As with any product, it’s important to use one that is high quality especially when you’re using it to remove hair from your body. This couldn’t be any more factual when it comes to IPL devices.
If you spring for a cheap hair removal device, it’s not only going to not last as long but it’s also not going to permanently remove the unwanted hair. In the long run, you’ll end up paying even more money and being overly frustrated.
Personally, I use this version of the Braun Silk-expert 5 IPL because it’s easy and painless to use and it’s lasted for years between my friends and I (sharing is caring…and cheaper!). Thankfully, German-made Braun manufactures their own line of hair eliminating devices named the “Silk-expert” that we cover in this article.
Braun & Gillette Background
Recently, Braun entered the light-based hair removal device market by partnering with Cyden Ltd., a manufacturing company who designed and developed the most popular home light-based hair removal device in the United Kingdom, the SmoothSkin Gold.
As a result of this partnership, Silk-expert 5 IPL was born and was initially marketed in Europe, UK, and Australia in early 2016.
To broaden their market to the U.S., Braun partnered with Gillette Venus. This explains why the Silk-expert 5 IPL has different package designs between US and UK.
In mid-2017, Braun released another version of their IPL, the Silk-expert 3 IPL.
It looks exactly like the Silk-expert 5 IPL but with a purple design, with few other features which were modified.
This Braun / Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL review article sums up everything you need to know about this light-based device from features, specs, side-by-side comparison, online reviewers, pros and cons, and FAQs.
Silk-expert 5 IPL vs Silk-expert 3 IPL
Silk-expert 5 has 300,000 flashes, with 10 energy level settings and a maximum fluence density of 6 J/cm². The Silk-expert 3 has fewer flashes at 250,000, with 3 energy level settings and a maximum fluence density of 4 J/cm².
The following table below will show you:
Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL vs Braun Silk-expert IPL Packaging
The U.S. version is branded as “Gillette Venus Silk-expert IPL, powered by Braun,” while the European version is branded as “Braun Silk-expert IPL.”
Braun Silk-expert 5 IPL BD 5001 vs BD 5009 vs BD 5008
What’s inside depends on which special beauty edition box that you picked. Both Silk-expert 5 and Silk-expert 3 IPL come in different editions.
These are the special beauty editions for Braun and Gillette Venus Silk-expert 5:
- BD 5001 comes with Gillette razor.
- BD 5005 comes with a travel pouch.
- BD 5008 comes with a facial brush.
- BD 5009 comes with sonic body exfoliator.
Braun Silk-expert 3 IPL BD 3001 vs BD 3005
While these are the special beauty editions for Braun and Gillette Venus Silk-expert 3:
- BD 3001 comes with Gillette razor.
- BD 3005 comes with a travel pouch.
Unfortunately, the only thing that we didn’t like is that the box doesn’t come with a lint-free cloth for care and cleaning the device after each use. So you might want to buy a separate lint-free cloth for maintenance.
This is the newest home IPL device on the market, however, the device has already garnered rave reviews online. We decided to take a look as to why it’s received such glowing reviews, but we’ll discuss that later. For now, let’s take a look at the things we like about this home IPL device in terms of its features, specs, and value for your money.
What we like (Pros)
1. Painless treatment. There were no reports of any skin injuries as a result of using this device from customers who are currently using the Silk-expert IPL for their hair reduction treatments. This would indicate that the Gentle and Extra Gentle settings work as advertised. So users who have a very sensitive skin will benefit from this feature.
“The treatments I did under my arms were on full strength mode. Yes there is a “rubber band” flick that can be felt, but it is super manageable. No irritation, no pain or soreness following the treatment.” ~ Amazon review
2. Ease of use. Its ergonomic design stands out from other home IPL devices, which are usually gun-shaped. Braun IPL has a similar feel to a flashlight, providing a good grip to the user while treating at any angle. The treatment button is easy to reach with your thumb, in fact, your thumb should automatically rest on the treatment button. Many users have complimented Silk-expert as being very easy to operate.
