Ok, ladies + gentleman, let’s talk skin. Well, let’s talk Glowbar to be exact - a new, innovative NYC hotspot that helps you “face your skin.” The Sunday forever team was lucky enough to have Glowbar co-founder + CEO Rachel Liverman invite us into the space to experience the magic of it all, and trust us, we definitely weren’t disappointed. So for all of you - and we mean all of you who are curious about this poppin’ new skincare destination, read on for the experience as told by a beauty junkie and a beauty newbie.
AS TOLD BY A LONG TIME LOVER OF ALL THINGS BEAUTY…
I used to think good skin and regular facials were for people other than me. If you didn’t have $300+ to spend on a monthly facial you were left with at-home options that maybe didn’t work well or weren’t exactly what your skin needed. You made do and hoped for the best. Like many industries (I’m looking at you, the boutique fitness and wellness party), a large percentage of consumers can’t afford to access the supply, despite there being a demand for professional, targeted skincare services.
That was until two women, Neha Govindraj and Rachel Liverman, dreamed up a skincare heaven named Glowbar. Located on a side street in Tribeca (147 Duane Street), right around the corner from the iconic Balloon Saloon), Glowbar is a small but mighty space. From the minute you enter, it’s clear you’re in good hands. The environment is clean, light and minimal and every detail is thoroughly intentional from the wallpaper in the lounge (a microscopic image of skin’s surface), to the texture on the walls (a reminder skin is porous and textured unlike the smoothed and filtered images fed to us every single day). And the Glowbar red that punctuates the space? Inspired by NARS Heatwave lipstick. How could I not visit?
And, visit I have, three times since the opening in May and I am here to tell you everything. The point of Glowbar is to offer tailored skin solutions that give marked results without the fluff - in 30 minutes flat. Once you check-in (via iPad or for the forgetful, like me, with assistance since I can never remember what email I use to make my appointments), you’re led to the wash bar. Yep - you wash your own face at Glowbar. Why? Because we all know how to wash our faces correctly so why waste your time and money having someone do it for you? Plus, the sinks are gorgeous (and textured) and there’s an assortment of professional brand cleansers to try. For a product junkie, like me, it’s really a win-win situation.
Once you’re in your treatment room, a Glowbar Esthetician talks with you about your skin: what you like about it, what you’d like to improve and some of your lifestyle habits that contribute to the overall health of your skin. After that, you’re walked through a customized treatment plan devised to achieve your skincare goals.
My skincare goal? Skin so clear and glowy, makeup is optional not mandatory.
My first two visits were targeted to help clear up my complexion after a particularly traumatic run-in with an SPF that caused some cystic breakouts on my cheeks. My esthetician, Miriam (@miriam.skincare), recommended a treatment consisting of a TCA peel (trichloroacetic acid), extractions, and a hydrating and cooling mask combined with a few minutes under red and blue LED light. For those new to LED light treatment, red light helps stimulate skin’s healing and collagen production and blue light helps kill bacteria, which is key in treating acne. Immediately after, my skin was supple, renewed and luminous. I experienced minor flakiness 2-4 days post treatment, which is to be expected, especially with a TCA peel, which is known to help with acne scarring and melasma *raises hand*. My third visit, with my breakouts on the mend, we switched up the treatment. It was too soon for another TCA peel so I opted for dermaplaning, a method used to manually exfoliate skin (and peach fuzz, although not the goal). This was followed by a lactic acid peel to gently exfoliate and the same hydrating and cooling mask and LED light treatment. After each treatment your exact “concoction” is logged under your profile so your progress can be monitored. In addition, an aftercare product routine is recommended but you’re never pressured to purchase.
After my first two visits my skin felt renewed, revived and...full of glow. The extractions left my skin looking brighter and clearer; my pores nearly invisible. After my third visit, the progress was remarkable. I was left with the softest, glowiest skin I’d ever experienced. Yes, I still had old acne scars but my skin looked like I was in perma-candle light; soft, bouncy and perfectly dewy. I posted a makeup and filter-free picture on my Instagram to document what I thought would never be possible: a publicly naked face.
