1. The ultimate-indulgence facial
What: UMO gold facial at Sister's Beauty Lounge
Why it's fabulous: Over-the-top luxury isn't new to us Dubai peeps, but a facial using pure gold extracts intrigued even a spa veteran like myself. My first question was, why gold? Apparently, it is rich in antioxidants, promotes collagen, and the gold particles when absorbed into the skin offer a naturally golden radiance.
Sister's is a busy salon in Dubai Mall but, once you've walked past the salon areas, the treatment rooms are secluded, and come fitted with spa music to drown out the Katy Perry hits blaring through the speakers at the hair section. Once I'd settled down on the treatment bed, my therapist quickly got to work with cleansing and then exfoliating my skin with a series of fragrant products from leading Asian skincare line, Umo.
Next she turned on a steamer - one that is different from any other I've experienced in a facial. For starters, it's cold. And it stayed on throughout most of the treatment. The Nano mist steamer creates a fine mist - seven times smaller than water droplets - filled with nutritive ingredients that penetrate the skin's deepest layers better than any normal product application can. The mist contains a special formula containing Gamma PGA that is meant to be more hydrating than skincare hero Hyaluronic acid, and more elastic than collagen.
With all that goodness being pumped into my skin, my therapist meanwhile carried on with the application of creams and potions, crescendoing with the gold mask made of pure gold extracts. Thin, delicate gold foil strips were stuck onto my face to make a seamless mask that made me look a bit like those human statues that you see posing at many tourist attractions. Thankfully, I didn't have anyone dropping coins into a hat, only someone giving me a soothing hand massage while the mask worked its magic for 20 minutes or so.
With that cleaned off, a final moisturiser and lip balm application later, I was good to go - and glow. My skin did have a golden glow, and felt softer and smoother than it had for a long time. If you're after a get-gorgeous treat before a special occasion, this treatment is a must.
Need to know: Dh2,000. Call 04-3398500.
2. The results-driven facial
What: The Secret Ruby Rose facial with diamond micro-dermabrasion at Silkor Skin Clinic
Why it's fabulous: At Silkor, they pride themselves on customised treatments that target specific skin problems. After a skin test, my therapist decided that I needed a combination treatment, blending their luxurious Ruby Secret Facial with a skin-sloughing diamond micro-dermabrasion treatment to tackle my dehydration, open pores and sun damage. After an initial cleanse, she began by massaging my face with a real diamond-tipped micro-dermabrasion wand, sucking out the dead cells and smoothing the skin surface. The slight tingling felt a bit like a gentle vacuum cleaner on my face!
At the end of it, she removed the cotton fibre at the tip of the wand to reveal a muddy film of dirt and grime mixed with dead cells. It felt like someone had done a spot of spring cleaning wiping off a film of dust from my face. The process also stimulates blood circulation and activates collagen and elastin production.
Next came the luxurious bit, the Ruby Secret facial. A powerful anti-ageing treatment, using indulgent creams and masks, it tackles the first signs of wrinkles, and skin damage from late nights, unbalanced diets, hormonal changes and exposure to free radicals and the sun. The products contain a unique new peptide called Argireline that reduces existing wrinkles and is effective against the development of new ones, thanks to the Botox-like effect. Other beneficial ingredients in the products include grape extracts and grapeseed oil, which nourish skin, and keeps free radicals and collagen-reducing enzymes at bay, as well as glycerine and sodium hyaluronate, which provide hydration.
The treatment also involved a facial massage with Shea butter, which lulled me into a light slumber even as it nourished the skin. At the end, I felt like a magic wand had wished away my tired old skin to reveal a refreshed and tingling smooth skin, free from the pigmentation and sun damage it had been hiding behind. This treatment is most effective if repeated twice a month.
Need to know: Dh600; They have a buy-one get-one free offer all through March. Call 04-348 0500; www.silkor.com.
- Suchitra Bajpai Choudhury
What: Marine algae facial at Balance Wellness Club
Why it's fabulous: This spa provides a soothing oasis of calm in the bustling heart of Al Quoz. Ensconced on the third floor of Oasis Centre, it has a welcoming feel and offers a comprehensive treatment menu, most with a natural focus.
The marine algae facial uses all-natural product line Ila to cleanse and detoxify skin. My treatment began with a foot soak after which my therapist cleansed my face using a cleansing milk containing damascera rose and argan oil.
Next, a blend of blackcurrant and honey was applied to my face to remove dead skin cells and open up the pores in preparation for the massage.
Once the scrub was removed, a cotton pad soaked in rose water was applied to soothe my skin. After treating my under-eye area with a cream containing babassu oil and white lily, my therapist massaged the Algae Marine Serum on to my face. This was combined with a facial massage to promote lymphatic drainage, and an energy-balancing tapping with hot poultices containing Himalayan salts.
Next up was the Algae Marine Face Mask, which helps regenerate skin cells and tighten the skin. I enjoyed a foot massage while the mask did its job, and after 15 minutes, the treatment neared its end with the application of a Rainforest night cream.
