I had heard waxing horror stories before…tales of unbearable discomfort, piercing screams and even burns. Surely, no beauty was worth that much pain. With that, I happily grabbed my razor and shaved. But, I grew tired of the scratchy, 5 o’clock (leg) shadow, the irritated hair follicles and the occasional nick.

Cautiously, I set aside my razor and called Mi Cumbia: a quaint, Colombian oasis in Rittenhouse. Small paned windows and two wooden doors insulate the smell of freshly brewed, Colombian coffee from Philadelphia’s 17th Street. Though this salon offers waxing and nail services, noticeably absent were the smells I had learned to associate with nail salons. Mi Cumbia (the waxing parlor) and Terra Mia (the nail salon in a contiguous room) only use organic, fume-free products.

Upon entry, an aesthetician sporting black-rimmed glasses greets me with a smile, takes my name and offers me something to drink. Before I take a second sip, Karina—the owner and sole “waxer”—is ready. The bespectacled aesthetician leads me past a wall of South American jewelry and through the nail salon towards Mi Cumbia.

This is my second visit. Karina and I exchange pleasantries before she exits (so I can change). My first visit came complete with a thorough preamble on soy-based wax, after-care (a medicated cream is provided), exfoliation and waxing salon no-nos (e.g. yucky double-dipping). This time, I know what to expect. So, after she returns and dons her gloves, we get started. We chat about school, hobbies, entrepreneurship and her prior career as an engineer. This almost makes me forget that hair is being ripped (organically with soy, of course) from my skin. During the service, Karina also reminds me to breathe deeply and to exhale (haaaaah) before especially sensitive areas.

It’s Lamaze 101 for the nervous “wax-ee.”

And I need it.

I don’t know whether it’s the breathing, the conversation, the soy, or her skill, but my first two waxing experiences were far better than I had expected. (They were, dare I say, pleasant). Surely, these factors, in addition to the friendly staff and the distinctly Latin decor are why Mi Cumbia is both a Yelp favorite and a “Best of Philly.”

Most importantly, every hair follicle on my body is a fan.

Muy bueno, Mi Cumbia! Cinco estrellas!

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