Beauty Boss: How This Beauty Entrepreneur Built a Skincare Line Out of Her Own Struggle with Stress
Welcome to Beauty Boss, a reoccurring series in which we spotlight the power players driving the beauty world forward. Consider this your chance to steal their get-ahead secrets, and grow from the real-life lessons they’ve learned on the job.
Sarah Kugelman was in her late 30’s when she became chronically ill from stress, and took a trip to Iceland in an attempt to start anew. It was there that she became mesmerized by the pure unspoiled environment and the vibrant, healthy skin of the Icelandic people. From that moment on, she came up with the concept for skyn ICELAND, a skincare line rooted in bringing skin back to balance and returning it to a glowing and youthful state. Below, we chat with Kugelman on how her dream came to be.
How did you fall into the beauty space?
I was always obsessed with my skin and all things skin related. I was also always passionate about beauty…I was the girl who at 13, was doing makeovers on all of my friends at camp and school. Even my high school yearbook had my future career as Editor in Chief of Seventeen magazine, I was destined for beauty. My great grandmother was a hair stylist, she had an upscale ‘beauty salon’ in New Haven for all of the society women. I am convinced it was in my genes!
How did you come up with the concept for skyn?
I had battled stress and its effects for years. It all came to a head for me when stress broke down my immune system and I became very ill. I had to take a three-month leave of absence from work and my doctor said: “if you don’t learn to manage your stress, you won’t live to see 40”. That was a huge wake-up call for me and set me on a path to find wellness. I moved to California and learned to be healthy – eating organically, doing yoga, getting acupuncture and sleeping a lot! When I was at Lauder, I saw a huge trend in the beauty industry towards natural and wellness. I was very curious about how stress affected skin since during my toughest days, my skin was suffering from cystic acne and all sorts of textural, tone and aging problems. I knew there was a connection and I wanted to prove that and use it to open a dialogue with women about how to determine when you are stressed, what the symptoms are and how to come up with solutions.
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What makes it unique/different?
When I was developing skyn ICELAND, I went to Iceland on vacation and completely fell in love with it because of its spectacular natural beauty. It's pure, untouched by modern life, a natural oasis. The women there have gorgeous skin, which strengthened my crusade. I decided to research the glacial waters and plants that grow there, I discovered an incredible source of pure, potent, multi-tasking ingredients that I used to create a proprietary complex that is all of our products. I literally import the glacial waters from Iceland and other key natural actives for our complex! No one else has these ingredients in their products and they do not exist in other parts of the world; it’s the key to why we are special and different.
Our special combination of ingredients in our complex specifically address the physiological stress response in the skin. We study what happens to the skin when it’s stressed and then we address and treat those problems with our natural extracts/technology.
How have you changed the landscape when it comes to your skyn?
I think caring for your skin is not just about what you get at a dermatologist, it’s not just loading your skin up with products, it’s not about aggressive peels and scrubs and acids…..it’s caring for your skin in a way that calms, purifies and rejuvenates it. Almost re-setting the skin and putting it back on track. At the end of the day, we want smoother, refined, plumper, luminous, glowing skin. Everyone wants that. That is what we do: we promise to bring skin back into balance so that it is glowing, healthy and younger looking.
What’s the best compliment you ever received?
“Your skincare has changed my life.” I hear this a lot and nothing makes me happier than hearing that from someone!! We can change the way we feel with good skin…it in turn, creates confidence and positivity…as a result it can really change someone’s life and the world around us!
What was your “aha moment” when you realized skyn had really become a success?
In January 2016 I went to visit the sets of all of the TV shows we work with in Hollywood. We partner with the makeup artists and they use our products to prep the skin of the talent. I went to Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, Super Girl, Blackish and a few others….all of the talent personally told me how much they love the products and how much they really help their skin/eyes. I was completely blown away …it was a total pinch me moment….and made me feel like “wow, skyn ICELAND is connecting with people and has really made a difference!”
What’s one mistake most women make when it comes to skincare or makeup that they could easily fix?
Using too many products! When a woman has a blemish or a skin concern, the first instinct is to use more and more products to make it better. But actually this can confuse the skin and cause it to “freak out”, leading to more serious acne, irritation, and problems with tone/texture. The best thing is to pair it down, simplify your routine to healthy products that really work. Add on to your regimen for specific concerns or seasons from there.
Who do you think has the most beautiful skin in Hollywood?
Sienna Miller is one of my muses. I love her style, her sense of humor, her casual sexy confident chic…and she has totally gorgeous skin!