Luxury skincare comes in many forms, shapes and sizes but there are very few in which the absolute passion, beauty and soul of their founder shines through in every single product. The indulgent range of skincare from May Lindstrom is formulated to inspire you to take your self-care routine to the next level and invites you to recognise and ignite your inner beauty. We recently had the absolute pleasure of discussing with May how she manages her busy life as a mum, wife and business woman, her skincare advice and how she turned her childhood dreams into a reality.
How did your brand begin? Was this something you always wanted to do?
My adventures into skincare began as a small girl. Growing up, I would spend full days mashing wild plants into a pulp and covering myself, and everyone who would humour me, in “potions” made from these vibrant green liquids and the clays I would dig from the iron rich soil in my yard. I have been a formulator of sorts from the very beginning, moving from child's play, to my work cooking in professional kitchens, and back again to magical beauty potions.
I am passionate about pure, potent ingredients and about a return to our roots. Our planet provides such an elegant bounty of delicious botanicals, clays, salts and spices that it is hard for me to fathom how we have strayed so far from that to the current trend of hocus-pocus performed in laboratories, mass produced plastic bottles filled with damaging synthetic chemicals and cheap fillers.
I believe in simplicity. While I have given an incredible amount of attention to designing products that create a feeling of decadence and celebration, my very core is as basic and grounded as it gets. Beauty truly does come from within and I know that without a healthy body and spirit, our skin suffers. I can talk for days about nutrition and the delicate balance of our inner workings. There is no magic bullet in a bottle, not from my line and not from any other.
This line was born out of a desire to create blissful bookends in my day, a time-out morning and night that was just for me. Having formulated for years out of necessity (I am blessed with highly sensitive and chemically reactive skin), I yearned to create something that was simply luxurious and lovely. My foundation in purity and simplicity is solid, but it was time for me to embrace playfulness and beauty in my potions.
I wanted to feel something when I picked up a bottle and entered my cleansing ritual. I wanted to feel peace, joy and celebration all in that one moment. And I wanted to share that with every woman I loved and cared about so she could feel this too.
As the face of your brand, it’s easy to see your skin is simply flawless, has this always been the case?
My own skin has been a work in progress since the delicate day I was born. As someone with severe chemical sensitivities, the world of beauty products can be a terrifying place. It was that for a long time before I learned what my body did and did not resonate with. I began creating bespoke formulas first for myself, and then for friends and family in my early teenage years and throughout my twenties - but never imagined that someday this would be my entire world. It took a lot of time and persuasion for me to conquer the nerves and doubt that stood in my way and embrace this thing I loved so much as something that I could truly claim. It's been a gift on every level for me to follow this dream, and to have received such incredible support for my work from the very day I decided to leap. My skin, and that of every client of ours, is decidedly grateful I finally went all in and dedicated myself to this passion.
What advice would you give someone if their skin was causing them frustration?
It is important to use products that nourish and care for the skin, feeding back in the goodness that stress and challenge take from us. But just as vital - we must give space to reduce our stress levels to begin with. It is much easier to be effective from a space of prevention than it is to always be fighting the damage that happens when we treat only symptoms.
We encourage our clients to try and be consistent for at least 90 days with our collection. Changes in skin happen over time, and when working with the body as a whole, and not just your product regime. I can’t emphasize enough how important consistency is and really encourage a prioritization of this level of self care.
You hand make all of your products in a private studio, do you think you will always be able to do this?
I worked out of my very small home studio with my darling daughter Talia at my breast in a sling as I blended and hand-filled bottles for shipment for the first nineteen months of her life, with my husband by my side as my only (and incredibly vital) support. I finally moved the business out of our home and into our Los Angeles studio in February of 2014, and hired my first three employees that same week. My tiny dream became real. A year later, we knocked down a wall, and took over the space next door. Now, when we sit down to lunch together, it’s two picnic tables holding a full dozen of us. My little family is growing, and I could not be more proud or delighted.
This said – the way we create each treat with gentle love and intimate care remains the same. The formulas are still entirely my own. We continue to blend in micro batches for ultimate freshness, potency and traceability. Each bottle is lovingly filled in our kitchen and shipped out directly – no factories, labs, distribution centres or middle-men. Our growth ensures our sustainability as a business, ensuring that we are able to continue with this commitment to a truly intimate approach to skincare.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
I've been fascinated with the process of product formulation since I was a little girl - with the magic of plants and minerals, salts and spices and oils. I love that the more I know about ingredients and how our skin responds to each one, the further back in history it feels I go with my creative voice.
The best ingredients are not necessarily the most rare or exotic, or the ones that have had millions of dollars spent to develop them synthetically. More often than not, I keep coming back to the materials that have been used all throughout the world since documentation on beauty rituals began - clays, salts, plants, raw honey. For me, proper skincare is about restoring balance. Don't do too much, keep it simple. We need to allow our skin the space to heal itself.
For me, formulation is as intuitive as making soup. I'm not one to follow a recipe in either cooking or formulating. I like to just play and explore until something resonates with me, until I reach a scent, texture, and effect that I know is special and exciting. My work is a combination of intuition and an ongoing study of plants, minerals and our relationship to beauty rituals throughout history.
