There's no denying the notion of Scandinavian beauty is buzzy right now. That said, the world has been obsessed with the good looks of women who hail from Denmark, Norway and Sweden for years and years. Ever heard of Elsa Hosk, Freja Beha Erichsen or Frida Gustavsson? These impossibly beautiful individuals are only the most recent Scandi babes in a decades-long lineup of what could only be described as the world's most elegant women.
So recently, when given the opportunity to sit down with native Dane Ole Henriksen I had to ask—what is it that makes the Scandinavian approach to beauty so fascinating? A former professional dancer, Henriksen's belief in the importance of fostering an overall zest for life (not just layering on lotions and potions) speaks to the holistic nature of Scandi beauty. Ahead, you'll discover that in countries where diet and sauna are considered as important as a rock solid product regime, balance reigns supreme.
Meet the Expert
Ole Henriksen is a skincare expert and founder of his eponymous skincare line. He is based in L.A.
Want the beauty routine of a Scandinavian girl? Keep scrolling for eight tip top skin, makeup, and wellbeing secrets from a pro.
1. The sauna is a secret beauty weapon
"Scandinavian women love to go to the sauna to relax and detoxify every square inch of their body," says Henriksen. A perfect example of the way in which healthy living contributes to an overall feeling of beauty, this habit benefits both mind and body. It's so ingrained in the culture that Henriksen created a self-heating facial scrub inspired by the ritual. That said, research shows saunas can be helpful for regulating sebum production (especially ideal for oily or acne-prone skin types) and pH level. However, those with rosacea should avoid saunas, as the heat will increase their redness and inflammation.
2. Foundation is a non-essential
"If these women have a trademark, it's a healthy, glowing complexion—they're not big fans of using foundation, especially during the day," says Henriksen. This minimalist approach to makeup is what inspired the skincare guru to trademark his signature "Ole Glow". The lesson? When skin is in tip top condition, there's not much need for anything else.
3. They believe in "less is more"
As touched on above, the Scandi lifestyle is largely based on a "less is more" philosophy. According to Henriksen this crosses all aspects of life, from beauty to work, leading to lower stress levels. "This is very much why Scandinavian women are faithful to a basic skincare routine," he says. In fact, they're living proof a 9-step skincare regime isn't necessary to look and feel young. (Unless, of course, you're into that.)
4. Balance in all areas of life is paramount
"In Scandinavian culture there is a lot of emphasis on spending time with your loved ones—they are really good that way," says Henriksen. Work/life balance is seen as a top priority and adequate leisure time is considered to be important.
5. They really do embrace hygge
"Hygge is a Danish tradition that's all about intimate family gatherings, good food, and candlelight," explains Henriksen. The point being that letting go of the outside world to share in great conversations and give back to yourself does you good. "Hygge time is also about giving back to your skin," says Henriksen. An easy way to do this is with an at-home treatment. This Berry Nurturing Gel Mask ($48) is packed with glow-boosting magic.
6. Being active is built into their day
"In Denmark alone there are thousands and thousands of bicycles," says Henriksen. "Every morning you see entire families bicycling through town." Building activity into their day means Scandinavian women are less inclined to stress over things like unused gym memberships. (Just us?) The best thing about this approach to fitness is arguably never having to juggle around a full work day to fit in exercise too. Clever.
7. A healthy, balanced diet is non-negotiable
Need a boost of energy? You won't find Scandinavian women noshing on nutrient-free rubbish. "These cultures have always emphasised eating a healthy and balanced diet—it's crucial in providing one with an abundance of energy and antioxidants for the skin," says Henriksen.
8. They let their hair down when necessary
Now for the fun bit. Henriksen says Scandinavians love to let loose and party up a storm when the occasion arises: "In order to put their best face forward for these types of events, a vitamin C-based brightening product like PowerBright comes in handy." (Don't take Henriksen's word for it—this particular DIY treatment picked up product of the year at the Norwegian Beauty Awards.)