Saturday, 19 March 2011

Beauty Salons in UAE

I used to own quite a large hair and skin care center in Dubai, as I have mentioned on my blog before.
It was on Trade Center Road between Burjuman and the Trade Center.

The basis of the business was treatment rather than somewhere to go to get your face slapped around.
One of the most infuriating things in UAE was the lack of rules on who could run and work in a salon. Basically there were no rules and as I am told, still are no rules. You do not have to be qualified in anyway professionally to offer salon and hair services, which I find totally disgusting.

Here in the UK to become a qualified Beauty Therapist it takes around 3 years at college to achieve your NVQ levels, its hard work. I think UK has some of the most intensive training for therapists anywhere in the world.

To be a good beauty therapist you need to be able to correctly diagnose skin conditions and be able to treat them on the surface, know when to refer someone to a dermatologist and to be able to work out the correct treatment plan and product range for the client. If your not trained how can you do this.
While running the salon and actually working in it hands on as the main therapist I met loads of other salon owners and their staff from the dodgy unprofessional salons that seem to be everywhere in UAE. I once walked into a salon in Karama to see the salon owner sitting over a portable radiator trying to melt the wax covered in some clients hairs, on a fabric wax strip so she could scrape it all off to reuse the strip..YUK, how disgusting is that. The products some of these salons used amazed me, they were cheap, nasty and full of irritating ingrediants. I booked in for one of those 10 treament items for 100 dhs at one salon just to see what was going on. Allah save me, it was the worst experience of my life. To start with the so called therapist did not even ask me anything about my skin, she just began to steam the heck out of my face, started extracting anything on my face that she thought resembled a blackhead (including trying to squeeze a mole off my face), slapped the heck out of it with the most violent facial massage I had ever had. I was then subjected to a face mask which felt like vasaline and finally some very sticky, highly perfumed moisturiser. I came out looking as though someone had slapped me with a frying pan.

In UK you cant not run a salon unless you have professional staff. Companies such as Declor, Guinott, Dermalogica, TIGI etc will not let you use their professional products unless your staff hold a recognised qualification. However in UAE the companies that hold the franchise for professional products sell them to anyone, no qualifications need to be shown.

In my beauty room, before a client had a facial or body treatment, at least 15 - 20 mins was spent talking to the client, asking questions about their skin, analysing it, completing a client skin diagnosis form and finally their skin was mapped. Once this was done I would perform the facial or body treatment to specifically treat the problem they had. Everyone no matter how great their skin looks has a problem or two, be it acne, rosacea, dehydration, excess oiliness, enlarged pores etc etc. Therefore each facial needs to be specific for the skin condition so the client gets the best results possible.
Did you know that if you suffer with acne a therapist should not be slapping your face around during a facial??? You should be having a pressure point massage instead. Often acne can improve from daily gentle exfoliation as a lot of acne cases are caused by an excessive build up of dead skin getting into pores.
Rosacea is another skin condition many people do not realise they have. It causes flushing on forehead and cheeks a bit like a butterfly pattern and often small pustules form under the skin which seem not to break through. Therefore if you have Rosacea the last thing you need is someone to turn on the steamer and then massage your face by roughly slapping and stroking it.

I noticed on my last visit back to UAE that things have still not changed, you have those nasty salons everywhere (normally they call themselves SALOONS). Maybe people find them OK, but in reality your skin is not benefiting in anyway, and being treated incorrectly during a facial can make your skin problem worse.
If you visit a salon for waxing make sure they use either disposable was strips (bit like paper) or you can obviously see they are brand new (fabric ones). Take care to notice the condition of the wax heater also, if you see it all mucky with hairs stuck all over the tin, get the heck out of there.

I wish UAE would bring in proper rules for salons, you would not visit a butcher to get a facelift would you? so why let someone who has no idea about skin or hair (and I mean technical and scientific not how to slap a colour on) touch your face, body or hair.
A good salon will educate you on such things as sun protection, explain the products they are using and how they will benefit you etc etc.

My last bug about UAE and the beauty business is the Beauty Supply shops. Forget the crappy products they sell (they are so awful believe me) its the equipment that worries me. You can walk into somewhere like Nazir Trading and purchase machines without proving you have a qualification. You can use ultrasound, faradic, dermabrasion electrolosis, makeup tatoo machines etc by buying the machine and reading the leaflet that comes with it without any professional training and start using it on clients. That is SO dangerous.

If I come back to UAE I am seriously thinking of opening a very small skin treatment center which specifically treats skin and body problems topically. My brother in law is a plastic surgeon so I am hoping we can work together on this with him prehaps offering non surgical treatments such as botox, fillers when he has time. I love skin and I am passionate about it. I am 44 and have virtually no wrinkles because I take care of my skin, know which products suit my problem (I have had Rosacea since 2006) and protect it from the sun.
When I owned the salon in Dubai I diagnosed at least 2 clients with skin cancer and referred them to a dermatologist who confirmed it (one was a mole on a clients let I noticed during a body scrub, the other was a scab like leasion on a clients neck during a facial). They knew it was there but thought nothing of it, luckily both recieved treatment for it and it was caught before it began to spread and become life threatning.

So if you love going to the salon, spend that little bit extra and make sure your therapist/hairdresser holds a qualification such as NVQ or holds a CIDESCO or BABTAC membership.


Anonymous said...

This is the reason I avoid salons here in the UAE! I just don't trust them. I'm sure there are some good hairstylists/facialists around here, but they're like finding a needle in a haystack!

beckykamyab said...

Hello My name is Olivia and I am from Holland. My husband is starting a sporting business in Dubai and he wants me to come too. I was thinking going to beautyschool here for 2 years to get my diploma beauty therapist. I would love to open a professional salon. My question to you is Did you make a good living when you had your salon in Dubai?
I would like to communicate with you. My email is

KInd regards Olivia

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