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Health and beauty buffs under one roof
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BEIRUT: Have a chat with a nutritionist, jump into a round of Zumba aerobic dancing, cool off with a low-calorie snack and then scan dozens of cosmetic counters – all of which conveniently converge under one roof this weekend. The annual In Shape health, beauty and fitness fair at the Beirut International Exhibition Center will ease the minds of all the urbanites feeling a little frumpy, or hoping to spruce up before winter sends the city scurrying into hibernation.

The fair runs from Friday at 3 p.m. until Monday at 10 p.m. and will host every personal care expert under the sun – from trainers to makeup artists and plastic surgeons.

The public exhibit, now entering its fourth year, hosts various fitness performances, friendly competitions and shows off the latest trends in health and beauty from around the region. The fair also acts as a launching pad for new businesses and brands.

One of the leading trends this year: non-damaging nails and hygiene mania. Dashing Diva will make its official debut at a private In Shape event Monday afternoon.

The concept nail salon, which started in the United States, has recently opened a branch in Beirut’s Sassine, beside ABC Ashrafieh. The salon touts an unprecedented sterilization method, quite appropriate for the hygiene-conscious Lebanese.

Dashing Diva’s regimen begins with a new individual file and buffering kit for every client. They also boast ceramic pedicure sinks – more easily disinfected than the more common whirlpools – and a sterilization method called “autoclaving.”

The new salon also uses a type of artificial nail that requires less headache and time. “Virtual Nails” rid the application process of the time-consuming buffering and harsh chemicals that come with acrylic nails or UV gel extensions.

“It’s a new technique for nails that is a little bit different. ‘Virtual Nails’ really fit, and it doesn’t harm the nail underneath,” said Sophia Farghal Kawas, a project coordinator for In Shape’s organizers E Square.

This year’s wellness fair also means to increase the amount of audience participation – starting with daily hair and makeup competitions, Kawas said.

Area beauticians will face off each day to win the honor of best makeup and best hair. An expert panel of jurists will decide the winner, and In Shape will hand out a second prize for the people’s choice, decided after live voting by interested attendees.

Organizers said they hope the new competitions add liveliness to the exhibition. But more importantly they will help promote up-and-coming hair and makeup stylists in a country highly saturated with beauty professionals, Kawas said.

“Actually, they are all winners because we already picked the best to participate,” she said.

Other events include the “O.P.I. Nail It!” nail design competition Monday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., which Kawas expects will encourage the artists to turn out crazy designs in their bid for the top, she said.

The competitions will offer a great opportunity for soon-to-be brides, among other party planners, to scope out top hair, nail and makeup options for the big day.

A staple of the health and beauty expo over the past several years will also invite audience members to participate in Bailando dance school’s Zumba performances Saturday, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Zumba uses the rhythm and moves of basic Latin dance for an aerobic workout meant for weight loss and muscle development, said Rania Kazan, one of Bailando’s Zumba instructors.

Kazan encouraged attendees to come in their workout clothes and participate.

“We give signs and instructions, so they don’t need the know anything,” Kazan said.

The Radical Fitness Team will also invite attendees to participate in a more rigorous workout routine Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

And trainer Amine Dib will do the same in a fitness workshop-performance Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in a routine titled “Amine’s Kick Butt Workout” featuring the Trash Band by Elie Akiki.

Dib will also cross over to the expo kitchens to teach showgoers how to cook the perfect post-workout meal.

Other In Shape favorites slated for this year’s expo include the “Healthy Bite” 45-minute show by Chef Sleiman Khawand, as well as a host of high-tech beauty treatment demonstrations.

“We always have different shows, whether it’s health or beauty or fitness,” Kawas said.

“They really go crazy, and there’s always a lot of freshness.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 20, 2012, on page 3.
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