We all need a pamper now and then (especially thanks to the emirate’s sticky, sandy climes).
But putting your face in the hands of an unknown beauty therapist can be a risky business… so we’ve done the hard graft for you.
We’ve tried and tested spas across the city to find some of Dubai’s best facials, and here’s who has made the cut.
Note: this list will regularly be updated as we continue our search for top-notch treatments, so bookmark it and come back every few weeks…
The clinic: Euromed Clinic Centre, Villa 611, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, (04) 394 5422
The treatment: Fotona 4D Facelift.
The therapist to ask for: Rebecca Treston.
The experience: You know you’re on to a good ‘un when the mere mention of your aesthetician’s name elicits an admiring “oooh” from one long-standing Dubai resident. “She’s famous in Dubai for her facials,” a colleague said of laser specialist Treston.
So we headed to her clinic in Umm Suqeim with high expectations… and we weren’t disappointed. Following a thorough consultation, we were prescribed a customised version of the famed Fotona 4D Facelift, a non-surgical laser facial designed to tighten and volumise skin. As our 30-year-old visage has more issues with open pores, oiliness and blemishes, rather than ageing, the inside-the-mouth portion – to treat sagging cheeks – isn’t needed. Instead, there’ll be a focus on the resurfacing fourth stage of the treatment, to target those pesky pores.
After a swift double-cleanse, the efficient Treston covers our eyes and begins with a not-at-all painful first pass of the lasers. The second pass feels warmer, and vaguely more needle-like, but more than bearable.
The third pass is a little more uncomfortable, particularly when concentrated on blackheads and sensitive areas, like the sides of the nose and around the mouth. There’s a moderate burning sensation, but it’s not too hard to cope with (and we say that, as someone who’s been known to faint during a blood test). And even if your pain tolerance is low, it’s over before you know it – no more than 20 minutes later, the facelift-like procedure is complete.
Our face is left rather pink, so we’re treated to a 30-minute cooling mask, before being sent home with a gelatinous rosehip-oil-infused moisturiser and told to slather it on twice a day until any peeling had finished.
The after-effects: Twelve hours after the facial, the redness had subsided, and for two days following, our face felt tight and mask-like as the top-most layer of skin prepared to shed. A light peeling took place on day three (perhaps book this treatment so the flaky day coincides with a makeup-free weekend), and voila, it was like our normal face but much, much better.
Pores were reduced in size, any fine lines around the eyes were blitzed and – most impressively – a small red mark that’s plagued our forehead since our teens had vanished. For good. Something we never thought we’d see, especially not after a single facial. If you suffer with visible veins or pigmentations, this might just be a game-changer.
Six weeks later, our skin is still looking smooth and plump, with the after-effects set to last for around two months, according to Treston. It’s no cheap treatment, but if you need something transformative to book in before your wedding or next big event, we don’t think you can go wrong with this…
Price: Dhs1,750 until the end of July as part of a summer promotion. Normally approximately Dhs4,000, though price depends on consultation and areas treated.
The clinic: Biolite Aesthetic Clinic, Al Thanya St, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, (04) 346 6641
The treatment: Red Carpet Facial.
The therapist to ask for: Richie.
The experience: Alright, bear with us here. We’re not ones to champion a Dhs2,500 treatment as part of your weekly beauty regime, but sometimes certain events (wedding, friend’s wedding, casual dinner where you might see your former work nemesis) are worth shelling out for.
A true heavyweight of the facial world, this treatment promises to “keep the skin firm, cheekbones and jaw looking sharp, and skin luminous”. Sure, we don’t have a social event coming up anytime soon (or ever really, we’re basically hermits), but who wouldn’t say yes to a sharp jawline to wear around the office?
Our cheerful therapist declares that our skin needs a big drink of collagen, and apparently we’ve come to the right place. To begin, we’re scrubbed with a deep exfoliation enzyme peel that has us cleaner than we’ve been in weeks. We’re then slathered in collagen for our radio frequency treatment, where a humming utensil that feels a lot like the backside of a spoon left in the Dubai sun too long is massaged against our face. The heat apparently causes the collagen in our skin to contract and tighten, and has it producing new collagen. Richie tells us our skin will be firmer, tighter, our jawline more defined and our cheekbones contoured. We take this to mean we’ll finally have the bone structure of Kim K.
