December 13, 2016
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to feel and look wonderful! Or, so they say. Amid a packed social calendar, family commitments, and endless eggnog, it’s hard to maintain one’s glow – and for that matter – sanity.
But, lucky for you – and me – I’ve found the best beauty and wellness spots to feel fabulous, inside and out. From the city’s top glam squads to the latest innovations in holistic beauty, I’ve scoured the city for Philly’s best-kept secrets and legends, alike. ‘Tis the season to party and pamper.
Green City Beauty
Green City Beauty’s owner, Ashley, is arguably the heroine of hair removal with her hit sugaring services. But before you even think about going away during the holidays, consider getting a moisturizing body wrap at her brand new, beautiful location. First, Ashley cleansed and exfoliated my body with an all-organic OY-L scrub. Then, I was covered in an all-natural body butter and then wrapped in a blanket to contain the moisture. Bottom line – if you plan on rocking a bikini over winter break or even just showing a little leg at your next holiday party, then this should be at the top of your holiday errand list.
Verdict: beat winter beauty woes with the Green City Beauty body wrap.
1036 Pine Street | (267) 209-3096
You’ll be hooked to AMS Salon once owner Alex gives you a haircut and blow-dry. After spending a year in Los Angeles, I returned home to Philly with dry, broken hair, but AMS devised a plan to repair my mane. I was in good hands from the start. It began with the most memorable scalp massage from Amelia. Then, it was back to Alex – the only hair stylist who has convinced me to trim my hippie hair in lieu of the perfect amount of long layers. I walked out feeling like a 2.0 version of myself with silky, smooth hair.
Verdict: There’s a reason that the city’s top news anchors come here for hair and never shop around.
262 S. 16th St. | 215-569-1515
Mi Cumbia is – hands down – the best manicure I have ever had in Philly. Before I even stepped foot into the coveted organic nail salon, I heard rumblings that beckoned me to book an appointment.
“This beautiful hole in the wall in Rittenhouse feels like you've stepped into a five-star hotel in Colombia,” as one friend described it. Indeed, my all-organic coconut manicure transported me to Cartagena for a hot second. My manicurist, the gregarious Kendra, nourished my dry, brittle hands with coconut oil, coconut milk and fresh shredded coconut. Mi Cumbia’s owners, husband and wife duo Karina and Hustine Mitchell, are rumored to have started the first organic nail salon in the country.
Verdict: Here, we have a Center City oasis that’s just waiting to revive your hands and feet. This is also a special escape for expectant moms – Mi Cumbia’s hand and feet rubs don’t disappoint.
328 S 17th St. | 215-735-7980
Ashley Span at RESCUE
I am obsessed with eyebrows, and, more specifically, the full, high-fashion kind made popular by Brooke Shields and Lilly Collins. If you, too, come from the Kristie Streicher school of the bolder, the better—than you must book a Designer Eyebrow and Eyebrow Tint appointment with Ashley. Did you know that every eyebrow has potential? And did you know that Ashley unlocks that potential for you…even for the most over-plucked pin-thin brows? Throughout our 30-minute appointment, she tinted my brows to a darker brown and then shaped and cleaned my sister’s (no two brows are identical twins) up with tweezers and wax. My light eyes popped more, and I even thought I saw a cheekbone appear. Indeed, I am clearly a serial spa dater, but I do believe I just discovered my lifelong brow BFF.
Verdict: Eyebrow envy will immediately ensue following your appointment with Ashley.
1601 Walnut St. | 215-772-2766
Larry Ayurveda at Shanti Yoga Shala
Before yoga and meditation dominated our wellness culture, there was Larry Mangel: Philly’s holistic healthcare practitioner. The Shanti Yoga Shala Studio owner is a revered master in Ayurveda, a traditional healing system from India and the oldest system of natural healthcare in the world. Similar to its sister, yoga, Ayurveda is designed to restore balance and natural functions to the body. Post-yoga at Larry’s studio, set up an Ayurveda consultation with him to discern your biological constitution, which is traditionally called a "dosha." Each dosha is broken down into three elements: Vatta (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth). Once Larry establishes your dosha through a series of practices, ranging from a pulse reading to learning about your lifestyle, he’ll design a plan to replenish mind and body balance.
Verdict: It’s time to heal your heart and open your mind through Larry’s Ayurveda lessons.
1631 Pine St. | 215-923-9642
Eat Pretty author Jolene Hart has a cult following across the country, but the certified health coach calls Philly home. The former magazine editor’s "Beauty is Wellness" program is eye-opening, especially for a VOGUE-reading vulture, like yours truly. After reading her book and completing an hour-long Skype session with Hart, I was ready to let Hart curate my pantry list. She offered up tasty recipes like Chia Seed Pudding and outlined baby beauty rituals as simple as hot water with lemon – to keep me on course – without making me feel too overwhelmed. Jolene’s best-kept beauty secrets, latest recipes and advice are in her second book: Eat Pretty Every Day, for some nutritious food for thought.
Verdict: You’ll have Hart on speed dial after just one session together.
Confession: I have always cautiously kept an eye on the burgeoning popularity of lash extensions. As an over-anxious skeptic, I decided to take things slow during my Lashbee date, instead, opting for a more conservative option: a lash lift. This unique service is for someone who wants to look more awake and ditch the lash curler, but who isn’t ready to commit to the whole fake eyelash relationship. I was intrigued, but still armed and ready with plenty of questions for Lauren, who kindly and seamlessly executed my lash lift. Here’s what you need to know – the lash lift lasts for about eight weeks. It doesn’t hurt, but feels a little strange and I looked more awake than ever.