“The IPL is very easy to use once you have read and understood the instructions. I like the idea of doing this in the comfort of your own home. I would recommend this product.” ~ Procter & Gamble review
3. Value for money. The average price for most home IPL devices ranges from 300-600 USD, and for some, you’ll need to buy additional parts, like a lamp cartridge, which just adds to the cost. The Silk-expert IPL doesn’t require any extra parts as it already comes with 250,000 to 300,000 flashes. That number of flashes is great for long-term use without any added maintenance or unexpected costs in the long run. The starting price is also quite low compared to other models, so we believe that the Silk-expert IPL is a good value for money in the long term.
4. Progress tracker app. Braun released a mobile app to help you keep track of your treatments, how to properly use the device, and how to do a skin patch test before starting the treatment. But the main purpose of the app is to remind you when it’s time to continue your treatment. The app can be downloaded from both the Google Play and Apple App stores. However, many users have complained that it doesn’t work very well on Android device, so iPhone users might benefit more from this app than Android users.
Youtuber’s Review and Demo of Silk-Expert 5 IPL
Warning: Be Vigilant Netizen (Cons)
As we mentioned earlier, we decided to look into the reasons behind the rave reviews for the device, and it’s not all that it seems to be. The rave reviews online seem to be a part of Procter & Gamble digital marketing strategy. P&G partnered with several “product sampling community” in the U.S. and U.K., and released hundreds of free Silk-expert IPL devices to the reviewers who joined their testers program. Looking at the history, it was released around April 2016, and that same month it received an influx of rave reviews. This marketing method is quite misleading and inauthentic.
IPL requires many treatments to get the permanent hair reduction result, so one must wait for up to 6 months worth of treatments before you can really see the results people were mentioning in the product reviews. So you really can’t attest to the unit’s efficiency after only one treatment session. Due to this, in early 2017, Amazon performed a mass deletion of fake reviews, and reviews made by people who didn’t have the “Verified Purchase” status. As a result, out of the over 200 4.5-star reviews for the Silk-expert, only 40+ verified reviews were left, resulting in the current overall 3.8-star rating.
Silk-expert IPL FAQs
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about Braun Gillette Venus IPL device.
Is it FDA Cleared?
Although the Silk-expert 5 IPL was released in the U.S. market in early 2016, it was just recently FDA-cleared in April 2017. Here’s the link to the final FDA “substantially equivalent” decision. Before it was FDA-cleared, the device manual strongly advised against using the device on the face. Once it was FDA-cleared in 2017, however, the device manual was updated, claiming that it is now safe to use on the female face below the cheekbones. Braun released the Silk-expert 3 IPL after the Silk-expert 5 was FDA-cleared.
Make sure that the device that you use is FDA cleared.
What are the main features?
Both Silk-expert 5 and 3 IPL have the same features. The distinctive feature which sets these two apart from other home IPL systems is the SensoAdapt™ skin tone sensor. SensoAdapt is an intelligent sensor technology that automatically adjusts the device’s energy settings to either low or high level in response to the skin tone being detected. It works continuously and automatically during the treatment. This feature is especially helpful for users with uneven skin tones in one treatment area.
Is it compatible with my skin tone and hair color?
Intense pulsed light hair removal treatment, in general, is compatible with pale skin – Fitzpatrick skin type I, II, III – and naturally dark hair. However, since most home IPL devices emit a very low fluence or energy density (for safer home treatment), it makes them compatible with skin type IV as well, but are almost never compatible with skin types V and VI. However, the Silk-expert IPL is compatible with Fitzpatrick skin types up to type V.
Perhaps the reason that it can be used on darker skin tone is due to its very low fluence density at 4-6 J/cm². In fact, of all the home light-based hair removal devices, the Silk-expert 5 has the lowest fluence density, with 4 J/cm² as the lowest and 6 J/cm² as the highest for and 3-4 J/cm² for Silk-expert 3.
