Hungarian beauty products

A number of successful beauty products and treatments, combining the latest innovations and natural active ingredients, originate from Hungary.

When it comes to skin treatment, Hungary has made some important contributions. One of the most famous cosmetic brands in the world, Estée Lauder, has its origins in Hungary. The lady behind the brand, Estée Lauder (1901-2004) was born into a Hungarian-Czech immigrant family in New York's Queens.

Originally called Josephine Esther Mentzer, she married Charles Lauter, (later Lauder) and together they launched the company in 1946, producing cosmetics in New York City. Two years later their products had become such a success they established their first department store account with Saks Fifth Avenue and in 1960 Estée Lauder opened its first counter outside of the U.S. in Harrods, London.

Her rags to riches climb was in part due to pioneering marketing activity such as giving away a free gift with every purchase, something which is carried on today, as well as the huge growth in the cosmetics industry during the 1940s and 50s. Breaking into the tough department store market was also a great achievement and something that changed the face of the cosmetics industry forever.

Another Hungarian to make his mark on the cosmetics industry was Dr Ernő László, a famous dermatologist and big name in cosmetics, especially in the USA. He was born in Transylvania in 1897, grew up in Budapest and emigrated to America at the onset of World War II in 1939. He launched the Ernő László Institute on Fifth Avenue specialising in beauty treatments and cosmetics for the rich and famous.

He treated royalty and Hollywood stars of the golden age, including the Duchess of Windsor, the Vanderbilts and Greta Garbo. Later his line of skin care creams would be sold at the most exclusive of New York stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and nowadays his range is sold around the world, including Harrods and online in the UK.

A more recent Hungarian brand to be making its mark is Omorovicza, whose range of facial treatments is used in many luxurious hotel and day spas around the world and sold in upmarket department stores such as Harvey Nichols in London.  The company was started by American Margaret de Heinrich de Omorovicza and her half-Hungarian husband, Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza.

Stephen is a descendant of the noble Omorovicza family, who in the 1800s built the beautiful Racz spa in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, on the site of a medieval healing spring. Upon meeting Margaret and introducing her to Budapest's ancient spas they were keen to bring Hungary's enviable beauty heritage to the rest of the world - and launched their range of beauty products and a Budapest spa in 2006.

The products include the nearly black orange-scented cleansing balm which uses mud from Lake Hévíz and the Queen of Hungary Mist, a neroli and rose-scented face mist  inspired by the Queen of Hungary Water, the world's first recorded perfume, formulated for Queen Elisabeth of Hungary in the 14th century.

Visitors to Hungary can find a wide range of beauty and spa treatments at their hotel (eg. Omorovicza treatments in the Four Season Gresham Palace`s spa), in the day spas of Budapest or in the historic spas using both internationally recognised brands as well as some hidden gems, known mainly to the local market.

For instance at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest, visitors can try the products from Hungarian Cosmetics expert Adrienne Feller, including her Hungarian Spring line of beauty products, and the Rose de Luxe face oil, made from the oil of Damascus Roses and white lotus flowers.

Since the mid-eighties the most well known company in Hungarian quality skincare Helia-D is known of its use of plantbased active ingredients - sunflower stem extract.

In 2015 Helia-D is opening a Herbal House Visitor and Beauty Centre in Tolcsva, in the heart of the famous Tokaj wine region. "Helia-D uses plant-based active ingredients in its products, and the Herbal House is the perfect opportunity to show plants in its garden suitable for healing and beautifying the visitors. In the 16th century Baroque mansion three exhibition rooms display the long history of the beauty industry. Besides providing information and knowledge, visitors can get hands-on experience of preparing cosmetics and naturally the Herbal House also caters for those looking to enjoy cosmetic treatments.

Other local stars include Viktoria Minya and her Eau de Hongrie, one of the first modern perfumes and according to the story, a gift of the angels, pure enough to rejuvenate the ageing Princess Elisabeth of Hungary and make the King Casimir IV of Poland fall in love with her. It must have worked, as they had 13 children, four of whom became Kings in turn.

At the prestigious and very modern Spirit Hotel in Sárvár in western Hungary, they even have their own range of skincare products, "mySPIRIT" skincare, which includes a variety of bio cleansers and facial care products for men and women.