The pandemic has prompted us to completely reimagine our approach to beauty, now incorporating wellness, nutrition, and even fitness into the realm. A philosophy that Susanne Kaufmann, founder of the cosmetics brand of the same name, embraced nearly two decades ago with her natural skincare products. The Austrian expert, who grew up in the Bregenzerwald region, tells us about this new vision of beauty and presents the brand's latest innovations in sustainability. Interview.
You have been advocating for a holistic approach to beauty for almost 20 years now. How do you explain the fact that the concept is only now catching on in the mainstream in countries like France or the United States?
I think beauty is increasingly moving in a holistic direction, something I've always believed in since I started my skincare brand. We all know now that the perfect combination of exercise, nutrition, sleep and skincare is the real secret to long-term beauty. And now more than ever, with the pandemic we're experiencing, and the stress and lifestyle changes that come with it, it's very important to take a holistic approach seriously in order to achieve lasting results.
What makes Susanne Kaufmann cosmetics different?
My brand philosophy is to support the natural functions of the skin so that it can function at its best and bring out its vitality. Our approach is holistic: we look at the whole picture and see skincare as a means of prevention so that we can address the specific needs of the skin with our tailored products and treatments. It's not just about our products, it's about balance: healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep are among the most important elements. Our commitment to sustainability is also unique and is reflected in every element of our production process. Whether it's the solar and thermal energy used to power our production facilities, responsible sourcing of botanicals for our formulas or our innovative refillable packaging. The use of renewable resources, cutting-edge science and intelligent product design have been integral to our production methods for nearly two decades.
Can you tell us about your latest innovations in sustainable beauty?
We launched a refill pilot program for three of our best-selling products in February 2021. Our brand is the first in the world to use The Simple One, a new lightweight plastic refill bottle developed by ALPLA. Based in Vorarlberg, Austria, near our own production site and headquarters in Bezau, ALPLA is a leader in the development and manufacturing of sustainable plastic packaging solutions. The new 250 ml refills are currently available for three of our best-selling products: Cleansing Gel, Hand Soap and Shower/Shampoo.
Will this help reduce the environmental impact?
Although relatively clean to produce, glass bottles are notoriously heavy to transport. Our new refill bottle is up to 60% lighter than standard HDPE bottles and reduces CO2 emissions during production, transportation and the post-consumer recycling process. Not only does the new lightweight refill significantly reduce the carbon footprint, it also extends the life of the glass bottle well beyond its original single-use design. Each recyclable refill, with its smart cap-less design, not only helps reduce landfill waste, but also reduces carbon emissions by 69%. Our secondary packaging is also made from 100% recyclable paper.
How will this change consumers' beauty routines?
People have a direct link these days to their favorite brands and can find out exactly what is important to them. Living fairly and sustainably means being aware of the consequences of your lifestyle and consumption habits and acting responsibly. Everyone can contribute to making the world a fairer and more sustainable place. Natural resources -- such as clean water and air -- are finite and must be protected to preserve present and future life on our planet.
Is it necessary for cosmetics brands to be sustainable to get the attention of consumers these days?
It's essential for us; it's part of the DNA of the Susanne Kaufmann brand.
What are these new standards that you are going to put in place?
Our Refill program is a first step. We believe that sustainability is a neverending journey, and we are committed to continuing to explore opportunities to reduce the brand's environmental impact throughout 2021 and beyond. The brand intends to expand the scope of the refill program with the addition of more products for the second half of 2021. Another sustainability first is the state-of-the-art solar-powered bulk mixer used in the manufacturing facility we share with our longtime production partner, Ingo Metzler. Located in Egg, Austria, just 15 minutes from our headquarters in Bezau, it features a custom-designed, high-capacity (300 kilograms) solar-powered mixing unit that is currently in use around the world.
How can these innovations have an impact on the industry as a whole? The key to making a difference is education. Brands and consumers alike have a responsibility to use sustainable resources and consume consciously, especially as our impact on the planet becomes increasingly evident. Brands can support this by sharing their knowledge of the new sustainable methods they are implementing. It's a path that will continue to evolve, but if everyone starts thinking sustainably, we can make a big difference.
We can easily get lost navigating through the cosmetics landscape between organic, natural and ecologically responsible. What constitutes skincare that respects both the skin and the planet in the present?
From an early age, I learned to be environmentally conscious and to integrate the idea of sustainability into my daily life. The Bregenzerwald is our greatest asset: wherever I am in the region, I feel its energy, shaped by traditions combined with a unique agricultural culture based on sustainability, modern innovation and solidarity. Terms like 'clean' and 'natural' go far beyond high-quality, natural and effective ingredients. They must also encompass environmentally friendly production, sustainable innovation in packaging, manufacturing processes and a deep respect for nature and people. This has always been our philosophy. It has always been a question of a global vision. It is therefore very important that in everything we do, our philosophy guides our approach. We aim to always maintain the quality and effectiveness of our products, to target the different needs of the skin, to produce in a sustainable way and to stay true to our roots and brand values wherever we are in the world.
How can well-being affect external beauty?
In Austria, we have a holistic view of beauty. This means that if you stay healthy, you look and feel better. At Susanne Kaufmann, we always recommend a holistic lifestyle. Everything is connected: our environment, our mental health and our physical being. It's no secret that the right combination of exercise, a balanced diet, sleep and a personalized skincare regimen can provide significant wellness benefits. These benefits are in turn reflected in our skin, in the form of a radiant, glowing complexion.
This interview was translated from French.