May Lindstrom on Creating a Cult Natural Skincare Line

Let her give you the beauty masterclass

With its sleek black packaging and intoxicating scents, May Lindstrom’s eponymous skincare line is a treat for the senses as well as the complexion. It’s no doubt that the woman behind these potions is just as wonderful. May is every bit nurturing as she is creative – she’s like a glowing, skincare fairy godmother – hand pouring each batch of cult products like Blue Cocoon and Honey Mud and interacting with customers with the intimate care of a best friend.

As a former model, Lindstrom reflected on her industry experience to imagine a skincare line that was equal parts healing and indulgent. What she created was a collection of nourishing masks, balms and serums, now sold at the most coveted retailers like Net-A-Porter and Violet Grey. The commercial success of her passion project comes as no surprise. But Lindstrom isn’t your average CEO; she is notorious for her business’ transparency alongside generous surprises like handwritten notes and gifting customers on her birthday. Yes, you read that right; the woman is truly a dream. COOLS sat down with the beauty master to talk inspiration, ritual, and self-care.

COOLS: Tell us about how you started your line:

May Lindstrom: 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 humor 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.

May Lindstrom Skin was born out of a desire to create blissful bookends in my day, a time-out morning and night that was just for me. I formulated for years out of personal necessity (I am blessed with highly sensitive and chemically reactive skin), and spent much of my twenties creating bespoke formulations for those with extreme skin conditions – severe acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, radiation burns from chemotherapy and cancer treatments or surgeries.

I learned over time that using even the simplest of common products (even basic soap or lotion) just wasn’t an option for my body. In order to not have constant pain in my skin, I had to learn an entirely new language of care.

Following this, I yearned to create something that was simply luxurious and lovely, and yet still offered the level of efficacy that I had seen truly transform the skin of my clients. My foundation in purity and simplicity is solid, but it was time for me to again 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.

COOLS: You seem to always be in the kitchen working on new potions. What inspires you to continue creating?

ML: I am on a quest to reveal radiant skin while igniting recognition of our individual beauty. I have always been fascinated by the idea of ritual, setting daily reminders to take time out and indulge in ourselves. I am very much a romantic and I believe that the greatest love story begins with yourself and overflows from there.

I love to breathe in something new, cup a drop of a flower essence in my palms, inhale and see where my imagination takes me. I like to envision who will fall in love with this new treat – who this man or woman is who will resonate with these elements once I’ve crafted it into a new blend.

My formulas were developed to feel so incredibly special that they would undoubtedly become a catalyst for unlocking decadent bathing rituals, creating the time and space for the personal connection you deserve.

COOLS: Do you have any beauty secrets you can share with us?

ML: Nourish. Eat the rainbow. Move your body. Breathe. Romance yourself to the point of blushing. Know that you are beautiful.

Mindset. Beauty is a reflection of your inner self – prioritize your own deliciousness, and be truly, fully, authentically You. When we are happy and intimately immersed in our world, our beauty cannot help but shine through.

Be still. Be sure that you create time to rest your body and your mind, to play and encourage opportunity for learning and joy, to share yourself fully with others and also to embrace moments of time alone.

COOLS: In the modeling industry, makeup usually trumps skincare. How did your experience as a model and makeup artist shape your relationship with beauty?

ML: I learned through my years in the makeup chair that my own skin is not something I can compromise. I have the kind of complexion that is so sensitive and reactive, that one application of the wrong product will leave me covered in blisters and rashes, or a terrible breakout. My skin physically hurts when I do not treat it well, not to mention the self-consciousness that comes when you know you are not looking your best.

Not having a voice to say No to the products used on me as a model was one of the big reasons I happily closed that career door. At the end of the day, my well-being must be first priority.

COOLS: Your approach to your brand feels very spiritual. How do you practice mindfulness in your business?

ML: I begin each day from a place of gratitude. There is so much deliciousness happening in the world! I like to take a moment, and acknowledge it.

Small rituals, like beginning my day with a pen and beautiful stationery, sending thank you’s and beautiful affirmations out to all our clients… this is really a gift to ME! Words are powerful, and there’s a sweetness to starting your day thinking of ones that are going to touch another.

A couple years ago I was gifted the 5 Minute Journal, which I also just started incorporating consistently into the bookends of my day – first thing in the morning and last thing at night I spend just a couple of moments responding to prompts such as “I am Grateful For…” and “What would make today great?” Every day, the same five questions. There is magic even in the fact that it’s repetitive. It’s a literal counting of your blessings – and we all have them, even on the hardest days.

COOLS: On social media and interviews, you are so open and inviting with your audience. Have you always been so engaged with your customers?

ML: It’s been fascinating over the last handful of years to see how social media has changed the beauty industry as a whole. May Lindstrom Skin has never had a marketing or PR team, or anyone handling social media or content creation. This has always just been me. It’s such a personal and intimate part of my day, and one that I’m very honored by. I use Instagram as my way to share our process, give a sneak peek into our studio kitchen, to introduce clients to my incredible team and my beautiful family. For me, it’s personal and about connection. I like that with social media I have the opportunity to directly engage with people interested in the brand, whether they have purchased or not, answering questions and hearing people’s stories. I try to veer away from marketing jargon and anything that is about sell-sell-sell. And I think those that follow my page appreciate that. They know me as a human being – a woman, mom, wife, and the creator of these products they are inspired by.

COOLS: What interests you outside of your brand?

ML: I love to cook, to go on picnics and discover new places.

I come alive in the sunshine and I crave ocean air.

My beautiful family has my heart. I’m the mom to two, a nearly-five-year-old daughter and an eight month old son. They keep my hands full at home.

I’m happiest anywhere my husband is at my side, my hand in his.

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