Interview with the Dr. Hauschka esthetician Manuela Schöbel about the art of touch
Ms Schöbel, the Dr. Hauschka treatments were developed several decades ago. Are they still contemporary or do you have to adapt them to modern life?
Manuela Schöbel: Our Dr. Hauschka Classic Treatment is more modern than ever. The fact that everything is done by hand makes it truly unique. We do not use any machines or devices. We work with our hands and with brushes during lymph stimulation. We achieve such great effectiveness with our hands that there is no need for needles, machines, UV light or anything else of that ilk. This effectiveness is made possible by our unique approach, in which we do not knead, wring, press or manipulate but instead use breathing hands.
Breathing hands? What do you mean?
The touch has a rhythm like the breath. Through the manner in which we touch people, we treat them with respect and maintain a certain distance. And this is noticeable in the skin. We do not massage people and their skin manipulatively, but instead use breathing, constantly releasing movements to reinvigorate the skin and its natural processes. We use a three-part process comprising meeting, connecting and releasing. It is like a breath, a coming and going. This oscillating touch makes our Dr. Hauschka treatments unique. The people being treated and their needs are at the forefront rather than the esthetician’s will.
It sounds very unusual to say that although you touch the customer during the skin care treatment, you do not get too close, but instead develop a sense of respect – and yet the caress is still deep-acting. How do you achieve this?
The Dr. Hauschka esthetician’s inner attitude and the way she handles herself physically are of paramount importance to the result. No-one wants to be excessively manipulated. The customer lies on the treatment couch and reveals him/herself. Parts of the body are not clothed. This already creates a certain level of intimacy. We retain a certain physical distance in this situation. For example, we are careful not to perch on the edge of the couch. Instead, we always stand fully, with a straight back and a stance that maintains a certain distance. The treatment still creates proximity, but a respectful one. From this stance, we touch customers with great care. We meet them but also withdraw. As a result, contact ensues but is also released to allow freedom.
One thing that makes the Dr. Hauschka treatments special is that they begin with a foot bath. Why is that when customers want facial care?
It was Elisabeth Sigmund’s idea to start the treatments with a foot bath. She did so as her customers often arrived with cold feet. If the face has inflamed or reddened areas, the entire facial treatment is far less effective if the feet are cold and the heat instead still sits in the head area. A hot water bottle does not warm the feet as effectively as a foot bath. What is more, a foot bath is, in two regards, a very intimate moment that I can share with a customer. While the customer sits with her feet in the foot bath, I am at eye level with her. This situation no longer exists later on when the customer is lying down and the esthetician sits or stands behind the couch at the head end. Incidentally, there is also something very intimate about the feet. For example, teenagers find it extremely difficult to accept the foot bath. When I perform a Clarifying Treatment for young people, they would love to lie on the couch in their trainers. Even if they show up with a bare midriff or in a low-cut top, taking off their shoes is a major mental hurdle. The great thing, however, is that once they have overcome this, they always immerse their feet in the water with a deep sigh. After all, the foot bath does not only offer wellness and well-being; customers feel the sensation of relief in their head. Following the foot bath, we kneel in front of the customer and carefully dry the feet without rubbing.
The Dr. Hauschka treatment also includes a steam facial with Clarifying Steam Bath. Although people are familiar with steam facials from other skin care treatments, there is something about Dr. Hauschka’s version that makes it special.
That’s right. This is a very important part of the Dr. Hauschka treatment. Together with Clarifying Clay Mask, I refer to Clarifying Steam Bath as one of our unsung heroes. From other treatments, customers are used to receiving a steam facial while lying down. Instead, we ideally sit the customer upright. Rather than the steam only being applied to the face, by using a facial sauna it is additionally inhaled together with the medicinal plant extracts of daisy, nasturtium and witch hazel contained. The steam furthermore works far more directly. Sitting upright, inhaling and exhaling are active processes, as too is deep cleansing. We also have the rhythm. I lie down, I am sat up and by inhaling the Clarifying Steam Bath, I also involve my rhythmic system. This makes the use of Clarifying Steam Bath with inhalation far more effective. The subsequent cleansing is also far less painful.
It also sounds unusual that, as a customer, I should take on an active role during a treatment. Is it not far nicer and better to fully relax and simply put yourself in the hands of the esthetician?
Activity and sitting up belong to our roots. The concept of rhythm forms part of this, as too does what Elisabeth Sigmund wanted. She already laid milestones with regard to treatments by introducing lymph stimulation and facial workouts. Both of these stimulate activity – the skin’s natural activity. It is not a case of “I will be massaged and given steam and oil treatments”, but about activating both the customers and their skin. This is what I regard as the roots of the Dr. Hauschka treatments; it is what makes them unique and different to other treatment methods.
Dr. Hauschka estheticians work in about 25 countries all over the world. Are there differences between the treatments?
The Dr. Hauschka treatments are identical worldwide. We have created an international board that has defined all the treatment steps in writing and pictures. We do this for quality assurance reasons but also to ensure that the knowledge is not lost and that we preserve Elisabeth Sigmund’s legacy. The resultant book, which contains everything about the treatment, is only received by our around 40 international trainers. Each book is coded. If someone decides to stop working for us as a trainer, the book is returned.
Do customers’ needs differ from country to country though?
Deep cleansing is extremely important to our customers in Israel. They would not be satisfied if they did not to receive our Clarifying Steam Bath and Clarifying Clay Mask. In France, the Dr. Hauschka Classic Treatment and facial workout are very popular. The Italians love our make-up, but are also very open to body care as this is extremely important to them. We recently developed a Strengthening Body Treatment for the Legs, for example for women who suffer from cellulite. In Italy, salons receive lots of bookings for this treatment in spring, i.e. just before the start of the bathing season. Incidentally, we have a male trainer in Italy – the only man on our international team of trainers. It is wonderful how he represents Dr. Hauschka there.
And speaking of men: men visit Dr. Hauschka estheticians too. Do they need different skin care treatments to women?
No, we do not need any special treatment for men. We look at people. If a man comes for a treatment and does not want to lie down for as long as usual, he simply receives a shorter version. Although the opposite is usually true in my experience. I had a lovely encounter with the husband of a customer whose wife had booked him a two-hour Dr. Hauschka Classic Treatment as a gift. He had never before visited an esthetician and did not say anything after the treatment. When clearing up, after the customer had left, I wondered whether he had enjoyed it. Three days later, he left a message on my answering machine: he had never before visited an esthetician and the experience was not what he had expected. However, his skin had since felt like he was slipping on a fresh pair of pyjamas every day. Our treatment really does speak to people as a whole. After all, this skin sensation describes something internal.