Confession: if I need cheering up, which is quite a lot these days, there's one thing that always works: Ole Henriksen. I mean the man, not the face creams, although they are seriously good. A while back, we asked the ageless Danish skincare imp how to pronounce his tongue twister of a name (Olayy? OOOlay? Oul? Oh-lah?). He sent us a video which I’ve embedded a bit further down: when you get there, watch and smile.
Ole is the original sparker-of-joy before Marie Kondo claimed the term as a ruse to get us all tidying. The ‘Ole Glow’, as he calls his mission, is as much about inner happiness as slapping on fistfuls of his Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum on (but do, it’s very good). And Ole is on a mission to spread positivity as radiant as his toothsome smile. Growing more confident in your skin, and having fun in the process, is all part of that mission.
Nowhere more so than in his newest five-piece collection called Balance, which is for oily and breakout-prone skin that wants to glow not shine. I have neither of these conditions but the sheer pleasure of putting on the new Cold Plunge Pore Mask, £30 and turning myself into a Smurf was too fun to resist.
This mattifying clay mask has a really great texture, not too gloopy to apply or too tight when it dries. It contains extracts of Alpine plants that thrive in harsh climates and apparently have lots of protective antioxidants. It’s a real whoosh to the senses, a Fox’s Glacier Mint in facial form, but not so much that your eyes water or your nose starts to run. Where would be the fun in that?
I rather enjoyed the ten minutes I spent wearing it (although watch your clothes). Afterwards, my face had that lovely sculpted, sucked-in rosy glow you get after a winter walk, a cryotherapy treatment – or if you’ve ever tried that old Hollywood trick of plunging your face into a bowl of iced water. Most surprisingly it did make the large pores on my nose and chin noticeably smaller temporarily and left my face gently exfoliated thanks to the AHA and BHA acids, while neem seed oil which is antibacterial, was there to clear up any nasties.
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Even better is the story of what inspired Ole to create it. Before he set up his skincare line in 1975, Ole was a show dancer in Indonesia (of course he was!). Moving from his native Denmark where he ate healthily, he became rather partial to rum and Coke and lived on sweets. This, combined with the humid tropical climate made for very unhappy skin. He began seeing a facialist to treat his cystic acne and she also introduced him to the importance of good nutrition. It was the start of his skincare journey. He moved to California studied cosmetic chemistry and the rest is history. Now more than 45 years on, he’s created a range for his younger self (who incidentally, through the magic of skincare and whatever else, he still resembles).
If, like young Ole, you are bothered by oily, spotty skin and big or blocked pores you’ll love the whole Balance range as much for its physical benefits as for its mood-boosting powers (although I would patch test first if your skin is very unhappy). The mask is like Arctic blast for the face that sweeps debris away leaving you with a healthy glow and a refreshed mind.
There’s also a great scrub with volcanic sand, a cleansing gel, a toner with witch hazel, and an oil-free moisturiser. They all have that all have a refreshing zing to them, thanks to a ‘Green Fusion Complex’ made of green tea, eucalyptus, algae, and Irish moss extracts. If your skin is sensitive this is not for you. For my dry skin, using the whole range was a bit too much of a good thing, but on grubby commuter days when my skin is glooping up under a face covering or when I just need a bit of Ole oomph, a Cold Plunge with a Pore Mask doesn’t half blow the cobwebs away.
Buy Ole Henriksen Balance Cold Plunge Pore Mask, £30. You can buy the full Ole Henriksen Balance range at Boots.com . Follow Victoria on Instagram @victoriawoodhall