Verdict: Eye-opening lashes that make you look well-rested, even after a sleepless night.
1126 Walnut St. | 215-367-1664
Judy Moon & Associates
It’s time to pay a visit to Judy Moon if you’re one of those tech addicts who really cannot disconnect or decompress. Her Mindful Touch Therapy – a gentle and powerful healing massage – abruptly sent me into a mystical daze. The specific service includes elements from a lot of methods that I was new to: Ayurveda, Marma Point work, Chakra work, reflexology, energy work and aromatherapy. Judy kept moving back and forth over me, placing light pressure on my hands and feet. I left feeling light, yet centered – carefree, yet focused.
Verdict: Insomniacs, this one is for you.
604 S. Washington Square | 267-671-0861
Once she learned about my medical history, looked at my tongue and felt my pulse, Julie immediately knew where to place the tiny pins throughout my body. She left the room, turned off the lights, and I closed my eyes and dozed off to relaxing, zen music for around 25 minutes. While mentally floating on cloud 9, I woke up to Julie’s calming voice informing me that my session had (sadly) ended. Fortunately, Julie practices integrative medicine in both the suburbs and in Old City, giving her a wider range of options for all Philadelphians.
Verdict: Acupuncture yields quick results and relaxation.
123 Chestnut St., Suite 204 | 215-627-3782
1 Presidential Blvd, Suite 203, Bala Cynwyd | 610-617-7300
Spa Terme di Aroma
You could easily walk right by the unassuming Spa Terme Di Aroma, but you shouldn’t. One can spend a full day at this holistic Old City day spa and forget that it’s in Philly. It feels more akin to Rome. Spa Terme Di Aroma offers shiatsu, Thai yoga massage and reiki. As soon as Rebecca Ashjian chilled me out with some reflexology, I let my guard down – ready to check reiki off my beauty-bucket list.
Verdict: Spend a whole day here for a girl’s spa day that won’t break the bank.
32 N. 3rd Street | 215-829-9769
Penny Ordway at Eviama Spa
For the last 14 years, I had been missing out on Philly’s first eco-friendly spa, founded by Penny Ordway, who is as indomitable as she is inspiring. Before natural and nontoxic spa services became part of the well-being zeitgeist, Penny was paving the path for many of today’s “green” beauty-business owners. Even the spa’s bamboo flooring is emblematic of the direction in which she’s taken her company. Despite my love affair with deep tissue massages, I wanted to try a different, more unusual service: the Lymph Drainage massage. Fun fact: it’s a service that’s a hit amongst celebrities during award season for its bloat-reducing benefits. I wasn’t going on the red carpet anytime soon, but Penny’s gentle hypnotic strokes on my face, décolletage and shoulders removed toxins, excess water and puffiness. So, even if you did have one too many cocktails the night before, well, no one would know except Penny.
Verdict: For those looking for a spa that combines luxury and substance, it’s time to indulge in the unique services within this secret garden.
109 S. 13th St. 2nd Fl. | 215-545-3344
Can’t travel to the Dead Sea to feel weightless? Now, you don’t have to go much further than Fishtown. Head over to Flotation Philly – a sensory deprivation float center that mimics the benefits of saltwater. As I was guided to my private suite, an enclosed, egg-shaped pod filled with water heated to 94 degrees and 900 lbs. of purified Epsom salts awaited me. I was told it takes a little time adjusting to the feeling of floating and being totally weightless.
Verdict: Well worth it, giving you the ability to rest, relax, recover and rebalance.
534 E. Girard Ave. | 609-923-1913
Julie Kate at Jason Matthews Salon
While I may be a skincare enthusiast, my relationship with makeup is a little uncertain. Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate a retro cat eye and a lux burgundy lip. Yet, my daily look only includes some brow gel and lip balm. Inevitably, I was tense before my appointment with makeup artist Julie Kate, but the Philly native immediately eased my fears about the over-contoured faces made popular by the world’s Kim Kardashians. Per my request, Julie subtly brightened my eyes with extreme precision and added some much-needed color to my washed-out winter cheeks. Walking down the aisle soon? Kate is quite popular among Philly brides, so just be sure to book your trial with her before it’s too late.
Verdict: Brides-to-be should reach out to Julie ASAP. She books up fast.
www.juliekatemakeup.com | 215-439-2201
If you don’t have time for a whole spa day, but need a quick mani/pedi, break hard over to Lacquer Lounge. The environment – painted pink and white and filled with J-Lo beats, screams Elle Woods and beckons even the most introverted customers to “bend and snap.” If you hit up one of its two locations in town be sure to request Myriam for a flawless and fast classic manicure.
Verdict: Catch up over gossip or get ready for an exciting Saturday night with your BFF during Lacquer’s fast and flawless services.
38 N. 3rd St. | 215-987-3656
2051 Walnut St. | 267-758-2385
Rittenhouse Spa & Club
The Bvlgari Hotel in London, The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong and now The Rittenhouse Spa & Club are just few of the world-class spas offering ESPA, an internationally acclaimed, all-natural skincare line. Think holistic-meets-haute couture when it comes to these glamorous, green products. As my all-star aesthetician, Natalie, worked her magic – ranging from depuffing my eyes to hydrating my skin – we discussed the merits of a natural, yet effective beauty regimen. I am pretty sure this service is Goop-approved.
Verdict: A holistic facial that caters to the ultimate haute hippie.
210 W. Rittenhouse Square | 215-790-2500