Dubai International Film Festival is back for its eighth run, and renowned medi-spa Biolite has been contracted to pamper visiting Hollywood royalty during the event. With Colin Firth rumoured to have enjoyed the spa’s placenta facial last year, we tried the treatment to see whether it lives up to the hype. We’ve also tested two other treatments that boast celeb fans, so you can get into the spirit and treat yourself to an A-list facial.
Celebrity fans: Colin Firth is said to have had this treatment while in Dubai for last year’s film fest, and Tom Cruise is rumoured to be a fan.
The promise: Yes, you read right. Extracts of human placenta (apparently sourced from the US) are used in this facial, which claims to promote the production of new collagen in the skin, leaving the complexion rejuvenated and glowing. As the therapist works away on us, she explains the treatment is also good for targeting pigmentation.
The process: Our consultation is thorough. The therapist immediately spots our dehydrated skin and recommends upping our Omega 3 and 6 intake, before she begins the cleansing, aided by steam to open the pores. A delicious-smelling pineapple scrub is the highlight, but the only slightly uncomfortable part of the experience comes when the clear serum containing the placenta is applied and blasted with slightly too-cool oxygen.
The results: The serum applied to our eyes earlier has somehow made them seem brighter, even though we’ve had our make-up removed. There’s immediately a noticeable difference to the whole face, where our overall complexion is remarkably smooth and even, and this stays the case, even when we’re told the astronomical price of the hour-long facial we’ve just enjoyed.
Score: 4/5 Dhs2,500. Biolite, Block B, Al Razi Building, Dubai Healthcare City (04 375 2122)
Heaven LIA Therapy
Celebrity fans: Victoria Beckham is a fan, as is Camilla Parker Bowles (and apparently the whole UK royal clan). Michelle Pfeiffer and Danni Minogue are also devotees of the product range used.
The promise: This is a holistic facial that uses lymphatic drainage massage, acupressure and the gorgeous (and organic) Heaven by Deborah Mitchell product range. It is as much a massage ritual as a facial and is said to ‘lift the muscles using the therapist’s own body electricity… and at the same time offer a complete spiritual enlightenment.’
The process: The 70-minute treatment begins with the therapist brushing their hands from our head to our toes in an energy exchange – it sounds bizarre, but proves oddly calming. Almost a dozen Heaven by Deborah Mitchell products are used, from a thorough cleansing to an exfoliation with the astoundingly unabrasive (ie there aren’t any granules) Skin Polish Exfoliator and the deliciously scented Divine Cream moisturiser (which is packed with vitamins). The two highlights, however, are the Bee Venom mask, which contains actual bee venom and manuka honey, but doesn’t tingle at all, and the brilliant head, face, neck and shoulder massage, which lasts for nearly half the treatment.
The results: This facial involves no extractions or machines, so you won’t leave with red skin, and it’s so relaxing that you’ll nod off. The next day our shoulders are looser, our jaw more relaxed and our skin soft (but not transformed). We were so impressed with the products, however, that the range is now on our Christmas list (despite being a little over our normal budget, at Dhs360 for the Divine Cream). It looks as though Mrs Beckham is really on to something.
Score: 4/5 Dhs550 for 70 minutes (ladies’ only). The Nail Spa, various locations including The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 339 9078)
24-Carat Gold Facial
Celebrity fans: Mariah Carey is said to be a firm believer.
The promise: Many say that Cleopatra used gold to keep her skin youthful, and those in the beauty industry swear it’s great for softness, rejuvenation, radiance and firming.
The process: After a quick consultation, the treatment begins with cleansing and a facial massage, followed by a cooling ‘nano mist’ to wash our face and neck. Then comes deep exfoliation using a diamond scrub, which feels as though our skin is being scratched, but it’s tolerable, and we grin and bear it. There’s a fair bit of application and massaging using a variety of high-end serums, lotions and creams tailored to our skin, which are designed to prepare it for the gold mask. This key ingredient comes in the form of 24-carat gold leaf sheets, carefully applied all over our face and then left to work their magic for half an hour or so as more nano mist lightly showers on us.
The results: Bits of gold can still be seen on our face immediately after the facial, but most of the mask has been absorbed by our skin, which now feels plumper, transforming our earlier tired, blotchy look to one that’s noticeably clear and radiant. Our therapist adds that the real effect can be seen in three to four days. The results are instantly visible – it’s just a shame it’s so expensive.