Budapest is best known as the spa capital of the world. The city earned the illustrious title of ‘International Spa City’ in 1934 and rightly so. Spa comes the Latin phrase ‘sanitas per acqua’ or ‘health through water’. In Hungary, there are over a thousand thermal and medicinal water springs that are rich in mineral and excellent for health. The city of Budapest itself is home to over hundred of these sites. Visitors routinely flocked to these “spas”, whether indoors or outdoors, to soak in temperature ranging from 21 to 78 Celsius and reap the benefits of the waters’ curative properties.
I had the pleasure of partaking in this bath ritual recently at Széchenyi – the largest medicinal bath in Europe – in a bid to understand more about the Omorovicza brand. It is unlike any other experience where the Neo-Baroque building houses 21 pools. Here, I learned that the earth’s crust is thinner in Budapest than any other city in the world, and as such the water is able to rise closer to the surface while absorbing the minerals from rocks more effectively along the way.
With such a rich heritage of spas, the Omorovicza family tapped into its own history and the natural resources of Budapest to develop an impressive skincare line. Founded by half-British, half-Hungarian, Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza and his American wife Margaret Dickerson, the brand was established 12 years ago to give the masses access to the same skin-perfecting benefits.
The story goes that Stephen took his future wife on a tour of Hungary to learn more about his roots and the first stop was to one of the ancient thermal baths. The Omoroviczas owned the Rácz, which was built in the 19th century on a medieval Turkish spring site. They were both captivated by the wonders of the site and its healing waters. Margaret, who had poor skin before, could see a major improvement to her skin after a few visits to the family spa.
The tradition of soaking in thermal water dates back to the era when the Romans took hold of the city. The Romans were particularly attracted to this city for its natural spring waters. History has it that Emperor Marcus Aurelius discovered that his soldiers’ wound healed faster when they bathed in these hot springs, thus he was inspired to build the first thermal bath here. But it wasn’t until the 16th century that the thermal bath culture became popular under the Turkish occupation. The Ottomans brought with them the traditional hammam and built many baths for both medicinal and bathing purposes. Some of which are still standing today in Budapest.
Fast-forward to 2006, and less than a year into their marriage, Stephen and Margaret decided to get the waters from the Rácz tested. The team discovered a high concentration of minerals in these waters that were good for the skin. But the challenge was to convert the large mineral compound so that it still benefits the skin. Through a process called biotransformation, they were able to harness the healing waters to develop a range of skin-loving products with the complex compounds; each combined with waters from the same source—a formulation dubbed the healing concentrate.
With this discovery, the Omorovicza skincare brand was launched with eight products. Some of its bestsellers include the Queen of Hungary Mist, Thermal Cleasing Mask and Rejuvenating Night Cream. Today, Omorovicza products can be found at five-star spas and leading departmental stores around the world. The flagship boutique on Andrássy Avenue in Budapest offers facial treatments in addition to the full skincare collections—four in total now; the Mineral Collection, the Moor Mud Collection, the Gold Collection and the Blue Diamond Collection. Omorovicza products do not contain silicones, parabens, artificial colours or fragrances. A conscious choice by Stephen and Margaret to offer the purest skincare to customers.
As I stepped out of the Széchenyi bath, I could feel my body becoming lighter and my mood brighter. While it was hard to tell any difference on my skin with just one visit, I was positively sure that there must be something in the waters of Budapest. Centuries of a unique bathing culture can’t be wrong – the thermal baths do hold many secrets. And it was an experience that I look forward to relive again through my Omorovicza products.
You can find Omorovicza skincare collections at all Kens Apothecary stores in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur.
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