If there is one thing my face does not really need more of, it’s lotions, scrubs, serums and creams. I’m doing all that and more at home these days. And I find that most spa facials, as relaxing and briefly rejuvenating as they are, offer a time-consuming and expensive combination of cleansing, exfoliating, a tiny bit of microdermabrasion – if you are lucky – topped off by a dollop of moisturiser. You go out into the world looking fresh for a couple of hours, usually nothing more, and many hundreds of dirhams poorer.
That’s probably why a promotional sign pointing to Beach Rotana’s Zen Spa caught my eye. In the photo, a woman is having her face massaged with two long metal tongs, each tipped with two silver balls.
Now that looks like something is happening, I thought.
It turns out the tongs are attached to the Aroma Radiance Lift Facial Machine – new to the spa and the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi – offering one of three types of electrical currents that literally help lift your face. And so, drawn by promises of plumping and toning, I entered the spa looking tired and puffy.
After initial cleansing the therapist attached a metal patch to my back, which I later found out is intended to close the circuit. This first part of the treatment involves micro-currents – so micro I couldn’t feel anything – to deep cleanse using negative polarities.
Then we moved on to something called the galvanic current stage, which involved no patch but had the therapist passing the wand with the two silver balls in sweeping motions over my face, using positive polarity to plump and hydrate through to deeper skin layers. The only time anything approaching discomfort happened, and I wouldn’t really even call it that, came when she used another wand that felt like it was causing mild sparks. This high-frequency current is antibacterial, used for cleansing and healing the skin.
Throughout the treatment the therapist used the lovely Aromatherapy Associates range from the UK, which is produced using essential oils derived from plants and herbs.
In addition to the electricity, the facial has all the trappings of a regular treatment and quite a few extras, including a long, lovely massage of my shoulders, neck and arms. I was reminded several times why Zen is still one of the most established and reliable spas in the city, despite all the competition being thrown at it by hotel opening after hotel opening. It’s the thoughtful extras that keep it that way: a therapist covering you with warm towels partway through the treatment, just as you started to think you were getting a little chilly; the application of lip balm at the end you didn’t ask for but definitely wanted.
But the best part was that I didn’t just leave with what would be an expensive, short-lived glow. I felt considerably freshened up. And after so much time spent stimulating the muscles of my face, especially around the eyes and neck, it definitely looked firmer and stayed that way for at least a week. The spa recommends this treatment once a month and though that is a common refrain from facialists, this is one time I would take their advice.
• Beach Rotana’s Zen Spa offers three kinds of facials using the Aroma Radiance Lift Facial Machine, each targeting problem, dry/dehydrated and mature skin. The treatment costs Dh700 and takes 90 minutes. Phone 02 697 9333 for bookings
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