Now that we’ve talked methodology, let’s talk accessibility. Remember I mentioned good skin felt out of reach and exclusionary? Rachel and Neha designed Glowbar to be aspirational and affordable. Facials cost $55 for members ($65 for non-members). Membership comes with a 10% product discount, a free treatment pass to share with a family member or friend and other perks such as additional treatments throughout the month at the same member price (for those of us who like a bi-weekly treatment).
In short, I can now have the skin I’ve always dreamed of having without forfeiting my 401K. And that is something to glow on about.
AS TOLD BY AN INEXPERIENCED BEAUTY NEWBIE…
When I say I’m a skincare newbie, I’m not kidding. Skincare has always been a bit confusing to me and for the majority of my life, I was using all products for a different skin type! It took me up until a few years ago to realize that I didn’t have oily skin and that, in fact, my skin was so dehydrated it was producing more oil - that’s how confusing all this stuff is for me. So having little to no knowledge on how to properly take care of my skin, I was really excited for my appointment at Glowbar, to actually get help from an expert. As it’s detailed above, Glowbar is truly a personalized experience that allows you to explore all the ways that you can get your skin feeling healthy and looking flawless.
I’ve always struggled with acne around my chin, cheeks and temples - which probably stems from a mixture of hormones and sporting heavy makeup on the daily - so I was pretty darn ready to try to fight this battle head on. My esthetician, Ally (@servingfacefirst), was absolutely amazing and made me feel so comfortable - I explained to her that i was relatively new to all of this and was 100% open to trying whatever she would recommend to me. I shared my skincare Regimen with her and even explained a bit about my lifestyle and health (diet, sleep, hormones, etc.), from which she tailored a four part treatment to get my skin looking from a zero to a hundred; it consisted of a gel mask, extractions, high frequency and A cooling mask paired with LED treatment.
Through my entire appointment, Ally was super informative in explaining each step of the treatment to me and answered every one of my annoying little questions. She was even helpful in giving me good (and realistic) tips for how I should best care for my skin outside of the godly hands of an esthetician. Plus, she recommended an assortment of products including an amazing activating serum by IS CLINICAL and moisturizer by ENVIRON that would really help some of my skincare woes. These could also be purchased within the space. SPOILER ALERT: I TOOK SOME SAMPLES HOME WITH ME AND (1) THEY DEFINITELY WORK AND (2) I’M 100% GOING BACK TO ACTUALLY BUY A FEW BOTTLES TO IMPLEMENT INTO MY DAILY ROUTINE.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect at the end of this. All I knew was that I trusted Ally, and I knew all this hype around Glowbar wasn’t going to be for nothing. Surely enough, my skin felt and looked unbelievably healthier from just one session. Given that my face looked a bit red in some spots due to the extractions, it didn't take me long to notice the results and jeez, my skin looked good. The dark spots from acne that plague my cheeks already seem to have gotten lighter, and my skin generally feels much smoother and brighter. Plus, ever since my appointment, it's been amazing to wear less foundation and feel confident enough to flaunt more of my natural skin. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to show my face a little more love. xx
TRANSPARENCY STATEMENT: This post is not sponsored. We were provided a complimentary facial by Glowbar; however this was in no way exchange for editorial coverage of a favorable story and review. The opinions and recommendations in this story are our own.
CATHERINE SPINLEY IS THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR AT THE SUNDAY ISSUE AS WELL AS A FREELANCE WRITER AND SOMETIMES-PHOTOGRAPHER. WHEN NOT STALKING OTHER PEOPLE’S DOGS OR YELLING AT PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO WALK UP THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ESCALATOR, SHE WORKS IN THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY AND PRACTICES YOGA. YOU CAN READ ABOUT HER AT WOREPAINT.COM AND @SPINDERELLA1110.
IRENE KIM IS THE ASSISTANT EDITOR AT THE THE SUNDAY ISSUE AND MARKETING ASSISTANT AT SUNDAY FOREVER. WHEN NOT CREATING MAGICAL CONTENT YOU CAN FIND HER DINING WITH HER FRIENDS AT SOME COOL NEW PLACE EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. FOLLOW IRENE @_IRENEKIM