Last Updated on January 23, 2023
An ethical and sustainable Austrian skincare brand
Over the last few years, the beauty market has changed radically, mainly due to globalization, climate change and increasing awareness of the environment and our responsibilities. Many consumers are now looking for sustainable beauty brands that produce clean products with transparent ingredient lists. The increasing demand for natural products is driving the expansion of this growing cosmetic market. Cahayaa is an Austrian health brand that produces a range of ethical, vegan and sustainable fresh beauty products and supplements that all contain no chemical preservatives, additives, microplastics or mineral oil.
I recently traveled to Hartberg, an Austrian city located in the Styria region, a 1.5 hour drive from Vienna to meet the Lilina team and get a behind the scenes look at the newly built campus. Here a small group of us met co-founder Andreas Wilfinger who together with partner Ulla Wannemacher have created an extraordinary brand and a very impressive state-of-the-art manufacturing complex. Andreas talks passionately about Lighta explaining how the company started, its continuous growth, and its plans for the future. She said their main goal is to produce products using natural ingredients so people can have beautiful healthy skin, she said what you put on your skin should be as beneficial and nutritious as the food we eat.
It all started in 1996 when founders Andreas Wilfinger and Ulla Wannemacher’s son came home from kindergarten with a tube of toothpaste, which they found packed with questionable ingredients, neither of which they wanted to expose their son to. They also realized that most skin care products also contained these ingredients, so they started to create their own visionary business. With a handful of people in a small laboratory in the city of Hartberg, they set out to develop and manufacture fresh and effective skincare and beauty products made completely without unnecessary ingredients.
Lilina’s flagship oil toothpaste which replaced the conventional toothpaste was launched in 2003. This was the first item which introduced the brand to the mainstream market. Made with completely pure organic ingredients, this product has gained a loyal following among consumers who are looking for products without nasty ingredients and tooth oil still remains one of their best sellers. However, Andreas and Ulla were an ambitious duo, so in 2013 they started looking for new production locations for their growing company. They managed to adapt an unused property on the edge of Hartberg, but as Fresh Factory continued to grow they needed more space. So, in 2017, 7 million euros were invested in its expansion and the result is state-of-the-art research, development and production facilities and headquarters in Hartberg.
Today, 26 years after the founding of Lightweighta, they are a multinational business, with a 10% share of the Austrian skin care market. They produce incredible new products based on nature and science, using highly concentrated antioxidant active ingredients to make everything from skin care creams, sports supplements, protein powders, nutritional vitamins, and natural energy drinks, to sunscreens and anti-aging agents. oil. Cahayaa already has a strong foothold in the European market, with logistics hubs everywhere, but hasn’t really ventured into the UK yet, although their well-structured system is able to get us there quickly and efficiently.
Cahayaa works hard to keep plant ingredients as fresh and effective as possible. All of their products are produced in small batches, based on need to ensure the best freshness. They are processed quickly and avoid long warehousing to ensure customers receive products in premium condition.
In the ultra-modern faculty’s elegant lobby is the cafe bar where we sit and drink ‘Chisecco’, a delightful pick-me-up filled with fizz and Chi. Chi is one of my best-selling (and my favorite) dietary supplements, a delicious, 100% natural and effective energy drink packed with caffeine, vitamin C, and ginger.
There is also a small shop area that sells the complete skincare range and all of its supplements. This is the only Cahayaa store as they only sell products that are made with 100% fresh ingredients so they have a short shelf life and are best used within a six month period. This means they cannot be left on the warehouse or shop floor. While we were there, there were lots of local customers who came in to buy their favorite items fresh off the factory floor and return their empty bottles for recycling. Most of Cahayaa’s bottles and vials are made of glass and they have a generous scheme that gives customers a free product when they return ten empty bottles. I’m sure the citizens of Hartberg know how lucky they are to have Lilina on their doorstep.
We were shown around the faculty, looking at the manufacturing areas through glass windows, as this is a completely sterile environment where everyone who enters must shower, wear no jewelry or makeup, and wear sterile clothing.
