A free spirit.
Vienna, Stockholm, India, Eckwälden: Elisabeth Sigmund was no stranger to new beginnings, yet never strayed from her own path. A pioneer in natural cosmetics and much more, she had no interest in conventions. We tell her life in four chapters.
Vienna: Where a love of flowers blossoms
Has the seed of an idea ever taken root in your head and started to grow? This is what happened to Elisabeth Sigmund when she first inspected her mother’s dressing table. It must have been around 1920, as a primary school child, when she first smelled the porcelain box with its almond paste and the witch hazel Facial Toner. Her fascination with the secrets of plants and their ability to help people achieve beauty and well-being probably awoke in one of those quiet moments. And out of it grew something much bigger: a life’s calling.
Her grandmother would lead the little girl through her garden, telling her all about the flowers and teaching her the formula for Crème Céleste – a face cream from her Czech homeland. In her father's study, Elisabeth discovered a notebook full of pressed flowers that she would pour over time and again. And in the nearby plant nursery, she learned how to recognise shrubs by their scent. The village pharmacist showed her how to make emulsions by mixing water-based and oil-based components, to which Elisabeth added rose petals and essential oil. “I didn't like the creams that were on sale, so I wanted to create my own with ingredients that I liked,” she later explained.
But it was only when Elisabeth Sigmund was two semesters into her medical studies and came across some passages by Rudolf Steiner that this interest took on a new quality. Steiner wrote that beauty is something that reveals its inner being in its outer appearance. These words mixed with her own ideas to form a meaningful whole. From then on, Elisabeth Sigmund no longer saw beauty as an outward appearance. Her love for medicinal plants and aesthetics became the Foundation of her cosmetics.
She took courses with cosmetics companies and hunted out old medical books in the university library: “My cosmetic experiments were always motivated by a medical interest in which medicinal plants were good for the skin and which had almost curative properties.” Her mother forbade her to talk to others about her profession, which she deemed "improper". But this did not deter Elisabeth Sigmund. She would get on her motorbike, drive out to convent libraries in the countryside and continue her research.
Eckwälden: Natural cosmetics for the world
In 1962, when Elisabeth Sigmund learned that WALA was looking for estheticians to help develop cosmetic products, she wrote an eleven-page application letter. Just a few weeks later she travelled to Eckwälden, spoke about her passion for the healing and aesthetic powers of plants – and the WALA developers were ready to hire her straight away. From that moment on, it was not only visitors to her Stockholm salon who would benefit from her ideas!
Five years later, the brand “Dr. Hauschka Healing Skin Care by Elisabeth Sigmund” was launched. The range included a face milk, rose cream, and body power. Her cosmetics were in great demand, with orders even coming in from South Africa.
Time for another new start: In 1969, Elisabeth Sigmund moved with her husband to Eckwälden. Forever driven by passion, she would go on to develop new products, give presentations and train estheticians. “Our face is the first thing we reveal,” she said. Even at the age of 99, shortly before her death in 2013, Elisabeth Sigmund was never seen in public without make-up. Her favourite item was a pink Dr. Hauschka Lipstick.