In the Press – Beauty with Donna Duggan, Sunday papers

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Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream is featured “Herbal extracts and almond meal help clean skin without stripping it dry.”

Natural Beauty

What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it, so here’s how to reduce your chemical load

I’m often asked what products I’d recommend if money were no object. While I do have an answer – Guerlain Abeille Royale Day Cream ($176, 1800 811 611); Prevage Anti-Aging Daily Serum ($195, 1800 354 663) and La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask ($365, 1800 649 849) – I find a more relevant question is, what products do I regularly spend my money on? My answer to this is “skincare with a low synthetic chemical load”.

The simple fact is that I value my health more than my appearance, and while natural products may not do as much for my wrinkles and pigmentation, they keep my skin clean and hydrated, my hair shiny and they save my liver some extra work. Grab any skincare, haircare or make-up product from your shelf and have a look at the ingredients. Chances are you won’t know what many of them are or do. Does that matter to you if the product works?

If a healthy diet is important to you, then your answer should be “yes” – and that means it’s time to extend your awareness of ingredients to your beauty products. “Topical skincare products can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream,” Irene Falcone, founder of natural product store Nourished Life, says. “The skin isn’t an impermeable shield – you just have to think about the way nicotine and other medical patches work to realise that what goes on, goes in.”


Not all ingredients are going to have a negative impact on your health, so it’s worth knowing which ones pose minimal risk and which are best to avoid if you want to reduce your chemical load. “Potential hormone disrupters like parabens, found in many beauty products, phthalates, which are the artificial fragrances found in perfumes and other personal care products, and triclosan, which is found in soaps and deodorants, are likely to build up over time, potentially causing health problems in the future,” Falcone says. While some ingredients may not cause internal damage, common ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), propylene glycol and synthetic fragrances may cause uncomfortable skin irritations. Personally, I have to steer clear of shampoo with SLS or I end up with a flaky scalp, and many perfumes send me into a sneezing frenzy. “Irritation is terrible for skin,” Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice Skincare, says. “It causes collagen to break down, triggers oil production directly in the pores, increases free radical damage, and impedes skin’s ability to heal.”

There’s no regulation of what can be labelled “natural skincare” in Australia, which means it’s up to the consumer to check the ingredient list. Jose Kakebeeke, Australasian trainer for natural skincare brand Dr. Hauschka, suggests avoiding products with parabens, petrochemicals, polyethylene glycol (look for PEG), synthetic fragrances and dyes. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to recognise these on the label. Parabens are used as a preservative and found in the majority of beauty products (they’re usually the words ending in “ben”). If you’re worried about them, choose a paraben-free brand, or avoid products that cover a large area of the skin, such as body moisturiser, and replace with a body oil.


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Elisabeth Sigmund – Chapter 5

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Medical studies and deciding on a career in cosmetics

In addition to being involved in theatre, aesthetics and nurturing plants, Elisabeth Sigmund was also interested in medicine. She discovered this interest while on holiday with her family in Waidhofen an der Thaya (Lower Austria) in 1927. During their stay, she accompanied the local priest, Father Eßmeister, on his visits to remote, impoverished farms in his parish and helped him provide medical care to the cottagers (small farmers) who lived there. The experiences left her feeling so fulfilled that she wanted to become a doctor.

After training to be a Red Cross nurse in 1933/34, Elisabeth Sigmund studied medicine for two semesters at the University of Vienna before having to take time out as a result of illness. During this enforced interruption to her studies and after reading Rudolf Steiner’s paper “The Arts and their Mission”, she decided to become a cosmetician. Steiner said that a thing of beauty is something that reveals its inner being in its outer appearance (GA 276)*. With the help of these words, Elisabeth Sigmund’s love of both nourishing plants and aesthetics came together to form the passion for cosmetics that shaped her life.

Autodidactic cosmetics studies
From then on, Elisabeth Sigmund only attended selected medical lectures at university and began to devise her own cosmetics studies. There was no independent training to become a cosmetician. She attended courses at large cosmetics firms and worked at the Vienna cosmetics institute, Pessl, where she discovered all of the disadvantages of conventional treatments. She observed how facial massages weaken the facial muscles and how cleansing the skin with Vaseline (petrochemicals) blocks the pores. She realised that it was time to start creating her own skin care products based on nurturing plants.

Elisabeth Sigmund gained great knowledge of nurturing plants with an effect on the skin by reading the chapters on skin diseases in old medical books. She obtained the medical books from the Vienna university and national library, where her uncle, Edmund Pribik assisted her greatly. As a library employee he was able to pick out books that were not normally available to the public. She also visited the libraries of many convents where old medical books were simply gathering dust at the time. In the years leading up to 1939, she also completed a course in a Paris cosmetics laboratory in order to learn the trade of cosmetics development.

