The ugly truth about UAE beauticians

Time Out laments the painful honesty of stylists and spa-workers

The Knowledge

Over the past couple of months, complete strangers have curled their lips at my haircut, pointed out ‘deeply problematic’ areas of cellulite on my legs, suggested a series of chemical peels to get rid of my freckles, and insisted I sort out my chipped fingernails, pronto. They’ve criticised my caffeine-pumped, air-conditioned, sun-soaked lifestyle and frowned at my diet. I have a pretty thick skin, but in all honesty, I’ve had enough.

I’d probably have cracked sooner, had these strangers not all been beauticians on a mission to push me into buying more of their services. Now I do realise that from their point of view, they’re just trying to generate more business (at least I hope so). But because people usually visit spas or salons to get some aspect of their appearance fixed, upselling invariably comes across as, well, just out-and-out rude.

One hairdresser took the opportunity to pour scorn on his rival salon as soon as he’d heard where I got my last ’do. ‘Such a bad cut, and no style whatsoever!’ he sniffed, picking up strands of my hair with the revulsion you’d normally reserve for severed rat-tails. ‘Make sure you only get your hair done here in future…’

At the salon where I got my eyebrows threaded, the receptionist enquired whether I’d like to make an appointment for my upper lip and chin too. ‘Are you telling me I’ve grown a BEARD and a MOUSTACHE?’ I roared (I didn’t really – I wish I had). Instead I muttered, ‘Dontthinkthat’sreallynecessary, thankyouoverymuch’ in my snottiest voice and skulked out of the salon.

My next appointment was for a basic facial. All I wanted was a soothing deep cleanse, but the beautician was having none of it. Swaddling me in a towel as tight as a strait-jacket, I was effectively immobilised for the next 90 minutes while she proceeded to scrutinise my face, hectoring me about my pores, tut-tutting about oily patches, gasping in horror at dry areas on my cheek. She highlighted each flaw (with an expensive recommended treatment, natch) in such excruciating detail that by the end of the session I wanted to throw myself on my knees and beg her just to amputate my whole head and be done with it. Clearly that would be a welcome relief for everyone – and then she could bill my parents for cursing me with such monstrous genes.

So, if you’re working in the beauty industry, please take it easy with the upselling – I really don’t think my ego can handle much more ‘advice’. I’ll probably end up in therapy with an acute case of low self-esteem.
And then what if my psychologist starts upselling too? ‘Yes, you do have self-esteem issues. But you’re also terribly boring, utterly talentless and a complete waste of space. Why don’t you book in for an intensive 100-session package and we’ll see what we can do for you…’

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