If the fountain of youth exists, I’m almost certain Ole Henriksen bathes in it every single day. “I turn 69 on Monday. I feel great!” he chirps down the line from Los Angeles, where he’s sitting out the COVID-19 pandemic. The man seemingly defies the concept of ageing, a feat that has positioned him as a bit of an icon in the beauty world. The fact his eponymous product line is a best-seller globally only adds to the Ole magic – the kind of magic you can feel through the phone. He calls me at 7 in the morning (his late afternoon) and profusely apologises for the early wake up. I assure him ‘I’m up, it’s fine!’ (just) but it soon becomes evident that his high frequency is way more uplifting than the black coffee I gulp down between questions. The “most positive man in skincare” references are absolutely correct.
Hailing from Denmark, Henriksen grew up in a small village where skincare didn’t exist within the modern discourse of “self-care”. Instead, it was a necessary means to protect what is essentially the body’s largest organ from the extreme temperatures of Northern Europe. “Protecting skin from the cold was just a part of life – it wasn’t skincare. You had to do it.”
At a young age, Henriksen moved to Indonesia to pursue one of his greatest passions: dance. But unhealthy habits (bad food, soft drink, the usual vices) caused him to develop cystic acne. He visited a local aesthetician who cleaned up his diet and put him on a skincare regime, and the improvements were significant: “I couldn’t believe the way I was able to heal myself.” It was this epiphany that led him down the skincare trail. And the fact he “couldn’t kick his legs in the air for the rest of his life” (but in retrospect, he probably could have).
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His approach to skin now is an amalgamation of his experiences, rooted in his Danish upbringing intertwined with things he learnt in Indonesia. He started with a clinic in Los Angeles, launching his namesake brand back in 1978 (with a relaunch in 2017). Nowadays, the Ole Henriksen brand is like glow for sale, thanks to hero ingredient vitamin C, or the “sunshine vitamin” as Henriksen so affectionately refers. Vitamin C, when used correctly, acts as an antioxidant to protect the skin from environmental assaults, andto brighten His vitamin C specifically was developed by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling, whom he incredibly met by chance. Now, it forms the basis of his brand, having gained legions of devout users since launch. To give context, the newly released Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum sold almost 17,000 units instantly when it launched into Sephora stores, and the previously-launched Banana Bright Eye Cream is the best-selling eye cream in the world – no mean feat considering it isn’t stocked globally.
On the cups of 70, Henriksen is by no means slowing down. As mentioned, he just launched the Vitamin C Serum, with a slew of other inventions in the works. I ask him how he stays so upbeat, physically and mentally. “I take responsibility for my body. Am I eating the right foods? Am I drinking too much wine? I bike, I hike, I do gymnastics every day. I still dance all the time. I eat mostly vegetarian. But in truth, I love my life. I love people. I smile. I feel good.” In an industry that can be (sadly) obsessed with age, it’s refreshing to hear him preach that good skin is not about the absence of lines and wrinkles but about texture, tone and the expressions of a life well lived. If his sales figures aren’t enough to sway you to try the Ole brand, his own teenage-like youthful energy will. You can shop our favourites below.
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum, $96. SHOP NOW
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Face Primer, $49. SHOP NOW
Ole Henriksen Phat Glow Facial Mask, $69. SHOP NOW
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream, $57. SHOP NOW
Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Renin-ALT Sleeping Cream, $90.