1. Shrinking Violet Body Wrap at Sister’s Beauty Lounge
As reviewed by Elizabeth Wentling
It's entirely understandable why the Shrinking Violet Body Wrap concept has found huge success. Who doesn't enjoy lying on a soft bed, surrounded by flickering scented candles, only to wake up instantly and visibly slimmer an hour later? The concept is reminiscent of harlequins peddling self-help slimming solutions on TV, however, it’s 2015 and with an influx of innovative beauty treatments, the Shrinking Violet Body Wrap is the real deal.
But how is it possible to wake up sans water weight? How is it possible to berid oneself of the bloat? I went to Sisters Beauty Lounge in Mirdiff City Center Dubai to discover the tricks they had up their sleeves, and I was not disappointed. A full service spa offering head to toe treatments across their six locations, Sisters Beauty Lounge performs the magical Shrinking Violet Body Wrap specifically in Mirdiff, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Mall, and Al Bateen branches.
Entering their quaint hub in Mirdiff tucked behind a series of shops and restaurants, I was greeted by a friendly staff ready to assist me in shedding some pounds. Sisters Beauty Lounge is truly full service; I’ve never seen such a range of skincare products, nail polish, and hair treatments like the array they had on display at Sister’s. Additionally, their range of nail polish will brighten any colour lover’s day.
Once in the room with the ‘shrink-wrap specialist’ Patricia, she explains the power of Tibby Oliver’s Shrinking Violet ‘It’s A Wrap’ product: a blend of essential oils and extracts derived from plants like Lavender, Juniperus Communis Fruit, and Jojoba Seed that have a detoxifying effect.
This blend of oils literally “bursts cellulite” thanks to an active phospholipid complex, and can shrink the waistline up to two inches in one session, perfect for those hard to change areas on the thighs, buttocks, and abdomens.
To achieve the slim-down effect, I strip down to a bare minimum and have my entire body measured from every angle: shoulder width, waist, arms, thighs, legs, even my wrists. Why? To track the amount of excess that will be shed post-wrap. I then receive a rub down of the Tibby Oliver oil before being completely wrapped, from my neck to my ankles, in saran wrap.
Sisters is a spa lovers dream; they offer every kind of service you can imagine
I feel like this is a practical joke, or that I’m wearing a bad mummy costume. The act of such a treatment feels foreign, but Patricia is well versed and as excited as I (secretly) am to witness the results after I lie on a cosy bed for an hour and let the product work.
Stretched out on a bed, the lights dim and music plays as I lay in a cocoon of household kitchenware. After I arise from my relaxing session, my lovely specialist returns and slowly begins to cut away the saran wrap with scissors. I sigh a breath of relief to be ‘free’ again, and the post measurements begin.
Again, revisiting the aforementioned body parts, she begins to tally up my total loss: a combined 14 inches have been shed, with the majority of loss in my thighs, lower stomach, and upper arms. It's music to my ears, and the beauty of the Shrinking Violet Body Wrap? It doubles as a detox. I’m instructed to consume plenty of water, and not to shower until the following morning so the natural oils can caress my skin.
The immediate results are impressive, yet the highlight is the morning after; I haven’t felt this slim in a long while, but now all the water weight is removed and my skin is super soft. Despite my initial hesitations, this has been an excellent treatment I’ll definitely do again. Besides, if there’s any city you’ll find unexpected yet excellent spa regiments, it will always be in Dubai.
2. Nail art at The Nail Spa in Dubai
As reviewed by Laurel Munshower
Whether you’ve been busy travelling this summer or sticking it out in Dubai, it’s likely you’ve been somewhere where the heat, sun and sand have taken their toll. I know it certainly left its mark on me. And so it was, with rough, dry feet and plain, neglected fingernails that I found myself at The Nail Spa in The Dubai Mall for a thorough overhaul.
Stepping into the spa, large plush chairs occupy a room decked out with slick minimalist décor coloured in contrasting – yet never jarring – creamy white and rich plum. A faintly Japanese-Zen vibe permeates; it’s an atmosphere both pleasant and decidedly welcome in the midst of a busy week.
Sitting back in my chair I’m engulfed in comfort, and take my shoes off and prepare to stay a while, as I’m booked in for two therapies to work their magic on my tired feet and add some much-needed panache to my hands. A menu is promptly brought to my attention with refreshing drinks, and before I know it I’m sipping a refreshing mint tea.
