Beware of buying cheap facial packages


Beware of spas offering facial packages that are that extremely attractive, because you could be getting “more” than your share of the bargain. You can’t tell actually, since your eyes are always closed during the treatments. And by the time you realized, you may have paid a hefty price for it.

Dubious products used during treatments
In some spas, I was told that the products they use on their clients’ faces aren’t the same house brands you see on their shelves. Rather, they use cheap creams and lotions imported from some third world countries. I can’t say that the imports from the third world countries are definitely of poor quality, but they do sound dubious to me and the practice smacks of dishonesty. So what you see may not be actually what you get.

Skin creams and lotions diluted with water
And even if the house brand was used, I’ve heard of how some beauty therapists would add water to dilute the serums and creams, so that less of the actual product is used on their clients’ skin.

These are stories I recently learnt from people who are working inside the industry. I wasn’t given any specific names of spas and salons but my immediate link were those who advertised heavily and who offer cheap deals. So what can we do as consumers?

Go to those recommended by people you know
I think if we’re talking about facials, cheap is not always good as there is usually a catch. While I’m not saying that an expensive facial definitely deliver results, I view heavily advertised cheap facials with lots of skepticisms. My suggestion is to go to those which are recommended to you by people you know, or find out what the girls are saying at the beauty forums. Remember to ask what sort of products they’ll be using on your skin. I don’t believe in leaving our faces to their judgement and hands completely – as consumers, we have a right to know! In fact, a good facial spa will offer to walk you through the entire treatment process and have the patience to answer your questions. And while you’re in the treatment room, check the products on the tray – are they the same ones displayed on the shelves or the same ones they said will be used?

Quality of the therapists
Additionally, take a look at their therapists.  Some people are particular that the therapists shouldn’t be foreigners but I have had good experience with some of them.  Instead, I think it’s more important to check the length of their service at the spa.  I would be hesitant to have someone new doing treatments on my face, especially if the treatment involves operating certain high-tech equipment.  I would also watch out for frequent changes in the therapists at the salon. Go with your gut feel – if the therapist come across as inexperience, do not hesitate to ask for a change!

Stay away from those that practice hard sell
And really, stay away from those that practice hard sell tactics. I can accept a certain level of sales talk but I can’t tolerate hard sell. There is no need to hard sell if you’re good because customers will be happy to return based on the satisfaction level and results delivered. If customers have to be retained by way of being “forced”, then something is not very right isn’t it? These are likely also the type of spas or salons that engage in dubious practice to milk more cash from the customers. I wouldn’t be surprised that their standard of service drop as soon as the customers sign up for the packages!

Horror stories to share?
Well, I hope none of you are affected by the closure of the Wellness Village. Some of the spa packages apparently came up to between S$550 – S$6000 and these customers are now stranded. So this might be a good excuse to decline those facial salons trying to hard sell to you in future. But do share if you have come across any horror facial or spa stories – apart from the hard selling that is! On the other hand, I’ve also heard horror stories of customers who steal products when they’re left alone to change in the treatment rooms!


  1. nora says:

    This case is an eye-opener on not “dumping” your hard earned money blindly for spa packages. I’m always caution not to fall prey with this cheap facials & spa packages. The only one that I can’t resist was for a cheap massage that I went few years back.
    Luckily, it was a good massage but as I wasn’t familiar with the place, I came late. The owner chided me for my lateness & complained that she need to reschedule her other appointments. Just for a cheap massage I stayed on. I didn’t go there anymore ‘cos I find the owner made me unwelcome with her comments.

  2. AtelierGal says:

    My maiden facial.

    That was some years ago, and this salon had just started. They had this roadshow promo pretty near the exit so I couldn’t ‘escape.’

    I paid for a trial and went there. The ambience was okay. They didn’t care to explain what they applied on my face, a big contrast to True Beauty who explained step by step during my whole session there.

    At the end of it, after I got dressed, I noticed my necklace was missing. A gift from Mum which is pricy. I asked them to search high and low in the room I was in. 10mins later, I happened to hear one of the employee saying I was troublesome and couldn’t be bothered. 5mins later that same person came out and told me they couldn’t find it. Without saying a word, I walked into the room and found it on the floor by the bin in plain sight!

    The worst was, they popped my zits so bloody painful without asking whatsoever, and left scars which took me ages to heal. Never in my life have I pop a zit and leave a scar.

    After payment, they still had the audacity to pressure me to sign up a package!

