Why Skincare Founder Ole Henriksen Is the Happiest Guy in Beauty
“Hej! Hej! Hej!” Ole Henriksen is making his way through the lobby of Copenhagen’s Hotel d’Angleterre but not without getting recognized. He shoots back cheery, enthusiastic hellos in rapid succession. The lithe 65-year-old skincare-brand founder is kind of a big deal in his native Denmark, so it’s customary for him to get stopped and asked to be in a photo. Around the world he’s known for his namesake line sold in brightly coloured boxes at Sephora, but in Denmark he is a motivational speaker who sells out the largest venues within a day and has appeared in a music video shouting his trademark phrase “I love it!”—there’s even a musical about his life in the works.
Perhaps Henriksen resonates so deeply with his fellow countrymen because he embodies the fact that Danes are the happiest people in the world. Their amicable temperament is credited to the term hygge, which means “the art of creating coziness.” “The Danes are good at nurturing their heart and soul,” he says. “There is a balance between work and family.” But Henriksen is the happy Dane times infinity, a walking ray of sunshine in Prada shoes. Smiling from ear to ear, he says things like “When you shine from the inside, you look beautiful on the outside.” You’d think it would make you scoff and roll your eyes, but you find yourself embracing his “Ole-isms,” as he calls them. Don’t question it; just go with it. When you’re with him, compliments come fast and furious, and in conversation he is truly engaged and interested in what you have to say. “I love people,” he says. “I’m curious about them.”
This might explain why he eventually cultivated a celebrity clientele when he moved to Los Angeles in 1975. Not only was he able to change people’s skin with his treatments, but he also strove to make heartfelt connections. “I picked up on the deep insecurities of many of the women and realized that we needed to take a deep dive into their self-esteem,” he says. “It’s about making them comfortable with their mirror image.” Though Henriksen has his own skincare products, he has never been about the hard sell. “I’d rather plant a seed that makes them feel good about themselves,” he says. “If they walk away without any products, I don’t really care.” That said, his brand is the most purchased one at Sephora in Canada, and the vitamin-C-based Truth Serum Collagen Booster continues to be a bestseller.
Henriksen stopped performing facials—the last one he gave was to Ellen DeGeneres before she hosted the 2014 Oscars—so that he could focus on his brand. Earlier this year, he relaunched the Truth, Transform and Nurture collections, and this month the new Balance line will be released. Each range is tied to Ole-isms, such as “Be true to yourself,” “Make your dreams a reality,” “Keep gratitude close to your heart” and “Take time to recharge your batteries.” What’s noticeable is that none of the language surrounding them touches on anti-aging. The beauty industry might instil fear about getting older, but Henriksen, obviously, has nothing but positive things to say about it. “You should never run away from your age,” he says. “Every day is a special gift, and if lines are happy lines and express a long, healthy life, then there’s nothing wrong with that.”