Dubai's quirkiest facials

Can nightingale droppings or bee venom really pep up your complexion? Time Out’s beauty experts investigate

The bee venom facial
The bee venom facial
The salmon facial
The salmon facial
The diamond facial
The diamond facial
The bird droppings facial
The bird droppings facial
The bee venom facial

Claims to: Tighten and smooth skin, as well as fight ageing.

The key ingredient: The Nail Spa is the only salon in Dubai to use Heaven by Deborah Mitchell, an all-organic product range. The bee venom mask also contains manuka honey, a combo that’s supposed to mimic a mini-facelift (Dannii Minogue reportedly uses it as an alternative to Botox).

The experience: The therapist zeroed in on our dry skin, spraying us with a mist made from orange flower that’s supposed to help cell renewal and heal damaged skin. After washing our face with cleansing milk, she applied an exfoliating polish made from aloe vera. This stung a little, but the promise of reduced fine lines made it worth it. Next up was the bee venom mask, which stayed on our face for 20 minutes and was soothing. She finished off with a nourishing moisturiser ideal for dry and (ahem) mature skin.

The verdict: We’d woken up that morning sighing at the deep circles under our eyes; after the facial we gasped when we found them reduced. Returning to the office, we received several compliments on our skin, and a dozen or so on the sweet scent of our face. Sometimes nature is great.

The 70-minute Heaven LIA Therapy facial costs Dhs550 at The Nail Spa in The Dubai Mall (04 339 9078).

The diamond facial

Claims to: Heal uneven skin tone, scars and fine lines.

The key ingredient: We must admit we were looking forward to being smothered in diamonds – they’re known for their amazing exfoliating properties. Alas, when we arrived for our treatment we found that the carats we’d been longing for were actually a ‘diamond enrich’ whitening treatment, with not a diamond in sight.

The experience: After a long – and somewhat pungent – exfoliation, a thick, gloopy layer of clear gel was applied, accompanied by an ultrasonic machine: the only sparkles we spied were flecks of something that looked suspiciously like glitter. When this was removed, a gel mask that stung our eyelids was applied and we were left for far too long in a very cold room to allow it to work its magic.

The verdict: While there’s no doubting we’re a few shades lighter than before the treatment, with baby-smooth skin thanks to the final scrub and moisturiser, the original promises seem unfulfilled and we can’t say the experience was particularly relaxing.

The hour-long Solitaire Diamond facial costs Dhs400 at VLCC, Obaidalla Building, Damascus Street, Al Qusais (04 267 8611).

The salmon facial

Claims to: Rejuvenate skin and turn back the clock.

The key ingredient: We usually associate salmon with steamed broccoli and a light teriyaki dressing, but there’s not a fish to be seen at the Silkor salmon collagen facial. It actually uses potions with ingredients that mimic the nutrients found in salmon: particularly marine vitellines, which are present in salmon roe and are proven to increase the skin’s collagen production.

The experience: We started with a standard cleansing followed by a dermabrasion (an amazing ‘extreme’ exfoliation that uses a vacuum-controlled cone with a tip covered in crushed diamonds). Then it was time for the ‘salmon’ mask, which was lathered on and sealed with a face mould that helped to push the nutrients into the skin. The mould hardened after 20 minutes, leaving us with a mummified image of our face. Cool!

The verdict: We like this facial because it’s not airy-fairy: it’s about results. We left the salon with smooth, clear skin and the treatment also managed to even out our skin tone, dulling our freckles – it’s all in the dermabrasion.

Critic's Choice
The 60-minute Salmon Collagen Facial Mask without dermabrasion costs Dhs800. A 90-minute session with dermabrasion is Dhs1,000. Silkor Laser Medical Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim (04 348 0500).

The bird droppings facial

Claims to: Brighten dull complexions.

The key ingredient: This facial steals an enzyme-loaded beauty secret from Japanese geishas: nightingale droppings. Originally used by the geishas to remove make-up and later to brighten the skin, this ‘waste’ contains guanine, a DNA component that is used to give lustre to fake pearls.

The experience: After cleansing, the nightingale ‘droppings’ (dry flakes from organically-fed birds) mixed with rice bran were rubbed on our skin, with a blast of steam to open the pores. We were smeared in hyaluronic acid (which attracts moisture and helps to repair tissue) and vitamin C gel, then blasted with cool, ticklish oxygen, before being covered with a collagen mask and treated with a low-level laser to push the collagen into our skin.

The verdict: Our skin is already very pale, so the brightening effects were hard to see (we were told it’s more obvious in darker skin tones), but were impressed with how soft and plump our face felt for a week afterwards.

The hour-long Nightingale Enzymes facial costs Dhs1,200 at Biolite Skin Clinic, Al Razi Building, Dubai Healthcare City (04 375 2122).

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