But what did Elisabeth Sigmund’s mother think of all this? She was extremely unhappy with the new path that her daughter had taken. Back then, for a girl from a good family to become a cosmetician was considered improper. As such, Elisabeth Sigmund was not allowed to mention to the profession she wished to pursue to her mother’s friends or acquaintances. But this did not stop her from following her dream.

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Once Elisabeth Sigmund had decided on a career in cosmetics, she created her first serious cosmetic preparation: a face lotion based on a strong daisy tea that she made herself. She chose daisies because she found these meadow flowers described in a medical volume as a nourishing plant for women and for beautiful skin. With a little alcohol added, the tea improved her skin, which tended towards impurity at the time. Elisabeth Sigmund later expanded on this face lotion with other nurturing plants to create Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner. Daisy and nasturtium minimise the appearance of blackheads and blemishes, visibly refine pores and reduce excessive oiliness. Anthyllis balances skin for a calm, even appearance.

“All of my attempts at creating skin care products were always motivated by an interest in finding the plants that are good for and have a quasi healing effect on the skin.”
– Elisabeth Sigmund

Daisy, Nasturtium, Anthyllis & Clarifying Toner
Daisy, Nasturtium, Anthyllis & Clarifying Toner

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Cultivation Partnership Project – Shea Butter

Burkina Faso. Village where WALA is supporting a shea butter project. The shea butter is used in  Dr.Hauschka Skin Care products. Committee of the women's collective "IKEUFA", which is in charge of the project, from left to right: President (Présidente) Djouma KARAMA, Vice President Tene KONE, Secretary (Secretaire) Odile SIRMA, Vice Secretary, Treasurer Himana KARAMA, Vice Treasurer.
Burkina Faso. Village where WALA is supporting a shea butter project. The shea butter is used in Dr.Hauschka Skin Care products. Committee of the women’s collective “IKEUFA”, which is in charge of the project, from left to right: President (Présidente) Djouma KARAMA, Vice President Tene KONE, Secretary (Secretaire) Odile SIRMA, Vice Secretary, Treasurer Himana KARAMA, Vice Treasurer.

In 2001 WALA (Dr. Hauschka) began supporting a shea butter project in Burkina Faso. In this project, women in several villages within a protected, certified organic collecting area for shea (or karité) nuts produce raw shea butter (beurre de karité) in the traditional manner. For many families the sale of shea butter is an important source of income. WALA helps to preserve these village communities by purchasing the shea butter from the villages at above-average prices and giving long-term purchase guarantees. Through the project the villages receive financial, advisory and organisational assistance with obtaining organic certification.

Country of honourable people
Burkina Faso is in West Africa, next to the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The country used to be called Upper Volta after its three major rivers the Red Volta, Black Volta and White Volta. Its present name Burkina Faso means “Country of Honourable People” or “Country of the Incorruptible”. Located on a plateau, the country is characterised by moist savannah, bush land and semidesert. In the last few years this already poor country, dependent mainly on farming, has been heavily hit by drought. The people here on the edge of the Sahel zone can only survive with the help of plants which have adapted to the drought periods: the shea tree, for example.

Shea Tree (Butyrospermum parkii)
Shea Tree (Butyrospermum parkii)

Holy tree of the savannah: the shea tree
Small by the standards of its native country, the gnarled shea tree grows to a height of 10 to 15 metres and is part of the natural vegetation in a belt about 300 km wide extending from Mali through Burkina Faso to Ghana, Togo and Benin. This “shea belt” is the only place in the world where this tree thrives. The lactiferous tree with its leathery leaves does not flower until it is 20 years old and only reaches maximum productive capacity at the age of 30 years, then remaining fully productive for more than 100 years. The plum-shaped fruits, which become green when they ripen, have a diameter of up to 4 cm. The soft green outer skin is a popular food. With their fat content of up to 50% the kernels (nuts) are a sought-after and traditional source of fat for skin care and cooking in Burkina Faso. Because of its great importance, the shea tree is considered by the native population to be a holy tree and its felling is not allowed.

Hand mit Sheanüssen

Women´s gold: Shea butter
Shea butter is women’s business. When the time comes round for making shea butter, also known as karité, the women assemble at a central place in their village which is specially set up for this purpose. The harvested nuts are dried and shelled, heated in a clay oven and then pounded in mortars. The resulting mass is mixed with water and beaten for about 45 minutes. The butter separates and can be skimmed off (the process is comparable to churning milk to make butter). The product is a slightly pungent smelling, whitish-yellow mass, the unrefined shea butter. The finished butter is stored in a warehouse used only for this purpose until it is shipped. Shea butter now has fans all over the world.

Shea butter for Dr.Hauschka Skin Care products
The first contact between Burkina Faso and WALA. The freelance project adviser Hermann Schopferer approached WALA, the manufacturer of the natural and organic Dr.Hauschka skin care products, suggesting a cooperation.

