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May Lindstrom of May Lindstrom Skin: Part I

The organic skincare goddess on brewing wild harvested potions that your skin will eat up — Part I.

When we started this website, we had a wishlist of interviewees, and May Lindstrom was one of them. As inspiring as she is passionate about hand blending her elixirs, the former model-actress-chef turned skincare aficionado sits at the helm of one of the most successful, conscious beauty brands in the world.

To our delight, not only did May respond affirmatively, she sent back essay-length answers (to questions we thought long and hard about asking) which left us poring over them for hours; half-awestruck and half-captivated by the insight and realness that her words conveyed. So, we decided to break up the interview into a two-part exclusive. Coincidentally, May was working on her answers while waiting to go into labour — quote: “My little one will be here any time (truly any hour is possible now!)”

But May is remarkable and enthusiastic like that. “There is no third person writer here, no team of suits directing my vision or censoring my passion,” she says, meaning that May speaks from the heart in the same spirit that she uses to craft her concoctions. When she uses words like “potions” and “magic”, we can’t help but be swept up in her euphoria for and desire to make beautiful products.

From her cult beauty balm The Blue Cocoon, to the show-stopping facial oil The Youth Dew, May has won over our hearts and minds with cleaner-than-clean items that deliver serious results.

And if you think that powerful skin medicine should feel and smell dodgy instead of luxurious and glamorous, think again. This is skin food for the organic beauty lover.

The right way to apply skincare products, as demonstrated by May

“Beauty truly does come from within and I know that without a healthy body and spirit, our skin suffers.”

May Lindstrom Skin embodies everything that we love about clean, conscious beauty. Tell us how the brand began and its philosophies.

My adventures into skincare began as a small girl. Growing up, I’d spend full days mashing wild plants into a pulp and covering myself. These “potions” were vibrant green liquids and clays I’d dig from the iron-rich soil in my yard. I’ve been a formulator of sorts from the very beginning — moving from child’s play, to cooking in professional kitchens, and back again to magical beauty potions.

I am passionate about pure, potent ingredients and about [returning] to our roots. Our planet provides such an elegant bounty of delicious botanicals, clays, salts and spices. It’s hard for me to fathom how we have strayed so far from that to the current trend of hocus-pocus performed in laboratories, and mass produced plastic bottles filled with damaging synthetic chemicals and cheap fillers.

I believe in simplicity. While I’ve given an incredible amount of attention to designing products that create feelings of decadence and celebration, my 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. But 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 it too.

May Lindstrom
May Lindstrom smiling shot

May Lindstrom Skin only uses the finest, nutrient-rich ingredients that are sustainably sourced and harvested

In Singapore, where the weather is humid and it’s sunny all year round, which products would you recommend, and why?

The Blue Cocoon is my absolute favourite treat of all time, on the entire planet. It’s perfect regardless of climate, and gorgeous for all complexions. It’s essentially the most beautiful facial oil you’ve ever experienced in a unique waterless and waxless balm form. In the jar, it’s a solid. Once it touches skin, it turns immediately to a lovely fluid. This is used both as a daily hydrator or as a special treatment for skin that is sensitive, inflamed, damaged, acneic or irritated. It can also be used as a spot treatment or for the face, neck and décolleté. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and soothes skin in the most beautiful way, providing the perfect level of hydration and healing, and eliminating any redness and irritation. It works wonderfully for all skin types, and is especially effective for those prone to eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and rosacea.

It contains blue tansy, which calms and relieves inflammation on a magical level. It’s like a meditation and spa vacation for your skin. In aromatherapy, blue tansy is used to reduce anxiety, heal sleep disorders and soften the feeling of being out of control. As a bonus, this can double as my favourite eye and lip treatment of all time.

The Blue Cocoon Smear

The Blue Cocoon is May’s favourite formulation that can be used
as a daily moisturiser or treatment for irritated skin

Another product is The Jasmine Garden, which is truly a dream! This formula is particularly wonderful to bring calm and relief to delicate and reactive skin, adding just a touch of light moisture (perfect for Singapore!), and also providing refreshing cleansing action throughout the day with the powerful combination of witch hazel and colloidal silver. It infuses skin with antioxidant protection, restoring elasticity, calming breakouts and freeing delicate complexions of redness and inflammation.