We’re then treated to a caviar and hyaluronic mask, intended to make us look more youthful. Come at us 16-year-old skin (bar the breakouts).
The final stage is a stem cell serum infusion that uses chilled, pure oxygen to have the skin looking radiant for our big night (on the couch watching Netflix). This was a complete 180 from our heat-infused radio frequency treatment of 20 minutes before; instead, this felt like a dentist’s suction tube in reverse – a tiny spout of powerful cold wind blowing away our blemishes.
The after-effects: Immediately after the treatment, we found it difficult to spot any dramatic change to our face. Don’t get us wrong, we looked clean and supple, but for a Dhs2,500 treatment, we were looking for Jennifer Aniston-quality skin. However, the next day we began to see the fruits of Richie’s labour, and noted our skin felt slightly plumper and tighter. We didn’t experience any breakouts either, which is often a worry with such intense treatments.
While we didn’t manage to conjure up the bone structure of Hollywood royalty in a single visit, we did get several comments from our Netflix companion on our glowing complexion. And, important event or not, we take that as a win.
Price: Dhs2,500 for 60 minutes.
The clinic: The Nova Clinic, Al Wasl Rd, Jumeirah, Dubai, (04) 384 5666
The treatment: The Carbon Peel (aka the Hollywood facial).
The therapist to ask for: Jessica.
The experience: Whereas most of our previous facials have been long, lazy, massage-heavy affairs, we knew this one was different when our therapist greeted us in scrubs and a medical mask. This was serious, surgery-clinic-level stuff. And as women who want results rather than relaxation, we were up for it.
We were led through a well-equipped reception (think Sky News, magazines, and hot drinks on tap) to an all-white, but not intimidatingly unwelcoming, treatment room. Rather than ambient music and candlelight, there were hi-tech machines aplenty, a desk and a dentist-style flat chair, which we were invited to lie on fully clothed (an added timesaver). After being enveloped in a towel and our hair encased in a hair net, Jessica asked us about our skin concerns during a double cleanse. Citing enlarged pores and oiliness as our problematic areas, she assured us this laser-intensive experience would address those issues, along with fine lines, wrinkles and any pigmentation, making this a one-stop shop for many complexions.
A carbon mask was gently applied and allowed to set, adhering to any blackheads. After about 15 minutes, Jessica covered our eyes in protective glasses, before firing up a Revlite laser. This gadget, which can used for hair and even tattoo removal on different settings, blasts the carbon lotion away while also blitzing any dead skin. It’s billed as painless, but it’s definitely an odd, bordering on uncomfortable, sensation. As the penetrative laser hits your face (clearly guided by the therapist so you’re not zapped unawares), it feels – as well as smells and sounds – as if someone’s setting off tiny firecrackers on your skin. There’s a little discomfort but it’s over so quickly, it’s no problem to bear. A second sweep of the laser is carried out on a bare face, which is quieter, but slightly more needle-like in feeling.
And that’s it – another cleanse, a quick vitamin mask, and the application of some oil-free skincare and you’re good to go. Despite its ability to stimulate collagen, plump away wrinkles, and tackle acne and scarring, this non-invasive treatment has no recovery time (hence why it’s a fave of Angelina Jolie, Kim Kardashian and co).
The after-effects: Some redness is to be expected, and we were left slightly blotchy, but not obviously so. On Jessica’s advice, we left our skin bare for the rest of the day, skipped harsh exfoliators for the night, and layered on the sunscreen. From day zero, our pores were noticeably smaller (minimised more than any other treatment we’ve ever tried) and our skin felt unbelievably smooth, almost like a Barbie.
By day three, we noticed our skin was firmer and far more refined, with acne scarring significantly reduced. Around four to six treatments are advised for customers hoping to erase pigmentation, but this would also make a great (and long-lasting, with results sticking around for up to six weeks) pre-event treatment once or twice a year.
