Spa therapy at an iconic 75-year-old salon and a new facial bar

We indulged in a 24k gold facial at Taj Salon in Colaba and a purity ritual for oily/combinaion skin at Bandra's Skin Story. Find out how they fared

When we walked in to the Taj Salon housed inside the iconic five-star in Colaba, the ambiance wasn’t overwhelming as we had expected from its legacy — it appeared like any other high-end salon in the city. An attendant escorted us to our seat where we were requested to fill out a short health form (about allergies or health issues). Our beautician for the session, Pramila Gilande, met us and analysed our skin, in a therapy room that also had a bed.

Representative Pic

She identified the problem areas (read: oily sections) and shared the routine that would be used with different products on various parts of our face, based on her analysis.

Gold high
The menu spelt opulence from signature treatments like the Crystal Massage that used Rose Quartz — a popular jet lag treatment for tired and dehydrated skin — to the Royal Indulgence Manicure and Pedicure that begins with a luxurious milk bath, also known as The Royal Hammam. We picked the 24k gold facial. On making this choice, we were informed that members of members of royalty and high society have relied on gold for anti-ageing and skin improvement, stretching far back in time. They believed gold was the key to youth and allowed them to come closer to the gods. Cleopatra is rumoured to have slept in a gold mask to enhance her legendary beauty. Gold beauty routines were also popular in Asia, especially ancient China and even in modern -day Japan. “Gold has nano particles and has the ability to get absorbed in the skin. The molecules penetrate into the skin and gold has properties to give the skin a glow, texture and shine. We use a collagen serum, so even that gets absorbed in the skin faster as the molecules of the serum cling to the gold molecules and open the pores,” explained, Reena Sheth, manager, Taj Salon, Taj Mahal Palace, as we got set to begin.

Pics/Shadab Khan

Luxe on call
The treatment was relaxing from the word go. We began with a gold cleanser, followed by a toner. We were told that after giving our skin some steam and a quick check for whiteheads, the anti-aging mask made of gold with silk proteins and marine collagen (wrinkle-fillers) would be applied. Soon, our face was wrapped in gold foil, which was covered with gauze, and a second layer, of deep tissue rejuvenation mask along with the collagen eye mask, was applied. “This helps firm and improve skin elasticity, giving you a silky smooth and rejuvenating look,” our beautician told us. She gave us a relaxing foot and hand massage while we waited for the mask to dry.

This massage was the highlight of our session. The 90-minute session ended with a cup of soothing green tea. Though we weren’t promptly transformed into a beauty pageant contestant, we did leave the salon with our skin feeling nourished and pampered and a little skip in our step.

Rating: 07/10

Time: 9 am to 7.30 pm (Monday to Saturday) and  9 am to 6 pm (Sunday).
At: Taj Salon, Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba.
Cost: Rs 20,000 (Gorgeous Gold — The 24 K Gold Facial)

Cut to  nostalgia 
"We have constantly changed and adapted over the last 75 years. When we started in the 1940s, ours was the only high-end salon in the city. We were the first to have an import license and we would use imported products. The beauty industry is changing every day. The regular honey wax is the only thing that has remained constant; we do it the traditional way with honey, sugar and lime and use fine Egyptian cloth," informed Sheth. "We had three staff members who have been with us since 1940. While two retired in October, the last one, a barber will retire shortly. We have had patrons whose families have been coming to us for years. Sometimes, on a Sunday, we have grandfather, father and son come in for a hair cut together," she added. As part of the ongoing 75th year celebrations, the salon plans to invite first-generation customers for treatments on the house and pamper them.

Step 1: The face is wrapped in gold foil, and then covered in gauze.

Step 2: The anti-ageing, hydrating mask made of gold with silk protein and marine collagen (wrinkle-fillers) is applied after.
"We don’t follow the set protocol that the brand provides. Our CIBTAC-certified beauticians are adept at customising the facial according to the skin type, age and occasion for which the facial is being administered. We use different serums with active ingredients as well as the massage strokes are tailored according to the type and need of the skin," says Reena Sheth

A bar that offers facials

Therapy: Purity ritual for oily/combination skin

Like restaurants, salons and spas can be found aplenty in Bandra. And a new addition is Skin Story. It claims to be the only facial bar in the city. It is run by make-up artist Nikeeta Vishak, who has worked on several TV and print commercials. Vishak believes there was a dearth of salons that adhere to good hygiene conditions, which results in the skin reacting post treatments. This drove her to start Skin Story. Vishak uses products by marine-based skincare brand Thalgo and customises treatments based on your skin type. The towels are UV-cleansed while the sponges aren’t reused.

Nikeeta Vishak works on our skin. pics/swarali purohit
Nikeeta Vishak works on our skin. Pics/Swarali Purohit

Face the calm
In comparison to the wide menus (think everything from wine to rose petals) at spas across the city, the 10 ritual-only menu might be limiting for some. However, it covers a wide range of skin conditions. Vishak has paid attention to designing the interiors of the space. Dominated by white, it instantly puts one at ease. The glass cubicles make the space seems larger.

Each session begins with an analysis of your skin and a ritual is then prescribed. Vishak picked the Purity Ritual for oily/combination skin for us (Rs 1,500, 45 minutes). The treatment begins with a session of light face rub without any products. This is supposed form a bond between the masseuse and you. This is followed by a round of exfoliation with the help of a sea salt and papaya scrub. We tend to run miles from scrubs; this one though didn’t irritate our skin. The rest of the treatment involved the usual facial routines like massage and face pack.

With deft strokes, Vishak managed to drown the traffic sounds from the road below and placed us into a zen-like space. We liked the little touches, such as the use of warm towels when necessary, and that our belongings were kept in a basket under our massage table for safety.

Post the treatment, our skin didn’t feel tight. A good sign as poor products and technique rids your skin of natural moisture. The ritual had aptly served its purpose —hydrate your skin. If you can ignore the limited number of rituals on offer, Skin Story deserves a visit as we didn’t find any faults.

Rating: 07/10
Time: 11 am to 8.30 pm, open seven days
At: Jasmin House, first floor, Pali Naka, Bandra (W).
Cost: Rs 1,300 to Rs 4,500
Call: 9967486664

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