Dr. Hauschka Normalizing Day Oil

Dr. Hauschka Normalizing Day Oil. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Hauschka

A return to nature's roots has been a big beauty trend in recent seasons, and so it was with piqued curiosity that I approached an opportunity to try the legendary two-hour facial experience of one of the original modern-day holistic brands: Dr. Hauschka.

Founded by Dr. Rudolf Hauschka, the German brand first concocted a line of homeopathic treatments from medicinal plants in the 1930s. Hauschka specially processed herbs using rhythmical patterns that mimicked those found in the natural world, which were also used by farmers at the time to grow crops.

The nature enthusiast applied the same plant-based principles to beauty with the launch of botanically based Dr. Hauschka Skin Care in 1967. The endeavor was co-joined by esthetician Elisabeth Sigmund, who combined herbal skin treatments with lymphatic system cleansing -- a formula that she and Hauschka believed led to healthily revived complexions.

From this, the Classic Treatment was born.

I was able to experience the deep-relaxation procedure at Chicago's Beauty & Soul Spa, where certified Dr. Hauschka esthetician Leticia Kagan kindly greeted me with an inviting warm sage foot bath at her small yet exceedingly quaint abode, which felt much like an apartment.

Every Classic Treatment starts with a charming ritual that includes a lower leg and foot massage and gentle stretching movements for the neck, arms and hands meant to stimulate and facilitate the flow of your body's lymphatic drainage system -- a network of vessels that carries toxins away.

Kagan softly asked if I had any allergies to scents, which I appreciated because intense floral blends are a nasty migraine trigger. After leading me onto the facial bed and swaddling me in blankets, she gently placed lavender-infused compresses over my eyes to begin.

By this point, I had already begun to suspect these folks were onto something very, very good.

The familiar bright light clicked on and the crank of the close-up lamp sounded as my skin was examined. I immediately began to apologize for my less-than-subtle pore size and a couple of bumps that had begun healing, but was immediately shushed by Kagan, who simply said, "Your skin is doing its job of flushing out toxins beautifully. You have good skin and strong bone structure."

What? A facial without the expected emotional abuse about the million ways our pores need to improve? (And always with the help of the additional million products estheticians usually push -- you know what I'm talking about.)

This was clearly going to be a very different experience.

Free from the worries of product pitches and pore lectures, I was able to completely lie back and enjoy the deep massage-like cleansing, steam and gentle extractions, which I didn't even realize had taken place until I was told afterward.

During the treatment, you're always asked if you would or wouldn't like extractions. I had agreed, but thought Kagan had forgotten since I was never startled from my rest by the typical pinches and stings of pore purging. No, she had not forgotten -- extractions just employ a super gentle, non-skin-traumatizing technique during the Classic Treatment.

Then the true defining moment of the 120-minute experience arrived.

Using feather-soft facial brushes, Kagan performed a lymph-stimulation massage by tracing the lush bristles in sweeping circles around my face. The sensation was nothing short of angelic.

(So angelic, in fact, that my treatment had begun 20 minutes late because the previous client had fallen asleep during this very part -- and Kagan didn't want to wake her. Clearly, this wasn't a scenario playing out back home in New York.)

A customized treatment mask was smoothed on next, and further enhanced by a décolleté massage that left me feeling as thoroughly pampered as a trophy wife.

After I was fully cleansed, massaged, detoxed and rejuvenated, Kagan finished with a few drops of Normalizing Day Oil patted gently into my skin. The blend uses plant oils to balance out excessive sebum in skin, while minimizing the look of pores and lending a protective barrier against the elements.

They say the Classic Treatment is one-of-a-kind. In an industry where much is hyped, I'd say this was worthy of the most glowing words -- though I think it was the inner calm I felt afterward that most accounted for my post-facial glow.

And I think that's exactly how Dr. Hauschka intended for it to be.

If you're interested in investigating the service, you can find an esthetician certified in the treatment online. Costs for the two-hour experience vary by region, and can range anywhere from about $130 in lower-cost-of-living areas to $250 in cities like New York.

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