The spa: Heavenly Spa, The Westin Mina Seyahi, Al Sufouh, Dubai, (04) 511 7901
The treatment: Elemis Superfood Pro-Radiance facial.
The therapist to ask for: Kavisara.
The experience: The essential-mineral-laden treatment promised to treat “stressed, dull skin” – and we arrived with that (plus some hormonal breakouts thrown in for good measure). But that didn’t rattle our steadfast therapist.
After filling out a form listing our skin type, concerns and skincare routine, Kavisara decided we needed a good steam and extraction thrown in, and ushered us on to a towel-encased massage table. The lights in the dark-wood-decorated room (complete with a tranquil shower in the corner, should you get a body treatment that requires rinsing) were dimmed and the Enya-esque music turned up.
The treatment began with makeup removal, followed by a lengthy double cleanse using Elemis products richly scented with essential oils. A thorough exfoliation with a not-too-grainy scrub followed, before an eye pack and multiple (sweaty) minutes of steaming from a hi-tech machine. While the gadget was still pumping out hot mist, Kavisara got to work on the extractions, using a metal blackhead remover (sorry, TMI) and tissue-wrapped fingers. Not pleasant to hear about, no, but so satisfying afterwards.
Next came the application of a two-phase (ie. two-application) amino active mask, which was left to soak as our therapist relieved tension with a very firm back, shoulder and arm massage, along with a gentler scalp massage.
After the mask was removed with an abundance of hot towels, an eye gel, serum and moisturiser was applied before the lights were turned up and we were stirred out of our dozy state.
The after-effects: Looking in the changing room mirror, the smaller pores, even texture, and lack of redness were instantly apparent. We happily walked home sans makeup (blemishes and all), once blotting away a little excess oil with a tissue. And, the following morning, our skin did feel plumper and bouncier, with any discolouration a little less noticeable and an overall more refined appearance.
We also didn’t notice an increase in breakouts, which can sometimes happen following super-rich facials, but nor did it temper any oiliness like a glycolic treatment can do. However, the increased radiance, elasticity and general glowiness lasted several days, making this a definite pre-event option (while all the extractions would suit congested skin).
Price: Dhs675 for 75 minutes.
The spa: Dr Hauschka, Organic Foods and Cafe, The Greens, Dubai, (056) 499 2856
The treatment: Dr Hauschka Signature Facial.
The therapist to ask for: Michelle.
The experience: For 50 years, Dr Hauschka has been a go-to brand for those seeking completely natural products (as a side note, it was also the first beauty brand our mum let us use as a teenager). Hence why Dr Hauschka’s treatment rooms in Dubai are located inside Organic Foods and Cafe, rather than in the spa of a five-star hotel.
Although the idea of getting a facial done in a grocery store sounded a little bizarre, we quickly forgot our surroundings as Michelle set us up with a soothing foot soak and massage, and talked us through the products she would be using for the facial. She explained how the experience is designed to stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps filter out toxins and other impurities from the body.
One thing to know before you go: Just like their products, Dr Hauschka’s treatments keep things totally pure and wholesome, which means no harsh exfoliation or extractions (we realise this may come as a disappointment to some of you hardcore facial devotees).
Instead, all products were pressed and rolled into the skin with the lightest touch. In fact, Michelle’s expert hands barely left us – when they weren’t stroking our face, they were gently manipulating our legs, arms, head and neck. We felt pampered the whole time, down to the tiniest pinky.
The soft motions combined with the scent of a lavender-soaked compress soon had us drifting off into a blissful slumber. We were stirred awake for our steam bath, to help open the pores and loosen blackheads, before a clarifying clay mask was smoothed over our skin. Michelle finished things off with a revitalising mask, to hydrate and renew the complexion.
The after-effects: Michelle promised almost immediate results, and we were amazed to look in the mirror and find that an angry shiner on our chin had calmed right down, disappearing completely the next morning. In the following days, we did experience a few breakouts, but overall, our skin was rosier and dewier, and makeup glided on like a dream.
