I am asked to relax, think of four colours and say them out loud. "Green, blue, purple, yellow," I respond sceptically while wondering what this is all about. I am sitting opposite Katrina Valente, a Dubai-based beauty expert and facial guru - a lithe lady with an incredibly reassuring presence who is entrusted with the faces of celebrities and UAE royalty.
We've met to talk facials, which, if the question I've just been asked is anything to go by, have come a long way since the traditional steam, excruciating extraction and fruit-smelling face mask. It seems that these days, facials come complete with colour therapy. Well, at least the Katrina Valente calibre of facials do.
Valente explains in her soothing voice how the first colour I chose relates to my current mood, the second to my chakra that is closed, the third what will make me feel better and the final one to where I am heading in the not too distant future. Green is all about letting go and new beginnings, blue relates to communication, purple refers to the higher self and meditation, while yellow relates to finding true happiness in life.
I stare back in amazement - I recently made the decision to leave the country to embark on a round the world journey, but I am stressing about everything I have to do before I board the plane. Valente's description of my colour choice couldn't ring truer. Five minutes into our conversation and I am already sold.
What Valente is demonstrating are the workings of Altearah Bio Colour Therapy, which is just one of the many treatments she specialises in. Valente first identifies the colours the client needs to work on, then uses organic perfumes that relate to each chakra of the body in massages and facials.
Originally from Scotland, Valente has been in the UAE for 14 years, running a successful holistic beauty business. Following training at the renowned Burghley Academy of Beauty in Cambridgeshire, UK, she decided to move to Dubai, which at the time was "a village". Following a role as a beauty therapist in a salon and a stint working for a wholesale beauty company, she decided to go it alone. "I really missed the hands-on therapy," she explains. "And I didn't like working for other people because I'd always worked on my own in the past. Since then, I've never looked back really."
Valente's business has gone from strength to strength, and her client list boasts UAE socialites and royalty, although naturally, she won't divulge names and I am not going to press for them. She is also the only facialist in the UAE who is trained to perform Intraceuticals Hyperbaric Pressurised Oxygen Therapy - a facial that is favoured by Madonna. In fact, Michelle Peck, who is the Queen of Pop's facialist herself, trained Valente.
While she is renowned for her facials, what makes Valente's treatments unique is that she takes a holistic approach to her clients' beauty. She can do everything from crystal therapy to reiki and reflexology, and combines eastern and western approaches.
"I am like a hairdresser; clients will start talking to me about their lives," she comments. "What I am seeing more and more is that I am helping women find the true beauty within themselves. I've done years of work on my inner self, and because of my experiences I am able to help my clients on a more personal level. So our conversations during therapy evolve, and this means they then come to me for healing treatments or life coaching."
What is definitely apparent is that Valente loves to help people, and it's this part of the job that brings her the most happiness. "I really enjoy helping people change their lives and look at them differently. When I've helped someone I get so much joy out of it - it's the most rewarding part of my job."
Valente is passionate about anti-ageing. Here are her top tips for staying youthful:
* Drink plenty of water. Our bodies are 85 per cent water and most of us don't drink enough. Aim for two to three litres a day.
* Take supplements. I recommend vitamin C, which helps your immune system and stress levels, as well as vitamin B and DMAE.
* Detox. Regular detoxes give our system a break and clear out all the toxins that accumulate over the years.
* Do what makes you happy. Try to do things that keep you in balance. We work hard so you must take the right amount of "me" time to nurture yourself.
* Use good products. Never skimp on skincare.
Visit www.katrinavalente.com for more information