First things first: Ma, my therapist for a Lavender Heel Peel wastes no time in beginning to soften my feet with a warm, lavender salt soak. Thorough from the start, she sets her sights on my dry heels and begins to pumice the rough skin away before applying an AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) heel peel and sugar scrub.
After cleaning and giving my feet another nice soak, it’s time to hydrate with fragrant lavender moisturiser – and just to make sure I’m getting the most out of this hydrating session, in my feet go to cosy, warm foot booties where the moisturiser can deeply permeate dry skin.
After Ma is happy with my skin’s level of hydration, she has one last – and thorough – go with the sugar scrub and pumice. By the end of it, my hard, dry heels and feet are replaced with soft and supple skin – something I’d been working at without success for a number of months, but Ma achieved in a snappy 40 minutes. Throughout the heel peel, my nail artist had been carefully prepping my nails with a trim and buff before furthering my relaxation with a soothing hand and lower arm massage.
I had arrived with bland nails, but I did not intend to leave that way: Missoni’s fashionable fabrics were to be the inspiration for the day. After choosing and applying a base coat, I let senior nail artist Che use her artistic eyes to choose the rest of the colours that would create the brand’s iconic pattern.
To accomplish the famed zigzags, we moved to a nail art station where my hands could be kept steady under an uninterrupted light. As Che meticulously applied every zig and zag one colour at a time, Ma returned to put the final touches on my toes: trimming and buffing before painting with the same base colour used on my fingernails.
As the final design came to life, Che’s talent and passion for creativity were apparent – and her previous experience as a mural artist had clearly helped develop an eye for detail and an incredibly steady hand. In the days that followed, strangers and friends alike fawned over my nails but were never more impressed than when I revealed the layered Missoni pattern was hand painted, not stencilled on. Che’s precision is on point.
As I headed out, I was informed that the nail art should last without damage for around four days – in reality it was well over a not-so-gentle week before the gloss began to dull and a chip finally appeared. My heels, too, remain soft and smooth. All in all, The Nail Spa offers a comprehensive experience that’s just the thing for some late-summer primping and renewal.
3. Growth Factor Recovery Facial at Simply Skin Medical Spa
As told by Michelle Wranik-Hicks
First it was lunchtime laser and non-surgical facelifts – now the latest beauty buzz term being bandied about is "growth factors", a technologically advanced skincare treatment favoured by Hollywood starlets not only in the lead up to their red-carpet preparations, but also as part of their long-term maintenance. Touted for their transformational qualities, growth factors are, in a nutshell, specialised proteins that have a wondrous effect on skin structure and function.
What do they do, you ask? What don't they do. Whatever your skin concern, growth factors seem to have the answer, purportedly plumping up wrinkles, boosting collagen production, shooing away age spots and miraculously reversing all the one-too-many-brunches-and-late nights damage your skin may have suffered while living (and living it up) in Dubai.
There are a few products on the markets, but AQ Skin Solutions has one of the high concentrations of active ingredients, and along with a product range, has aligned with a number of salons in Dubai to offer specialised, salon-strength growth factor treatments, such as Simply Skin Medical Spa, where I'm met by Sylwia Pilcher, a skin and laser specialist who seems to be incredibly knowledgeable about skin – and incredibly enthusiastic about the Growth Factor Recovery facial.
Of all the anti-ageing treatments she has encountered, this is the one she refers to clients. "You might not see results for two weeks," she says. "But they last." But be warned: This isn't your typical, steam, scrub and soothing music style facial. It's on the extreme end. And needles are involved.
Flawless skin is achievable at Simply Skin Medical Spa
The mere thought of needles (however painless) is enough to send anyone running for the hills, but in order to maximise the absorption of the salon-strength AQ growth factor recovery serum, the treatment uses Dermastamp, a reusable, hand-held micro-needle device which is opened in front of you and kept at the spa if you want to continue treatments.
The idea is to wound the skin so the skin cells go into repair mode, and aided by the serum, it's meant to promote supercharged healing. Slywia assures me the pain isn't so terrifying, and she's right. As she gently presses the device over my face, I'm relieved to experience only a little hand-clenching discomfort while my forehead is stamped (which oddly, seems to trigger a sneezing sensation) and along my jawline.
There's the option of a numbing cream, but apparently, it means a longer recovery. Whatever your pain threshold, the treatment takes a mere 15 to 20 minutes. After each area of the face is stamped, a concentrated serum is applied over the skin, while Simply Skin Medical Spa also provides a take-home AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum to apply over the following weeks.
