Who among us has not wanted to blame their skin problems on bad genes? Conversely, for those blessed with a flawless façade, can you honestly say it’s all thanks to frequent hydration and getting lucky in the DNA department? Either way—and without regard to skin type—it’s important to take some ownership here: Dedicating time to care for your skin is the best way to keep it looking and feeling its best.
However, if you’re still hung up on the genetic factors that inform your skin type or condition, then allow me to introduce you to the co-founder of Glowbar (the buzzy new facial studio in Manhattan) and third-generation esthetician Rachel Liverman. After working in beauty-adjacent fields for much of her career, Liverman wanted to strike out on her own and create something new in an area where she not only felt informed but also empowered to carry on her family’s legacy in the skincare business. Her grandmother, Catherine Hinds, helped pioneer the industry in America in the ’60s, culminating in the establishment of the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics in 1979. Hinds’s daughter, An G. Hinds, took over in 1998 and began to instill the benefits of skincare to her daughter, Rachel, at an early age.
Fast-forward a few years and the industry has gone from super-niche to mainstream and boasts a consumer base that is more eager than ever. But all of these options can be overwhelming and are not an adequate replacement for placing your skin in the care of a true expert. Thus, Glowbar was born in 2019.
In honor of National Women’s Day and to celebrate this impressive legacy, we sat down with Liverman and her mother to learn what it’s like being in a family of entrepreneurial skincare professionals. Keep scrolling to read our Q&A in which this duo of experts honor their family matriarch, explain the benefits of regularly working with a professional esthetician, and share a few of their favorite at-home products.
When was the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics founded, and what was the motivation behind starting this company?
AH: The Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics was founded by my mother, Catherine Hinds, in 1979. She was an early advocate for a simple skincare routine, and after spending time in Europe, where she saw women taking care of their skin, she felt that there should be a better esthetic program that took care of the skin. My mother opened Cyclax of London, a heritage beauty salon from the UK, in her hometown of Boston in 1965 (which was later renamed Catherine Hinds in 1967). She pioneered exfoliation as part of the at-home routine with her famous “grains,” which were one of the first-to-market manual exfoliators.
As her salon became increasingly successful, she turned herself into a female beauty entrepreneur—an unfamiliar term for the times. Wanting to spread her knowledge and offer opportunities to other women, she heralded the notion that the simplest skincare is the best kind of skincare. Believing you should approach skincare the same you do medical care or dental hygiene. She developed a highly in-depth training program that took a medical approach to skincare.
In 1979, my mother opened the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics, which became the first 1200-hour medical esthetics program in 1996. To this day, the institute has been responsible for training and placing thousands of successful estheticians, earning Catherine multiple accolades and awards including the ACCSC School of Excellence Award.
I took over the institute in 1998 and was focused on modernizing the curriculum by implementing cutting-edge treatments, technologies, and advanced equipment. At the time, there were no tech treatments available such as peels or LED, which today are common facial treatments.
When was Glowbar founded, and what was the motivation behind starting this company? How is it similar to the Catherine Hinds Institute? How is it different?
RL: I started Glowbar in June of 2019 after realizing I wasn’t taking the best care of my skin despite being a trained esthetician. Growing up with two generations of skincare-obsessed estheticians, I was absolutely aware that I should be seeing a professional once a month, but I was not, and it boiled down to two things: time and money.
Obviously, there’s not a void of places to get a facial today, but I didn’t have an hour and a half to dedicate every month. I needed a session that I knew would improve my skin health through results-oriented treatments without having to pay extra. Cue Glowbar.
Innovation in skincare runs in the family. I tell everyone that my grandmother pioneered skincare, and I’m reinventing it. The difference in our work is that Catherine Hinds Institute focuses on teaching the profession of skincare, whereas Glowbar is shifting the consumer’s behavior toward skincare.
As a third-generation skincare entrepreneur, what does creating a business in the 21st century mean to you and your family? Why is this important to you as a woman?
RL: By creating a skincare business in the 21st century, I am able to expand my grandmother’s vision for the industry into the modern age.
My grandmother was truly the OG girl boss. At a time when being a female entrepreneur was unheard of, she started her own company that pioneered skincare in the U.S. She also believed that women should create financial independence for themselves, and when they complete their degree, they have self-marketable skills that allow them the potential to become independent entrepreneurs.
The beauty of the business is that my grandmother wanted to advance the standard in skin health, my mom has invested in scientific developments to further the industry, and I get to continue that legacy every day by helping people take care of their skin utilizing the practices my grandmother and mom have developed.
