Omorovicza, pronounced (Oh·more·o·veet·za), is a luxury skin-care line that employs the healing powers of natural minerals dating back to the days of Marcus Aurelius and takes the benefits of Hungary’s famous thermal baths to your beauty routine for flawless skin. The brand was founded by husband and wife team Margaret and Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza. While in town recently, we sat down with Margaret to discuss the early beginnings of the brand, how they became beauty editors favorite and new products yet to launch.
SLC: How did the line Omorovicza come about?
Margaret: It all started in Budapest. At the time I was the chief of staff at the embassy for American diplomat (Nancy Brinker) and I was also in charge of healthcare outreach and my now husband, who is Hungarian, was running a biometrics company. He is very proud of being hungarian and wanted to show me all things that he felt were the real treasures of the country. We went to these amazing thermal baths; These types of baths were unlike anything I had ever seen. The outside façade looks like the entrance to a French chateau or museum, fifty foot tall ceilings. Stephen told me the history about how the water was discovered some 2,000 years ago.
Stephen comes from an old, noble family. The name , Omorovicza, was given to his family by the Austrian Emperor many hundreds of years ago for their contributions to the country.
We are in the bath, and as I’m going in and getting in the water, Stephen tells me that the Roman Ceaser Marcus Aurelius built the first bath when he noticed that as his wounded soldiers waded into the springs, their wounds would regenerate quickly.
Margaret: Yes, even the knights Templar would come and build hospices on the sites of these waters to treat leprosy. But then during the Ottoman occupation you have the pashas of Budapest bring the hammam culture into the country.
SLC: What was it like in there?
Margaret: For me, what I noticed, was such a difference to my skin. And I’m someone who had a history of bad skin. I used acutane when I was younger, so it was very severe and I was very self-conscious. I noticed a difference in my complexion, literally, in one minute to the max. And more than the charming stories, frankly, that’s what got me going back over and over again to these baths.
I kept going back. And a few months later, I was touring the country by bus and meeting all the leading innovators in science. I came across a laboratory of dermatology just outside of Budapest, which had won a Nobel Prize for its discovery of Vitamin C. I decided to ask them why my skin had improved so drastically and distinctly from one minute to the next from going to these waters. And they told me a couple things. They said: Minerals have been used for thousands of years to make the skin more elastic and firm. They said it was actually the Chinese who used zinc to treat severe scarring victims. What’s more important is that Budapest is a geological curiosity and it has more thermal water sites than any other city in the world. The reason is that the earth’s crust is thinner there. The water swells closer to the surface, the heat penetration is greater and there’s a higher concentration of dozens and dozens of minerals that are absorbed more effectively in those waters. It’s called the international spa city. And they the explained to me that spa is actually an acronym “it stands for the Latin phrase Santias Per Aqua.”
SLC: So you went back to the dermatology lab?
Margaret: Stephen and I went back to commission studies of all the different thermal water sites. Established that his family’s source is indeed extremely rich in all these amazing minerals. And we started this adventure, but very soon into the process, weeks, not months, we encountered our biggest challenge, which was something that ended up making the brand. We encountered the scientific fact, reality about minerals—we all know are good for us, we know it from mineral makeup, from nutrition; it’s accepted wisdom that minerals are very good for the skin—but minerals are large compacts and in fact are too large to be absorbed by the skin. When you’re in the waters, because of the heat, and the proximity of time your skin is exposed, they’re absorbed. But you get out, the water evaporates and the minerals are left crystallized on the surface. So, how does one in good faith, recreate a trip to the bath. You can’t open up a pot, so we developed a patent process whereby we take this mineral rich waters from the world’s largest source—which happens to be a family source—we put it through a process of bio-fermentation which is the only natural way to achieve cellular transformation. So that takes care of exposure to the surface of the epidermis, then we wrap them around a unique liposome, which serves as a vector, and brings them into the deepest layers of the skin. That’s how we harness the mineral baths powers in Omorovicza.
SLC: Why is there such a cult following? I was reading up on this and it seems as if magazine editors and beauty editors just flock to it? How did you go from dermatology lab and you’re back here and it’s on everyone’s must have list?
Margaret: We’re the fastest growing brand at Neiman Marcus in the US and at Lane Crawford in Asia and Harrods’s in London. Our products are unique. If you think about the relevance of water. Why is water relevant in skin care? To make that point, you just need to look at any skin care product [in] city any store in the world, look at the ingredients list and you see that without exception a majority of the products are inert fillers. With Omorovicza it’s just patented anti-aging ingredients. I think that the products speak for themselves. We have a number of very unique products. Omorovicza is a very authentic brand. Stephen and I own it 100%. We will always own it 100%. We’re looking to build something that’s a true labor of love true passion. And so I think the authenticity of the mission of the source. I think people respond to truth. I think it’s the heritage. And most importantly, we have the most amazing team.
