If you ever drive to Spanish Fork, Utah, the corporate headquarters of GlyMed Plus, you may ask yourself, “what’s a glitzy girl like Christine Heathman doing in a rural place like this?” However, if you continue to drive five miles beyond the corporate building to Christine’s other business, VIP Equine Park, you will understand.
Despite her presence and knowledge that is evident on any aesthetic stage or classroom, in reality, Christine is much more at home on her ranch with her horses, including three paint show horses, or at home on the foothills of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with her five French Bulldogs at her side.
Christine’s professional story, however, does not begin in Utah, but in a small Concord, California home converted to a skin care clinic over 25 years ago. Her career, like many aestheticians, began as a result of her own skin condition. In her words “…I had severe grade-four acne for over a decade and out of desperation for clear skin, I sought out remedies from over-the-counter products, facialists, salons, and dermatologists without any success. Then, I began to eagerly study the skin, especially about acne, because I was so desperate to have healthy and clear skin. Once I had mastered clearing up my acne, I was motivated to treat others with similar problems and acquired my license to practice aesthetics in the state of California. My skin elective of choice was to help individuals with severe skin challenges of all ethnic backgrounds. Soon, patients from all over the San Francisco Bay area sought out my skin treatments and to this day I still maintain contact with many of these individuals.”
She owned and operated Advanced Aesthetics, a medical skin care clinic, for over 15 years until moving to Utah. As it has always been the case, Christine was ahead of her time, as the marriage of medicine and skin care was still yet to become mainstream. As she built her business and her reputation, she began to accept patient referrals from the medical institutions of St. Francis Hospital Plastic and Reconstructive Department, the Bothin Burn Unit and Stanford Dermatology Department. She combined her experience as a makeup artist with her knowledge of traumatized skin and became one of the first camouflage makeup therapists in the country.
Always the student, Christine became more immersed with education and began taking all advanced courses available to her. She would drive down the coast several times a year to attend courses at the American Institute of Esthetics (AIE), established by Robert Diemer. With her new found credentials, she made the decision to open up a training center in her skin care clinic first as the Color and Fashion Institute, and finally became the Advanced Aesthetics Training Institute. Her educational topics included color analysis, paramedical camouflage therapy, acne, peels, and medical skin care. The first camouflage course to be recognized and licensed through the post secondary educational department within the state of California was developed by Christine and taught at the Advanced Aesthetics Training Institute. Many of the students that attended her classes have continued with their careers and become national educators themselves.
Christine’s aesthetic vision continues as she described it in the September 1989 issue of Dermascope… “I want to make it clear to all that my goal is to elevate the prestige of American aesthetics and share our knowledge worldwide, thus crediting our profession. All of us can only benefit when we work together as a unit on a global basis, sharing, learning, and supporting each other. American aesthetics have come a long way and this is borne out by the very fact of American instructors being invited to Europe to educate. I am only a contributor in a fast growing profession that is gaining respectability.”
At the time, Christine was writing about her experiences conducting the first five-day intensive paramedical camouflage training program in Zurich, Switzerland. A week later she held a second class in Munich, Germany. She followed later that year in Malaysia. The highlight of her 1989 trip to Germany, however, was receiving her license to practice aesthetics from the Board of Cosmetology in Düsseldorf. These international courses became only the first of many conducted internationally and continue this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
In addition to all of her international training, while still in California, she continued to train nationally, write articles for trade magazines, and author several manuals while building her aesthetic practice in Concord. In 1992, however, her career took on a new, yet obvious course, as a product manufacturer. As she recalls in a short autobiography written 10 years ago… “I withdrew my personal savings in 1992 and formulated GlyMed Plus. GlyMed Plus started with only three products…” The three original products were Gentle Facial Wash, Facial Hydrator, and Photo-Age Protection Cream.
