Q&A: Ole Henriksen, Spa Guru
Visiting Toronto to promote his new at-home brightening treatment, Ole Henriksen answered our Proustian beauty Qs
Ole Henriksen’s definition of beauty is anything but skin-deep. The 65-year-old spa guru to the stars is as well versed in positive thinking as he is vitamin C, regularly spouting personal maxims (or “Ole-isms”) like “Celebrate life, celebrate yourself.”
Hailing from Denmark, Henriksen discovered the power of skincare while working as a dancer in Jakarta. Suffering from cystic acne, he visited an Indonesian aesthetician named Lagita, who cleared his complexion with her healing touch and natural products. Henriksen was immediately hooked. He went on to study cosmetic chemistry in London, eventually landing a gig with Helena Rubinstein’s education team.
In 1975, Henriksen brought his brand of cheery wellness stateside with the opening of the Ole Henriksen of Denmark Skin Care Centre in Beverly Hills. It wasn’t long before he established a celebrity following (spa clients have included Katy Perry, Eva Mendes and Charlize Theron), hustling as his own PR and scoring an appearance on Oprah.
He founded his namesake product line in 1986 with the launch of his Avocado Facial Cleanser, Cucumber Facial Toner and Herbal Day Crème. With a focus on botanical ingredients, he emphasized good skincare as the crucial first step of any beauty look. In 2011, Henriksen sold his brand to LVMH’s Kendo, making it the first line to be acquired by the beauty product developer.
Henriksen visited Toronto last week to promote the launch of Power Bright, a three-step brightening treatment loaded with 25 percent vitamin C, which will hit Sephora stores July 1. It follows on the heels of his trio of facial waters, each designed for a different skin type. Here, he reveals the source of his never-grow-old attitude, his biggest beauty regret, and why he loves getting “stoned” (no, not in that way).
What is your idea of perfect beauty? That inner glow. As I say, a happy face is a beautiful face. It speaks volumes when it comes right from the heart.
How do you look when you feel most like yourself? I have that constant smile glued to my face. I carry happiness with me in my heart, and it’s expressed both with that smile and that glow in my eyes.
If you could create a fragrance that encapsulated your personality, what would it smell like? It’s kind of funny because, as you will notice, I’m all about the citrus family. Even if you smell me now, I am all about citrus. [Those notes] are uplifting, they are energizing, they make you feel happy, they put a smile on your face. One day I will definitely create a fragrance with those top notes.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received at a beauty counter? It’s all about treating skin correctly. When Lagita, my aesthetician in Jakarta, began treating my acne, that was when I saw the transformational powers of skin[care].
What is your biggest beauty extravagance? I love going to my spa in Hollywood to do hot stone massage treatments. I like to be stoned, in a good, healthy way.
Which one of your signature techniques should every woman know? [Using] the Truth Serum Collagen Booster is one everyone should know. You’ll see an instant wake-me-up.
Who do you admire as a living icon in the beauty world? I admire [former Bare Escentuals CEO] Leslie Blodgett because what Leslie did was introduce mineralized powdered makeup and make it really safe and easy to use and turn it into a massive global brand. What I admire about Leslie is, she was out there, not unlike myself, sharing her expertise and her excitement about the brand with the world.
What is your greatest beauty regret? I have none.
What is your anti-aging motto? Always feel good about yourself. Look in the mirror and [give] yourself a smile every day. Embrace yourself, love yourself. I am 65, I am up there in years now. I dance every day. I love to party with my fellow human beings. I love playing with kids as they inspire a lot in me. I do gymnastics rings. You should never stop learning new things. Taking courses, challenging the brain, it’s really about feeling young and active. Obviously, I can’t be 16 or 25, but I can have a youthful energy.
What do you deem a beauty crime? For one, baking your face in the sun is a major crime. But I also think a beauty crime is when you wear too much heavy makeup that doesn’t allow you to show the brightness and health of your skin. Makeup should highlight the beauty of your skin and of your face, eyes and lips.
What do you consider an underrated skincare commandment? Not using enough product. It’s better to use more than less [because] that product is there to do the job for you, to work 24 hours, day and night.
If you could change anything about the beauty industry, what would it be? What I have experienced in the beauty industry is that help tends to focus on the negative—finding the faults—versus highlighting all the positives. If someone has eruptions, broken capillaries or rosacea, find something to compliment her on, because she is already feeling pretty bad about herself. Highlight the positives and talk about her concern, but also let her know there is treatment that can address it, improve it and ultimately get rid of it.