The very low fluence level is a way to make the device compatible with users with darker skin shade or skin type V. Do note that the lower the fluence density, the slower it is in giving you the permanent hair reduction result.
In summary, both Silk-expert 3 and 5 are compatible with Fitzpatrick I, II, III, IV, and V skin type with naturally dark brown to black hair.
How do I use it?
Along with its ergonomically designed body system, the Silk-expert IPL offers two modes of treatments. The first is the Gliding mode. This mode is recommended for faster treatment of large surface areas such as legs and back. Gliding mode works by pressing and holding the treatment button while moving the device to the treatment area slowly and continuously.
The second is Precision mode. Precision mode is used when you are targeting smaller or sensitive areas like bikini, underarms, and knees. This mode works by pressing and releasing the treatment button so the device will emit a flash. You’ll then have to lift off the device from the skin and place it onto the next treatment area and repeat the process.
Both Silk-expert 3 and 5 also have Gentle and Extra Gentle settings that are meant for sensitive areas. However, using these settings uses a very low fluence density and it means more treatments are required to see the hair reduction result.
Does the Silk-expert IPL need replacement cartridge?
No, it doesn’t. The device is capable of emitting hundreds of thousands of flashes, 250,000 for Silk-expert 3 and 300,000 for Silk-expert 5, which can last a lifetime. Braun claims that it can last for 15 full years of treatment if used by a single user. But, should the device stop working, you’ll need to buy a whole new device.
Do I need to shave before treatment?
Silk-expert is no different from other home IPL hair removal device. Shaving is highly recommended before treatment to ensure that the light will get straight to the hair root. Hair will naturally fall off after 1 to 2 treatments.
Avoid plucking or waxing 3 to 4 weeks before treatment or in-between treatments. Plucking and waxing will only remove the hair root of the new hair, which is the part that you are trying to target to achieve the permanent hair reduction result.
Do I need safety glasses when using Silk-expert IPL?
Braun did not specify that you should use safety glasses, but the following context was taken from the product manual under the Eye Safety Warning:
WE RECOMMEND you look away from the device when activating the treatment button.
Looking away from the device during the treatment session is just silly. This is something that Braun should perhaps update and just recommend the users buy safety glasses. Looking away from the treatment area will just potentially cause unexpected skin injury.
IPL treatment in general really requires protective glasses during each treatment. So even if the product manual says did not mention the use of eye protection, experts recommend that you use safety glasses during every IPL treatment, be it professional or home use. Safety glasses like this are specially designed for IPL treatments.
How often do I use the Silk-expert IPL? Can I use it every day?
Braun claims that their light-based device should be used every week for 12 weeks to ensure all hair follicles and their roots are treated, so that’s a total of 12 treatments done weekly. However, as a general rule for IPL hair removal treatments, this statement should not be followed.
Experts say to wait for new hair growth before performing another treatment session. This is to be sure that you are targeting the new hair as it enters its active growth (anagen) phase. So ideally, it is recommended to wait for the growth to start before treating the area again to achieve the optimum permanent hair reduction result.
One of the reasons many users failed to see hair reduction results is because of the belief that the more frequent you treat the area with IPL light, the faster they will see the desired results, which is completely wrong.
Doing the treatment every day is NOT advisable and will NEVER work as you are missing the hair when it returns to the active phase. This is especially true if you are treating your legs. Leg hair has the slowest hair growth rate of all body hair.
After your first treatment, you must wait until new hair has returned before you start the second treatment. Typically for legs, hair will return after 6 to 8 weeks or sometimes longer. You should further educate yourself about the human hair growth cycle.
So, it’s not always best to follow the product manual instructions. Instead, be sure to do your own research, especially when using cosmetic devices.
How long before I see the permanent hair reduction result?
Braun Silk-expert IPL revealed in their clinical trial that participants noticed 44% less hair after 6 months of treatments. For permanent hair reduction results, you should still continue to use the device whenever you notice a new hair growth.