A year later, Christine took a not as obvious course and moved her Derma Color and Clinical Formula distribution along with her new product line, GlyMed Plus, to Spanish Fork, Utah. Although instantly finding herself in a state of “culture shock,” moving the business and closing her aesthetic practice gave her more time to focus on formulating and building the GlyMed Plus skin care brand. It was very difficult to leave her clients, students and home, but always the one to take on new challenges, Christine saw this as another opportunity.
Her intention was to focus on building her brand but she quickly found herself missing the “hands on” connection she had with clients. Her timing was perfect for in 1993, she met a cosmetic surgeon Dr. Brent Kennedy who had just opened up the Institute of Facial Surgery in Murray, Utah, who was interested in adding an aesthetic room. There she was not only able to get back behind the aesthetic chair but also began teaching some courses at his training facility enabling her to add more medically based education to her students.
Christine became increasingly frustrated with the type of aesthetic educational events that were being offered so in 1995 her plan was to establish the International Medical Aesthetics Symposium. She envisioned a two-day event that would merge top medical and aesthetic educators in one forum. The first Annual Medical Esthetic Symposium was held in 1996 at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort with the beautiful backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains. The symposium grew so rapidly that the thirdyear, it had to be moved to Park City, Utah, due to the limitations of accommodations at Sundance. Eventually, to meet the escalation of interest in the event it was changed to a bi-annual event and then was turned over to AAEA. In 2007, however, Christine resurrected the event and the 5th Bi-Annual Medical Esthetic Symposium was held in November, at its original home, Sundance Resort.
By 1995, Christine had established herself as a premier educator in both the medical and aesthetic arena. She was invited by Dr. Renato Saltz to co-write a chapter in a medical textbook and also to teach a group of physicians in Brazil. Later, she became the first aesthetician to be approved to practice at the University of Utah Plastic Surgery Department with Dr. Saltz.
In 1997, Christine became introduced to an individual who would not only add a new chapter to her career, but would also grow to become a very dear lifelong friend. Bonnie Day had previously established the American Aesthetician Education Association, a non-product educational organization dedicated to bridging the gap between medicine and aesthetics, a passion she knew she shared with Christine. As Bonnie recalls, “In 1997, Christine Heathman was appointed to the office of Vice President and Director of Education for the American Aestheticians Education Association. With her knowledge, experience, and delightful personality, the association grew and became a tremendous success. Christine’s inner beauty and intelligence are matched by her integrity and love of the skin care profession.”
Later that year, Christine was able to expand her business by purchasing the building next to her corporate headquarters that had recently been vacated by the post office. The historic building met her immediate needs of having shipping docks and room for warehousing her growing product line. In addition, it also had an area downstairs that had been previously used during the war for civil service testing, providing a perfect setting for a very unique training area. In keeping with the ambience of the original architecture, she began renovations and in October of 1997 the first official five-day advanced aesthetic course was presented. The class sizes have always been kept small for a more intimate experience for the students and with a recent updated look the GlyMed Plus Institute of Skin Science is now in its 11th year of operation.
With all of these milestones in her educational career, there was one issue that continued to haunt Christine, the fact that there still was no aesthetic licensure in the State of Utah. In 1999, Christine joined a group of professionals who had hired a lobbyist and were trying to get aesthetic licensing through the legislature. According to Brenda Scharman, one of the leaders of this group and owner of Cameo College of Beauty in Salt Lake City, “Christine Heathman is not only considered innovative in product creation, but plays an instrumental part in legislation across the country. The industry is dependent on Christine for her expertise. Utah was the first state to adopt a “tiered license” for the aesthetic industry. With Christine’s passion and drive, the implementation of this new concept of licensure was born – now numerous states are following in the footsteps of Utah.”
In January of 2001, after the hard work of many and a large group storming the state capital, Governor Michael Leavitt signed HB105, the first two tiered aesthetic license in the country. Governor Leavitt personally handed over the original to Christine and she still proudly holds it in her personal safe. According to Daniel Jones, Bureau Manager for the Department of Occupational Licensing, “She [Christine] worked hard to create a brand new licensing classification, not just a single state but in the United States. It was the first one of its kind and has started a national trend. Christine was instrumental in the establishment of the first Master Esthetician license. She did not do it for personal gain but for the betterment of aestheticians everywhere. She has been one that could be counted on to help push her profession forward.”