Sometimes a new trial will begin with an ingredient that has me enamoured (which was the case with blue tansy when I discovered it several years ago, and ultimately became the star of The Blue Cocoon). Other times, it’s to address a particular skin concern (acne, eczema, painful inflammation, etc), or to fill a gap that feels apparent in the ritual I present (The Honey Mud Cleansing Silk was born as a super gentle, nourishing cleanser to compliment and balance the powerful stimulation and exfoliation of The Clean Dirt Cleansing Clay). I have visions, and it might be as simple as seeing the texture or colour of a final treat, or catching a scent of something that lives in my imagination and going on a wild adventure to make it spring to life.
Spices, clays, salts and honey are common foundational threads that weave between my formulas...I'm not one to follow trends or grab onto the ingredient of the moment. I utilize ingredients that have a strong history, that I know I will be able to ethically source for years to come, that will be of superior quality with little risk of dilution or adulteration (common, particularly with exotic oils) and that will truly change skin.
Every treat in the collection is hand crafted using only the finest exotic and nutrient-rich ingredients that are sourced and harvested in a mindful and sustainable manner. I purchase raw ingredients in their fresh and active state from a small handful of suppliers who work directly with farms from all over the world. With the plant ingredients especially, this is incredibly important. It is imperative to fill each and every bottle with the most vibrant raw materials possible. That sometimes means a lot of searching and alternating areas of the world I source from for each ingredient as seasons fluctuate and certain crops are more or less abundant.
A few specific favourites:
Blue Tansy is the shining star of The Blue Cocoon (see above) and the secret to that show-stopping colour and truly enrapturing scent. I would describe it almost like a blend of fresh apple, chamomile, a touch of sweet sage and mint (though it contains none of these things), something intangible and mysterious and wildly addicting. In aromatherapy, blue tansy is used to help with feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed - it's powerfully effective at calming both inflamed mind and skin and is perhaps my very favourite ingredient to work with when I'm needing immediate results.
Avocado Oil is one of many plant oils that makes my list of must-haves and is the first ingredient in The Youth Dew Balancing Serum. I source the most gorgeous, deep green chlorophyll-rich oil, raw, unfiltered, incredibly potent and brimming with nutrients and healing vitamins B, C, D, E, K and A. It hydrates skin, increases cell turnover, plumps and softens lines, helps heal sun damage and age spots, as well as inflammatory skin conditions like blemishes and eczema. This oil absorbs deep, deep into your skin - resulting in a complexion that is soft and radiant, never dull or heavy.
Raw Honey I can wax poetic about the incredible benefits of this luscious treat, courtesy of our bee friends and their succulent flower nectar. Honey is naturally PH balanced, with antiseptic and antimicrobial properties to help keep skin clear and calm. Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots. It's loaded with nutrients and minerals excellent for skin health such as vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, potassium and calcium and also acts as a humectant, drawing moisture to the skin. When mixed with water, honey releases peroxide properties which helps heal acne and any irritations and impedes bacterial growth. Sensitive skin loves honey, and I often recommend this as a one-ingredient cleanser for skin in need of major healing and a time-out from product overload.
As a parent and hands-on brand founder; how do you manage your day?
To be honest, this is always a tricky one, and in this moment more than ever. I’m currently on full bed rest with pregnancy complications and threat of pre-term labour… so I’m learning a whole new way of horizontal living! Running a business and being a good mother to my four year old little girl – from bed – is an incredible challenge I never anticipated having to learn. I’m five weeks in, and have several more to go before our son arrives. But what I am learning is actually incredibly valuable. The company has grown so rapidly that I haven’t always been able to keep up. I’m hands-on in every element of our business, and trying to balance that with family life has not been so easy. I’m learning now the importance of delegation, of consciously building my small team and entrusting them with the care I’ve always been so attached to personally delivering. It’s a must for all of our sustainability, my own sanity, and the ability of my family to thrive. And ultimately – we have so much love and beauty to share with our clients – far beyond what I could ever deliver on my own. The added voices and hands of my incredible team will be what takes us to the next level, ever raising our commitment to providing total delight to each client.
What has been the stand out moment for you since you started creating skincare products?
I’ve learned a million different things – about business and balance, how to be a mother and wife and run a company all at once, about how to dream big and take giant leaps of faith, to not let fear stop something good, I’ve learned to get out of my own way, and that it is okay to ask for and receive help. This has been the most magical adventure, and it has really only just begun.
Are you able to find time to relax? What do you like to do?
I will admit this is an ongoing challenge for me, an incredibly important one. My days are intensely busy but I’m learning to do my best to breathe through it, to actively count each and every blessing and to treasure the miracle that is this life.
Spending time with my family is my biggest non-work activity. My husband will turn on music in the morning, loud. Our daughter squeezes herself between us and we all dance around wildly. It's super goofy, but gets us all off on the right foot, and connected to each other.
We have a lot of animals – a dog, cat, chickens, a pig… every little personality lights up my world. I love to be outside in nature, and my heart still sings when I cook.
What is next for May Lindstrom? Do you want to continue to expand the brand?
I have so many dreams about what is ahead. We are growing quickly, but my foundation and core philosophy stand so firmly on the grounds of intimacy, on being special, and on delivering the most over-the-top client service and a truly personal experience. I want the Skin collection to remain compact and concise, and for each piece to play a vital part of my ideal ritual. I have no desire to add dozens of new treats to the line, but I very much wish to continue adding to our story, and to bring in new pieces that deepen our connection to self and skin. Looking forward, I see space for more collaboration with other artisans, for just a few more special products that I feel deeply pulled to develop, and I am also looking every day to discover more ways to delight each client individually - asking myself what more I can share that will show each and every one of you how truly grateful I am for your support of this dream of mine.
To share in May's dream, you can shop here for: May Lindstrom.