It’s also beautiful [to use] after cleansing; before and after oils (serving as a delivery system to allow the deepest possible penetration of this goodness); to set makeup; to spritz throughout the day, and to refresh, cool, calm and heal.

“I utilise ingredients that have a strong history; that I know I’ll be able to ethically source for years to come; that will be of superior quality with little risk of dilution or adulteration, and that will truly change skin.”

What is the process like when choosing each ingredient to use for one product? What factors are important in ensuring the ingredients’ benefits endure on the journey from the workshop to the customer’s hands?

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 I go with my creative voice.

The best ingredients are not necessarily the rarest or most 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 and raw honey, to name a few. 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 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.

May Lindstrom ingredients

Each brew is blended and bottled in May’s private studio, then shipped out almost immediately to ensure freshness and potency

May Lindstrom Skin in the making

“We are not aiming for mass in any way, shape or form,” says May. “We lovingly blend and fill every small batch of fresh treats with a small team that feels like family. Our hearts are all in”

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). 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 was born as a super gentle, nourishing cleanser to compliment and balance the powerful stimulation and exfoliation of The Clean Dirt). I have visions, and it might be as simple as seeing the texture or colour of a final treat, or catching 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 utilise ingredients that have a strong history; that I know I’ll be able to ethically source for years to come; that will be of superior quality with little risk of dilution or adulteration (common problem, particularly with exotic oils), and that will truly change skin.

The Problem Solver by May Lindstrom

The Problem Solver is a warming mask that’s activated by water to draw out skin’s impurities

The Clean Dirt, by May Lindstrom

Don’t be fooled by its name — The Clean Dirt is a brightening and exfoliating blend in its finest

Aromatherapy is a major factor in my formulations. I know that no matter how effective a product, I simply will not reach for it if the scent is not appealing. It’s important to me that I am able to indulge your every sense, and a gorgeous scent experience is vital for true enjoyment of your ritual. Scent affects everything from your emotions, to your physical health and state of being. I will never skip this step in the development of my treats.

Every treat in the collection is handcrafted 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. Sometimes that [translates to] a lot of searching in alternating areas of the world I source from for each ingredient as seasons fluctuate and certain crops are more or less abundant.

May Lindstrom Skin collection

May Lindstrom Skin is a highly respected skincare line in the eyes of those who know natural beauty best

Why is it important to you to create products in small batches?

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 19 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 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 nearly a dozen of us. My little family is growing, and I could not be more proud or delighted.

That said, the way we create each treat with gentle love and intimate care remains the same. The formulas remain entirely my own. We continue to blend in micro batches for ultimate freshness, potency and traceability. Each bottle is loving 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.

May Lindstrom Skin for Apres Avant

May Lindstrom Skin does not use labs, base formulas, generics or shortcuts

Once each bottle is filled and shined, we lovingly pack each box as though it’s Christmas. We ship most days of the week and nothing stays on our shelves. These treats are in constant movement to ensure ultimate freshness and efficacy for our clients. We are a small team, and a real family, and truly pour our hearts into delivering a beautiful experience.

Our treats are gorgeous, from the bottle to the box, and attention is paid to every detail. Customer experience is our focus — this isn’t about cleaning up dirt or softening rough spots. This is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is a celebration of our individual beauty.

We are not aiming for mass in any way, shape or form. In fact, as we watch other brands in our niche go big, sell to Estée Lauder, or move into Sephora and huge department stores, we lean more and more away from this. Our focus in the months and years ahead is on becoming better, more active and engaged partners to our current retailers, continuing to support the green beauty community, expanding into unique brick and mortars throughout the globe, and moving full force into the world of high luxury. This is where real change is desperately needed, and where we know we can make a great impact on shifting and inspiring the standard of beauty for all.

We continue to lovingly blend and fill every small batch of fresh treats in our private studio, with a small team that feels like family. Our hearts are all in.

May Lindstrom for Apres Avant

The conscious, thoughtful touch: Each bottle is polished and shined before delivery

“This is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is a celebration of our individual beauty.”


… continue to Part II

Images courtesy of May Lindstrom Skin