Fashion & Beauty / Who, What, Why

The Alpine Beauty Brand Using Happiness to Fight Ageing

Harnessing alpine herbs from her hotel's local forest, Susanne Kaufmann started an all-natural beauty revolution

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Photography courtesy of Susanne Kaufmann

Who? Taking the helm of Post Bezau back in 1994 – her family hotel set high in the Austrian alpine forest of Bregenz – Susanne Kaufmann started an almost accidental beauty revolution. Along with her architect brother, Kaufmann applied an austere and pared-back schema to everything under, and including, the roof. The rooms and building structure were stripped back to ultra clean and modern lines: think stark, Mies van der Rohe-esque slatted walls casting graphic shadows across concrete-floored balconies; a breathtaking backdrop of the forest offering all the decor one needs. But it was the modernisation of the hotel’s spa that had a global impact. Parity was key here too: in line with her introduction of locally sourced and seasonally created menus (we’re talking wines from the same mountain range as the property), Kaufmann sought all-natural products that could be produced in the particularly fecund microclimate of the region. An eponymous, organic, alpine beauty brand was born; into non-transit-friendly, but beautifully labelled, glass vials and bottles – there was little intention for them to ever leave the region, you see.

Today, the range is stocked across Europe, Asia and the USA – still in its original impractical glass bottles – and yet Kaufmann’s modus operandi remains very much in-tune with their source. “Right now I am looking out of the window and we have the first, very green grass,” she says on the phone. “The grass is different when it comes up in springtime. The first grass is always the freshest, the greenest one. It’s different from the summer grass because of the photosynthesis. It’s the same for the herbs, spring brings the best herbs – they have more energy than the autumn herbs and so this is, for us humans, the best time to regenerate in spring.” Tapping into the wealth-spring of her alpine surroundings and the “privilege of the wonderful air” is clearly the key to this brand’s global success. Everybody wants in on Kaufmann's well-packaged purity. 

What? Susanne Kaufmann bath oils are world renowned, possibly since these tall glass bottles, each revealing a single sprig of herbs, are such pleasing objects. From medicinal Witch Hazel Bath to soothing lavender and patchouli-infused Bath For The Senses, these oils sum up the range’s perfect marriage of luxury and cure. Ultra minimal packaging conjures the clarity of a glacial stream and facilitates an almost Hippocratical faith in these products but their indulgent nature holds equal importance – since it’s a holistic approach to health and beauty that is key to Kaufmann’s ethos. “For me, anti-ageing is about everything together – sports, fresh air and skincare – but it’s also about being happy and satisfied. For example, at the spa we do facial rejuvenation with acupuncture – you could do this 100 times but if you are always stressed, if you are not satisfied, it will never have the best results.”

So a five-star spa stay may not be the only route to happiness and wellbeing? Actually, it’s bathtime. “Sometimes I have my own spa in my bathroom,” Kaufmann explains. “Take a Sunday evening, when you have time for it, take your hour and have a little spa treatment at home. I do a face mask and a hair mask and combine everything.” Beyond baths, Kaufmann’s best weapons against anti-ageing are outdoor sports, eating locally and seasonally and “surrounding yourself by nice people”. It may seem counterintuitive, as the director of a world-renowned beauty brand, to implore these kinds of modest solutions, but Kaufmann champions self-care and attention. Take her famous icy, cooling clear Enzyme Peel Gel for example: while ten minutes slathered in the stuff will reveal gleaming, exfoliated skin, those ten tingling minutes enforce a calm, meditative state. The cooling sensation is transportingly refreshing and rejuvenating – doubling up as a kind of mental exfoliation too.

Why? As a brand new line – Susanne Kaufmann Organic Treats Advanced Anti-Aging System – drops on Net-a-Porter today, Kaufmann takes all-natural beauty to a new level. Eschewing chemical ingredients in favour of the herbs and plant-life grown in the brand’s ecological garden in Bregenz forest, Kaufmann has harnessed a pea extract that offers the same collagen-boosting properties as its harsher peer, Retinol. While high-dosage vitamins tackle hyperpigmentation and wrinkles, anti-inflammatory Cardiospernum soothes and balances, offering that much-lauded balance which defines the brand’s DNA. Wrapped up in this ethos of minimalism and meditation, this new innovation joins a 70-strong product range that continues to push the boundaries of natural skincare. In May, a chemical-free facial SPF 30 will join that roster too – just another gift from the Alps.

Susanne Kaufmann Organic Treats Advanced Anti-Aging System is available from today on Net-a-Porter.

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