Dove Spa (unsurprisingly) is owned by, operated by and features Dove. It's (exactly) like stepping into one of their commercials -- a lot of women smiling serenely at you while wearing a lot of white.
MY TREATMENT: PERSONALIZED FACIAL (60 MIN.)
Dove is walking a tricky line. They gained massive points with women everywhere during their Campaign for Real Beauty. Then they lost a few when some of their ads didn't line up with their message (e.g. the ones that implied Dove deodorant would keep your armpits from being ugly. I didn't even know armpits could be ugly before that. Thanks Dove.)
Now that they've launched their first spas in Canada, they're really putting themselves out there. How to fit spa treatments into Dove's natural, pure, gentle and warm-n-non-critical-they're-laugh-lines-not-wrinkles-just-want-you-to-be-happy brand image?
After visiting the spa, and test driving their facial, I think the answer is "carefully". The prices across the city are pretty flat for most services. So the difference is in the details. And Dove does well at details. Like a changing area with a personal locker, which contains a most excellent fluffy white robe (on sale for $100. Which you can't help but notice, since you put it on, turn around, and face a mannequin wearing a matching outfit plus price tag).
You get to choose the soundscape in your treatment room (I opted for soothing spa music over pop hits, since Miley Cyrus doesn't exactly relax me). The treatment rooms also have full closets for your use. None of this stuffing your socks and underpants down your pant leg and hooking your jeans by the belt loop on the back of the door nonsense.
But my favourite touch (besides the closet space) were the heated treatment beds. And might I add "gurgle".
Face treatments begin with your 15 min "free" Skin Talk diagnosis. Where very scientifical looking probey-things are used to "test" your skin. The skin diagnostics evaluate for lifestyle (smoking/drinking/exercise) + oil + hydration + elasticity + skin pigment + sensitivity.
I'm certain that a squad of scientitians can vouch for the seriousness of this, but I found it very difficult not to laugh. (Okay, I did laugh a little). It's very much like being in an ad -- where a woman in a shiny white jumpsuit lies on an examination chair in an overexposed white room, while industrious people with clipboards hover nearby, eventually concluding that they can, in fact, reverse the signs of aging.
But underneath the techno-lusty fanfare is some good old common sense. Your lifestyle does affect your health, change in seasons do affect your skin. According to my personal Skin Talk diagnosis I am mostly (applause) "normal". (Which is good I guess, though it means I won't be getting that Alpha Double-Plus status anytime soon.)
The quality of the facial is excellent. My aesthetician Talita talks through every aspect clearly and helpfully. You can keep your bra on if desired, this is what the QTips will feel like (used during moisturization), etc.
Throughout the facial, Talita was constantly busy, and always changing up the type of contact (light, tapping, slathering, smoothing) + liberal use of hot towels. Sometimes an "hour long" facial includes 15 minutes of mixing together the goop, or just leaving the room while the mask dries. Where Dove stands out is their "treat" system. All facials come with some level of "treat" that's included in the price. E.g. For the hour-long personalized facial, I chose the nail shaping with clear polish. Other options range from different kinds of face waxing (i.e. lip or eye) or hand/food massage. If you really love the treats, you can add on up to a "triple treat" for $20.
At the end of my treatment I receive my "Prescription from Your Skin Care Experts". A grand total of 14 products (ooOOo burn Ritual , they beat you by one...). I like to play a little game where I add up the cost of all my recommended products. In this case (before tax) it would be $520.
A significant difference is that even though Talita went through the products with me, I felt no pressure to buy. Go ahead and tell me which products were used, so long as it doesn't get pushy. (If I've just spent $100+ on a facial, that's probably all the indulgent purchasing I'll be doing today.)
I opted out of all but one -- "Redefine", an "illuminating day eye balm" ($45). Since I'm getting all old and wizzened, and my eyes are marked by deep purple circles (which, if I cover them with concealer, just turn into red irritated circles. Touche skin.) If there was any question I'm getting old and wizzened, I noticed that this product falls under Dove's "Rediscover Collection: For Experienced Skin". "Experienced" being marketing code for "old". (I prefer to think my skin's "ahead of its time".)
By the end of the hour, my nails were shiny and my face was supple. And I had that serene post-facial calm. But I also felt like I'd drunk deeply from the Dove Kool-Aid, and I wasn't sure I wanted to fight it. I just wanted to be slathered in their very gently perfumed sensitive-skin potions while I drifted off to sleep.
The irony of what Dove does at their spa versus the "beauty from within" perspective they promote in their materials didn't come back to bite me until a few hours post-facial, when I started flipping through their brochure.
Printed all over the walls of the spa are inspirational anti-superficial quotes. "Beauty ... is not something physical". Treatments are for "real women". Et cetera. And what better gift to give the "real woman" who doesn't think her beauty is physical, than one of Dove's "Bottoms Up!" treatments: an electro cellulite massage for your ass to reduce that "orange peel" appearance.
After all, at Dove, beauty is only skin deep, and so is a mild electrical current.
The first Toronto Dove Spa location opened in 2009, five months after the first Canadian Dove Spa opened in Oakville.
According to Dove: "Facials designed for you and your skin. Dove Spa can help you design a facial that is as unique as you are. Incorporated within all our facials are a mixture of high performance techniques and currents to achieve deep cleansing, intense hydration and muscle firming to deliver effective results to the skin. Our personalized facials are delivered in set time frames which will include comfort time and homecare recommendations."
FEATURED PRODUCT LINES
"Dove Spa uses professional-grade Dove Spa products that are not available on supermarket shelves. We also carry OPI Nail Polish, St. Tropez Spray Tans and a wide range of additional products."
PACKAGES & DISCOUNTS