Botox, for the soul
By Sushmita Bose
Friday, July 20, 2012

A non-invasive facial treatment — Natura Bissé’s La Alternativa — promises you a wrinkle-free visage… at least temporarily. Does it work? We find out

From where he was sitting in his star-chamber, my senior colleague peered hard at my face. “You mean you have age lines? And wrinkles, did you say?”

“Well, yes,” I said self-consciously, trying to discreetly tuck a few telltale grey strands of hair away.

“And you’re telling me you’re leaving the office at 4pm [he now peered at his watch] because you want to get a ‘sort of’ Botox treatment done on your face?”

“That’s correct…  a non-invasive procedure I am told, and a painless one I am assured,” I mumbled and scooted out of the star-chamber before said senior colleague seized the moment and hollered, “Are you kidding me?”

That’s exactly what my initial reaction was: are you kidding me? How can the effect of a sharp Botox shot be replicated by a soothing (at least that’s what I’d imagined) facial massage? I did some research on La Alternativa — yes, that’s what the therapy that promises a short-term Botox-like state is called (an alternative solution to the B-word, didn’t you guess?) — and it seems that a sizeable chunk of the unwrinkled-skin-seeking world is singing its paeans. La Alternative uses the Inhibit range of (the Barcelona-based premium skincare company) Natura Bissé, and the means to the end of an unlined, smooth face is Octamioxyl, regarded as an “effective inhibitor of facial contractions”, and Lipofiller, that fills “existing deep wrinkles and expression lines”.

The therapy is available at the really nice spa at The Address Marina (called matter-of-factly The Spa); when I turned up in the hallowed portals this time around, I was aware this wasn’t going to be an ingratiating knead session — but a baptism by fire for my facial skin. 

The customary spa 
surroundings prevail: lovely, lemongrass-scented environs, gentle music and attentive staff. As I lie down on the therapy bed, a high-wattage beam of light is thrust into my face; fortunately, I don’t have to suffer the onslaught of the radiance because Rosemary, the friendly therapist, sticks two wads of cotton on my eyes — and the light is now reduced to a blur

From thereon, it’s a 90-minute ritual: cleansing, toning and intermittent application of a slew of masks containing the vital ingredients. Many of the applications impart a burning/tingling sensation, so brace yourself for the slightest bit of discomfort. There is some drama towards the end when the last, heavy, peel-off mask descends on my face like a sheet: for a few seconds, I almost cannot breathe, and the overpowering darkness is scary as hell.

Once I emerge from the darkness, am cleaned up, and given a looking glass to preen into. The logical question is: does this work?

Definitely yes, if you are looking for a painless, short-term fix to give your face a new lease of life. At the end of 90 minutes, your skin is all plumped up, taut, even and glowing.

And no, if you are 
looking for the semi-permanent withdrawal of lines (four to six months, on an average) that Botox guarantees (something your therapist makes very clear at the onset). La Alternativa’s magical effect will wear 
off once you “wash your face”, Rosemary warned, although the rigorous facial will leave you with a far longer-lasting, less visible toning/purifying impact.

So go ahead with it if you wake up one morning and realise it’s a red-letter day.

Speaking for myself, it turned out to be quite the red-letter day. “Madam, I have to say something,” Rosemary intoned as a perfect parting shot. “Your face didn’t have many lines to begin with.”

I beamed, secure in the knowledge that whatever laugh lines I did have will not show up till I had washed my face. 


La Alternativa (The Alternative Solution)

  • Where: The Spa, The Address Dubai Marina 
  • Time: 10am to 10pm; valid until September 30, 2012
  • Cost: Dh750
  • Duration: 90 minutes


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