(Almost) painless hair removal
What it is An ancient Middle Eastern hair removal technique that uses a warm, thick paste made from sugar, lemon juice and water. Sugaring claims to be a sweeter deal compared to waxing: its all-natural ingredients don’t adhere to live skin cells, which minimises – if not completely eliminates – the formation of dreaded ingrown hair.
How it feels Sugaring is simpler than it sounds: a warm, honey-coloured paste, imported from the US, is applied in the opposite direction of hair growth before it’s stripped off in the reverse direction. This removes the hair from follicle with the bulb intact. It’s almost like waxing, except with sugar paste.
Owner and ‘sugarist’ Jasmine Yong expertly executed each stroke across my lower legs, pressing down on the sugared areas to relieve pain, all the while without breaking conversation. The procedure was repeated on my bikini area and underarms, and ended with a complimentary Hungarian mud mask.
I’ll be honest: ripping hair out at the root is bound to be painful. But sugaring doesn’t sting as much as waxing, and the second time around – yes, I went back on my own terms – was far more comfortable.Verdict I relished in almost three weeks of dolphin-smooth skin, and hair regrowth was finer, smoother and slower. The sugared areas were also brighter, especially on my kneecaps, and here’s the clincher: no ingrown hair. An organic hair removal method that’s less painful, brightens my skin and is eco-friendly on top of that? Consider me a convert.
Price $60 for Brazilian (first-timers only), $25 for underarms and $45 for lower legs.
You've got bird poop on your face
What it is Uguisu no fun, or ‘nightingale faeces’ in Japanese, is the main ingredient used in this facial treatment popular with geisha in the 17th century. It’s said to brighten and even out skin tone as well as treat acne scars and sun damage. Don’t be too grossed out: the Japanese bush warbler, the species that provides the raw ingredient, is reared in farms and fed a diet of organic berries for the sole purpose of harvesting its faeces.
How it feels Instead of a lumpy grey mess I’d envisioned, the ‘elixir’ came as a fine yellow powder, which was mixed with water and rice bran to form a thick paste. The smell was the first thing that hit me: a musky, earthy scent that reminded me of hamsters. The poop paste was left on for about 15 minutes for it to tighten and dry before it was removed and more all-natural products – from Kyoto’s Chidoriya skincare range – were massaged into my face.
Verdict Other than the smell – it helped to think of shiny happy things rather than, y’know, bird excrement – the facial was relaxing. I walked out with brighter and smoother skin, although my acne scars weren’t miraculously zapped away.
Price $240/90 minutes
Freeze your fat off
What it is A non-invasive body contouring treatment that targets stubborn fat deposits through controlled gradual cooling (read: freezing) of fat cells to between -5ºC and -10ºC for over an hour. The crystallised fat cells are then eliminated by the immune system, and Privé claims results will show two to three months post-treatment.
How it feels After prodding and pinching my thighs – the ‘trouble areas’ – to assess my suitability, two therapists gave me the green light: they’d go to work on my inner thighs.
They began marking out the areas to freeze. Large cooling gel sheets were applied over the marked sections – to prevent frostbite, they explained – before a handheld applicator, connected to a machine, was placed over the sheet to ‘suck up’ the fat in one swift motion.
It did smart when the fats got ‘extracted’, but the skin numbs immediately. I had to endure a mild pinching sensation, however, until the end of the session. Once the hour was up, the therapists removed the applicator to reveal an area of frozen flesh. It looked like a stick of cold butter. The therapists gently massaged the area, and I was good to go.
Verdict Fat freezing is a slow burner. I didn’t notice any immediate effect – except for a weird sore and itchy sensation that persisted for the next two weeks, which I was told is common. It’s too early to tell if fat freezing has any weight to it, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on my thighs.
Price $1,200 per area.
Hot oil and head massages
What it is Shirodhara, which originates from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow), involves pouring oil over the forehead and down the hair. This treatment developed in India more than 3,000 years ago, and is believed to relieve mental tensions, headaches, insomnia and memory loss.
How it feels St Gregory spa in PARKROYAL on Beach Road has a room dedicated to Ayurvedic treatments – and it’s completely unlike other beauty treatments. For one, there’s a brass pot that hung from the ceiling, over a shallow ‘sink’ that protruded from one end of a spa bed. I wasn’t sure if I had checked into a spa or a Chinese water torture chamber.
The therapist was a motherly lady who explained the procedure while warming about a litre of herbal oil in a saucepan. She began the session with a head massage, rubbing the oil into my hair and scalp, while I was seated. The remainder of the treatment I spent lying on my back, the brass pot hovering above my face.
After covering my eyes with damp cotton pads, the therapist poured the warmed oil into the pot. It steadily flowed from a hole at the bottom and onto my forehead. So far, so good. And the next 40 minutes were even better: a blur of head massages as she ‘drew’ circles and lines across my forehead with the stream of oil. The soothing session felt like it was over in a blink of an eye. Probably because I fell asleep (I dare you not to).
Verdict I slept like a baby that night. Bonus: I had great hair the day after as the oil nourished my locks better than store- bought serums.
Price $180/45 minutes
Float your troubles away
What it is You climb into a pod filled with body temperature-adjusted saline solution, close the hatch, turn off the lights and float on the surface of the water. By depriving all senses in a zero-gravity environment, floating allows your body to relax and your mind to enter a meditative state.
How it feels Palm Ave Float Club’s Lavender outlet checks all the boxes of what an urban oasis should be: full-length windows overlooking greenery, neutral-coloured walls and a lounge complete with a playlist of calming music.
After a quick shower, I stepped into the pod, closed the hatch and bobbed on the surface of the water. For the first 10 minutes, soothing music reverberated softly underwater through special in-built speakers – to help ease into things, explained co-owner Derrick Foo. At arm’s length were a light switch and emergency buzzer.
It was pitch black and so silent I could hear my heartbeat. At first, I struggled to keep perfectly still. Thankfully, a pool noodle was available to provide much-needed neck support, along with a spray bottle of water and a dry towel to wipe away saltwater if it stung my eyes. But once I got the hang of it, I entered a limbo state – much like the moment right before falling asleep.
Verdict While I didn’t quite reach a meditative trance – that takes regular sessions – I left the room in a more comfortable headspace. Floaters, as we’re called, are encouraged to hang around the lounge to sip on either camomile or dandelion tea to let the experience sink in.
Price $90/60 minutes and $110/90 minutes. Three-, six- and 12-float packages available.