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Lina Hanson builds a beauty brand by discovering new ingredients one country and story at a time

Lina Hanson builds a beauty brand by discovering new ingredients one country and story at a time
Makeup artist and beauty expert Lina Hanson started her green-beauty skin-care line after discovering that many of the beauty products she was sent contained toxins. She now travels the world looking for natural ingredients for her line of products. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Lina Hanson came to her Global Beauty skin-care line the same way she landed in her career as a makeup artist — naturally, of course. The Los Angeles-based green-beauty entrepreneur grew up in a small Swedish town where eating organic food and spending time in nature were de rigueur. It’s also where her grandmother passed down do-it-yourself beauty recipes in the kitchen. This ethos “was something that was ingrained in me from the start,” Hanson said recently.

Her journey into the world of beauty began when Hanson moved from London to New York, where she met Jeanine Lobell, founder of Stila Cosmetics, who ended up mentoring Hanson and giving her “the best education.” It was after coming to L.A. in the mid-aughts and building a clientele of regulars such as Morena Baccarin and Ewan McGregor that she discovered cosmetics she was being sent contained toxins. As a result, she wanted to create a product that worked on all skin types, “that was really high quality, would hydrate and moisturize really well, and not sit on the skin,” said Hanson, who wrote a green beauty blog and the book “Eco-Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Beauty and Wellness,” published by Rodale Books in 2009.

Lina Hanson
Lina Hanson at Violet Grey on Melrose Place in Los Angeles. The bricks-and-mortar store is one of the retailers that carry her line of skin-care products, which are made in L.A. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Hanson researched and worked with oils such as baobab and marula for more than two years before feeling satisfied with her first formula, an oil-based serum that doubles as a makeup primer. “It happened very organically. I didn’t plan to come out with an entire line but I used the serum on my clients and many were like, ‘Oh my God, what is this?’ ” she said. “I didn’t tell them at first.” Gillian Anderson mentioned the serum in Harper’s Bazaar, which caused Hanson to quickly pull together packaging for her product and to start a website.

Now her L.A.-made products, which include the cult-loved blend Global Face Serum ($85) and five other products, each designed to meet a specific skin-care need, are available on her website, www.linahanson.com, and at local bricks-and-mortar stores including Violet Grey and Detox Market as well as at Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong.

“I’m not just going to saturate the market with as many products as I can,” Hanson said. “I really believe in less is more. If you can have one product for several purposes, that makes a lot of sense to me.”

Baccarin, a longtime client, said, “Not only is Lina a smart, conscientious person, but her products are the same.” The Global Face Serum is her constant companion. Baccarin also didn’t trust using other brands on her babies other than Hanson’s Global Baby/Sensitive Serum ($50), which contains Kalahari melon, jojoba oil and cucumber seed.

As Hanson’s brand has grown, so too has the number of stamps in her passport. Though L.A. grounds her, inspiration comes from different parts of the world. Hanson started traveling to find new ingredients, immersing herself in other cultures and learning from locals about the benefits of time-honored traditions and skin-care aids. Hanson now spends half her time on the road, frequently with her filmmaker husband, Kordo Doski, visiting places such as the northern Thailand city Chiang Mai, which she felt would be authentic, cultural and unlike the southern beaches popular with most Swedes.

“When I go to places, I don’t know what I’m going to find but I stay open to learning about what they’re using, asking questions and going to stores or even markets,” Hanson said. “And I always get inspired from there.”

Lina Hanson
Lina Hanson uses ingredients from all over the world for her green-beauty skin-care brand Global Beauty, which is available on her website, www.linahanson.com, and at local stores such as Violet Grey and Detox Market. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

It was in northern Thailand she discovered thanaka powder, now a key ingredient in her Global Face Trio ($70), a three-in-one cleanser, scrub and mask made from rice bran and lemongrass that is antibacterial, healing for acne and soothing. It also helps brighten one’s overall skin. Korean, Japanese and Chinese beauty secrets influenced Global Treasures ($105), an eye and neck balm featuring collagen-producing pearl powder, anti-inflammatory matcha and 24-karat gold.

These regular treks have also expanded her network. For Earth Day, Hanson will release a limited-edition Global Travel Kit ($120), a handwoven travel bag dyed with natural indigo made by Thailand’s Karen hill tribes and filled with her skin-care products. Doski has filmed the process and Karen people for a video that will be released.

And soon Hanson plans to open an online bazaar featuring curated artisan-made pieces from around the world, a shift toward making Global Beauty a lifestyle brand. “It’s collaboration, learning from people, what they do and how we can work with them,” she said.

With her Kurdish husband, Hanson also has spent time in Kurdistan, and is exploring using pistachio and almond oils from the area for a possible future fragrance. She’s also going back to her own roots, finding a muse in powerful Scandinavian ingredients from the Arctic Circle (think birch, pine and chaga mushroom) for her next facial concoction.

While the couple was in Sweden last year, Doski shot a documentary, produced by Global Beauty, about a Swedish soccer team of Kurdish refugees, while Hanson read old books and talked to family members about folk medicine traditions.

“I spent so much time traveling so far, and now it’s actually my home that’s inspiring me the most,” Hanson said.

FOR THE RECORD

A previous version of this article said Syrian refugees are the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Kordo Doski. The subjects are Kurdish refugees.

This article was originally published at 5 a.m. April 20.

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