A final spritz of an Ila Energy Spray to clean the energy finished it off.
After a relaxing cuppa in the cosy relaxation area, I left not only feeling refreshed, but my skin glowed with a natural radiance I hadn't seen in years.
The cleansing marine algae facial only uses natural organic products - so it's perfect for those who don't like chemicals invading their skincare.
Need to know: Dh350 for 90 minutes. Call 04- 3847010.
What: Colour face reflexology facial at SpaDunya
Why it's fabulous: If you believe beauty is more than just skin-deep, then this facial - which is as much about polishing your soul as it is about leaving you with a glowing complexion - is the one for you.
The spa's beautifully relaxing decor - all natural wood, stone and trickling water features - immediately put me into a Zen-like state of mind. This was the perfect setting for the soul-searching nature of what was to come. Combining elements of reflexology, aromatherapy and colour therapy (whereby light, in the form of colour, is seen to represent certain ‘energies'), the treatment begins with a ‘colour consultation'.
Spa manager, Joyce, asked me to choose four colours from a selection of 14. At random I chose turquoise, pink, violet and blue. Joyce then explained how the particular hues I chose tell a story about my emotional and physical well-being. She said I needed more pink energy, which stands for tender loving care, in my system.
Using the principles of aromatherapy, each colour also corresponds to a combination of essential oils. The process of rebalancing my energies began with the scent for each of my colour-choices being spritzed into my hands. Then I was introduced to my therapist, Nok, who used products imbued with the ‘pink' fragrance to massage not only face, but my neck, shoulders and arms too.
Just like foot-reflexology, facial reflexology holds that manipulating certain areas of the face will have a corresponding effect on the parts of the body those areas are associated with. The facial massage was an unusual sensation - I have certainly never been so aware of my cheekbones and eye sockets before. But I could feel all of the knots of tension being rubbed away and I was soon lulled into the usual spa-stupor of relaxation.
On being revived, Nok showed me my face in the mirror, pointing out that my under-eye area - which is connected with the kidneys - had become much clearer. Indeed, I did appear to have a fresher complexion, and I certainly felt soothed by the experience, although they recommend three sessions of the treatment to see the best results. Part facial, part counselling session, this holistic treatment will leave you feeling beautiful on the inside and out.
Need to know: Dh395 for 60 minutes (30 min and 90 min packages available). Call 04-4393669.
5. The couple's pamper-fest facial
What: Wellness Anti-Ageing Facial at Natural Healing Spa
Why it's fabulous: When it comes to looking my best in Dubai, it's a constant juggling act between rushing to top up my tan, spending time with my two young children and finding time for beauty appointments.
Something usually has to give and I battle to keep on top of the normal beauty routine maintenance at the expense of any pampering - or quality time with my husband. So it was a relief to be able to try out a relaxing treatment that promised to combat the signs of ageing (accelerated by all my sunbathing!) which I could share with my significant other.
Enter the Natural Healing Spa, a tranquil haven on the corner of Al Wasl Road, where two therapists were waiting to spend 90 minutes working on our crow's feet, laughter lines and wrinkles.
Wanting to turn our rare spa visit into a full-on pamper fest, we decided to try the relaxing Full Body Energy massage first. With the lights dimmed, and spa music playing in the background in the spacious VIP couple's treatment room, my therapist (who was an expert in Chinese therapy and Tai chi) gently pummelled my body with herbal steam bags.
The heat relaxed my tense muscles, while she tapped the dry herbs encased in the bags to various acu-points and meridians of my body to re-energise me. I'd explained I had very stiff shoulders, from hunching over my computer for years, and my therapist tackled them by clambering onto the table, and using her weight, and massage technique, along with herbal oils, to de-knot the achy muscles.
Fully relaxed, it was time for my facial, which involved more massage to smooth my skin (and hopefully iron out those wrinkles!) and a deep cleanse using Eminence products. They are handmade organic creams imported from Hungary and can be used on any skin type as they don't contain parabens or other harsh chemicals.
My parched skin lapped up the face mask and while it was soothing and plumping out my lines, I almost fell asleep. Luckily, I heard my husband next to me, and managed to force myself to stay awake. At the end of the facial, I looked over to see his skin was glowing, and he looked ten years younger. I just hoped my results were half as dramatic.
When I looked in the mirror, my fine lines had all but vanished, and my skin radiated that youthful glow that only comes from a really good facial.
"You look like you've been on holiday," my husband said, as he admired his own plumped-up complexion. The facial had instant results and I've promised I'll cut down on the tanning and go back for regular sessions. Overall, I'd give my experience here a nine out of ten.
Need to know: The Wellness anti-ageing facial is Dh400 for 90 minutes; Full Body energy balance massage is Dh250 for 60 minutes. For March, book any Deep Cleansing or Anti-Ageing Facial and receive a free 30 minute Back Massage or Foot and Ankle or Head Massage.