What are the biggest skincare concerns you address at your business?
RL: At Glowbar, we treat a wide range of skincare concerns. That said, acne, hyperpigmentation, aging, and skin sensitivity are definitely the most common concerns we see.
What is the value of working with a professional esthetician? How often should one get professional treatments?
RL: The value of having a professional treat your skin is that they are the skin expert. Skin is your body’s largest organ, and you should employ a professional to treat and address concerns on a monthly basis.
AH: Nobody knows skin like an esthetician. They can read and treat your skin better than you can and can properly advise on the type of products for your skin type. For optimum skin health, you should be seeing an esthetician at a minimum of every four weeks.
If professional treatments are not feasible, what is an essential product for everyone’s at-home routine?
RL: Definitely a cleanser! Everyone should be using a mild cleanser in their routine. You have to wash your face!
AH: Sunscreen is the essential product I think everyone should be using. That plus a hyaluronic acid serum to stay hydrated!
When did you first start learning about the importance of skincare? Was there a staple product or brand you always had at home?
RL: My mom has instilled the importance of skincare in me since the day I was born. I’ve been using eye cream since I was 10 (turns out starting this young is too young), using SPF every day, and moisturizing.
AH: It’s true! When she was younger, she would come up to me and say, “Mom, I’m never going to get wrinkles!”
My mother was always using new products, so I grew up with an understanding of what you needed to do to properly take care of your skin! Similar to today, I used a gentle cleanser and moisturizer with sunscreen, and this was back in the ’70s. No one was into sunscreen.
It’s funny because when I was in boarding school, all my friends were out basking in the sun trying to get a tan while I was inside with a clay mask on my skin. I used to try to get all my girlfriends in high school to do masks with me, and they thought I was crazy!
What is your skin type, and what are the biggest skincare challenges you deal with personally?
AH: I have oily skin, but I’m 63, and of course now I have topical dehydration, fine lines, and wrinkles. When I was younger, I was only oily, but now I tend to have more combination skin.
RL: My skin type is also combination, including an oily T-zone with superficial dryness. The biggest thing I tackle with Glowbar and my skincare routine is the congestion I get in my T-zone, so just trying to clear my pores. Plus, fending off signs of aging and the hyperpigmentation from childhood sunburns.
Has your skincare regimen changed over time, and if so, how?
AH: Absolutely, and it should change based on your skin needs and your environment! My product usage has changed based on my skin at the time and what my concerns were as I aged.
RL: Over time, I have simplified my skincare routine. It’s still just as effective but simplified. I used to be your traditional consumer, falling for good marketing and friend suggestions of products they were loving. Now, I have a simple five-step routine (cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize, and SPF) that works and keeps my skin barrier intact.
What do you think is the single best innovation in skincare over the past few decades?
AH: Definitely technology in the skincare studio. I’ve truly watched it evolve and grow. When my mother started, there was no product development in terms of ingredients and technology to change skin. The skincare industry competes with the medical profession. It’s progressive, not aggressive, and results-oriented. Just one treatment and you’ll see the result you want.
What is one piece of advice you would give to women at any age with regard to caring for their skin?
AH: I would say hydration, sunscreen, and overall wellness. Your skin is an external organ, so what you put in it and how you treat the epidermis is going to make a huge difference.
RL: Definitely hydration, SPF, along with consistent treatments with a professional. I always think of it like this: Can you give yourself a thorough teeth cleaning? No, you go to a dentist for that. For really healthy skin at all ages, you should be consulting a professional.
Is there any (business, general, or skincare-specific) advice from your mother or grandmother you wish you’d listened to sooner?
RL: I wish I had stayed out of the sun more, especially on my face. I also knew I should have been seeing a professional monthly. One of the biggest reasons I started Glowbar came from a personal need: I wasn’t seeing a professional as much as I should have, and when I did, I wasn’t getting the results I desired. I wish I had prioritized seeing a professional from an earlier age.
What are your hopes for the next generation of skincare professionals, innovators, and entrepreneurs?
AH: I hope for continued financial success and growth for women.
RL: I hope that the esthetician’s expertise remains on a pedestal. The consumer has shifted away from seeing a professional, trying to do as much at home as possible. The increase of direct-to-consumer brands and influencers is a strong catalyst for this. The esthetician is the expert, and they invested time and energy into their advanced training, and I truly believe you cannot take care of your skin successfully without an esthetician. Another value for the consumer is that the esthetician is constantly growing and improving. They have knowledge of skincare that typical consumers do not.