Moms in Beauty: Sarah Kugelman of Skyn Iceland
We chat with the mom and founder of this stress-busting beauty brand
Sarah Kugelman knows a thing or two about stress. As the founder of the now-defunct beauty website Gloss.com and a former executive at Estée Lauder, Kugelman has held her share of high-powered jobs. In 2003 she was forced to take a leave of absence from work due to the chronic stress her high-octane career had caused her.
It was then that she spent some time in the calming country of Iceland, a trip that ultimately led to the creation of Skyn Iceland, a line of natural products that help fight the effects of stress on the skin. For Kugelman, whose daughter Alexa is five-years-old, stress management is crucial. “I was really interested in stress and stress management and how it affects your skin,” she says. “So I spent a year and a half working with a dermatologist, a cardiologist, and a nutritionist to develop the line. I want to be around for Alexa, so I have to take care of myself." Here are her tips for managing stress in your life. —Melissa Schweiger
How does stress affect the skin?
In my research for Skyn Iceland, we found that stress definitely affects the skin in four ways: accelerated aging, adult acne, irritation, and inflammation. Due to my insane life—living in busy places and lots of traveling—I had all of these problems with my own skin.
How did you manage stress during pregnancy and new motherhood?
Stress is never going to go away, but you just have to know how to identify it and have your ways to control it. Now I know when I’m reaching my limit; when I’m really drained and tired and need to take a break. If I haven’t been exercising then I will sit down with my calendar and try to figure out a way to go to a yoga class, or I'll say to my husband, “I’m taking two hours and I’m going to get a massage.” Sometimes I just close the door and get in the bath and light a candle. It’s easier to take the time when it's for my daughter's sake. I’m not a good mom and I’m not fun to be around when I’m stressed.
How do you know when it’s time for a break?
You have to get to know your body and your limits. For me, it’s that feeling of being tired or sick all the time. If I’m going through a period where I’m dragging myself through the day, I make an appointment with an acupuncturist or a chiropractor to get treated. It happened to me recently. My daughter had strep throat three times in three months, plus I was really stressed at work. I ran to the chiropractor and started going every week and started taking a bunch of probiotics and supplements. I am very careful about what I take and I go to a professional to see what my body really needs. Going into a health food store and self-prescribing can be a little scary. I drink Nighty-Night tea if I’m having trouble falling asleep; it relaxes your body and you’re also not hung-over the next morning like you would be with a sleeping pill.
What Skyn Iceland products would you recommend for busy moms?
The Glacial Cleansing Cloths. I developed them when my daughter was a baby and I was too tired to wash my face at night. I couldn’t even get to the sink. They foam without water and they don’t need to be washed off. You can keep them on your night table and wash your face without having to get out of bed. Our new Arctic Hydrating Balm, which is coming out in September, is also great because it helps with extreme dryness, irritation and hives. It’s fragrance-free and really soothing and hydrating. Also, the Icelandic Relief Eye Pen is our best-selling eye cream in a pen, so it’s really easy to use. The Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels are a total must for moms, too, because they reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
It’s about quality time; not quantity. When I get home from work, it’s all about my daughter. I don’t look at my BlackBerry. We really sit down and do things together, like read a book or work on an art project. On the weekends I’m with her 100 percent. Since she was born, I have also taken a month off every summer. It's the only vacation I take all year, but it makes it all worthwhile.