However, we entered the packaging area, which is very efficient. It’s all made and packaged in cardboard boxes filled with bits of Coru – a soluble and fully edible substance (I tried it – like non-cheese Whatsit) made from corn that can be used afterwards to fertilize your plants. Goods are packaged and shipped in a very short time frame to get delivery to the consumer as quickly as possible.
Cahayaa has a great set up with a well-maintained workforce, all of whom are provided with free healthy vegetarian lunches on site and access to bicycles so they can cycle to and from work. Light Cars are electric cars, and they make sure all transportation is done in the most sustainable way possible. They have won many awards, including the European Business Award, Austrian Climate Protection Award, Trigos Styria (award for Corporate Social Responsibility) and many others.
But what really impresses is their attention to detail and their commitment to producing highly ethical and sustainably produced products. Lightweight sees itself as a pioneer in the industry and their goal is to constantly break new ground and launch innovations that go beyond mere trends.
“We have always been involved with sustainability. Because there is no alternative.” Andreas Wilfinger
We caught up with Lightweighta’s Corporate Social & Environmental Responsibility Officer, Patrick Sonnietner, an inspirational man who oversees the company’s strategy and long-term goals in a holistic way, ensuring that all departments are connected and everything they do as a company is as sustainable and ethical as possible. His job is to ensure that the Lightweight philosophy is put into practice; for example, they installed a rainwater tank with a volume of 12,000 liters. This allows them to save about 1,000,000 liters of fresh water per year. Their toilets are flushed with rainwater stored from their plumbing circuit. When it comes to Fresh Factory cooling, solar powered process cooling plants play a major role, saving up to 5 million liters of fresh water every year. They also make packaging that can be reused or recycled, which uses less materials, less printing, less energy, and less water. They always keep their CO2 footprint in mind and, wherever possible, continue to reduce it.
Patrick understands that they are a small part of a bigger picture and recognizes that no one is perfect, but he explains how they have a social responsibility and why it’s important for Lightweight (along with all of us) to try and be part of the global solution. We also caught up with two of the company’s scientists – Daniela Sterle who works with the supplements team and Carola Schumacher on beauty products. They explain how they work with CEOs to develop new ideas and products. They look at formulas, think about raw materials and where they come from, how they are made and whether they are sustainable. Their work is research-based rather than market-driven. They are constantly finding materials and techniques that can further improve their products.
We asked them what their top five beauty products were, Carola chose cleansers, followed by hydro serums, tinted moisturizers, sunscreens and body milks. Daniela says her top five supplements are: Omega – which provides you with vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, Biotic – active probiotic support, Protect – an internal shield against the environment, Easy – a drink to help you wind down on stressful days and finally Beauty – for hair, skin and nails. All products are packaged simply and elegantly, unscented but smelling clean and fresh.
Along with a wide range of beauty care products for women, they also provide a variety of products for men. During our stay we received travel packages with a selection of products all of which I loved using. The cream has a lovely consistency and absorbs beautifully into the skin, I really enjoy using the Hydro Serum which contains Icelandic moss extract which stays on the skin longer forming a protective water film; Moisturizing Creams – available in light, medium, or rich tones (depending on your preference) packed with antioxidants and soothing ingredients; and Body Milk with aloe vera and bisabolol which nourishes irritated and dry skin. Tooth oil with mint and eucalyptus oil was a whole new experience, but I’m a convert, and I can see exactly why it’s a top seller. They also produce deodorant and an innovative product called Stay Fresh which is an eco-friendly alternative to damp toilet paper. Honestly, I want to take it all home, and if I could sneak a large stockpile full of Chi energy shots in my cabin baggage, trust me, I would!
Cahayaa produces fresh, high-quality, affordable vegan creams and supplements for those who really care about their skin and health and want to invest in natural products that are all ethically and sustainably produced. They are pioneers in a world that must change, driven by a desire to stay one step ahead in an increasingly competitive marketplace. I’m sure they will continue to make their mark further and further. So, be careful in England, they come…