For no good reason that I can think of I’ve always lacked the age-freak-out gene. I’ve had friends who cried when they turned 20 (the horror, you see, of leaving those teenage years behind), emotionally nursed others through the trauma of 30 (in my experience, a steady diet of champagne and spas helps) and witnessed more than one on the race to the marriage-and-babies finishing line before the dreaded 40 strikes.
But for my part I’ve always liked getting older. I like the idea that with age comes wisdom, even while discovering the opposite – that the more advanced our years, the more we come to truly understand how little we know – is true. I like the confidence of my convictions and, not half as paradoxical as it sounds, my increasing ability to see and admit when I’m wrong.
What I don’t like, at the ripe age of 41, is the nagging ache in my back or the knee that keeps getting jiggered at the gym. Nor am I impressed by my now flagrant incapacity to bounce back, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, from the proverbial big night out.
Even more annoying, is that all of this – the extra coffee, the late nights, the strain of any physical or emotional pain – all now shows on my face. What I wouldn’t give, sometimes, to possess my very own portrait, à la Dorian Gray, to stash away in an attic.
Enter the CACI facial, a ‘non-surgical facelift’ that promises to blast the effects of all those sleepless nights away. According to the blurb, ‘CACI combines a unique patented waveform with the naturally occurring bio-electric current of the body, to achieve instantly visible results on sagging muscles and skin tissue.’
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But since becoming Time Out’s resident anti-ageing guinea pig (one of the ‘perks’ of being the oldest person in the room), I have been presented with many a ‘miracle’ beauty cure in the past 12 months, none of which I would really recommend. I have even tried CACI before, but that was a one-off treatment, the results of which were inconclusive (you are meant to have a course of sessions, followed top-ups every four to six weeks).
CACI, however, comes with a little more science behind it than some of the others, so I was keen to try it again. First developed a quarter of a century ago to assist patients suffering from stroke and Bell’s palsy (the electronic current ‘stimulates’ muscles back into life), it was quickly noticed that the treatment had a rejuvenating effect on skin and muscle tone, which is where the beauty industry stepped in.
In Dubai, the treatment is available at the Akaru Spa (part of the Aviation Club in Garhoud), the only place in the city, says manager Isabelle Czinzoll, where it is employed by fully trained beauty technicians. ‘Anyone can learn to use these machines in two or three days,’ she explains, ‘but all our staff have had full training – at least two to three years – and so know all about the facial muscles and how to get the best results.’
It’s not something you really want to get wrong. Even after signing a disclaimer, Isabelle asks again whether I’ve had any Botox or fillers. The reason for such thoroughness, she explains, is that because CACI works so deeply into the muscle, it can shift such injectibles around – from the forehead to the cheek, say. Not a good look.
Fortunately, my face is filler-free, so we begin. Employing what look like two tuning forks, Isabelle works across my neck and face, sometimes running the implement in a line across a muscle (encouraging it first to lengthen, then contract), at other times pressing them into my hairline, for a general lifting effect. Afterwards, I’m sure I see some change, although by morning, I’m no longer convinced. I return again two days later for a second go (the initial course of treatments mustn’t be longer than three or four days apart to be effective).
Isabelle gives it the fully monty – I start with a Guinot galvanic facial, which deep cleanses, oxygenates and regenerates the skin, before receiving my second dose of CACI. The next day my skin looks fabulous – brighter and clearer than it has for months. Even I, beauty treatment sceptic that I am, have to concede that Guinot is one facial worth shelling out dirhams for.
By the time I’ve had my third treatment – a straight CACI again – I’m sure that a change has taken place. The tired furrowing between my brows has relaxed, the area around my eyes appears firmer. This is not the scary, ironed-out look instantly achieved through Botox. Rather, what CACI seems to genuinely offer is a ‘lift’, a way to look like a brighter you. Two weeks later, the change is still in place. In-between, I have been told I look rested, well and, best of all (though it was, admittedly, rather late in the evening) a positively Dorian Gray-ish 32. CACI, I think I love you.
CACI, Dhs350 per session; Guinot galvanic facial, Dhs345. Akaru Spa, 04 282 8578, www.akaruspa.com