as epilating, waxing, tweezing etc. is not appropriate.
Why shave prior to treatment?
IPL works on melanin found in the hair. If surface hair is present, it will also absorb the light and heat up, with more likelihood of causing skin burns or irritation.
Can I use it on my hairy mole?
No - this device is not suitable for use on moles or warts, or any area where the skin is darker.
I like this product, the fact that there are no ongoing costs and the extra safety feature of the automatic skin tone sensor offset the initial $400 outlay required.
It is so simple to use, and the review-based evidence indicates that the majority of users are satisfied with the results, after using for several weeks.
Braun are a well-respected Brand, and the device comes with their 2 year guarantee.
The addition of the exfoliator is a worthwhile added bonus, as it is desirable to keep the skin well exfoliated between treatments, for optimum results.
On the whole, I would happily recommend this product.
What we Liked
- 300,000 flashes - no need for replacement cartridges
- Cost Effective - though high initial outlay, will effectively last for 15 - 30+ years (depending on treatment areas)
- Versatile - use on body and face (female)
- Permanent reduction - in hair regrowth
- SensoAdapt Feature - automatically adapting skin tone sensor - added safety and ease of use
- 3 Modes - normal, gentle and extra gentle can be tailored to individual needs
- Gliding mode - for quick and easy treatment
- Fast Treatment - 1 - 2 second flashing
- Exfoliator - great bonus to keep skin soft and smooth between treatments
- No visible hair - between treatments, hair is shaved
What we Didn't Like
- Limited Users - IPL only suitable for certain skin tones and hair colours
- Facial treatment area - would be easier if there was a smaller treatment window attachment for facial use
- Risk of side effects - need to read all advice and safety precautions prior to use, as with all IPL machines - not suitable for everyone