(Global Beauty)

5 Alpine Beauty Secrets I Learned In The Austrian Mountains

My skin (and mind) will never be the same.

Originally Published: 
Faith Xue
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Arriving in Bezau is like going backwards in time — when the world was still green, technology unnecessary, and all that you needed to be happy in life could be found within a 10 mile radius. Tucked in the furthermost edge of Austria’s Bregenzerwald valley, this idyllic 1,986-person town is frequented by insiders who crave the serenity of being surrounded by crisp mountain air and rolling emerald hills — an IV drip of nature that unclenches tight shoulders and coaxes deeper, slower breaths.

I traveled 11 hours to this postcard-worthy town to decamp at Hotel Post Bezau by Susanne Kaufmann, a 150-year-old wellness destination that has been in Kaufmann’s family for over five generations. If Kaufmann’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen her line of minimalist, alpine-crafted skin care products in the shelves of your favorite beauty boutiques, or in the #shelfies of your favorite celebrities (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Emilia Clarke are fans). All of her products are grounded in the philosophy that luxury does not equate excess, but rather sustainability, thoughtfulness, and quality of ingredients — the latter of which Kaufmann sources straight from the ample bounty of Bezau’s surrounding region.

The view from my room at Hotel Post BezauFaith Xue

The “By Susanne Kaufmann” addition to Hotel Post Bezau’s name is necessary, because Kaufmann’s touch is felt everywhere throughout the property. It’s reflected in the restaurant’s menu, which features local ingredients like fleshy chanterelle mushrooms and a variety of the most delectable cheeses you’ve ever tasted; there’s just one prix-fixe menu for lunch and dinner to minimize waste (for picky eaters, there’s an option to swap out any dish you don’t like — I never had to). It’s seen in each room’s decor, which favors a warm, cozy approach and a minimalist aesthetic. And perhaps most obviously, it’s woven throughout the hotel’s famed spa, which is where Susanne Kaufmann, the brand, was first created (Kaufmann originally started creating products to accompany the spa treatments offered at the hotel, but customers began to demand her products from all over the world; the rest is history).

After three days of luxuriating at Hotel Post Bezau, I felt physically and mentally — dare I say spiritually? — renewed, with months of worry and stress melting off me like freshly-churned butter in the Austrian sun. I also discovered a newfound appreciation for the sustainably-minded, alpine-inspired beauty approach Kaufmann has carved out for her brand in the ever-noisy beauty space. Ahead, find the five alpine beauty secrets I learned during my stay in Austria — some experienced, some learned from Kaufmann herself, and all that I’ll remember the next time I need to ground, refresh, and reset.

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Faith Xue

#1: Incorporate alpine ingredients in your skin care routine

The alpine beauty approach centers around plant ingredients found in high mountain ranges, which are supposedly more potent and effective than their less ruggedly-grown counterparts because of the harsh conditions — extreme temperatures, frigid winds — they have to endure in order to thrive. “Unique, powerful plants such as arnica, chamomile, marigold, lavender, and rosemary are found in abundance here and can withstand the harsh weather conditions of The Alps, free from pollution,” says Kaufmann. One of my favorite Susanne Kaufmann products, the Nutrient Serum, uses the little-known alpine ingredient marigold extract to fight free radicals and even stimulate collagen production, while her Nourishing Day Cream (Kaufmann’s favorite) uses alpine rose extract to strengthen the skin barrier and protect it from environmental stress. Kaufmann also has the added benefit of working with a manufacturing facility that’s a mere 10-minute drive from her home in Bezau — meaning not only the ingredients, but the actual production, of her line is the definition of home-grown.

#2: De-stress with a foot bath

When I arrived in my room at Hotel Post Bezau, there was a small basin and towel laid out near the foot of my bed, with a note encouraging me to draw myself a soothing foot bath at the end of the day. A popular self-care treatment in countries like China and South Korea, foot baths have a multitude of benefits, from de-stressing to easing muscle tension to even helping you sleep better. I like to pour warm water in a basin and add a dash of Susanne Kaufmann’s Alkali Salts in before watching Netflix or reading a book. I always fall asleep swiftly after.

#3: Adopt a gentler approach to acids

I used to think that dousing my face in an acid peel a few times a week was the only way to keep blackhead and bumps at bay, but Kaufmann taught me the benefits of a softer approach. Her Enzyme Exfoliator, my new favorite mask, features a fresh-feeling gel formula that removes dead skin cells using gentle fruit acids from apple, papaya and kiwi. My skin feels softer and looks clearer afterwards, with zero irritation. To amplify any acid mask’s effect, follow with a moisture-boosting mask after; Kaufmann likes to use her brand’s Boosting Liquid Mask, which is made with Swiss apple stem cell extract to plump and hydrate.

#4: Don’t sleep on ectoin

Kaufmann introduced ectoin to me as an under-the-radar hydration superstar. Used in her Enzyme Exfoliator, it’s essentially an algae extract that protects micro-organisms from dehydration and environmental stressors — and it can do the same for your skin. Studies have shown that it can prevent premature UV-induced photoaging and improve your skin barrier function. Hyaluronic acid, whomst?

#5: Go forest bathing

Forest bathing originally started in Japan, but it can be practiced anywhere. Contrary to what the name might imply, it does not involve actually bathing in a forest, but rather bathing your senses as you walk through nature. Kaufmann led us on a first bathing hike into the Bregenzerwald mountains on the last day of our trip, and just taking the time to breathe in the crisp air, take in the lush surroundings, and be fully present left me feeling more calm and relaxed than I have in a long time. Still skeptical? Multiple studies have proven that it has real therapeutic and health benefits. And no need to go into an actual forest if you live in a city — a simple walk to a park or garden can suffice.

Faith Xue


Lee, J. H., Seo, E. K., Shim, J. S., & Chung, S. P. (2017). The effects of aroma massage and foot bath on psychophysiological response in stroke patients. Journal of physical therapy science, 29(8), 1292–1296.

Buenger, J., & Driller, H. (2004). Ectoin: an effective natural substance to prevent UVA-induced premature photoaging. Skin pharmacology and physiology, 17(5), 232–237.

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