July 26, 2020

Illuminage Precise Touch Hair Removal Review – 2020 Deep Dive

iluminage hair removal review

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Iluminage Beauty was a company founded in 2000 by Dr. Shimon Eckhouse in the city of Yokneam Illit, Israel based on his invention of the elōs intense pulsed light (IPL) technology. Eckhouse and his colleague Goldman invented modern IPL technology in 1993 and began producing medical, and later, consumer IPL devices for treatment of a variety of skin conditions and for hair removal.

IPL is now a very common treatment method of permanent depilation and the technology is currently available in consumer devices from a variety of manufacturers. What makes the elōs technology different from other IPL devices you can find on the market is that, unlike other manufacturer devices, it is not limited in effectiveness to only certain skin tones or hair colors.

Most IPL devices cannot function on very dark or tanned skin and also have limited effectiveness on light hair colors. The elōs technology does not suffer from any of these shortcomings and has been verified in clinical trials to work on all skin tones and almost all hair colors (only grey hair was not tested, but Illuminate claims the device will work). See more on the specifics below in our “How elōs works” section.

Iluminage Beauty and its sister company Syneron Medical ceased operations in 2018 and merged with Lescolton to form Syneron-Candela. The company now exclusively produces commercial medical devices, so elōs devices are still available on the market but no further production of the IPL machines is planned.

A Deep Dive into The Iluminage Precise Touch

The Precise Touch is a great hair removal device that is comfortable and easy to use, causing no skin damage or irritation if used in the correct skin locations (not for use on genitals or breasts). Many IPL devices out there are sort of generalist devices for the whole body, but the Precise Touch is precise, as it is so named, and is intended for the delicate, small skin areas of the neck, jawline, and upper lip.

Treatments are in the form of brief pulses of light directed into the skin through a two-centimeter square window which will stun the matrix cells at the base of the follicle and stop hair growth. For the device to work properly, the treatment area should be shaved, clean, and dry, and treatments can be performed every week over a month and a half for permanent hair removal (more on how this works below).

What the Precise Touch is and what it is not
The Precise Touch is an IPL device, not a laser device. That is the short answer.

When trying to read up on at-home hair removal that does not involve depilatory creams or waxes, you will likely find many, many reviews about all the latest rage in-home laser hair removal devices. However, nearly everything that you will read on the internet regarding home laser hair removal is completely and totally false.

This is not to say that the performance review of those devices is false, just the description of what they are and how they work is misleading. This can probably be chalked up to a general lack of understanding of physics among the public, but we will bring you totally up-to-speed on how these IPL devices and elōs specifically work.

All the “laser” devices you find out there, including the Precise Touch, are IPL devices that do not involve lasers but use some form of quartz bulb illumination system. To date, there is only one approved consumer laser hair removal device and it is made by Tria.

The Precise Touch specifically uses a xenon bulb illumination source, which is fast-recharging and tends to be effective over a broader range of skin tones and hair colors. Why are IPL devices not lasers, you may ask?

Lasers are light wavelength narrowband devices that only emit coherent sources of light, meaning that all emitted light is of the same frequency and waveform. They are spatially-coherent devices, illuminating only a very small target area, and tend to remain spatially-coherent over considerable distances because the light output is directed through a collimator.

Laser light is also temporally-coherent, with emitted waveforms in the same temporal phase which drives stationary interference, ensuring that the emitted light remains in a narrow bandwidth of the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e., it appears as one color). The technology of IPL is quite different, however, and the emitted light is not collimated or coherent and is projected in a much broader electromagnetic band range.

As a parallel example, almost anyone these days can easily distinguish between a laser pointer and an LED flashlight. The devices are simply that different.

How elōs works
Before we describe the specifics of IPL technology, keep in mind that the elōs technology is a bit different from your standard IPL device and it is for this reason that elōs is more broadly effective across a range of skin tones and hair colors. What distinguishes elōs is its joint use of radiofrequency emissions (RF) with IPL emissions.