We also noticed a surprising difference in our posture after the treatment – our stiff neck muscles had loosened, and there was less tension in our shoulders. Dr Hauschka’s holistic approach had us floating out of that grocery store feeling like our entire body had been rejuvenated – not just our face.
Price: Dhs800 for two hours, but first-time customers enjoy a 50 per cent discount.
The spa: B/Attitude Spa at Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, (04) 399888
The treatment: La Vallee Brightening Treatment.
The therapist to ask for: Limatula.
The experience: Stepping inside this spa is like taking an immersive trip to the Orient – without the several-thousand-kilometre journey. The leafy surroundings, gold and black-lacquered walls, and immaculately-kept staff in cheongsam had all our workplace anxiety quelled before we’d even had a sip of green tea.
Having been blessed with the palest shade of Scottish skin, it seemed a bizarre option to settle on a treatment that aims to lighten our skin further (is that even possible?), but with an added promise to reduce skin imperfections, and more importantly, offer extreme protection from the sun’s rays.
After being led through a rabbit warren of hardwood-floor corridors, passing by the hammam baths (and ruing the day we decided not to keep an emergency bathing suit in our handbag), we were sat in a plush armchair having our feet bathed. After we were in position on the bed, we were then treated to a spine-tingling head massage (aka the only reason anyone ever gets a haircut).
Just as we were wrangling with the urge to ask if our therapist knew we were only there to have our face tampered with, our eyes were packed and our face and clavicle were subject to a rigorous round of cleansing. It was then we realized we weren’t in for a standard facial – more of an all-over-body-experience-with-emphasis-on-the-face-ial, if you will. From there, we were steamed (where we forgot how to breathe), gently exfoliated, moisturised, and subject to a deep extraction.
As our shiny nose was still tingling with the aftereffects of rigorous squeezing, our masque was applied and Limatula set to work on a calming hand massage. Before we could bribe her into letting the clock tick a little longer so she could get to work on our neck and shoulders, our face was rinsed, moisturiser applied, and we were asked if we’d like a cup of tea. After 60 enjoyable minutes, we were wrapped in a bathrobe, cradling a cup of green tea and munching on snacks atop a hot spa lounger, feeling the most zen we had in a long time.
The after-effects: Directly after our treatment, our pores were so tight and our face so dewy, we felt confident enough to brave a dinner date sans makeup, a la Alicia Keys. In the days that followed, our skin was as radiant as if we’d actually been sleeping more than eight hours a night, and we didn’t experience any notable breakouts.
However, after the second day or so, the glow had somewhat dimmed, and we didn’t really notice any long-term changes, making this better for a short-term fix or event.
Price: Dhs605 for an hour.
The spa: Chi Spa at Shangri-La, (04) 343 8888
The treatment: Detox facial.
Therapist to ask for: Irma.
The experience: When we visited this serene inner-city spa (where the service is always excellent), we had actually booked in for a caviar facial, but one look at our slick, oily skin and the therapist pointed out that our pores needed a deep clean rather than a pamper, so we opted for the 60-minute Detox facial.
Using luxurious Kerstin Florian products, the facial includes a mud mask, a salicylic-acid peel, glyco-peeling and lots of facial massage (including a good head rub too).
Our therapist Irma says she might tweak the facial somewhat depending on what the client needs, but you can expect a good amount of steaming and extraction, which is one of our key requirements when it comes to a good facial.
The Detox facial is specifically designed for skin that’s both oily and dehydrated – which is a surprisingly common combination in Dubai.
Our therapist really looked at our skin from all angles, and gave us plenty of after-care tips – including the fact that it could actually be our toothpaste that was leading to pimples on the chin (hey, we’ll try anything to get rid of them).
Post-facial we sat in the spa’s relaxation room, our tight jaw completely relaxed after the artful facial massage, and our skin feeling pampered but very, very clean.
The after-effects: Much of the facial – from the mud mask to the gentle exfoliating acids – is about controlling excess sebum in the skin, and we found ourselves having to turn to our blotting papers far less for about a week after the treatment.
The fact Irma really battled to clear our pores during the extraction obviously also helped.
The price: Dhs540 for one hour.