A few weeks ago, I had the most transformative experience I couldn’t wait to share with all of you. I had the pleasure of visiting Susanne Kaufmann at her spa at the Hotel Post Bezau. The blonde beauty comes from the Bregenzer Forest, a unique valley in the Austrian Alps, and has developed powerful, results-driven products (I’m sure you’ve heard of them) comprised of the cleanest, most refreshing ingredients. I was lucky enough to visit her picturesque hotel for a mini-detox and to test out her line and her treatments.
Here’s the scoop.
During my three night stay at the Hotel Post, I slept in one of the special “sleep therapy rooms.” My bed was made in a particular way to ensure deep sleep and at night, the wifi actually turns off to encourage further relaxation. The design of the room is very simple, no TV, just very zen. I ate from her Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Detox Diet, which was delicious and left me totally satisfied. The cuisine supports purification, detoxification and de-acidification of the body and the connective tissue. I could get down with that.
A typical menu sounded like this. Breakfast: hot oat cereal with fruits, pudding of chia seed with coconut and cardamom, juice freshly squeezed with linseed oil, and Susanne Kaufmann Detox Tea. Lunch: fennel tomato soup, quinoa with cucumber, bell pepper, olives and capers and SK Peppermint Tea. Dinner: stewed saffron fennel with celery, cream of parsnips and wild herbs, fennel tomato soup and SK Acid Alkalizing Tea. The teas became my addiction over the course of my stay, especially the Acid Alkalizing Tea.
The best part? I had the opportunity to meet with Susanne. I, obviously, asked her everything – from the inspiration behind her skincare line to her under-the-radar beauty secrets. Read on for my full interview with the guru.
Tell me about how you got involved with the spa.
“When I took over [the spa in 1994], there was one masseur, one therapist, a doctor, a little spa and a sauna. It was the typical European detox center, but very simple. I quickly realized I wanted to develop and focus on the spa.
A lot of the spas at the time were influenced by Greek and Italian architecture, very heavy, so I was always striving to be unique, which is why I decided to keep the spa clean, sterile, white and very medical. I wanted to have nothing in the rooms – no colors, pictures, sounds – so you can focus on yourself.”
When concepting the spa, how did you decide to develop your own line of products?
“We had tried all the big name brands – Shiseido, Estee Lauder, but nothing natural. And I was very lucky because I was told about a producer that was only 15 minutes from the hotel that has his own line using whey in his cosmetics. And at the beginning there were 24 products, now we have around 80 products. And people really came to the spa, and I didn’t know if they would like the products and would ask for Clinique or Estee, but they didn’t, they loved our line. So after a year, we fazed out all the other lines and we used only Susanne Kaufmann products. And that’s how it started.
How would you describe your skincare line?
“It’s about taking the best quality and bringing it into the skin in the most natural and effective way and really do something and work. When you bring something in very deeply, you have to be careful about what you take and which quality. For me, cooking and cosmetics are a bit the same. It all depends on the ingredients. If you make a fish that isn’t good quality, and you put on the best sauce in the world, the fish still isn’t good. And the same goes for cosmetics. You can disguise anything with fancy packaging, but if the quality isn’t right, it’s harmful.”
“Ectoine. It’s a wonderful cell repair ingredient. When it comes to anti-aging and radiance and beautiful skin, it’s always about helping your cells work better. After we turn 25, the cell regeneration diminishes. The ectoine helps the cells regenerate and protect themselves. We have it in the whole A-Line, the advanced anti-aging line as well as well as the sun production creams. It’s from an algae, so they do it in the lab. They put the algae’s under stress by freezing them. To prevent the algae from dying, they give the algae a little ‘coat,’ which is the ectoine. This protects from the coldness. So when you go back and de-freeze them, they release the ectoine! It’s so natural and it’s a wonderful botanical active.
I also use arnica. In the summertime as a child, my parents would send me and my cousins to the mountains [to visit my grandmother]. We always had time to collect things. There were blueberries and ingredients for tea. And my Grandma was obsessed with arnica. She would make arnica schnapps. And whenever you had something, if it was a scratch, a sore throat, if you had problems with you knee – arnica cured everything. So whenever we would go up into the Alps, she would ask us to bring it. And it wasn’t for drinking; it was just for the cure.”
Have any favorite products in your collection?
“The Line A Eye Cream (which contains that entoine) and also the Skin Lighting and Radiance Complex. It makes your skin really even and removes the sunspots and age spots. But it takes time to really remove the pigmentation. If you really have those dark spots, it takes a year but it works. You don’t need lasers; the creams and serums will really work.”
You are known to be fascinated by Traditional Chinese medicine. How does that influence the spa?
“I was looking for something a bit deeper than only doing facials and massages. I always thought there was more more about being beautiful or healthy, so I tried a few different courses. I went to a Panchakarma course [aka the most effective healing modality in Ayurvedic Medicine] and it was a really wonderful experience but I couldn’t introduce this into the Hotel Post. Your hair needed to get really oily and this was more of a retreat, so it wasn’t right kind of experience.
Traditional Chinese medicine is all about preservation. You basically go to prevent getting sick. I thought this was the right thing. I didn’t want to be a medical center but I did want to prevent people from getting sick. If you come to the hotel for the whole detox program, you are seen by a Chinese medicine practitioner and your plan is based on your diagnosis.
From there everything falls into place and you get specific cuisine, treatments, movements and products. It’s a 360 degree approach. We see beauty in a holistic way. You have to look at the whole picture – not just at the skin. It’s what how eat and sleep, so we try to integrate all of this into your treatment.”
“The food was really important to me because I love food. If I have a 5-course menu or if I just have some cheese and potato, I always look for good quality. Food is how you feed your cells, everything. It’s really the base. Now we see, that people eat to much yogurt and have these sugar shocks so again, its so important what we give and feed our bodies from the inside.”
What’s the deal with your famous Whey Bath?
“We are doing so much cheese here in this area. If you have 1 liter milk you are only doing 90% cheese out of this, so the remaining 10% is the whey. And there are so many vitamins and minerals in this whey. My grandmother made all these different things with whey, because it was so good for you. She even made whey soup, which I never liked. She lived to 99. The reason that it’s so good for you is because of the lactic acid. We have heard all these theories about how Cleopatra bathed in milk. Well she actually bathed whey.”
Are you now as obsessed as I am with Susanne? I thought so. To give you a little mini crash course in her skincare line, I put together a shortlist of my favorite discoveries….
It was really hard to choose, but because I am such a bath addict, I love her Whey Bath (duh) and her Mallow Blossom Bubble Bath. Both look and feel incredible and actually make your skin more hydrated. The cooling and warming foot creams are really incredible products too. I bought the warming cream for myself and the cooling for my mom and she absolutely loves it.
For skincare, I am an Hyaluronic Acid lover, so it was only natural that I gravitated towards her Hyaluron Serum. The super concentrated plant-based formula is enriched with Hyaluronic Acid to help the skin retain moisture, as well as Citric Acid to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
After experiencing the anti-aging facial at her glorious spa, I knew that I needed the power trio in order to get my pre-party facial on. This means that the Enzyme Peel, the Moisturizing Mask and the Skin Lightening and Radiance Complex are now integral parts of my skincare routine. I’ll have a tutorial on how to do this coming up!