Internationally Recognised Academy

The Story of our Beginning

Isa Carstens, founder of the Isa Carstens Academy, was an internationally renowned therapist, businesswoman and educationalist. She founded the Academy in the historic town of Stellenbosch in 1978.

A woman of stature and vision, she created a facility offering the best possible training in the field of Health and Skin Care therapy in South Africa. In 1978, the Isa Carstens Academy became the first South African school recognised by the Swiss-based CIDESCO (Comité International d’Esthétique et de Cosmétologie).

To ensure that the latest technology and training methods were applied at the school, she studied abroad in Vienna, France, Italy and Britain. She was invited to make presentations at CIDESCO World Congresses in 1984, 1986, 1992 and was appointed national examiner for CIDESCO in 1985, sharing her extensive knowledge and experience freely and widely.


Mrs Carstens was a founding member of the South African Institute of Health and Beauty Therapy (SAIHBTh), now called South African Association of Health and Skin Care Professionals (SAAHSP) and was president from 1990 to 1993. In 1994, she was awarded the first Mèdaile D’Esthetique for Educational Services by CIDESCO for her outstanding contribution to education. Mrs Isa Carstens passed away on 28 December 2002.

In 1993, Isabel Carstens-Roos took over as Managing Director of the Isa Carstens Academy, following in the footsteps of her mother. In 1999, the Academy was the provincial winner and a national finalist in the Old Mutual and Business Partners for Service Excellence competition. In 2007, Isabel Carstens-Roos was awarded the Medaille du Merite for high standards and professionalism by CIDESCO.

About our Founder

Tenacious from a young age, Isa Carstens’s decision to pursue her dream career late in life made her name synonymous with health and skin care in South Africa. The daughter of Sakkie and Martie Zuidmeer of Paarl, Isa grew up with five siblings in the winelands area and matriculated from Paarl Girls High School. After leaving school, she married Willie Carstens and they had four children: Lynette, Pieter, Mariét and Isabel.

Carstens took up the beauty therapy career she had trained for with Adele Reid in the early 1960s. She opened her first salon in Ceres on November 1, 1968.

Two years later, Carstens became the first therapist at the world-famous High Rustenburg Health Hydro, where she worked under Dr Boris Chaitow. The first Isa Carstens Skin Care Clinic was established in Stellenbosch in 1971. In 1973 she went to London where she obtained various diplomas.

In 1976 she was invited to start the first one-year course in beauty therapy at Cape Technikon. Soon afterwards, she obtained an International CIDESCO (the international association for beauty therapy) diploma in Vienna.


In 1978, Carstens opened the country’s first CIDESCO recognised training facility – the Stellenbosch Academy of Health and Skin Care Therapy. A second Isa Carstens Care Clinic was later opened in Port Elizabeth.

As early as 1979, Carstens revolutionised the local industry by initiating Eve Taylor Aromatherapy in South Africa. Carstens also found time to present various papers at the CIDESCO World Congress, including a paper on a facial massage technique at the world congress in Hamburg, Germany in 1984.

She acted as a national examiner for the SA Association of Health and Skin Care Professionals (SAAHSP) during 1980 as well as a CIDESCO examiner at the Cape Technikon and assumed duties as chairwoman for the Cape Town branch for eight years.

Carstens was also a member of organisations like the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC). She even joined the National Women’s Executive Club, the women’s Bureau and the Stellenbosch Fynproewersgilde, while acting as principal of Cosmetic Plus Ltd. and serving as managing director of Isa Carstens (PTY) Limited.

In 1988 she received the Business Entrepreneur of the Year award presented by the Johannesburg Afrikaans Business Woman’s Club and Sarie. During August 1989, the Isa Carstens Skin Care Range was launched and she was the runner-up for the Small Businesswoman of the Year award presented by Old Mutual.

Carstens received the Weekend Argus Business Personality of the Week award in 1991. In 1994 she won the SAAHSP International President’s Award, as well as being the first and only South African to receive the Medaile D’Esthetique which is awarded by CIDESCO every 10 years to an inspired individual.

After the death of her first husband in 1986, she married Professor Naas Carstens in 1996. In 1997, Stellenbosch Academy changed its name to Isa Carstens Health and Skin Care Academy in recognition of her outstanding contribution to beauty care. Isa Carstens passed away in December 2002.

Another name change took place and the Academy is now known as Isa Carstens Academy – allowing the Academy to offer programmes other than Somatology as well.