LONDON — Omorovicza is set to bring a dose of old-world skin care wisdom, and ritual, to London’s Mayfair with the opening in the fall of its first institute outside Budapest.
The small, independent brand, which has a cult-like following among luxury customers and makeup artists alike, plans to open on South Audley Street in a former antiques store.
The institute will offer individually targeted treatments for face and body that take into account a person’s age, hormonal state, stress factors and skin health. Specialists will also draw up bespoke skin care prescriptions, and send customers home with samples and products.
True to the brand’s ethos, the institute will also be about education and experimentation with Omorovicza products, the formulations of which are inspired by the centuries-old, mineral-infused thermal baths of Budapest.
Margaret de Heinrich de Omorovicza, who founded the brand in 2006 with her husband, Stephen, said that in addition to the two treatment rooms, there will be a lineup of sinks on the ground floor where customers can test the products.
“If you’re curious about how to treat a condition, or how to reveal your best skin, come in and play,” Margaret said in an interview alongside Stephen at The Wolseley in London.
“We’ll also be asking people ‘Show us how you wash your face,’” which is the first question the team at the Budapest institute poses to clients. It’s a simple question, but one that helps the specialists put together a fitting skin care routine.
There’s no hard sell, and Margaret has 100 percent confidence in the products. “If you go home with those samples, then we know you’re going to come back,” she said.
That was her personal experience many years ago. An American diplomat posted to the U.S. Embassy in Hungary, Margaret met her future husband in Budapest. He would later take her to visit the city’s mineral-rich baths.
She also had the face and skin care treatments that are routine for women and men in Hungary once they reach their early teens. Between mineral waters and the massages helped her to cure her acne-prone skin.
Omorovicza sells internationally, and the U.S. is its largest market. The brand offers facials and spa treatments at select hotels and resorts including the Four Seasons and the Grand Hyatt, and at retailers such as Liberty and Harrods.
A pop-up Omorovicza Institute is set to open in at SKP in Beijing in May.
Stockists include Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Isetan, Galeries Lafayette, Joyce, Mecca, Net-a-porter and Kadewe.
The institute in London was designed by Stephen, along with interiors specialists Tina Vaia and Ed Milton. Vaia also contributed to the Budapest Institute interior, which was designed by London-based architect Philip Joseph.
The London opening has been a long time coming. The couple had wanted to open in London for years, and decided to make the move as soon as soon as the pandemic subsided.
“We looked at what that little institute in Budapest had done for us over the years — it’s been very successful. A lot of tourists have come from all over the world, and experienced the treatments. That is by far the best way of bringing people into the brand,” he said.
Its focus is to get closer to the customer so that it can give them a personalized experience, he said. “We want to offer our customers the right therapists, environment and products. The needs of a 28-year-old with dry skin is a million miles from what Margaret needs, or what I need, which is why these prescriptions are so important.”
Stephen’s family has a long history with the Budapest baths. One of his ancestors built a bathing complex at the historic Rácz Thermal Bath, and opened the first therapeutic institute there in the late 19th century.
He worked with one of Hungary’s most famous architects at the time, Miklós Ybl, and later donated the complex to the country.
For centuries, the Budapest waters have been famous for their curative powers. The Earth’s crust is thinner there than in other parts of the world, which means the waters are able to absorb the beneficial minerals more effectively.
The husband-and-wife team eventually decided to bottle the liquid and take it to the world. First, however, they needed to figure out a way to get the minerals to penetrate the skin, rather than just sticking to the surface.
Together with the Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian laboratory of Dermatology and Allergology they developed Omorovicza’s proprietary Healing Concentrate, which helps the skin absorb the minerals — and the brand was born.
Omorovicza wasn’t an easy sell at the beginning, admitted Stephen.
“The first few times we pitched the idea, people were like ‘What is this weird name?’” he recalled.
Not too long after Omorovicza launched, however, Budapest became a popular tourist destination. People visited the city’s thermal baths and the high-performance Hungarian skin care brand took on a sheen of romance and glamour.
“Being from Hungary helped to differentiate the brand, and provide a fabulously unique context” for the treatments, Stephen said.
Bestselling products include the Cushioning Day Cream, a buttery formula meant to boost the skin’s natural shield, priced at 130 pounds, and Queen of Hungary Mist, priced at 62 pounds. The latter is a toner inspired by Queen of Hungary Water, the world’s first recorded perfume, which was developed in the 14th century.
Another top product is the Thermal Cleansing Balm, which costs 62 pounds and contains Hungarian moor mud that’s rich in calcium, magnesium, humic and fulvic acids.
Queen Cream, which costs 135 pounds, is a hybrid day cream and primer that has become a makeup artist favorite. The product contains no silicone, but rather a natural silicone substitute.
The couple continues to work with scientists to develop formulations meant to nourish and protect the skin. Over the years, they’ve integrated micro-algae into products, and looked for ways to boost skin immunity and even out pigmentation without the use of acids.
Remaining an independent, entrepreneurial business has allowed the couple to continue innovating, and developing a loyal, engaged customer base at their own pace.
“We are so proud to have customers who have been with us for years,” Margaret said. “They might walk away with one product one day, and then six months later, they might come away with four products. But we know that we have them for a lifetime.”