Skyn Iceland Founder Sarah Kugelman spent eighteen months researching how to erase the effects of stress on the skin after her own health scare, the result of a weakened immune system, and just one of the reasons why we're so passionate about this expertly developed brand by a longtime beauty veteran. Armed with all the knowledge she'd obtained, the award-winning beauty expert found herself on what would prove to be one of the most inspiring journeys, both literally and figuratively, of her career. A trip to Iceland got Sarah thinking about two facts about the country: its natives have flawless complexions, and Iceland's terrain is abundant in natural resources. And with that, Skyn Iceland was born. The Skyn Iceland line of products proudly boasts a 98.68 percentage of natural ingredients, and addresses a number of specific and key skin concerns, making it a favorite among editors, influencers, celebrities, and beauty insiders alike. Celebrity makeup artist and Story + Rain contributor Kindra Mann tells us "I love the Blemish Dots because not only do they truly take a blemish away overnight, they help with surrounding inflammation as well. An extra bonus is how discrete they are. I often forget the next day that I even have one on." Editor-in-Chief Tamara Rappa talked to Kugelman about the brand's evolution, her fateful trip to Iceland, her own skincare routine, Skyn's latest products in development, and more. Below you can shop our very favorites, as well as all the products Sarah uses and counts on daily.
What is a favorite and/or memorable product you've developed in your former career and why? I worked on the development of Black Cashmere with Donna Karan. It was an incredibly deep dive into the creative process and I got to learn from a true visionary. Since she was very into wellness, energy, crystals, etc...we were on the same page, and I could really get into her aesthetic and creative process.
Can you explain the story behind booking that initial trip to Iceland? I was very interested in places that exemplified or promoted wellness, healthy living, clean environments, because I was on my own personal wellness journey. So, I was attracted to Iceland and thinking about going there. I told my sister I was thinking about going there on vacation and mentioned it to her, she said ‘me too!’, and we decided to go together.
How long did you spend there? One week.
Where did you stay? We stayed at the Hotel Borg, which at the time, was the nicest hotel. The tourist industry has boomed since then! It was in the main square; a centrally-located place to stay in Reykjavik.
How did you spend your days there? We explored. We went to the black sand beaches, we walked on glaciers, we ate local food, we went to the Blue Lagoon and went in the thermal baths. We had the best time, and totally fell in love with Iceland and all its natural beauty.
What were the exact physical symptoms you were experiencing that were tied to stress? I had sort of a physical breakdown—My immune system was so worn down that I started catching all sorts of weird things – I had chicken pox (which I had not contracted as a child), an inner ear infection and a bad respiratory infection. All of this really showed on my skin.
How has your business changed between 2005 and now? How has it NOT changed!? When I started there was no such thing as social media, YouTube, influencers. Shopify and Amazon did not exist for beauty brands. Need I say more??
How has your customer changed? Our customer has stayed pretty much the same in terms of demographics and psychographics, it’s just that our original customer has aged. Other than that I think they are ever more interested, educated and demanding when it comes to clean beauty. In addition, they want beauty wherever it is most convenient for them to find it. And, they learn a lot about what they want before purchasing.
What do you eat to keep your skin in great shape? Do you avoid eating anything? I totally avoid processed foods, fast food, caffeine, soda, fried foods and candy. I really try to limit my sugar intake, refined sugars and white flower, alcohol and unhealthy fats. I eat a lot of berries, salmon, avocado, green vegetables, whole grains, and sweet potatoes. A diet high in antioxidants, omegas, vitamins, minerals and magnesium fortifies the immune system and reduces stress!
Describe your own daily skin routine. Do you work on your skin once, or twice a day? Twice. I have a fairly detailed skin routine that I do morning and night. It includes deep cleansing, sometimes exfoliating, intensive moisturizing, treatment, and eye care.
Take us behind the idea for your renowned Blemish Dots. Our eye gels were so successful that I was brainstorming all the ways we could utilize patches to address skin concerns. I thought it would be so great to come up with a patch that could continuously deliver active ingredients to blemishes without irritating or drying them out…and voila, we came up with the blemish dots!
How do you suggest people use your Cooling Lotion, and to address which issues specifically? It’s great after cleansing and can be used after a serum or for drier skins, before a heavier moisturizer. It is an amazing product for acne prone skin and also sensitive skins dealing with rosacea. The cooling sensation in the product literally helps to detox the skin and reduce redness!
What sets your Cleansing Cloths apart from the rest? First, they foam without water, so you really feel like you are cleansing your face—without harsh chemicals, dyes, and unnatural fragrances. Second, they are biodegradable—I’m really proud of that. They are an amazing product with a strong point of difference.
And your face gels? They work so well! What's their secret sauce? They are rich in peptides (tri and copper) and also plant based stem cell extracts, as well as hydrolyzed extensin.
Which of your products do you use most frequently? I use the following everyday! The Glacial Face Wash, the Cloud Cream, the Icelandic Youth Serum, the Icelandic Relief Eye Cream the Brightening Eye Serum and Oxygen Infusion Night Cream.
Can you give us a sneak peek into a product or two that is currently in development? We are developing the next generation of the eye patch! And a line extension for the Nordic Skin Peel, which is a fan favorite.
*click each product to shop
Founder Sarah Kugelman.