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Natural Awakenings Boston

Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics: Beautifying and Empowering Women for Nearly 50 Years

Aug 30, 2012 03:17PM


In the late 1960s, Catherine Hinds opened Boston’s first skin care salon on Newbury Street. In 1979 she established the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics, in Medford, which she later sold to her daughter, An. Today the institute is based in Woburn and houses classrooms, a computer lab, training rooms and a clinic that is open to the public for discounted skin care and spa treatments. Each year more than 200 students attend licensure programs and courses in advanced esthetics, spa therapies and the institute’s 200-hour Master Esthetics program for those who want to work in a medical setting. Natural Awakenings spoke with An G. Hinds about the state of the skin care industry and her mother’s pioneering career.

I seems that commercials and news stories are always featuring new technologies for attaining better and younger-looking skin. What’s behind this surge?

The baby boomers are driving the demand for advanced corrective skin treatments because they’re living so much longer and concerned about overall wellness. Twenty years ago we couldn’t have said that we could smooth someone’s lines, remove hyperpigmentation and treat acne. Today we have advanced treatments for these conditions, such as chemical peels, hydrafacials, LED [light therapy] and microdermabrasion. Skin care and spa treatments are no longer just fluff, because today we’re not only concerned with relaxation, but also getting a professional treatment and home-care program that improves the skin. The technology and product ingredients that are now available in our industry are 10 times more effective and results-driven than ever before.

What takes place in your student clinic?

It gives our students real-time, real experience working on the public doing all sorts of treatments, from waxing, skin care and back facials to makeup application, advanced chemical peels, microdermabrasion and hair reduction. We have a steam room and a full spa here where we do hot stone treatments, herbal wraps, mud baths and exfoliating treatments. We’re using natural, fragrance-free products and treatments that are progressive but not aggressive. Our aim is to coax skin into good health so we talk about the importance of drinking water, eating well, managing stress, following a good skin care program at home and using sunscreen, which is always my number-one recommendation, followed by regular professional skin care.

Our clinic is a classroom atmosphere where instructors are present, and the clients pay a quarter of the price they would pay in a retail setting. We see up to 100 people daily, except Sundays, and our clients enjoy instructor-supervised treatments in a professional and sanitary clinical environment.

What’s the outlook for the skin care industry?

If you take a look at some of the recent Department of Labor studies, it’s predicted that esthetics is one of the fastest-growing careers in the country based on the aging population. We also have the license to touch and, in this day and age, any industry that can help people relax and feel better about themselves is likely to experience tremendous growth. What’s really wonderful is that we create many small business owners, which boosts the economy and supports women and men in becoming financially independent.

And what is Catherine Hinds herself up to these days?

My mother currently sits on our board and summers on an island in northern New York, where she opened up a bed-and-breakfast and spa that she has just sold. She is what we call a serial entrepreneur. My mother is 78 years old and she was one of the original “women’s libbers.” She’s always been a visionary who felt strongly that women should be empowered to have choice. To quote Catherine E. Hinds, “It is never too late and it has never felt like work.” The mission statement of the institute is to create financial independence for women through esthetics. We’ve carried on that tradition for more than 30 years and we feel grateful and blessed. My own daughter, Rachel, is in the personal care industry, so we’re continuing into a third generation.

The Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics is located at 300 Wildwood Ave., Woburn. For more information call 781-935-3344 or visit

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