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5 anti-ageing facials reviewed

We can’t promise they’ll make you look 16 again, but one of these tried and tested face-savers will help you turn back the clock


The ‘lunch-time’ acid fix
It sounded scary: a glycolic acid face peel. Now I’m willing to try a lot of things in the name of anti-ageing, but the words ‘acid’, ‘face’ and ‘peel’ all together? That’s pretty hardcore.

While past experience has converted me to the ‘no pain, no gain’ school of thought, one thing I am afraid of is downtime – that awkward stretch after a heavy-duty treatment when you look more like you’ve been in an accident than a beauty spa, as your skin recovers from the ‘pain’ and the ‘gain’ remains to be seen...

So I was very intrigued by the idea of a ‘baby’ acid peel – sounding both intensive yet gentle, I was assured it would rejuvenate my skin but there would be no recovery period.

Based in Jumeirah, Rebecca Treston Aesthetics at Euromed is a place where anti-ageing is taken seriously. There are few frills but there’s a reassuring sense of expertise, and it was in my consultation with Rebecca that I was recommended the mandelic peel over the glycolic I’d originally gone in for: it has an antibacterial component and would be better for my acne-prone skin.

Derived from bitter almonds, mandelic is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps to unblock pores and break down the intercellular bonds that hold dead skin cells to the face. Lying back in the reclining treatment chair, the facial began with a thorough cleanse to remove any make-up and surface grime.

This was followed by the mandelic preparation: brushed lightly on to my face, there was a subtle chemical smell and a very slight tingly feeling – not exactly painful but a mild burning sensation that reassured me the substance was getting to work. Left on for just two minutes the acid was then swiftly neutralised and removed, followed by a soothing mask.

After 15 minutes this too was removed, followed by a light slick of moisturiser. A so-called ‘lunchtime’ beauty fix, I was in and out in less than half an hour and my skin immediately looked fresher and younger, with no telltale redness or blotching.

I was warned I might experience some flaking due to my sensitive skin, and in the few days following the treatment I noticed a very small, barely visible amount of dryness around my nose and on my forehead – but nothing like the weeping horror stories I have heard about fiercer peels – and it soon disappeared.

The main result was that the texture of my skin looked finer and clearer, in a way that I used to get from a good exfoliation but that now takes something more. Pores were refined and fine lines were reduced, and the results were visible for about two weeks afterwards.

The clinic recommends that for long-term change mandelics are best delivered in a course of fortnightly peels over 12 weeks, but one certainly delivered a result more noticeable than any traditional facial I’ve had. And, scary though it may sound, this baby peel’s bark is worse than its bite. Turns out you can have gain without the pain after all.
Details: Dh400 per treatment or Dh2,000 for six. Rebecca is offering a discount to Friday readers – six mandelic peels for the price of Dh1,500 for a limited period only. Jumeirah Beach Road villa 611, call 04 394 5422.
-- Tabitha Barda, Lifestyle Editor

The microdermabrasion wrinkle buster

It was an offer too tempting to resist, even if it might involve a little pain. The facial was ‘an experience so revitalising, it takes years off your face,’ the brochure promised. If I needed any more persuasion a quick glance in the bathroom mirror – the kind that flips over and enlarges the image of your face so much you can see every (open) pore – was enough.

A murder of crows had trampled around my eyes, and the lines that had once been fine were now so thick and craggy, my foundation plunged into them. It was time for some drastic action in the form of a facial that included microdermabrasion.
Kaya’s Ultra Youth Glow promised pure skin pampering as well as the M-word so I headed off, hoping to turn back the beauty clock.

It didn’t help that the clinic had a very medical feel about it, or that the bed resembled a dentist’s chair. I tried not to think about extractions until I realised that was exactly what this facial entailed.

After cleansing my combination skin with a crystalline soothing gel, my therapist explained she was going to exfoliate using a machine that would gently remove the dead cells on the outermost epidermis. So far so scary, but I clung to the word ‘gently’ as she began.

At first, I closed my eyes, dreading the inevitable burning or scratching from the probe as it blasted my wrinkles. Nothing. I opened my eyes, thinking my therapist hadn’t switched on the machine, but she was moving it across my skin, and it didn’t hurt at all.

There was a slight suction as the probe touched my face, which was actually quite soothing, and I relaxed, letting it (hopefully) destroy my lines and unclog my pores.
Afterwards my skin felt cleaner and tighter, and my therapist applied rose and geranium oil and vitamin C to boost collagen production to make my skin more elastic. Next came the massage – bliss! – followed by the pièce de résistance – the Insta Glow Mask. I could feel it rehydrating my skin, and it left it feeling super smooth.

I was worried there might be some after-effects from the microdermabrasion but there weren’t – except a dewy glow. I didn’t even mind leaving the clinic without any make-up, as my skin felt, and looked, so much better.

I didn’t have to wear foundation for six weeks afterwards and will go back regularly to keep wrinkles at bay or if I have a special event, to ensure I’m looking my best.
Details: Dh850 for 90 minutes. Kaya Ultra Youth Glow, Kaya Skin Clinic, Dubai Marina Walk, call 04 450 8438.
-- Karen Pasquali Jones, Editor

The vitamin drencher

Being halfway through a busy fashion event season means my skin has been feeling the wrath of little sleep and even less pampering, so I eagerly booked myself into Sisters Beauty Lounge for a skin lifting and vitamin C boost.

The Kéraskin’s Néojeunesse anti-ageing facial promises an ‘instantly visible and scientifically proven lifting effect’, which is exactly what I need right now. For extra beauty points I combined this with Kéraskin’s Néojeunesse Yeux eye treatment and hoped in just over an hour my skin would look completely transformed.

