Money & Career

Confessions Of A High-End Skin Therapist

Beauty therapists get pimples too!

“Confessions Of A…” is a weekly series by marie claire dishing the dirty little secrets of different professions. Put the kettle on, we’re about to spill some tea…

Today we sit down with skin specialist and dermal therapist Isabella Loneragan, who founded the exclusive beauty clinic The Dermal Diary four years ago and is the only practitioner in Sydney to offer the Intrinsic Facial Technique (yeah, that’s the one Meghan Markle, Kate Moss and Margot Robbie get).

After 13 years in the industry, Loneragan, 38, now hand picks the clients she takes on – and there’s roughly a four to six-week waitlist to get an appointment with her (plus a required $110 first time visit analysis).

There’s a good reason for the waitlist. When you get a facial with Loneragan, it’s not just a cleanse, mask and moisturise; it’s a spiritual and emotional experience. Prepare to be enlightened…

“When I was a child, I was a real empath and quite emotional. I still am.

I was drawn to the human connection of beauty therapy and did a diploma in it while I was living in Cape Town, where I started a business out of my spare room.

Four years ago, I opened The Dermal Diary in Sydney’s north. I had 11 appointments on my opening day. It’s still quite an intimate clinic with just me and two other therapists I’ve thoroughly trained. I’ve had Sigourney Cantelo from Beauticate and other luxury beauty editors come in for appointments.

I studied behavioural health science and psychology at university and that’s been a powerful part of my work. When a person arrives to see me for a consultation, I listen to what is going on in their lives; whether it’s emotional, financial, family or even political stress.

It’s more than a facial. I connect with my clients on a deeper level. A few weeks ago I had a young woman, who’s a model, come in for a consultation with a shocking bout of acne. She was so self-conscious about her skin; she burst into tears and didn’t even want a training therapist in the room for the appointment. We talked about how as a model her livelihood was ruined because of her acne scarring. It was a disaster for her, she had to move back in with her parents. My job that day was to listen to her, talk to her and connect with her. Then we made a plan for her skin.

To anyone struggling with their skin, I say reach out. Skin therapists won’t judge you, we’re there to assist and support you.

Earlier this year, I went to Paris to learn how to do the Intrinsic Facial Technique, which combines advanced sculpting facial massage with buccal – or massage from within the mouth – to deliver an exceptional lifting procedure without surgery. It’s the treatment Nicola Joss uses on her celeb clients in London [cough, Meghan Markle, cough].

The stars get it because it’s three-dimensional and it works on the facial muscles from inside the mouth. I like to say it’s an alternative to Botox if you don’t want Botox.

Since I’ve started doing the Intrinsic Facial Technique, our waitlist has kept growing. People have said it’s the best facial they’ve ever had. It’s the biggest compliment when someone falls asleep during a facial.

We’ve gotten to a stage now, where we choose our clients.

People often have unrealistic expectations about what’s achievable. Lately, I’ve been getting emails from mothers about teenage sons with severe acne, asking if I can fix it with a facial for his formal in five days. Sorry, no. I have to be selective with my clients and can’t help people with unrealistic expectations.

I also find it funny when people arrive for a facial saying they had Botox last week, but they don’t want any chemicals in their treatment. There are chemicals all around us. I spend a lot of time educating people about that.

The most frustrating part of my job is when people tell me they don’t wear sun cream or that it’s in their make up. As a skin therapist, that’s my biggest piece of advice – wear sun cream. If you buy expensive skin products, but don’t wear sun cream, you may as well flush those products down the toilet.

Of course, I look after my own skin; I moisturise, tone and exfoliate, and I use Vitamin A, B and C. But there is no miracle fix. I’m nearly 40 and I have pigmentation and pimples, too. 

I struggle with my husband’s skin. He has major acne rosacea and it’s a daily battle. When people meet him they say, ‘Oh my god your wife is a skin expert and look at your skin.’ I use him as an example of how hard it is to treat major skin conditions.

I’m honest about the fact that skin is skin. You work with what you have.

And it really helps if you wear sun cream!”

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