SLC: What are some products you would recommend from the product line that can help bring some back life into really dry skin?
Margaret: There are probably two products I would focus on for a dull complexion. The first is what we’re really known for which is our thermal cleansing balm, this product uses medical grade mud, we source it from the largest active thermal lake in the world just outside of Hungary, covered in a pitch black organic mud, which is brimming with magnesium calcium carbonate one of the best thing you could have for your face. It removes waterproof mascara, removes impurities which is just about . People make the mistake of thinking they have really dry skin when often it’s just dead skin resting on the surface with oily skin underneath that can cause breakouts sometimes. The other thing that would be so transformational for you is the refining facial polisher because, this time of year, people have so much dead skin on their complexion, which is the reason why you have a dull complexion. It’s jade green because of the copper peptides, which is great to clarify and rebalance the moisture level of the skin. It’s a physical and an enzymatic exfoliator.
SLC: And it works with different skin tones?
Margaret: Yes, it’s universal. What you do is you cleanse your skin, then put this on in let’s say after the shower every three days or so. Let it sit for a minute. Then you’re going to massage it into the skin then let it sit. It will turn into an opalescent pearl gray. Let it sit. After that, with your warm wet terry clothe mitt you’re going to towel it off.
SLC: I love the smell.
Margaret: Stephen and I get to go to the south of France a few times a year and work with the perfumers who do all of Chanel and Hermes perfumes to develop our fragrances. But they are pure, these are natural fragrances. So they’re very sophisticated, but they have benefits for the skin. They don’t just smell nice.
SLC: Tell us a little more about the line.
Margaret: If you’re prone to breakouts or have oily skin, I would recommend the encapsulating retinol and retina, which isn’t going to make your skin red and irritated. Vogue magazine in India had, for the first time, their beauty awards and we won two of the twelve categories. One was for best treatment. This is a serum and you only need a little bit, it has retinol in it and this is something you can see instantly on your skin.
SLC: From a brand perspective, when do you decide that you want to expand a brand line? When do you decide to maybe add more product lines?
Margaret: We have two launches coming up. One is an SPF; we originally wanted to come out with SPF three years ago because all of our clients wanted it. That’s a product everyone uses everyday, but, there was a big complication. At Omorovicza, we use retinol, we use peptides, the most anti-aging ingredients. But as a point, a very discrete privilege is we get to look at ingredients on a case-by-case basis. And we don’t have to think about saving money. We care about our name and we care about what goes in [to the product]. Because of our philosophy we did NOT want to come out with a synthetic sunscreen.
We were trying to do this for three years, but we couldn’t find anything that is of our caliber. But finally we’ve been able to do it. Technology has evolved. So, we’re coming out with a product that is amazing and it’s a skin care product. It uses Vitamin C which is amazing for hyperpigmentation amazing for free-radicals. And we work from the same lab. There have been so many studies that show that, Vitamin E and C, when combined in sunscreen, heighten each other’s benefits.
SLC: What’s the other product?
Margaret: The other product coming out are under eye concealers. Omorovicza is not a makeup company. We work really hard to be experts in skin care, and that’s a full time situation. We felt we had something to say about that bridge between treatment to coverage. A few years ago we launched our BB cream to be the first BB cream in the world to exclude silicones and we did. Customers didn’t even know it because it’s something we don’t even talk about because our customers just want beautiful skin care. We thought the natural extension of that is concealers. But we didn’t just want concealers so we filled them with Vitamin C and Vitamin E and of course there are no silicones. So, I guess that’s the point, to answer your question. If we feel we have something to say on the subject, we’ll bring it up and create it.
SLC: What’s your beauty routine like?
Margaret: Well, it changes all the time because I’m always testing things and using things. Also, my climates change. I was in Switzerland and then I was in California. So right now I’m actually testing a new cleanser and a new oil. Always using the “Queen of Hungary Mist”, which I love. I use our BB cream which is amazing. I’m always using the mud mask in the mornings. But this new cleanser is so awesome.
B: What are your travel essentials?
Margaret: Definitely items from our line without a doubt. And in terms of other things, I would say my iPad. I have this lovely little Hermes thing with 3 pictures of my children. These little divine slippers. A pair of fun earrings. A hat, A big hat. There’s a great place in Paris called Marie Mercie and I have about 100 of their hats. Winter and summer, I’m always wearing a hat.
Margaret’s tip: Oil dissolves oil, remember that. To get the thermal cleansing balm off, take a terry cloth mitt and wet it with warm water and then remove. You’ll feel the difference in your skin. It’ll feel so hydrated. This improves the tone, texture, and quality of your skin.
You can find Omorovicza products in Chicago at Neiman Marcus. Schedule an Omorovicza facial appointment with Adrienne, your face will thank you and you will glow glow glow.