The IPL and RF energies work in combination to heat the hair shaft and stunt matrix cells in the hair follicle. Matrix cells are the only living part of the hair and are responsible for the production of the keratin polymers and embedding of melanin pigments in the construction of the hair shaft.

IPL frequencies are tailored to be absorbed by melanins in the hair, which consist of two types of modified tyrosine polymers. Eumelanin is dark brown pigment and pheomelanin is more of a yellow pigment.

The combination of these two pigments in different ratios is the foundation for different hair colors and skin tones. Absorption of IPL frequencies by melanins causes a spectral phase shift of the light to the infrared band, which produces heat.

The heat produced is intense, but very brief because the emitted light is a momentary flash and just enough to stun the matrix cells without incurring any damage to the surrounding tissues. The RF emissions work in a different, longer wavelength electromagnetic band range and similarly produce brief, momentary heating.

Collectively, both emissions damage matrix cells in the hair follicle and arrest hair growth, and the addition of RF emissions allows the elōs device to target a broader range of hair and skin types than other IPL devices. However, users should be aware that IPL treatments for permanent hair removal require a longer treatment cycle than professional laser hair removal treatments.

The typical treatment cycle for IPL devices is six to eight weeks, applying a treatment every two weeks with periodic follow-ups over the next six months as maintenance. The reason for this lengthy treatment cycle is connected to how IPL devices work: they only can target hair follicles in a particular state of growth, referred to as anagen phase.

Hair growth is a cyclical process that involves an anagen phase (active hair growth), catagen phase (follicle involution), and telogen phase (mature hair phase). The majority of hair on the body at any given time consists of telogen phase hairs, with this stage in a hair life cycle typically lasting about two to three months and ending when the hair is shed.

Anagen phase hairs will grow at one centimeter per month until they reach their terminal length, then transition to catagen phase hairs for two to three weeks before entering the telogen phase. After hair shedding, the follicle will reenter the anagen phase and begin new hair growth.

IPL requires catching hair follicles during their anagen phase and disabling matrix cells to break the hair growth cycle. This is the reason for repeated treatments and having to wait it out for all the follicles in the treated area to go through a cycle.

Who’s It For?

The Precise Touch is perfect for people who want to permanently remove body hair from small, sensitive areas of the skin. It is intended to treat areas such as the upper lip, neck, and jawline, but will also work well on armpits, the bikini line, and forearms. The bulb of the device has an estimated lifespan of about 150,000 flashes and is estimated to be able to treat about 195,000 square centimeters of skin with a total of 80 treatments.

That number of treatments will provide basically two years of use time before the bulb needs to be replaced. The Precise Touch is also offered in a second-tier, a more expensive model with a bulb lifespan of 300,000 flashes, which will treat approximately 240,000 square centimeters of skin over 150 treatments with an estimated use time of 10 years.

How to use the Precise Touch
The device is extremely easy to operate and does most of the work for you, however, it is recommended that the intended treatment area is shaved prior to using the device. The treatment steps are as follows:

  1. Shave hair from the intended area
  2. Power on the device. The blinking blue light indicators report the energy level (1-3) and the device powers up at energy level 1.
  3. Using the elōs button on the back, you can adjust the energy output to the desired level (it is recommended to start at power level 1 and see if that is adequate for you by doing a small patch test and waiting a day to see if you have any skin reaction).
  4. Place the device on the skin so that the silver faceplate makes contact. This is the RF emitter and the device will not flash if it does not sense contact with the skin.
  5. Slowly glide the device over the area to be treated. The device will flash cyclically as long as it is applied to the skin.
  6. For small, delicate areas like the face, place, and allow to flash once, then remove and reposition (in this mode you will need to treat the area 2-3 times in a session using the device in a stamping motion).

If you have fair hair (blonde, red, or grey), it is recommended to wax or epilate the treatment area before using it. Plucked hairs leave microscopic wounds in the follicle and the light energies will heat the blood left in the base of the follicle, which overcomes the limitations with the low melanin content of the hair.

