There’s no shortage of swanky spas, high-end spa brands, and OTT beauty extras (caviar facial, anyone?) in Dubai, but when temperatures hover around 43°C – which they do every August – it’s time to go back to the basics: cooling ingredients derived from nature. Incidentally, offerings like hot-stone massages and steamy hammams are widely available, but spa and salon treatments designed to beat the heat are surprisingly hard to find. Looking to get you covered from top to toe, here’s what I discovered. And loved.
Aloe Vera Hair Treatment at That Hair Tho
Summer is the season of vacations, ice cream, and blockbuster films. It’s also the season of sweat and scalp build-up. Enter: the Aloe Vera Treatment at That Hair Tho, where green walls, bright colours, and all manner of 90s kitsch will lift your spirits, regardless of the day’s events. My pre-treatment consultation starts with a welcome note in fluorescent hues, and unexpectedly seeing my name on the mirror has me smiling before we even begin.
The Aloe Vera Treatment is tailored to each client based on hair type and recurring issues. As for my concerns? A generally dry scalp and excessive hair fall, a development brought upon by the onset of the pandemic – because stress. As a result, the formula that’s custom-created for me contains aloe vera (which features gel from a live aloe vera plant that resides onsite) and neem powder (known for its antifungal properties), both complemented by castor oil and coconut oil. Castor oil, as I learn, contains ricinoleic acid that increases blood flow to the follicles, thereby promoting healthier hair. It’s extremely heavy, however, and typically diluted with the likes of coconut or jojoba oil.
A cooling sensation takes over as soon as the aloe vera mixture makes contact with my scalp. And just as aloe vera gel can soothe a sunburn or dehydrated skin, the treatment works wonders to calm an itchy or irritated scalp. The formula is massaged in and left on for 20 minutes, and I’m pretty sure I drifted off somewhere between the two. Two rounds of cleansing later – first with a shampoo that contains scrub particles to remove build-up, then with a moisturising shampoo to tend to dry strands – my hair looks nourished and super hydrated. Luminous, even. The Aloe Vera Treatment ends with a few spritzes of anti-humidity spray and your choice of a blow-dry or blast-dry, but does it even matter? You’ll feel lighter, fresher, and cleaner than you have in years.
Cucumber Facial at The Organic Glow Beauty Lounge
At this entirely ‘green’ spot in JVC, all are welcome and well taken care of: pregnant women, cancer survivors, those with sensitive skin, and just about anyone looking to steer clear of indecipherable chemicals. Personally, I’m a member of Team Sensitive Skin and, as someone who often wakes up with a rash or adverse reaction the day after a traditional facial, am delighted to discover the all-vegan Cucumber Facial. Not only are cucumbers both cooling and hydrating, but they’re also a rich source of silica – a mineral that supports optimal connective tissue for healthier skin. The treatment starts with a multi-step face cleansing process that turns to two further cooling ingredients derived from nature: rose water and aloe vera. I already know I’m in the right place.
Next up is the exfoliation stage, which comes with an unexpected element: date syrup. Organic brown sugar is mixed with date syrup to create an exfoliant that’s surprisingly beneficial – dates contain pantothenic acid, which helps the skin retain moisture. As the steamer gets going, I expect to be left alone. Instead, I’m treated to a hand and forearm massage that offers much-needed relief to my stiff and swollen wrists. I’m enjoying an exceptionally clear skin day, but in the case of pimples and other blemishes, extractions aren’t the norm at Organic Glow. By now, I’ve lost count of how many times a forcible extraction in the midst of a facial has left me with scarring – it’s nice to finally discover a salon where this practice is a no-no.
Organic cucumber slices are placed all over my face, and I feel their cooling juices start to trickle down my face and neck, my body temperature dropping instantly. As a blissful 15 minutes allow the chilled slices to take effect, waking up me and my tired skin, I silently vow to return and do it all over again. The Cucumber Facial ends with a rich, super-softening vitamin E cream infused with aloe vera that I end up leaving on my skin overnight, as recommended. Cucumber is a natural astringent and tightens pores, making this refreshing facial ideal for those with oily skin, too.
Foot Reflexology and Peppermint Foot Treatment at Sea Salt Spa
Regular pedicures felt like a weekly essential pre-pandemic, but in this new era of prioritising health and wellness over all else, foot reflexology is where it’s at. Practised for centuries, this feel-good massage entails applying pressure to different points on the bottom of the foot as they correspond to different organs and areas of the body, thereby inducing both healing and relaxation. The Foot Reflexology and Peppermint Foot Treatment at Sea Salt Spa is 60 minutes of sheer bliss, cooling and soothing the feet until they feel as good as new. It really is ideal for sore, achy, tired feet that are trapped inside closed-toe shoes in this heat (farewell, WFH days). For the uninitiated, menthol is the main chemical component of peppermint, which explains its cooling properties.
I start with a refreshing lemongrass-cucumber welcome drink that perfectly sets the tone as I sink into a cloud-like recliner. A foot soak in warm water infused with lavender bath salts is swiftly followed by a zingy peppermint foot scrub before the star attraction: an extensive massage accented with peppermint cream. Admittedly, I’m ticklish under the feet and expect to squirm my way straight through the massage, but proven wrong in no time. If anything, the pressure hits that sweet spot between too gentle and too firm, and I find myself more relaxed than I’ve been in ages.
Sleepily, I relish the fact that the massage also tends to my calf muscles, which have suffered the agonising pain of ‘charley horse’ cramps for several weeks now – they’re far more common in the summer months due to electrolyte imbalances. The treatment wraps up with a swipe of hot towels – peppermint-scented, too! – to remove any greasy residue before a brief shoulder massage comes about as an entirely unexpected treat. Pressed for time? Opt for the shorter version of the Foot Reflexology and Peppermint Foot Treatment, which skips the shoulder massage and lasts for 30 minutes.