Behind Skyn Iceland and the Unique Beauty Benefits of Icelandic Ingredients


Skyn Iceland’s founder Sarah Kugelman on how Iceland’s natural ingredients inspired her skincare line.(Photo: Getty Images)

Iceland has become the hot, go-to vacation spot with tourists flocking to the island not only for its picturesque landscape, but also for its natural ingredients. Recently, I was lucky enough to visit my Icelandic friend in her home country and experience Iceland’s raw beauty for myself. While taking in the rich culture, I noticed how resourceful Icelandic people are when it comes to utilizing the ingredients all around them. And most of the natural resources within Iceland replenish themselves, specifically water.

In order to find out more about Iceland’s natural ingredients and their beauty benefits, I spoke with Sarah Kugelman, founder of Skyn Iceland. Like myself, she was incredibly inspired by her first trip to Iceland in 2004. For her brand, she decided to use the natural ingredients of the island to combat the effects of stressed skin.

Yahoo Beauty: How did the brand get started?

Sarah Kugelman: I had been thinking about starting a skincare line that addressed the affects of stress on the skin. I was dealing with a lot of my own stress and had a lot of health issues because of that. I decided that I wanted to leave my corporate job in beauty and start a line that could not only address the affects of stress on skin but also use it as a tool to create a dialogue with people about what was going on. Moreover, I had heard amazing things about Iceland — it was beautiful, but also incredibly pure and relaxing and healthy.

How did you come up with the name?

One day I was sitting at my kitchen table on my computer with this Google dictionary that turns English words into Icelandic words. And I just kept putting in all these words, you know, “stress” and “skin.” I put in the word “senses,” because I felt like the line was a mix between skin and your senses, and when I put in senses the Icelandic word “skyn” came back. I checked with my Icelandic friends if that made sense and they said “yes,” so I went from there.

How did the ingredients from Iceland inspired you?

First, we use the Icelandic glacial waters in our products, and the waters are special there, because they start in the glaciers were the ice is frozen rainwater. When it melts, it goes underground, over the volcanic rock underneath Iceland, and it picks up all these minerals. There are six essential minerals found in Icelandic water. This water is then deposited into baths all over Iceland, and people come from all over the world to sit in those baths. The second thing is the plants and botanicals found in Iceland have this incredible folklore and culture surrounding them. Since they have a certain kind of light on them mixed with the volcanic soil, they are rich in minerals.

How do you make Skyn Iceland stand out in the beauty world? What makes it different?

With my background in marketing — over 12 years experience. One of the things we do is we have these run on sentences that talk about all the symptoms of stressed skin. Typically, when you are marketing a product, you talk about all the benefits and the good things it is going to do for you. Instead, we talked about all the things that could be wrong with your skin and then at the end there is a solution.

How do you feel about what you put in your body can affect your outwards appearance?

When I was in my early 20s, I was already having health issues with stress. I met a holistic health practitioner and she started taking care of me and teaching me all of these things before people were talking about them. I started doing these diets where I cut out all white food, all white flour, no refined sugars, nothing processed, eating organically. I’ve been doing that basically my whole life. I started doing yoga 20 years ago as well as exercise, Pilates, eating organically acupuncture, seeing a chiropractor — all these things I’ve been doing for so long. It has been a holistic journey for me, trying to figure out how to get healthy and live a life where I felt well. Not only has it turned into a business, but a conversation.

What’s your beauty routine like?

I love the idea of specialty products that boost your routine and customize it based on what you are going through. So you have your core routine, and then you add in your impact products on top. Also, I only use organic products.

Very early on in my career when I worked at L’Oreal, my general manager in my division one day saw somebody in the hallway pull a lipstick out of their bag that wasn’t L’Oreal. He then called a meeting with the entire division and said, “I almost fired this person, and if I ever see anybody in this division with a product that is not L’Oreal, I want to know why, because if you think there is a product here that we need that we don’t have, we should be creating it.” That stuck with me my whole career. I feel like if I am using something of somebody else’s, there is something that my line needs or should have.


Among Skyn Iceland’s product offerings, the eye care products are the popular choice. (Photo: Skyn Iceland)

What would you suggest as entry products to the line?

People start with the eye products in our line because when you are stressed, it shows in the eye area first. Also, the under-eye region is the most sensitive part of your skin, so we generally recommend the eye gels ($45), which helps with puffiness and under eye circles, and then you follow that with the Icelandic firming eye cream ($45).

What does anti-aging mean to you?

Aside from cleansing and moisturizing, there are a lot of really cutting edge ingredients on the market right now. We tend to use a lot of peptides and plant stem cells in our products that change the texture of the skin and help it to regenerate and fortify itself, so that it doesn’t breakdown as quickly. There’s all kinds of damage happening to the skin all the time when you’re stressed at the DNA level — there’s certain chemicals being released. It is really important to use anti-aging products that have anti-inflammatory properties in them that reduces the internal inflammation that goes on in the body.

What advice do you have for people wanting to start their own beauty line?

If you really are passionate about your idea and you have an idea that is truly unique, and where there is a market need, and you really can connect with people don’t give up, just keep going and it will happen.


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