In October this year, scientists Sir John Gurdon of Britain and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan claimed the Nobel Prize for Medicine thanks to their work in stem-cell research, dating as far back as 1962. Through many cloning experiments over the years, they discovered that by introducing new adult stem cells into damaged tissue, the cells have the ability to self-renew, opening up the possibility for diseased, damaged areas of the body to be replaced with new, healthy tissue. The implications, as you can imagine, are enormous.
At present, there are only a limited number of stem-cell therapies in existence, and they are mostly experimental and extremely expensive. Yet Dubai’s Eternel Medspa now offers a more affordable treatment that incorporates the science into a Dhs600 facial.
Knowing how rarely stem-cell research is currently used in medicine, I’m intrigued to find out how a Dubai medi-spa has managed to include it into a more mainstream cosmetic offering. Apparently, a similar process takes place in facelifts, where fat cells from elsewhere in the body are injected into the face (a procedure that’s by no means new). However, I discover this facial is something entirely different.
The treatment uses Image Skincare’s paraben-free Max range (below), which contains ‘plant-derived’ stem cells as opposed to cells derived from human beings – this differs from some others being offered. The good news is that this is likely to invite far less controversy than that provoked by human stem-cell treatments, in which cells from real embryos have been used, but it does place a big question mark over whether this facial actually works. How much of an anti-ageing impact can these plant extracts have?
I visit Eternel to try the facial for myself. After filling in the usual forms, declaring any allergies, health concerns and any recent surgery or deep-cleaning procedures, I’m led to the treatment room. My therapist asks if I have any skin concerns: I explain I’m keen to tackle the fine lines that are beginning to appear around my eyes, and note that my skin tone can be quite uneven. She informs me that there will be several stages to the facial, including microdermabrasion, steaming and a mask, and is keen for me to understand that I will be ‘glowing’ afterwards.
My make-up is removed, then the microdermabrasion machine is rolled out. Apprehensive about the sandblasting, I’m relieved to find that rather than being excessively painful, it just feels like being scrubbed with an electric toothbrush. Afterwards my skin feels a little raw, but to my relief my face is soon slathered in a soothing cream. I’m slightly less thrilled about the exfoliator that’s applied and quickly removed, as my skin hasn’t quite recovered.
I rest for a few minutes under the steamer, before my therapist begins extracting blackheads. Fortunately, there are few, and it’s over in no time. A mask that seems almost to be made of paper is placed over my face, and once dampened, is left for a few minutes. This seems to be the main event, but with my mouth clamped shut, it’s not really the time for questions. Once it’s peeled off, a final cream is applied to my face
and around my eyes (an area that I’m told is quite dehydrated). Sitting up to look in the mirror, I am indeed glowing, and my skin looks much clearer and more even.
The following day is the big test, when the sheen of expensive products has vanished. Studying my face in the mirror, my skin looks visibly more hydrated – though the lines are still there, they are slightly less pronounced. As an age-preventative treatment, I’m not entirely convinced, but as a deep-cleaning, hydrating facial it has undoubtedly done the job. Whether this is down to plant stem cells, however, is still up for debate.
Dhs600. Eternel Medspa, opposite gate 5 Jumeirah Beach Park, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 0008).
Two more to try: new facials in Dubai
Ultimate Aroma Radiance Lift Facial
Currently only available at one spa in Dubai, this facial combines a high-frequency current and natural ingredients to boost radiance.
From Dhs795. The Spa, The Ritz-Carlton DIFC (04 362 2777).
Signature June Jacobs Spa Collection Facial
Customised to suit all skin types, this facial is designed to maximise the skin’s ability to generate new cells, enhance moisture retention and counteract signs of environmental damage.
From Dhs450. Ahasees Spa & Club, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 317 2333).