I was reading Anna's recent post about Where to Spend and Where to Save when it comes to beauty treatments and I realised:
I do nothing myself.
Its borderline embarrassing and very much a result of the fact that I am a) cackhanded in attempting to do these things myself and b) a Dubai resident that has been spoiled by the rich availability of cheap beauty salons.
Here then is the ugly truth laid bare - where I spend and where I save when it comes to treatments. Strap in for a high maintenance take on what I deem "essential".
Where I spend
Let's start with the hair on my head.
Tape extensions are bae. I don't have bad natural hair per se but my ends are weak and thin. Tapes give me that thickness that makes my hair, albeit on a superficial level, feel/appear healthier.
I get these installed and colour matched by Louise at Hairworks IBN Battuta. She does a sensational job with them, always adding just the right amount of hair and understanding how to make them blend.
So far, so normal.
But then comes the blowdries. I love a blow-dry and consider it a cure for almost any ailment:
- Feel fat? Get a blow dry.
- Hate your hair and want to shave it off? Get a blow dry.
- Despairing at your life? Get a blow dry.
Onto the body...
If there is one thing I regret in life it's that I didn't commit to laser hair removal sooner. I clearly didn't research it seriously and so failed to realise that investing in just one session would have a dramatic impact in lessening and slowing hair growth. To date I have had 3 sessions on my underarms and 2 sessions on legs and bikini line at Eternel Med Clinic and I cannot explain to you the liberation that comes from knowing that you actually will not need to concern yourself with removal for a good few weeks before regrowth returns. Incredible.
I am an ideal candidate for this treatment - a dark hairy person with light skin - and it pains me to think of the time and money wasted on epilators and waxing. Oh and if anyone tries to sell you one of those at home laser hair removal systems just raise your hand and shout bollocks.
If you have ever considered laser hair removal and you fit the criteria in terms of skin and hair type then do not hesitate. Expensive? Yes, it can be, but you may also be surprised - although a clinic may quote 6-8 sessions it is possible that you will need far fewer.
Look in all honesty I haven't painted my own nails for a very long time. Months. My reliance on the nail ladies of Dubai is so extreme that I have started chucking out my nail polish collection in acknowledgment of its futile existence in my home.
I get a Gelish pedicure every month (Gelish is a runner's best friend and seems to keep the nails together) and bi-monthly manicures. I do have acrylics which seems horribly unfashionable to admit but they are durable and sculpted to paper-thin status so do appear "relatively" natural. N Bar in Battuta is the best for this, especially because I can get my brows done (threaded and tinted) and a shoulder massage at the same time that I am tending to my nails.
I've had a couple of outstanding facials in my time (a Guinot treatment in the UK and a Bliss facial in the W Doha) but I tend to experiment with different products at home and then go for Botox once every 6-9 months. I never top-up - this is a recipe for disaster as constant top ups mean your muscles never actually re-engage - but just wait until I look tired and old (AKA my actual self) and then re-book.
I have tried a few places both here and in the UK. In Dubai Eternel Med Clinic is the only option and in the UK I would recommend Dr Bob Khanna in Reading.
Out of everything this is probably the most expensive and yet most important maintenance ritual for me. I had Invisalign 10 years ago (don't believe the hype - it's not a magic solution and depending on where they have to add the "blocks" to your teeth, can be more visible than traditional braces) and now I have a lingual brace on top and train tracks on the bottom - for both straightening and bite alignment.
It's very expensive to get this done but there is no way that I would prioritise designer bags or Zara hauls over my teeth and I can't understand anyone that does.
Where I save
After all that you are probably wondering where I actually refrain from spending..well there are a couple of areas where I hold back:
Now I actually LOVE spray tans. Sisters Beauty Lounge in Dubai does the James Read tan and it's incredible, giving me a glow that I could never attain myself. However, walking through the mall, post-tan when my body is sticky and orange is less than desirable and so I mostly prefer to DIY this part of my beauty treatment. I do enjoy the St Tropez and Xen Tan but lately I have been LOVING the Clarins drops. They are, in effect, a gradual tanner, and take the edge off the office tan.
The soothing music, the fluffy bathrobes, the therapists that speak in hushed tones...it's a recipe for relaxation designed to seduce us into booking and yet every time I do invest I always wonder why I bothered. Yes it was very nice but as soon as I'm sitting in the taxi on the way home I quickly lose any benefit from the experience. In my opinion the extortionate sums spend in a pseudo-relaxing spa would have been better invested in some body products and a couple of glasses of wine.
I feel like everyone is getting fillers these days and although I have dabbled in the past, I would leave it well alone. I think we all follow people on social media who are gradually changing the dimensions of their face with filler and the end result is seldom flattering. Blown up faces with strategic bulges are not my definition of youth nor beauty.
I have been told by a couple of people that I should get filler put into my smile lines and although I do joke about looking old and may seem game to try anything to suppress the ageing process, I stop here. You can only do and spend so much to slow down the inevitable - maintenance is one thing but denial of this fact is another.
After dutifully listing this all out I cannot decide if I should consider myself high maintenance or normal. Which ever end of the spectrum I fall I see these procedures as little luxuries and unapologetically enjoy the boost given.
Perhaps when I leave Dubai one day I will see a dramatic revision to my list but until then I'll take life one weekly blow-dry and one bi-weekly manicure appointment at a time. :)
What are your must have beauty treatments?