There are facials and there are facials. This one is the dramatic, contour-changing kind.
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There are facials and there are facials. This one is the dramatic, contour-changing kind.
Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm plus full-size Cleansing Mitt used in the Gold Plumping Facial

A facial can be a lovely experience. Thorough cleansing, exfoliation, a mask or two, and someone gently and rhythmically stroking your face while soothing spa music plinks away in the background can be really calming.

An Omorovicza Gold Plumping facial is not that facial.

An Omorovicza Gold Plumping facial is a next-level, lymphatic drainage/find cheekbones/firm the jawline/ holy-cow-I-look-like-this? amazing facial.

Your face will be so de-puffed, like you never so much as looked at a carb in your life. We’re talking Gwyneth-level carb-avoidance. And while your skin is exfoliated and hydrated and plumped and nourished thanks to Omorovicza’s mineral spa-water-rich products, you are transported thanks to the brain-meltingly relaxing scent of Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Facial Mist and the Gold Hydralifting mask.

Who knew that Hungarian skincare involved such insane facials? Um, Hungarians do.

hungary's long skincare tradition

The Racz Spa in Budapest, Hungary, was built in the 1800s over a medieval spring

The Racz Spa in Budapest, Hungary, was built in the 1800s over a medieval spring

“In Budapest there are spas on every corner, but not the fancy ‘it’s a treat‘ spas – they're much more accessible,” Margaret de Heinrich de Omorovicza explained when she was in Toronto over the winter. “When you’re growing up, at 12 or 13, you’re not marched off to a dermatologist, you’re marched off to a facialist who gives you education and treatments for your skin.”

Now Margaret is not Hungarian. Born Margaret Dickerson of Jacksonville, Florida, she acquired her quadruple-barrelled-name by marrying Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza, who she met when she was working as the chief of staff at the American Embassy in Budapest.

To woo his American lady friend, and show off the wonders of Budapest, Stephen took Margaret to the local spas. Built in the 1500s by occupying Ottoman Turks who discovered the healing properties of thermal water, bathing in them has been a staple of Hungarian life ever since.

And Budapest has over 100 thermal springs. One, the 200-year old Racz spa, was built by Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza’s aristocratic ancestors over a medieval spring and donated to the Hungarian people.

hungarian thermal water

Margaret and Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza at their wedding in 2005.

Margaret and Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza, 2005.

The spa, with its 50 ft ceilings, blew her mind, but it was the water itself that did its magic on her skin, leaving it soft and elastic. “Budapest is a geological marvel,” she explains. “The earth’s crust is thinner and there is an the unusually high concentration of dozens of minerals.”

Testing the water revealed that it contains high levels of calcium and magnesiusm, manganese, copper and zinc, minerals said to stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis. Working with a Nobel-prize-winning laboratory*, they created a bio-fermentation process that allows the mineral-rich water to penetrate skin more easily – and from that came Omorovicza skincare in 2006.

If that all sounds like the plot to a highly unbelievable Anne Hathaway romantic comedy, just look at that photo of the happy couple. I mean, right?

omorovicza skincare

Omorovicza products are beloved by serious skincare fans like makeup artist Gucci Westman, who uses it on models backstage like this: 

Or this one (a video) :

In this clip, Gucci is using the Omorovicza Omoressence ($150 CAD and $120 USD at

In another snap from Gucci's backstage station: Omorovicza Complexion Corrector SPF 20 Hydrating Primer ($155 USD at, Miracle Facial Oil ($150 CAD and $120 USD at and Omoressence.

The star product is their Thermal Cleansing Balm ($135 CAD and $110 USD at Dark with mineral-rich moor mud from Budapest’s Lake Heviz, it will leave your skin clean but soft, nourished and not stripped. It comes with a wee, two-fingers-sized terry ‘mitt’ to apply it with, but Omorovicza also sells a proper, full-sized European-style cotton terry Cleansing Mitt ($20 CAD and $15 USD at sephora.comto exfoliate gently every time you wash your face. 

During the Omorovicza Gold Plumping Facial, my facialist, Katya Saraeva –she's Omorovicza's national therapist in the US – uses two full-sized mitts, one on each hand, to apply the Thermal Cleansing Balm. Then the massage.

hungarian facial massage

A word about Hungarian facial massage. The technique is 200 years old and if you look it up on YouTube, you may be alarmed at how vigorous it seems. It’s lymphatic drainage on steroids. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t hurt at all.

“In Hungary there is no quick fix,” according to Katya.” We don’t do lasers or Botox. Fillers aren’t as popular. In your 20s, you purchase products, you do facials.” Katya has perfect, glowing skin and no visible pores so I believe her.

She works a long time manipulating the area under my cheekbones and she deftly thrums her fingers under the jawline. The movements are unusual if you’re unaccustomed to it. I felt that she was literally coaxing my cheekbones out from hiding, out from under all that retained water.

The result is dramatic. In addition to glowing, smooth skin thanks to the exfoliating Blue Diamond Resurfacing Peel and the Gold Hydralifting Mask, your muscles sit higher on your face like they’ve been moved back where they belong. And the effect lasts well into the next day. You really understand why Hungarian women go every week if they can. (Of course, in their country, facialist visits are underwritten by the government which is the sort of universal health care we can get behind.)

This Omorovicza facial embodies a very European philosophy: a good dollop of aristocracy (mittel Europeans are tremendous snobs about lineage), the no-nonsense, vigorous lymphatic drainage (nothing comes without hard work) and beautiful products made with elements from the earth transformed into something so luxurious. The Gold Hydralifting mask smells like you are drowning in a field of roses, which is not the worst way to go.

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and full-size Cleansing Mitt

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and full-size Cleansing Mitt

Each Omorovicza product contains mineral-rich Hungarian thermal water, and between facial steps there are great swooshes of their signature Queen of Hungary Mist ($110 CAD and $90 USD at A neroli, rose and sage blend, it was inspired by the first recorded perfume from the 14 century.

Remember that tv commercial for Unstopables room spray where the spraying housewife says to the camera, “ I want my house to smell like I’m in a higher tax bracket”? Well, Queen of Hungary Mist smells like you're a member of the 1%.

All this does not come cheap. The Omorovicza Gold Plumping Facial at Toronto’s Four Seasons Spa is 90 minutes of face-nurturing gloriousness for $295 CAD. Start saving now. #worthit

What's the best spa facial you've ever had that you felt was worth the spend?

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* It’s the same Nobel prize winning lab where Albert Szent-Györgyi discovered Vitamin C in 1930. This man deserves a statue in the town’s square where we can all lay flowers and give thanks.