    It was a year later when I heard similar stories about this salon being unprofessional etc. Yet they are still expanding!

  3. Kaith says:

    You’re right, we should be careful with all of these spa treatments and whatnots. I only go to my trusted spa and ask for my trusted therapist. Nobody and nothing can touch my face but my therapist and my proven brands. I am wary of promos as well because I often think there’s some catch to it.

  4. sesame says:

    Oh…that was her bad. Even if you were late, there is a nice way to tell you. I suppose her business was so good that she did not worry about offending her customers. But the thing is, business is a cycle. When times are bad, these owners need to leverage on their past goodwill for customer to return.

  5. sesame says:

    Wa…that’s really terrible. I find that those with lots of branches tend to be poor in terms of service. All they want is our business but they don’t focus on personalized service. The quality of the staff is telling!

    Your incident is in contrast with my experience in Dusit Thani in Bangkok some years ago. I left my wedding ring in the drawer and forgot all about it till I left the place some hours later. When I discovered, I rushed back and they had kept it for me! I was so grateful to them and their honesty!

  6. sesame says:

    Hi Kaith: You’re right…we should go for trusted brands. Just that over here, some of the established brands get around via promotions and not necessarily service level.

  7. BlovetBeauty says:

    Well I totally get u sesame, I used to be one of those suckers who would pay for all these packages… I didnt even know what they were putting on my skin. Recently, I was yacking with a beauty store owner and she was showing me all the pdt she sold to salons and all they did was rip off the tag on the pdt and rebrand it. Viola ~~ hiah…

  8. Jyoan says:

    I agree with you. When I recommend my beautician to people, I have some of them coming back to tell me that her prices are on the high side.

    But all I can tell them is simply, I trust her. And that’s the most important thing.

    The reason being I get to sit down and watch her every move when she does facial for friends whom I recommend. This way, I actually see what she is doing (for >3 years already).

    I know how she needles, how she uses the simple machines, how much mask stuff she uses, how she massages and everything. This really sets my mind at ease.

    My beautician used to be salon beautician before she became home-based. And she said, she quit because she couldn’t stand the unethical practices too. She has told me some stories herself… Totally understand what you mean here. =)

  9. stella says:

    that is why i do not go for such services anymore. poor and sometimes dodgy services. i can do a better job on my skin myself, thank you. and hello bangkok for cheap and even better massages with no obligations

    i remember years ago when i signed up for a beauty package with a shop in town and about 2 months or so after, it folded. the owner didn’t even bother calling to inform its members or anything. the amount was small so i didn’t bother pursuing. but she is still in business somewhere else now

    this industry needs to get its act together. these things don’t happen that often, but often enough for consumers like me to be totally turned off. now if i want any treatment, i can well got to an aesthetic doctor, at least i know they are less likely to hard sell since they are licensed by the government!

  10. Raelynn says:

    i just finished a facial at Amore Beauty and Spa. while the treatment is undeniably good (she did a lot of extractions, i like! the CO2 treatment really minimized the redness from extractions to a level that surprised me, even less red than the palour that i go for facials that dont do that much extractions), they were hard selling me products (out of good will or not i have no idea). they insisted that i try their pimple gel because of my blemishes, and after i refused saying that i was sensitive to alcohol, they said that they’ll reserve me a sample for me to try the next time. and that’s after eliminating about 7 other products that they placed on the table that was suitable for me. i did purchase a hydrating mask ( i sort of needed that, not sure whether to continue with dior’s hydration mask, felt weird to me).

    i agree though, facial places with prices that seem to good to be true, should be regarded as too good to be true.

    my experience with facial palours suddenly closing is that the previous owner didnt inform us that she’ll be closing down, but she did have someone taking over the shop and apparently is willing to allow customers to finish their current packages under the new owner, still using the same brand for facial, same brand for manicures and pedicures, that’s probably why the owner didnt inform the customers.

    about diluting the products… some masks and creams do provide for dilution in the case if the product is too oily or too strong to be used on regular skin (the products used by spa esprit@house called ilsci, a hungarian organic brand. based on the distributor’s hongkong website apparently they did specify for dilution), but to dilute serums as well is definately dishonesty.

    it’s hard to find feedback for facials sometimes.. i’ve been waiting for feedback for the services and products at spa esprit, but it’s in vain.

    to recognise whether the palour is using the authentic products or not, it’s probably best to be actually using the same brand or have used the same brand before, so that u’re familiar with the smell of the product. if they’re using something different, it’s definately amiss.

