The sun care lotion is made from tomato and lemon, the anti-aging products use protein from silk, while the men’s line contains broccoli seed oil.
Bea von Thurn und Taxis, the patrician co-owner and spokesperson for Susanne Kaufmann, an Austrian organic skincare line, isn’t just touting these products. She’s also promoting an advocacy: the right to wellness.
Von Thurn und Taxis worked in the fashion industry, and eventually grew weary of marketing big brands.
“At a certain age, you need to look for something true and which you truly believe in. If I were in fashion, I’d work with small designers with artisans. Now I’m promoting a small, quality-driven brand that encourages wellness. The organic market will be big in the next few years.”
Research studies have shown that the organic cosmetics market has been growing in Europe by 20 percent every year. Independent brands such as Susanne Kaufmann have been driving the market’s success. Producers work on a small scale so they can concentrate on making pure and sophisticated ingredients that address common skin concerns.
Susanne Kaufmann is a fifth-generation Austrian hotelier who established the organic skincare line in her name. The family-owned Hotel Post is located in Bezau in Bregenz Forest, Austria, a tourist destination known for skiing, hiking and nature-tripping activities.
After renovating the hotel and the spa, Kaufmann worked with a pharmacist and a Swiss dermatologist to create spa products using organic ingredients. The brand’s philosophy is that science supports skincare wellness in a natural and holistic manner.
When demand for the product increased, Kaufmann decided to go into retail. Through a common friend, she met with Von Thurn und Taxis, who became her partner and marketing director.
Half-Austrian and half-German, Von Thurn und Taxis hails from a family of royalty. In Europe, the surname is associated with the German postal service and brewery.
Von Thurn und Taxis said today’s eco-conscious consumers, particularly in skincare, like to know what goes into the products, their origins and their efficacy. Misled by supposedly “natural” or “plant-based” products, they are concerned about certain toxic chemicals and preservatives that are found in these products.
“People don’t easily believe in promise that you can look younger in 10 days or look better in 20 days. Consumers are asking, where does it come from? What does it do to my skin? What happens when I wash it off? They like to have a story. It has to have an effect, if not, they don’t buy it,” she said.
As a natural alternative, Susanne Kaufmann uses plants for preservatives and emulsifiers as opposed to other brands that use waxes, silicones, synthetic perfumes, parabens and sulphates that can irritate. Still, the products’ shelf life is 30 months.
Von Thurn und Taxis pointed out that cosmetics must follow the most stringent food laws in Austria and Germany. For instance, the soybean oil should not have been subjected to genetic modification.
The brand has always been upfront about what goes into its products. The Anti-Aging Line A contains potent ingredients: bioflavanoid stimulates collagen growth, while ectoine protects the cells from getting damaged by the environment. Silk protein from silkworms in England and white lupin flower extract act as natural moisturizers. The carrier ingredient is the cuckoo flower seed oil, which has medicinal and soothing properties.
For problem skin, some products contain rosehip seed oil, which has a light texture and anti-inflammatory and antioxidating properties. Aside from moisturizing properties, this oil contains vitamin C and lycopene for rejuvenating the cells.
“The cleansing milks and gels are made of sugar so that it keeps the PH balance (it’s alkaline enough to clean the skin without stripping off the natural oils). If you’ve got a combination of oily and dry skin, the cream is enriched with vitamin C to make the skin alive. The body oil has jojoba, almond and St. John’s Wort’s oil for calming. We’ve got a lighter body lotion that tightens the skin and it’s got a rose oil that’s calming. The men’s line has apple pectin and witch hazel to soothe and disinfect their skins after shaving.”
“Our sun care line contains 25 SPF,” she added. “In Europe, if there’s too much SPF, you block the vitamin D from the sun. The UVB makes the skin burn while the UVA ages the skin. We put ectoine and natural ingredients to filter the UVA. It took us four years to make the sunscreen so we don’t turn white.”
The men’s line, called Line M, is infused with broccoli seed oil, which is gaining popularity for its moisturizing properties. Its fatty acids bring a glow to the skin that is similar to silicone. But while silicone can clog pores, broccoli seed oil is easily absorbed and is high in vitamin A that repairs the skin and stimulates cell growth.
Von Thurn und Taxis added that as a socially responsible company, the packaging is made in Austria to lessen the carbon footprint (with the exception of the glass containers from Germany.) The company keeps the production modest at only 1,000 products a week, to maintain standards of purity.
Pushing 50, the statuesque patrician looked fresh despite days of traveling and subjecting her skin to different climates and time zones. Asked about the effect of using Susanne Kaufmann’s cosmetics on her skin, Von Thurn und Taxis said, “If you put something dead like chemicals, nothing happens except on the first layer of the skin. If you apply something organic, there is a change. The skin starts working as it learns to restore and regenerate itself.”
Upon discovering Susanne Kaufmann products in London, Mark Gonzalez, managing director for Univers Homme et Femme, the high-end fashion store, was taken in by the products scent, packaging and results.
“Selling a beauty product in a concept store like this (Univers) is not easy. Women tend to buy from the dermatologist or department store. But we both have something in common: quality, design and a story,” Von Thurn und Taxis said.
Susanne Kaufmann is available at Univers Homme et Femme, Unit 102, G/F One Rockwell East Tower, Makati City.