Note that the word ‘permanent’ should really be replaced with ‘long-term,’ as there will always be hair regrowth no matter what.
Can I use it on my face?
You may, but given the very low fluence density or energy level of this device, it will not be as effective compared to other body parts that are also being treated, because facial hair is generally very thin. IPL in general only works on thick, coarse hair. Be aware that no IPL device can be used near the eyes. Braun states in their manual that it is safe for use on female’s facial hair from the cheekbones and below only, but the product manual strongly warns against using the device on male’s beard or facial and neck hair.
You also need to take in consideration that this device has a spot size of 3 cm² which is quite large to use for the upper lip. A spot size this big is not ideal for smaller and sensitive area like upper lips as it may result in burning your lips. So use this device on your face at your own risk.
Does it work on pubic hair?
Yes, but only treat the bikini line. Be extra careful to not use it near the anus or any darker area of your genitals. Please read our dedicated article for using home IPL on pubic hair here.
That’s a lot of flashes, can I share the device with other family members?
Clinicians do not encourage sharing personal medical gadget like home IPL for hygienic reasons. Unlike the Remington iLight, Silk-expert IPL doesn’t have replaceable body cap that can be used by another person. This means that Silk-expert is recommended for a single user only. Multiple users of the device can also limit the product’s life and efficiency.
Is Silk-expert IPL right for me?
If you know about the Intense Pulsed Light mechanism, the broad light coming from the device penetrates the hair follicles to kill it. During this mechanism, there will always be a slight discomfort felt during each treatment. This mechanism might not sound appealing for those who have sensitive skin or a low pain tolerance. This is probably why home IPL devices have lower energy settings (besides safety reasons) than professional light-based hair removal machines for a more comfortable treatment for home use.
For most people wanting to experience a long-term hair reduction result, they would resort to buying a product that is highly effective, even if that means pain or an uncomfortable treatment. With the very low fluence density of Silk-expert IPL that is between 3-6 j/cm², don’t fret when you are not getting the permanent hair reduction results fast. A fluence density this low is what actually makes it best for both users with sensitive skin and new users of IPL devices.
Fluence density is an important parameter in light-based hair removal. The higher it is the higher the risk of burns, but if too low it under-treats the hair and results in user dissatisfaction. It should always be at the right level. For a home IPL device to deliver an effective permanent hair reduction, the recommended fluence density is should be at least 8 J/cm².
So ask yourself that question again. Do you prefer your results fast or slow? If you cannot tolerate much pain, then the Silk-expert IPL could be worth considering, but expect a much slower permanent hair reduction result. In short, people with very sensitive skin will benefit more with Silk-expert IPL.
How does Silk-expert 5 compare with SmoothSkin Gold?
SmoothSkin Gold and Silk-expert were both manufactured by Cyden Ltd, a leading company specializing in light-based medical devices. We have extracted the product manual of SmoothSkin Gold and compared it Silk-expert 5 and it was surprisingly similar.
Both are compatible with Fitzpatrick skin types I-V, both have intelligent sensors, gentle mode, treatment mode (Stamp and Slide for SmoothSkin Gold, and Glide and Precise for Silk-expert: different terms, same function). In addition, the clinical trial result that was used by Braun was also based on the SmoothSkin Gold clinical trial. Basically, Silk-expert 5 and SmoothSkin Gold are the exact same device! Take a look at the comparison table below and we will leave the judgment to you. You can also download the user manuals of SmoothSkin Gold and Silk-expert here.
What are the alternatives?
People with sensitive skin will benefit more with Silk-expert IPL, because of the Gentle and Extra Gentle settings. But do keep in mind that by using this setting, the device will use a very low fluence setting which is an important parameter in treating unwanted hair, so you’re prolonging the hair reduction results.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to utilize the Gentle setting, and instead want to achieve a faster hair reduction result, you may want to buy a more powerful home light-based hair removal device, such as the Remington iLight with 6-8 J/cm² fluence density or Tria Laser 4x with 8-20 J/cm² fluence density.