  11. sesame says:

    Me too…I used to go to one and the result was minimal but it was $ draining! Now, I don’t even want to walk past her shop.

    Oh yes, re-branding! Same products, different prices and most of the time, we can’t tell if we haven’t used the product before!

  12. sesame says:

    It’s good to have someone you trust. And your beautician reminds me that going to facial is also kind of trying our luck…if the beautician is good, then we’re luckier. I remember one who told me honestly that it’s more important to pay attention to daily skin care routines and she never pushed me any products. And that was like 10 years or more ago.

  13. sesame says:

    You had similar experience before? Lucky thing it was a small amount but still…must have left a bitter after taste.

    One stage I was also like you – preferred to go to aesthetic docs. But since finding a facial salon I like, I no longer go to the docs. I find their treatments ex and also slightly harsh for me. I need the $ to sustain the treatments too cos for me, it’s always the issue of pigmentation.

  14. sesame says:

    It’s a bit annoying not to be told but at least you had a good experience that your package wasn’t wasted. But boy, I feel your pain about the hard sell. I wish they’ll stop that already. It’s really a huge turn off! They should be more innovative in terms of retaining their customers instead of pushing and pushing…and eventually push the customers out of their doors completely!

    What do you mean by feedback for facials? You mean like actual experience or a sort of review? I guess it depends on the salon – I see quite a number on those common ones but yes, some are never mentioned and so we’ll never know.

    You’re spot on about the products – the only way to tell is if we’ve used the product. It’s also possible for them to change the container. ?

  15. Ms. Lips says:

    I have a similar experience of a fish spa place closing down without informing customers in advance. The place is called Kampong Fish Therapy. They left a note on their website after news of the closure broke. The note said to give them them to sort out what they owe for the packages. It also gave an e-mail address. I e-mailed them but as of today I NEVER heard from them. It’s frustrating because the amount of the package is too insignificant to be worth the effort at the Small Claims Tribunal. At the same time, I don’t like the feeling that they are walking away with my money! What’s more, the owner of the place is a well-known celebrity!

  16. sesame says:

    I remember you mentioning this. I thought the problem has been resolved cos I saw this fish spa again quite recent…but can’t remember where now.

  17. raelynn says:

    review for facial as in like, i’ve tried asking on cozycot if people have tried doing facials with spa esprit@House but no response at all..

    oh yes.. product hard sell *shakes head* when are people gng to understand that customers will buy when they need to buy or want to buy. but seriously, to hardsell 120 for a cleanser is really way out of my league.

    maybe they’ll say that “oh they’ve changed the formula so it smells different”. but *hush hush* i did a little snooping in treatment rooms that i go for facials sometimes, peeking in the cupboards and drawers, just to make sure that the products that they are using are not inferior ones.

  18. Suz says:

    I haven’t had to experience any of these things but I guess it has to do with living in America but I am not saying our spa’s are perfect etc..I guess I am saying it’s harder for spa’s to use fake products and so forth b/c they can and will be sued by a lot of the liability thing is there and like you mentioned go to spa’s that are well known and you hear often from people you know and go to. Also, people need to do their own research before going to a spa and compare prices and places to see which will be the best fit and trust worthy.

  19. pf1123 says:

    I have been to only 1 facial spa for the last 8 to 10 years.

    They use tons of products on me each time I go. Coz they provide a list at the end of each session and I’m supposed to sign off on eye masks and some face masks. But the list are in product codes. So, I can’t actually identify what is what. But the good thing is that since I have been there for the past many years, the products used have been consistent. I also use some of their house brand items, so I know the smell and the consistency of creams, etc. All in all not too bad.

    The only thing I don’t like is that they are ALWAYS trying to sell me packages and products. They don’t advertise their prices anywhere or display them in their shop. So, I am ALWAYS “given a special promo rate”. I go there once a month and can you believe it? There’s ALWAYS some promo going on. And I’m ALWAYS told I need this and that. I’m even told to take on multiple facial packages concurrently.

    So, now I put my foot down. No means no. Straight away I will tell them I have no money.

  20. sesame says:

    Ah…that’s it! We should follow suit so that these spas here do not resort to these shady practices. Also, the laws here do not prevent them from making inflated claims in their ads.

