Canadian natural skincare - ISC hand-crafted skincare products are infused with botanicals wild grown and sustainably harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador for healthy, beautiful skin. 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free.
Lisa Walsh loves to laugh, she loves people, she loves the outdoors, and she loves loves loves the feminine. And she brings all these elements together in the hand-crafted, wild-foraged skin care products made at the company she founded in 2009, ISC Beauty. There is a giant, fun, pink executive office chair in the middle of the packing room.
“Big picture,” she says, “women need skincare products that are good for their skin and good for their bodies, healthy and affordable. And it needs to make them feel good. That’s what we’re striving for at ISC Beauty.”
Lisa earned her passion for quality through experience. In the 1990s she was a young entrepreneur making waves in the local beauty business. “Those were heady days!”, she says, “we were doing hair and make-up for TV as well as running a premiere Redken salon and Aveda Spa. Business was booming.”
But Lisa’s health was in decline. The exposure to chemicals was toxic for her. “I had recurring bronchitis, and that last bout lasted for months. My doctor told me to change careers. It was devastating. I’d worked so hard to build the company, I had a clientele I loved, I thought I’d be doing it forever and could not imagine how it would turn out.”
Twenty years later Lisa leads a team of 8 at ISC. Established in 2009, ISC makes four lines of hand-crafted, wild-foraged botanical skincare products that are sold across the province, across the country, and featured in one of the world’s finest destination accommodations, The Fogo Island Inn.
ISC products are simple, pure and natural, certified vegan and cruelty-free. The journey was a winding road of soul-searching, product research, understanding the market and loving Newfoundland and Labrador.
Lisa says, “Lisa says, “We’ve learned a lot in the past 30+ years. The skincare industry is the third largest in the world and for us, it’s an opportunity to innovate and make a positive difference with our easily accessible brand in grocery."
The company is currently undertaking a name adjustment. Lisa says, “I founded the company in 2009 under the name ‘Indigena’ to reflect our focus on botanicals indigenous to our province. Our focus on indigenous botanicals hasn’t shifted, but more recently the term “indigena” has become almost synonymous with Indigenous peoples as opposed to aboriginal. After deep reflection and conversations with members of the Indigenous community, we’re changing the name to reflect our support.”
That responsiveness is internal as well as external. "We need to care for each other, especially after the past few years, so we look for ways to do that. For instance, we provide lunch... our team leads busy lives, we wanted to add that comfort to their work day. Taking lunch breaks together is the best team-building experience a company could ask for. It’s a great way to connect. The lab is on the bay and most days there is a flock of ducks, crows and little birds outside the window. It creates a positive, caring environment, and no staff work harder or smarter. We love what we do together.”
Lisa’s hometown, the Town of Bay de Verde is on a tippy tippy edge of the Bay de Verde Peninsula. It’s where she grew up, a vast natural playground. It’s not a gentle place. She says, “If something can grow here, it’s got to be healthy and hardy. Imagine harnessing that power in skincare.”
That eureka moment led to years of adventures in research with Memorial University’s Botanical Gardens and programs of Canada’s National Research Council. That research informed the composition of ISC local skincare’s products, armed with learnings like the mega-antioxidant properties of some of the leaves of those plants at Bay de Verde.
Lisa says, "The power of botanicals has been recognized since ancient times and research is expanding our understanding. Adaptogenic skincare is gaining momentum. Adapotogenic refers to how herbs adapt to meet the skincare needs of an individual user. It's fascinating."
Lisa saw the opportunity to take Newfoundland and Labrador skin craft further afield. She says, “In 2019 we participated in one of the world’s premiere beauty industry conferences in New York. It was there we recognized the need to bring the same level of scientific rigour to our brand that we brought to our research. The rebrand was an exercise in examining our core values to ensure they carried through all the things we do. We’re vegan and cruelty-free so need to ensure that our suppliers are as well. It takes a lot of digging.”
ISC is proud of the products they bring to market and wanted to reach people in a way that is accessible to them. Their market research showed opportunities for new products and different ways for people to get them.
Lisa explains the philosophy of ISC’s skincare lines. “Our products bring together different elements - the natural environment, forest, ocean - as well as traits like femininity, strength, gentleness, a sense of adventure, sense of fun - and our lines do too. They’re designed to be an experience for the user. The act of opening a jar creates a moment of sight and scent and sound and feeling ripe with health and wellness. All the elements are in there - from the harvesting to the lab to the packaging. Self-care from seed to skin.”
At the height of the pandemic, ISC Beauty met the challenge of finding ways to give people a boost nose-first. Lisa says, "Scent has a huge impact on how a person feels. In the days of six feet apart, we began making hand-crafted perfumes to bring us back to closer times. 'Mystical' is deeper and more earthy, whereas 'Magical' is light and bright. Both scents are hugely popular."
ISC products are designed to serve all ages and all skin types, at an affordable price. Lisa says, “Accessibility is important too. While you can find ISC products at specialty shops and The Fogo Island Inn, we’ve started selling ISC at supermarkets as well. Great skincare products should be available to everyone.”
ISC’s Avalonia Mystical Inspired by nomads and adventurers and a little shed around the bay, this range has some of our best sellers for over 12 years and our new eau de toilette and perfume. The collection has land and sea-based botanical skincare which includes face lotion, jelly cleanser, moisturizer, soaps and bath & body products. It’s fresh, adventurous and perfect for those who want a simple skincare routine and are obsessed with ocean-inspired everything.
ISC’s Arctic Sunshine line is rich in antioxidants to give nourishing care to mature skin. It includes cleansers, day creams, serums, night creams, eye creams and more. Line is rich in northern boreal adaptogenic antioxidants to infuse nourishing care to mature & menopausal skin. It includes cleansers, serum, firming, day and night creams, and firming body oil.
ISC’s Boreal Moon Bakeapple, blueberry, raspberry rose and pin cherry, the boreal forests of NL and the moon inspired the Boreal Moon line that brings the forest’s riches to hand creams, shampoos, hand soap, body wash, bubble bath, conditioners, bath salts and bombs.
ISC’s Aurora Magical - Products of the Aurora Magical line were inspired by the dancing aurora borealis over Canada’s majestic sky. Formulated for all skin types.
From the beaches, barrens and forests where freedom and space reign supreme, to the lab where precision rules temperature, measurement and time, creating products and experiences that promote wellness, celebrate femininity, and make people feel good is the mission of ISC.
What’s next for Lisa and the team? Lisa smiles and says, “More of the same, and some a little bit different.” There’s a shed on our property not too far from the cliff, overlooking the ocean. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day that became the ISC Beauty Wellness Retreat?”