Beauty Escape: Step Inside Isabella Loneragan Skin

Isabella Loneragan has entered a new era. The esteemed skin therapist and business woman explains to Hannah Gay why her approach to the skin and mental health of her clients is anything but one-dimensional.

On a wet October day last year, I escaped Sydney and made the 1.5 hour trip down to Bowral for the opening of Isabella Loneragan Skin.

I made the effort for two reasons: first, because I have been following owner Isabella’s journey for some time, after interviewing her for Professional Beauty in 2020; I wanted to attend in support of her. And second, because the sheer idea of venturing out of The Big City and hanging out at a quaint, quiet estate at a stylish, boutique beauty space is my idea of heaven.

Isabella Loneragan opened her namesake clinic in 2022.

Her ‘why’

Isabella tells me she opened the space to harness her own years of training. Working independently means her treatments are less tailored to the capabilities of her staff, but more to the demands of her own clients. Isabella is on the clinic floor herself—a contrast to the role she played managing The Dermal Diary back in North Sydney. “In Bowral, I’m working as a sole trader so I have reduced my professional back-end responsibility. Therefore, I’m more available to give treatments.”

The beauty of Bowral life is a selling- point in itself. “The atmosphere is vastly different to that of Sydney,” Isabella explains. “In Sydney, women are time poor. Most are working full-time and have more than one child they have to get home and look after; it’s very fast-paced. I feel like the women allow themselves to ‘live’ a bit more in Bowral, so the type of clientele are open to taking a bit more time for themselves.”

Inside Isabella Loneragan Skin

Positioned within meters of her own home, Isabella Loneragan Skin (IL Skin) is a hidden gem. Its calming emerald walls and clean lines were the result of Isabella’s personal vision. “Think deep greens, rich walnuts, gold accents, and cosy, navy fluffy towels. It’s very private being in a stand- alone studio on my property, so those that appreciate not running into everyone they know on the street after a treatment loves coming to IL Skin. There is a treatment room, plus a client pre-treatment preparation room to allow each client to unwind and start to slow their breath down whilst getting ready for their facial treatment,” Isabella says.

Every detail, down to the comfort of the bathroom, was considered in its design. “Personally I am always disappointed when I go to a really lovely skin clinic — or any business — and their bathroom has been forgotten about in the design plan. Often it goes further than being left out — it is ignored altogether and is barely clean! It really brings the whole experience down. Therefore, I made sure that the bathroom at IL Skin carried the same feeling and design brief as the rest of the business: cosy, rich, elegant.”

“I feel like the women allow themselves to ‘live’ a bit more in Bowral, so the type of clientele are open to taking a bit more time for themselves.” – Isabella Loneragan

The career

She’s come a long way since opening her very first business in Cape Town in 2007. At the time, Isabella was married to a South African and while the marriage didn’t survive, the career did! (She also has a pretty wicked sense of humour, I learnt). While her passion for the skin was rife early on, her studies were originally in psychology. “There was a gap of about five years between both qualifications [in psychology and dermatology] as I was traveling overseas for those years… an extended gap year of sorts! The two fields are very strongly interconnected,” she explains. “Everything I do has a foundation that stems from psychology. It was probably the best degree I could have chosen as I use it to this day when navigating how people feel about their skin and how their skin makes them feel about themselves.”

Isabella is a reactive person. Her resume speaks to a career history treating the skins of hundreds – if not thousands – of clients. And while her expertise may lie in reacting to what’s on the surface, Isabella prides herself on responding to the psychological state of each client as well as the physiological. “We as therapists can only do so much – the connection between beauty and how we think is huge,” Isabella shares. It’s with this understanding that Isabella bases her work, and underscores the ‘why’ behind Isabella Loneragan Skin.

Over the years, Isabella found herself moving away from the “one-dimensional” medical side of things. “My approach is purely holistic — I look at most things in their life and draw from that in the plan to achieve their skin goals for them. I found dermatology relied heavily on medication and scripting, and only touched on the other major players like stress, gut health, diet, alcohol, attitude and lifestyle.” Such an approach is demonstrated via her delivery of intraoral massage — Isabella’s signature treatment: The Intrinsic Facial. The unique offering is what keeps clients stepping back into IL Skin time and time again. “It offers a very unique opportunity to provide the client with results that surpass that of a traditional facial,” Isabella notes. “It also allows the therapist to be able to build a level of trust with clients that you simply can not through a regular facial. Trust encourages repeat business.” She explains that while performing the treatment, people feed back to her; a form of communication and connection while they’re on the bed. “I designed this treatment with my clients’ needs in mind, and that seems to work.”

Isabella the skincare formulator

Isabella is also no stranger to product formulation, having developed her own line of skincare — The Private Collection — back when she first launched The Dermal Diary. “When I was tasked with the job of finding the correct skincare product for a dermatology clinic I was working at, it enabled me to take a deep dive into the world of skincare and compare, contrast and analyse many products according to what they offered. I quickly learnt that we needed to stock a few ranges in order to cover all the needs of our patients. I took that intel and the four years of listening to the doctors and what ingredients they loved, and combined that with my chemistry and formulation knowledge to design my first range.” With a new business in tow, a fresh product line is imminent. “Once I sold The Dermal Diary, I reformulated as I felt it was time to keep up with the ever-changing technological advancements, and am formally launching my new range, Ragan Skin, in 2023.”

Used in conjunction, Isabella also vouches for technology such as the Observ and MoreMe AI systems to diagnose the skin. “In my opinion, the Observ enhances the capabilities of the skin therapist when describing every skin issue that is identified. I find it increases the trust in the therapist as there is a tangible way to point out what skin conditions are treatable and those that are not. It also provides a yardstick for the client to measure their results with, and keeps the skin therapist accountable to the results they indicate they can achieve for their client.”

The future looks bright for Isabella and her beautiful new clinic. It seems there’s nothing stopping her.

Isabella’s first clinic was featured in Professional Beauty South Africa over a decade ago!

This article first appeared in the January-February 2023 print issue of Professional Beauty.

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