With licensure well under way and a growing skin care company, Christine found herself looking for a new adventure. When she moved to Utah, she had purchased a 17 acre piece of property bordering the Spanish Fork River. Although Christine has owned horses for decades, her dream was to someday create an equine boarding facility that would meet her strict expectations for horse care. In 2002, she decided that it was the perfect time to make the dream a reality and the facility was completed by 2003. Once the facility was complete, there was one thing left to do, fulfill yet another dream. In Christine’s words, “My whole life I dreamed of owning horses. But not just any horse, it had to be the paint horse! And not just any paint, but beautiful black and white, palomino, bay and sorrel overo paints that would catch your breath and leave you speechless.” Soon after she purchased VIP’s Major Attraction a 2003 APHA/PtHA Black Overo Stallion that was campaigned in halter and was second in the nation in 2005. She has since added Sparks Bar II and Prime Time Lady to her show horses.
During this same time, Christine was to meet someone else who would end up being a lifelong companion; one with four legs and a tail. In a search to find a perfect canine companion, she stumbled onto a little French Bulldog that no one else seemed to want at a pet store. She was drawn to him immediately and before she knew it she was the proud owner of Pugsley. Since then she has not only added five other dogs to her family but has also given one of these lovable companions to her mother, sister, son, and close friend Bonnie Day.
In 2005, Christine took the two things she loved best and combined them when she created the Pugsley’s Choice Pet Care products and VIP Horse Care products. As usual, she couldn’t find the products for her petsthat met her criteria so she researched and created her own natural ones.
In addition to her many accomplishments in the aesthetic industry, Christine is also known by many for her compassion and generosity. Pam Cofer, Vice President of Journey Beyond Cancer expresses it best. “Christine and my paths first crossed in 1998 while I was working on an idea for an organization that would be able to give cancer survivors assistance beyond the abilities of local support groups. From the onset, Christine’s passion and understanding of what women with cancer endure was very insightful. Christine developed “Marie’s Gift,” an incredible collection of GlyMed Plus facial products named after her Aunt Marie, who fought a courageous battle with breast cancer while making a difference in the lives of all she touched. Christine has donated Marie’s Gift to every woman at every one of our retreats for the past 10 years. Each time we contact her about an upcoming retreat her only question is, “How many women will be attending?” Christine gives generously and unconditionally to many women with cancer that she may never meet. She is as beautiful inside as she is outside. To me, Christine Heathman is an earth angel.”
In addition to her donations to breast cancer through Marie’s Gift Foundation, Christine also has donated on many occasions to such organizations as the rescue efforts of the FBRN (French Bulldog Rescue Network), the Humane Society in the San Diego area to assist with the displaced animals during the fires as well as New Orleans following Katrina, Miracle Horse Rescue, and Pasado’s Safe Haven in Washington State.
As the CEO of GlyMed Plus, she has also donated products to countless fundraising efforts including the building of a shelter home for abused children in Wisconsin, Janus Burn Camp for children who have survived burns, Prevent Blindness, and women’s shelters.
Successful aesthetician, premier educator, mentor, product formulator, CEO, all terms that describe the last 30 years of Christine’s public career. Her passion and ability to deliver results has inspired countless individuals to enter the aesthetic industry. Her educational projects have raised the bar in the science and medicine of aesthetics. What most people don’t realize when they first meet this aesthetic Legend is that she has a very comedic streak and loves to pull pranks whenever possible.
What will be the next chapter for Christine? If you ask her on a bad day, she will tell you that she wants to retire and enjoy her many other passions including her two sons and five grandsons (she has one more grandson on the way), her horses and dogs, spending more time in her beloved homes of Washington State and the San Francisco Bay Area, and shopping. However, those of us closest to her, as well as her peers, know she will also be involved in taking the science of aesthetics to the next level.