Once I was comfortably wrapped up and relaxed on the beauty bed, my treatment started with a gentle cleanse and tone before my therapist applied the crushed olive stone scrub, for exfoliation.

This was removed with hot towels and a mineral toner cleansed the excess from my skin. After a brief extraction, a silky antioxidant serum was massaged into my face and neck for around 10 minutes.

A Vitamin C mask was applied, which wasn’t exactly relaxing as it felt quite tingly, but knowing that my pores were drinking in the goodness made it bearable. After a couple of minutes the therapist applied the Aqua Masque to calm the prickling sensation, and also act as a hydrator.

The Keraskin’s Néojeunesse Yeux Eye cream was applied alongside the facial, so after the solutions had long enough to be absorbed into my skin, my face was refreshed with cool towels and the antioxidant serum reapplied. To finish, my face and neck were moisturised with a light sunscreen and an extra layer of vitamin C serum was applied to the eye area.

Instantly I could see a firmer complexion looking back at me in the mirror, and my eyes were noticeably less puffy… I definitely feel like I have had goodness injected back in and now know exactly how to get that full-night sleep look!

Details: Kéraskin’s Néojeunesse Facial Dh600, Néojeunesse Yeux Eye treatment Dh250. 75 minutes. Sisters Beauty Lounge, The Dubai Mall, call 04 339 8500.
-- Gemma Jones, Fashion Stylist

The gentle rejuvenator

You know that ‘tingling’ sensation you get when you have a facial? Some people love it because they think it means the products are working. Well, I’m not one of those people. I don’t view it as a fresh and clean tingle – I see it as more of a slight burning sensation. You see, I have very sensitive skin. One bump and I’m bruised, one bad product and my face swells up and my eyes tear like there’s no tomorrow.

But now, for the first time in my entire 16-year spa-going life, I have experienced a facial where every single product felt absolutely divine. No burning ‘tingle’, just a pure cleanse, taut skin and refined pores. And this is all thanks to the Detox and Shine Stopper facial at Clarins.

I arrived at Clarins Boutique in The Dubai Mall and took a seat on the white leather sofa while I waited my turn. I looked around the shop, busy with women seeking advice from the brand’s experts, and wondered where my facial would be taking place. Surely not in one of the make-up chairs? Not a moment later I was led into a small and cosy room in the back. I changed out of my fussy work blouse into a smock and my therapist did a skin analysis.

Although I have combination skin, she told me my complexion was fairly matt that day – surprising considering how hot it was. She told me the only real problem she saw was that my eyes looked tired on account of the dark circles underneath them – a problem I’ve been plagued with (along with most other Mediterranean women) for as long as I can remember. But she had just the solution – a lotus extract that would gently brighten the area and encourage circulation.

The procedure started with a series of gentle cleanses and an exfoliation. The soft chatter of the customers in the shop behind the door faded to near silence asI sank into the plush treatment table and felt myself tune out the world and relax. Between the various facial steps my therapist cleansed and moisturised my hands and even massaged my tired fingers and feet.

One of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of this facial is that it wasn’t simply about someone rubbing products into your face in the hope that you would look younger and brighter.

Because it is a detoxifying facial, my therapist used special massage techniques to encourage drainage of toxins. Aside from the detoxification benefits, the rhythmic movements were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Who would have thought that a facial massage could be such a perfect way to end your day?

Once the lotus extract had been applied and my face and lips suitably moisturised, I was gently brought back to reality. Sure enough, my face was brighter, my eyes more alert and my pores more refined – and she hadn’t even done a painful extraction!
The products were gorgeous – gentle and without an overpowering scent. Now I know why Clarins is one of the most trusted names in skincare and I am its newest convert.

Details: Clarins, The Dubai Mall,
Detox and Shine Stopper facial, 60 minutes for Dh450, call 04 434 0522.
-- Anna AbouZeid, Sub Editor

The multi-sensory exfoliator

My treatment at Ozone spa began with a consultation and skin analysis by my therapist Rossette. She chose Sothys products, which don’t contain harsh chemicals, and tailored the treatment to suit my skin’s needs.

First, a clarifying milk was spread over my face to deeply cleanse my skin, removing all impurities and unplugging clogged pores. Enriched with grapefruit seed extract, which contains antioxidants, it promotes elasticity and protects the skin from free radicals and sun damage that cause premature ageing.

Next up was a stimulating exfoliating scrub to slough away dead skin cells, followed by the Digi-Esthetique Voluptuous Modelling Cream, which was gently massaged on to my face for 10 to 15 minutes to relax my stressed skin. I was told cranial massage improves circulation and tones the muscles in the cheek and the chin area, helping to firm skin and reduce wrinkles.

A gauze bandage was then placed on my face and a soothing delicious-smel
ling mask applied over it and left on for 15 minutes. The time passed quickly as I enjoyed a neck and shoulder massage, while listening to soothing music featuring waterfalls and chirping birds.

The sounds and scents brought back sweet childhood memories; suddenly I was transported to the banks of Mtsheleli River, Zimbabwe, where I used to play while listening to birds calling out to each other, and I breathed in the heady aroma of the wild flowers that populate the countryside.

When the mask was removed I ran my hand over my face and felt soft, hydrated and refreshed skin. With all the multi-sensory experiences, was my mind playing tricks on me?

The ritual ended with the infusion of a serum that contained vitamins A, E and C to protect my skin from harmful UVA rays. I was still lost in pleasant thoughts of years gone by until my therapist tapped me on the shoulder and brought me back to the present. When I looked in the mirror I was delighted because my mind wasn’t playing tricks: my face appeared radiant and younger.

 Details: Ozone Signature Facial, Dh425 for 60 minutes. Ozone Spa, Acacia Hotel, Ras Al Khaimah,
Call 07 243 4421.
-- Khulekani Madlela