Ibtisama’s founder Maissa Fattal on the UAE’s first ‘smile lounge’

Fattal, a lawyer by profession, decided to put her practice on hold and two months ago launched the “smile lounge” Ibtisama, a first in the region.

Maissa Fattal’s beauty spa in Abu Dhabi’s Dalma Mall is unique – it’s dedicated to your smile. The 31-year-old Swiss-Syrian entrepreneur, who moved to the capital three years ago with her husband, found that the UAE market was saturated with salons and centres caring for hair, skin and nails. Fattal, a lawyer by profession, decided to put her practice on hold and two months ago launched the “smile lounge” Ibtisama, a first in the region.

Fattal is quick to point out that Ibitsama doesn’t claim to whiten teeth.

“Whitening is a dentist’s job. We use sodium bicarbonate,” she says.

“It is a natural ingredient that appears to whiten the teeth, but that’s why we describe our service as teeth brightening, not whitening, because we don’t want to be confused with a dentistry service.”

What is it?

Think of it as “a quick shine for your teeth; it brings back a more natural colour to the teeth and tones down any yellowness”, says Fattal. “It’s like how you go for a facial or get your hair styled or your nails manicured. You can do all that in a mall. Now, you can brighten your teeth, too.”

How does it work?

The results depend on your teeth (it doesn’t work on veneers). They can get brighter by up to 10 shades, depending on the package you choose. Customers recline in the bubble chairs and are shown how to apply the gel, which is self-administered.

"We just teach the customer what to do. So this can be done at home, we sell at-home kits as well," says Fattal. "They then sit back, relax and listen to music. The gel is reapplied as many times as the package purchased allows. The session then wraps up with a quick lip exfoliation, using natural products. How long does it last? If you continue to care for your teeth after the session, they'll stay bright for up to four months.

“White teeth are like a white T-shirt,” says Fattal. “Teeth can always get stained again, so you have to be careful. We send customers home with a straw and tell them that’s how they should drink their coffee, if they have to have coffee.”

Why do it?

The smile – which includes the teeth and the lips – is a key component in a person’s self-confidence, says Fattal. “For me, the smile is really the window to the soul. It is the first tool to express any emotions, from joy to pleasure to well-being to sadness, and a smile is so contagious. Why not take care of it and be confident doing it?”

Where is it?

An unobtrusive kiosk nestled between Lush Cosmetics and Koton on the ground floor of Dalma Mall, right before the escalators facing Fitness First, the Ibtisama lounge has two bubble chairs, affording almost complete privacy. All-natural teeth and lip-care products – from miswak and exfoliants to chemical-free toothpaste and temporary Swarovski crystals for teeth – are on sale. A second branch is due to open in Yas Mall by the end of the year.

The details

Teeth-brightening packages can be customised and start at Dh449. The 25-minute Shine package includes a free touch-up pen, mouth rinse and floss. The 45-minute Coffee Lover & Smoker package includes six take-home products. Ibitsama also provides an at-home Bridal Package. Find IbtisamaUAE on Facebook or visit www.ibtisama.ae.