You will also need to double the number of treatments for results, although the device instructions do not specify this change in the treatment pattern.

Illuminage recommends 7 treatments, one each week, for optimal results (more, if you have fair hair). For treatments of the face, you should treat intended areas 2-3 times weekly.

As for how long a treatment requires in time, both armpits take between 2.5 – 5 minutes to treat, depending on the color and density of the hair shafts. A note about permanent hair removal: It is not really permanent, since hormone changes can stimulate the development of new follicle tissue, but full treatment cycles should keep the skin hair-free for a year or two.

What We Like About the Illuminage Precise Touch

The Precise Touch is pain-free, very easy to use, and does not weigh much, so it is comfortable to hold and you will not tire after a long treatment session. Many users report positive results after just a few treatments and most users to find that treatment cycles of less than six weeks are completely adequate. Compared with other IPL devices, the Precise Touch is more effective and produces better results in less time.

Among all the positive attributes of the Precise Touch, we feel the biggest advantage of this device compared with other devices on the market is its ability to effectively treat all skin tones (Fitzpatrick Scale I-VI) and affect all colors of hair. The overwhelming majority of IPL device manufacturers cannot make this claim and the Precise Touch has been verified to perform this way through clinical trial validations.

The main difference between the Precise Touch and other IPL devices is its inclusion of RF emissions with light therapy to effectively target hair follicles, regardless of skin tone or hair color.

What We Don’t Like About the Illuminage Precise Touch

Many users complain that the flashes are too bright, however, the product package does contain a set of goggles to address this issue. The goggles are rather dark, however, and many customers find that they cannot see a thing with them on (as an alternative, users can wear sunglasses).

The device is intended for small areas, so attempting to treat any large areas of skin (such as the forearms) takes time and patience. If this is what is desired, Iluminage makes a bigger model for large skin areas (the Touch).

There have been some reports of device failures, but in each case, Iluminage has either repaired or replaced the product. You can also find some unfavorable reviews of the device out there from dissatisfied users who claim the Precise Touch does not work. In these cases, and based on their description of use, it is apparent that the customers do not fully understand how the devices work and the amount of time required for observable results (read the manual!).

PROS

  • Proven in clinical trials to work on all hair, including blonde and red hair
  • FDA and CE certified for safety
  • Comfortable to use and easy to operate
  • Small treatment area (2 square cm) is great for delicate locations (neck, jawline, and upper lip)
  • Fast bulb recharge = fast treatment time
  • Safe for all skin tones (Fitzpatrick Scale I-VI)
  • No skin tone sensor necessary
  • Corded, so no need to charge a battery
  • Uses a combination of IPL and RF energy emissions for safety and reduced skin reaction
  • Built-in UV filter
  • Great customer service from the manufacturer

CONS

  • For lighter hair colors (grey, blonde, red), required epilation prior to treatment lengthens the treatment interval several weeks
  • Not intended for treating large skin areas, such as the legs
  • Instructional materials do not fully explain what permanent hair removal means
  • The manufacturer has discontinued the device (and their other hair removal devices), so supplies are limited

What’s Included?

  • Iluminage Precise Touch
  • Quick start card (other instructional materials are on the packaging box)
  • Power cable with AC/DC power supply (UK Commonwealth style plug)
  • Device stand
  • Goggles with a charcoal tint

Overview Of Features

  • Combined IPL and RF emission treatments
  • A 2-year limited warranty
  • The device is a small size (only 5.7 x 6.1 in; 15 x 15.5 cm)
  • Bulb rated for 150,000 flashes (there is a more-expensive 300,000 flash mode as well)
  • 94% hair reduction in 7 weeks
  • Three power levels

Review Summary

If you are looking to remove hair from sensitive areas of the skin in a permanent and pain-free way but do not want to foot the bill of going to a dermatologist for laser hair removal, the Precise Touch is an excellent means of achieving your goals.

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