Searching for the perfect facial

We scour the city's spas and report back

As Dubai heats up, we scour the city’s spas and salons in the search of the perfect facial.

With temperatures now hitting an average of 26°C during the day, Dubai’s cold weather is nothing but a distant memory. On that note, there’s no better time to freshen up your dial, slough away dry, dead skin (if the recent bout of shamals haven’t already) and boost dull complexions as the summer season approaches. Here, our team puts four facials to the test to see if they’re worthy of your attention – and perhaps even a no-make up selfie.

MicroRetinol facial treatment at Zen Spa, Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai

The promise: This facial combines a gentle peel and a Micro-Retinol treatment that is supposed to restore elasticity and radiance and protect skin from signs of ageing and other environmental factors.

The experience: The treatment begins with a thorough face-cleansing. Straight away, the therapist comments she can see slight pigmentation and dryness. She gets to work applying the Micro-Retinal cream, which can cause itching or irritation, we’re warned. Luckily, it’s very mild and after the cream is removed, icy cold cloths are applied to combat any redness. This part isn’t quite so pleasant and we’re positively shivering. There’s no extraction, but we are treated to a lovely moisturising facial massage, a scalp massage and a bit of a shoulder massage is thrown in as the products get to work.

The highlight: The bonus shoulder/scalp massage. And all of the products smell amazing.

The result: Skin is a little red but, thanks to the ice-cold compresses, not unsightly. The next day our skin looks good enough to brave the world without make-up and feels noticeably smoother.

Dhs700, SpaZen, Radisson Royal Hotel. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 308 0531).

Personalised facial at Essa Beauty

The promise: After a steam clean and an impressively in-depth consultation with head therapist and salon owner Lydia (facialist of the year 2013 for Elemis and 2012 for Dermalogica), it’s determined that a deep cleansing and hydrating facial is the best course of action. We’re promised blemish-free, glowing skin.

The experience: Following the initial steam clean, a Dermalogica exfoliator is applied and removed, followed by an extraction. Later, a mask is applied and tiny electronic pulses are passed through the skin as a wand works the cream into our face to help it penetrate deeper. Next, we’re treated to a relaxing shoulder and head massage.

The highlight: The fact we were unquestionably in safe hands (and the lush head massage).

The result: Our skin feels smooth and plump with hydration. Once the slight redness from the extraction has died down, the results are quite remarkable and our skin – for the first time – doesn’t feel tight and dry.

Dhs290-510. Open daily 9am-8pm. Lake level, Cluster G, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 374 4288).

Biologique Recherche CVS + MC110 at The Cure

The promise: A facial that visibly plumps and improves the appearance of the skin by using pinching techniques along with a revitalising cocktail of vitamins and essential oils.

The experience: The trained specialist scolds us, as expected, for having dehydrated skin, and after cleansing and extracting blackheads, she applies a light exfoliator to one side of the face. After patting on the MC 110 re-plumping exfoliator, she shows us the difference between the two sides of our dial and we feel heat rising from the skin briefly. Other products, like the cool cream mask, mist and essential oil cocktails, smelt odd but felt refreshing when applied. There was no steam used for the extraction but the face was prepped for painlessness. We are used to more spa-like facials – this one felt a bit clinical but we appreciated the effectiveness and final result.

The highlight: The plumping effect was immediately obvious and the cheekbones in particular appeared lifted.

The result: The face looks brighter and fresher days after, though the lift doesn’t appear as obvious on the following days.

Dhs750 for 90 minutes, The Cure Building 10, Dubai Media City, (04 391 6485).

Oxygen express facial at Turkuaz House

The promise: This facial claims botox-like results and is designed to even out skintone, reduce hyperpigmentation and rehydrate the skin using zaps of oxygen.

The experience: The therapist inspects skin, highlighting oily spots on our T-zone, before she applies cleanser. Though the facial feels thorough, her technique is unpleasantly hurried and it’s hard to relax throughout.

There is no steaming or extraction process – a vital part of a decent facial – but an exfoliator is massaged into the skin for what feels like a good ten minutes. A wand then zaps the skin to penetrate serum into the deepest layer of epidermis for lasting results. It’s an odd sensation, but not painful.

Another potion is then moisturised into the skin and a fiddly head massage gets underway before we’re left to lie on our own for what feels like an eternity (but perhaps is really only 15 minutes). Any residue is removed with hot towels and freezing cold oxygen is applied to the face at high pressure from a tube-like device. It’s a little like standing in a wind tunnel in the dead of winter. This salon is home to the city’s best hammams, but we wouldn’t write home about this particular facial.

The highlight: There is nothing that really stands out about this facial.

The result: Our skin feels tighter immediately after, but we don’t spot a huge amount of difference over the following days.

Dhs270 for 40 minutes. Villa 1053A, Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 2 (04 380 870).

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