  21. sesame says:

    I do too…but I’ll just take a look at what they have in their trays. But then again, when our eyes are closed, I have no idea what else they may add…

  22. sesame says:

    You’re good! They hard sell to you and you’re still their customer for such a long time. I would feel very annoyed. I used to go to one that hard sell like mad and I only lasted 2 packages.

  23. pf1123 says:

    Part of me stayed because their product works and I enjoy the process of facial there. Another part of me stayed because I’m too lazy to go around exploring.

    hehehe… ?

    Anyway, I don’t think facials will help the skin much in the long run. Probably just the extraction part is useful, so that my face don’t turn into 1 big blackhead in the long run. Hahaha….

    I go to facial just to de-stress and sleep.

  24. pf1123 says:

    Oh…and becoz its very near my place, I don’t bring any money or cards there if I go on weekends. If I do bring, I’ll just tell them I got to rush off some place else.

    Don’t give any chance for them to hard sell me.

  25. sesame says:

    I shared the same thinking as you but now I realized that it depends on where you go. If the right one with the right products, it can make a huge difference. I didn’t believe it but now I’m experiencing it, I am amazed. My pigmentation, while still there, is improving. My colleague, with melasma problem and who is going to the same place as me also reported seeing a difference. In fact, she used to go for laser treatments and she has since stopped going for those.

  26. zhenling says:

    hi sesame, can you tell us which spa it is that you have been experiencing great results with?

  27. loveless says:

    dear sesame, may i know which facial spa are you going to? it’s hard to find good facial places nowadays. i usu like to check out places where there’s good feedback. you can email me if it’s not convenient to state on the blog. thanks.

  28. sesame says:

    Hey, I just read your email and realized I’ve answered it in Zhenling’s comments. It’s no secret as I’ve written about them before. But I do have an ongoing on relationship with them so I also don’t want to come across as “over promoting”.

  29. jason says:

    Wow, this is all pretty interesting. We actually sell a skin analysis machine to spas and estheticians that, among other things, measures product performance. I wonder if we’d be able to pick up this sort of thing and if we could weather that would be good or bad for store.

  30. sesame says:

    I don’t know…I suppose it’s hard to tell even if you’re the supplier. I guess it’s only clear to those who work inside the salon or spa.

  31. Clara says:

    I once went to Chrysalis as Bishan and did a trial facial, everything went really well the it was time to make payment. Their hardsell tactics were like no other and despite telling them that I wasn’t interested in getting their package, the therapist left me upstairs whilst she swiped $2k off my card to force me to enroll in their treatment program.

    And it was such a coincidence that I was their last customer that they closed their accounts for the night and the credit card machine couldn’t process a refund. I had no choice, I had to correspond with their very rude and almost illiterate customer service representatives via email for weeks before I could get a refund.

    I don’t deny that the facial I did was pretty impressive, but I’m never going back there again after such a horrible experience. Infact, now adays I avoid going to any spa that requires their customers to be package holders.

  32. sesame says:

    What? They swiped your card without getting your agreement. That’s terrible!

  33. Wong says:

    Don’t ever go to Aromatic House, especially the branch at Holland Village. It is a smelly Little House of Horror of high-pressure hard-sell, even before they provide the service which you are paying for.

  34. Rosita says:

    The part on therapist diluting the serum is true. I am usually very aware of the texture of the serum applied on face. There were times when I felt that it was watery. I knew instantly that it must have been diluted. I do suspect that some therapists resort to worsening the contour or muscles of your face, so that perhaps you’ll sign on another treatment to fix the problem, afterall, they do get a commission out of it. Let me relate my experience. I had a facial done last year. The so called therapist while using a hand device to penetrate Vit C to my face, did alot of hard pulling on the area below the face. Much later, I noticed the area sagged giving me a turkey neck. I never have a turkey neck before, and what’s more it’s quite lopsided, if you look closely. The sagginess and looseness is definitely different from aging. I called her, told her about it and she said she’ll do a firming that uses another device. The cost of it is $500 plus or so. My advise is don’t get too comfortable with whoever is doing your face. Some therapists are not properly trained or schooled and worse, devious

  35. sesame says:

    Oh dear…that’s terrible! I haven’t thought this would happen. This is too devious and unethical! Thanks very much for sharing your experience and I hope you have regained the firmness. By the way, which country are you from?

  36. Rosita says:

    from Singapore….

  37. Mira says:

    I have spa esprit or Browhaus package which I’m selling away at 25% discount. Let me know. Cheers!

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