Nestled in Capitol Hill’s bustling corridors is a veritable beauty oasis shielded by an attractive, but mundane storefront. Women from all walks of life converge here for a bevy of beauty services – bikini waxing, eyebrow arching, massages, facials – in an ambience that blends urban sophistication with earthy elegance. Skin Beauty Lounge – a full-service spa owned by District native and esthetician Meka Mathis − is a beauty buff’s dream I experienced firsthand.

An exotic fusion of aromas greeted me as I climbed the stairs to Skin’s waiting area and was greeted by a warm, efficient receptionist. But my road to relaxation began minutes before the hour-long massage and facial treatment.

The waiting area is swathed in soothing powder blue and chocolate hues and immaculately maintained. My massage therapist, Crystal, led me into a cozy room illuminated only by the midday sunlight and accented with muted cream and tan tones. Mellow Afro-Brazilian music created the perfect backdrop for the experience and had a calming effect on me – a spa virgin – as I prepared for my first professional massage.

Thirty minutes later I prepared to leave the massage table feeling rejuvenated and even weightless, as Crystal’s dexterous hands had smoothed away months of tension lingering in the recesses of my back.

My next appointment was with Arnetta, a cosmetologist, who analyzed, cleansed, exfoliated and moisturized my skin. I winced when she performed extractions – a slightly uncomfortable process that removes blackheads and other skin impurities – but was wowed by the final results.

Before heading outdoors to browse the mashup of food, trinkets and clothes sold at nearby Eastern Market, I met briefly with Mathis to discuss her flourishing business – heralded as one of the premier waxing locales in the region – and what drives her success.

The Parsons School of Design graduate said she loves “interacting with clients and making them look pretty,” but admitted that one of the most difficult parts of her job is “being the boss and being the friend.”

I also chatted with Skin client Karen Alston, a customer since 2006, who noted many Black women’s apprehension about body waxing. She encouraged other women of color to consider beauty practices that may be taboo among our mothers’ generation.

“ has become a part of my beauty regime,” said Alston, a marketing executive. “It has changed my life…I’m very happy. It’s been good for my skin, good for my confidence and great for my love life.”

Skin Beauty Lounge is located at 404 ½ 8th St. S.E. The 30-minute massage and 30-minute facial special runs through the end of July. For more information, visit skinbeautylounge.com, twitter.com/skinbeautydc and facebook.com/skinbeautylounge.

Kristin Gray

AFRO Managing Editor