I'm also ordered to stay out of the sun and go easy on products over the next few days. The downtime, I'm pleased to report, is fairly minimal. I only suffer a little redness that evening, along with some heat. Though there is some improvement in my skin tone after two weeks, a single treatment only offers a glimpse of what sort of results I could expect, as a series of follow-up treatments are recommended.
At Dhs 1,500 a pop, it's not a cheap investment, but then again, there are few facials backed up by hard science and peer-reviewed, independent trials. If you're willing to commit to a series of treatments, and go through a bit of pain (in the name of beauty) – then this facial should be on your radar.
4. Golf Massage at YHI Spa at Meliá Dubai 60 minutes
By Steven Bond
There’s a certain sense of machismo that’s associated with a “sports massage”. You’ve pushed your body to its limit, your muscles ache, and you’ve earned the impending onslaught of knuckles and thumbs – and perhaps an adventurous elbow. So how about an experimental spa treatment? For most men, it’s an unlikely boast.
It’s a bout of self indulgence that displaces other, more pleasantly insalubrious pastimes. There’s a turning of tide, however, for many us sedentary office dwellers who are more concerned for the state of our back muscles than the raised eyebrow of a less forward-thinking fellow. YHI Spa at Meliá Dubai is just the place where pragmatic therapy meets pleasurable preening, and one of the latest treatments on offer has quite a sporty ring to it.
The 60-minute Golf Massage is all about balls… and it would be a tad rude not to qualify exactly what that means. Well, in lieu of the well-worn technique of applying well-warmed pebbles, this novel concept involved the application of heated golf balls, rolled from neck to heel.
The size, weight and density of the ball (even it’s familiar pock-marked shell) all make for an surprisingly satisfying massage tool. Described by Meliá Dubai as a “ground breaking deep body massage”, the balls reach the spots where hands cannot. By fluke, they are the perfect instrument.
I arrive, a little apprehensive, into the main foyer of YHI Spa. The facility evokes the balance between a functional wellness centre and an aesthetically rich environment. There’s no eerie panpipe music but the warm greetings and fresh herbal tea is enough begin inducing a state of bliss.
I’m greeted by Ferdinand Taaca, the hotel’s head of spa, who offers a reassuring introduction to the treatment and senses my enthusiasm to drop all formalities – “just call me Ferdie”. After imbibing the tea and disrobing to the ever-amusing paper underpants, I lie face down and engage Ferdie in conversation about just how we both ended up in this situation.
I quickly learn that Taaca, along with his team, are as experienced as they are amiable, and that this novel treatment was developed by him, after seeing similar golf ball therapies used around the globe. All I see from my faced-down position is a herbal/flower arrangement wafting some rather excellent floral aromas up into my nasal passages. But what came next was a little less dainty. As ever, I opt for the masseuse to dial it up to “very hard”.
I can always beg for mercy if I have to, right? Suffice to say I’ve never had a golf ball pushed into my back. So, after a little kneading and softening – like the big lump of dough that I am – a series of balls emerge from a cabinet of sorts. It’s something that resembles a diminutive and opaque drinks fridge, expect with the opposite purpose.
The little heater has toasted these balls, and there’s plenty of heat to transfer into my knotted shoulders. The confluence of warmth and pressure is the unholy matrimony of pain and pleasure. In a good way. For the next 55 minutes it’s all chat and banter (albeit in a dark room with suspiciously panpipey sounds on the stereo) until Ferdie strays toward my calves.
Whatever man points I thought I had earned from becoming one with a golf ball were just fired off into a bunker. The noise I made was something akin to a thousand PGA professionals yelping at a missed putt. There’s probably a gag in here something about Ferdie finding my Achilles heel, but let’s just say we found a happy medium of pressure and proceeded to pummel appropriately.
The overall experience was as satisfying as the facility itself. The 1,000 square-metre indoor spa is a veritable haven for men and women alike, with six single and one double treatment cabin offering an array of body and facial treatments. There are also the Moroccan and Turkish Baths and swimming facilities. And when it comes to novel treatments there’s plenty to keep you coming back.
The Businessman’s Detox is a much longer (120-minute) re-balancing and detoxifying treatment that’s a perfect post-exercise routine to help with muscle fatigue, and the Sultan of YHI invites guests for a traditional Moroccan bath or Turkish Bath ritual, incorporating a host of oils and an aromatherapy massage – also over two hours. The hotel itself is a diamond in the rough; a little off the beaten track but well worth a visit for the spa lone, not to mention the raft of gourmet destinations on offer. Our overall verdict? It’s a swing and a win.