The idea: high-quality shea butter produced by traditional methods for high-quality skin care products. WALA was interested and agreed. Hermann Schopferer has already set up and looked after several self-help projects in Africa, particularly in Burkina Faso. He knows the country and the people and for the shea butter project he chose the more rainy, moderate south west of Burkina Faso with its good stock of shea trees, about 400 km from the capital city Ouagadougou.

Green bush and yellow clay
People stressed by the pace of modern life would at last find peace in the villages of Diarabakkoko, the project region in Burkina Faso. No electricity, no telephone, no traffic invade the peace and quiet. People here live simply from what they are able to grow themselves. Millet is one of the staple foods of their unvaried menu, meat is rare. To earn money the women and men go – on foot – to the market 15 kilometres away where they sell part of their produce or food they have cooked themselves.

Unreife Sheafrüchte

Making more out of shea nuts
Harvesting shea nuts is a traditional activity of the villages in Burkina Faso. Foreign refineries have exploited the oil-rich nuts for a long time, buying them cheaply in the villages. In the shea butter project in cooperation with WALA the villages earn several times as much from their nuts by selling the shea butter they have made from the nuts themselves. Its price is seven times higher than the price for the nuts.

Festival in Burkina Faso
Festival in Burkina Faso

The women’s cooperative
Some 350 women from two villages are currently producing shea butter for WALA. The women have organised themselves in a producers’ cooperative. Shea butter was always women’s business. For the project the women have given themselves the name ‘IKEUFA’ (faire bien et meilleur de Diarabakoko) which means something like: do good and better in Diarabakoko. All positions in the cooperative, from the president through the treasurer to the secretary, are elected by the village women. “The women are traditionally very independent” says Hermann Schopferer. They have always had their own fields and earned their own money which they administer themselves. The self-assured Burkina Faso women discuss all project issues in detail with Schopferer, for example the question of how they can meet WALA’s high standards of quality and hygiene. The money earned from selling the shea butter enables the women to pay the school fees for their children amongst other things.

Shea butter from Burkina Faso: some facts

  • In the initial phase in 2001 WALA supported the Shea Butter Project by financing the advisor Hermann Schopferer who visits the country several times a year, ensures the required quality standards and prepares the annual organic certification.
  • In 2002 nuts were collected for WALA for the first time and used to make shea butter.
  • The women were paid by WALA in advance at above-average prices. The money allowed them to purchase the necessary equipment, materials for shipping etc.
  • In autumn 2002 the first consignment of shea butter was shipped to WALA.
  • In 2003 the project received organic certification for the first time. The amount of shea butter produced was enough to meet WALA’s requirements in full. At the same time the organic certification, which has to be renewed annually, is carried out.
  • WALA guarantees to purchase fixed amounts and provides the women with investment aid so as to secure the required quality in the long term. In 2004  funding was provided for the purchase of a grinder for processing the shea nuts.

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Dr. Hauschka Discovery Centre

Elisabeth Sigmund – Chapter 4 – Skin Care From A Research Perspective

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Elisabeth 1929

Elisabeth Sigmund’s playful journeys of discovery on her mother’s dressing table were soon driven forward by her inquiring mind. For example, she observed how the oily and aqueous phases of the Elida day cream that her mother used on her face separated out. When she opened the tube, there was an oily layer on the cream.

Somehow, the pharmacist Paul Redtenbacher, who made the Hamamelis facial toner and Crème Céleste for the females in the Resch family using a recipe belonging to their grandmother Anastasia, realised that Elisabeth Sigmund had an extraordinary interest in skin care. He took her to the area of the pharmacy where he produced ointments, creams and facial toners among other things. There, he showed her how these were made and after a while, allowed her to mix them herself. That is when she learned how an emulsion is created.

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Using natural ingredients
Paul Redtenbacher aroused Elisabeth Sigmund’s interest in home-made skin care products with both a cosmetic and a nurturing effect. She was now able to put her knowledge of plants to practical use for the first time. Elisabeth Sigmund made her first attempts to create products at home using sage tea, which relieves inflammation. She also placed rose petals in water and added essential rose oil because the aqueous extract was not as strongly perfumed as she had hoped. Her mother mistakenly saw this curiosity as vanity and tried to stop her daughter from experimenting, but to no avail. Elisabeth Sigmund’s interest in developing her own skin care products became increasingly strong. “I didn’t like the creams that were for sale so wanted to make my own, with ingredients that pleased me”, she once explained. While still at school, Elisabeth and her best friend Wilma took a cosmetics course in Vienna offered by the Geneva-based cosmetics manufacturer Tokalon.


Elisabeth Sigmund’s grandmother Anastasia brought the recipe for the “Crème Céleste” or “heavenly cream”, from her home town of Mähren. This face cream with almond oil and rose water is reputed to have been one of the beauty secrets of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (1837-1898). When Elisabeth Sigmund developed the first range of Dr. Hauschka skin care products with WALA, the Crème Céleste acted as the model for today’s Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream, although the formulation of the latter is significantly more extensive. Extracts of rose petals and wild rose hips nurture and balance the skin. Shea butter, rose petal wax and avocado oil protect and help retain moisture. Extracts of marsh mallow and St. John’s wort soothe redness, hydrate and fortify.

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Who knew? The Beauty Benefits of Toner

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Dr. Hauschka Toners are the hidden gems of our skin care regime. Yes, we know they’re often skipped for one reason or another, and they may not be considered as imperative in your morning and evening skin care rituals, however, Dr. Hauschka Toners are not like conventional toners that are used with cotton pads to remove last traces of make-up and cleanser. Just close your eyes and mist directly onto your skin.

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Including Dr. Hauschka Toner In Your Skin Care Rituals

1) Our Toners are packed with botanical actives to benefit your skin, to regulate and keep it healthy, to refine and calm your skin.

2) Toner is the first step to hydrating your skin, helping your skin to maintain elasticity.

3) Toner aids absorption of your Moisturiser in the morning.

4) Toner is also your night-time treatment product and aids absorption of Night Serum or Regenerating Serum.

5) Toner ensures our highly concentrated Moisturisers (or Day Oil) are applied evenly and economically. Our Day Care products are specifically formulated to be applied to skin that’s still moist from Toner.

6) Dr. Hauschka Toners are not drying to the skin.*

7) Toner may be used to set your make-up and give a more natural look.

8) Toner may be used to hydrate the skin at any time during the day and is also useful to hydrate in flight. We all keep a bottle in our desk drawer!

Note: Dr. Hauschka Toner is a perfect after shave product as well!
Note: Dr. Hauschka Toner is a perfect after shave product as well!

Tip: In the heat of summer we pop our Toners in the fridge for a super cooling and refreshing spritz when needed.

Dr. Hauschka Toners

Anthyllis harvest
Anthyllis harvest

Facial Toner contains Anthyllis, one of our key ingredients, which guides all skin conditions to a state of balance and strength. Witch Hazel bark and leaf extract for astringent capabilities, helping to refine the complexion.

Echinacea harvest
Echinacea harvest

Clarifying Toner contains Daisy and Nasturtium to minimise the appearance of blackheads and blemishes, visibly refine pores and reduce excessive oiliness. Anthyllis to balance your skin for a calm, even appearance. Calendula is healing, Echinacea has anti-bacterial properties, Daisy is anti-inflammatory, Horse Chestnut bark extract strengthens the walls of the blood vessels and promotes the circulation and also removes excess fluid from the tissues and makes them firmer and Witch Hazel for it’s astringent benefits.

Do you have dry/maturing skin?

Dryness and dehydration usually are found hand in hand, Toner takes care of hydration and it also helps your Regenerating products, which are specific in supporting a maturing skin, absorb into the skin where they do their work to firm and tone.

Do you have sensitive skin?

Toner hydrates, calms and strengthens your skin. In Clarifying Toner, Daisy has anti-inflammatory and Echinacea has anti-bacterial properties. Sometimes a sensitive, flakey skin has had it’s protective abilities compromised.

*FAQ – Why do some Dr. Hauschka Skin Care products contain alcohol?

Herbs and flowers are the core of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care preparations and many are extracted in a mixture of alcohol and water. Many plants are extracted in alcohol because it extracts the widest variety of plant constituents (the plant’s active ingredients). Alcohol also serves as a natural emulsifier, preservative and carrier, and helps ingredients penetrate the skin.

Our alcohol is not drying to the skin when part of a carefully formulated Dr. Hauschka composition, it’s derived from a fermentation and distillation process from organically grown wheat and is gluten-free. It helps eliminate the need for synthetic preservatives, tones and firms the skin. The amounts of alcohol used in the Dr.Hauschka products are regulated to prevent dryness occurring. Isopropyl alcohol is never used in Dr.Hauschka Skin Care products.

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And finally…

Using Toner prior to Cream Mask application aids absorption

Once or twice a week you need the extra benefits that a Cream Mask endows, best to aid absorption of these complex formulations with Toner prior to application. Revitalising Mask is our top seller, no doubt because it benefits all skin conditions, refining and rejuvenating, Hydrating Mask for its super plumping hydrating and deeply moisturising ability, Firming Mask to support a maturing skin with warming Rose in all its forms and Soothing Mask which is a formula with an abundance of botanical ingredients, for strengthening a sensitive, hypersensitive, red, irritated or flaky skin. Soothing Mask has also proved helpful in managing a rosacea skin condition, used as a day cream in this instance.

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