Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

This year we have the lifestyle craze and the makeover mania to blame for our heightened obsession with brands and appearance. For those of us who just want to look respectable on a consistent basis, within a realistic budget, it’s a constant struggle to find quality products at reasonable prices. Throughout the last year we’ve been inundated with TV shows like Dr. 90210 and The Swan, makeover shows that claim to transform lives with a haircut, new makeup, new threads, or a lifetime worth of plastic surgery. While the shows are met with criticism, their success lies in the ability to shake the fear and self-consciousness out of women, and help them regain self worth. But while it’s a worthy cause, on a daily basis we’re left alone to conquer department store cosmetics, mass-marketed drugstore lines, and specialty brands amid long, fluorescent-lit halls of retail locales and doctor’s offices. But what their sleek packaging and sophisticated ingredients are missing is the reasoning behind our needs. That’s where Skyn ICELAND comes in.

Skyn ICELAND isn’t just another company trying to get a piece of the multi-billion dollar skin care industry; it’s a well thought out line from an experienced woman, Sarah Kugelman. A few years ago when the dot-com boom went bust, Kugelman sold Gloss.com to Estee Lauder. Since her latest corporate stint, she’s been at work dreaming up a new line, with the needs of the modern woman in mind. Part of the research that led to Skyn was the acknowledgment of Psychodermatology, the study of how emotions impact our skin – or in clinical terms, the relationship between psychiatry and dermatology.

She arrived at the name after ending her search for the perfect ingredients during a trip to Iceland. The untapped natural resources she found there led to the creation of Skyn, which means senses in Icelandic. The main ingredients, indigenous to Iceland, are combined with modern technology to combat the impact of stress on our skin, the largest organ in the body. Biospheric Complex is the base of each product; it contains oxygen, glacial water, and antioxidants. Oxygen works with Butterfly Bush and Thyme Extract, to protect against environmental factors – to New Yorkers this translates to smog-filled air and dirty subway stations. The glacial water functions with an Icelandic herb, Angelica Archangelica, to revive the skin. Finally, two new antioxidants, Arctic Cloudberry Seed Oil and Red Cranberry Seed Oil, complete the concoction with their anti-aging role. The omnipresent complex is also responsible for the unique scent, a fresh, subtle herbal base with a light woodsy feel.

At first glance Skyn ICELAND appears no different from all the new specialty skin care lines – their simple white packaging only differs through the metallic stripe around the middle of the box. But their message and mission sets them apart from the rest – their line isn’t about looking younger by pumping chemicals; it’s about looking better by relieving stress. On the front of each box is a stream of consciousness-style blurb that covers every possible stress factor from binge guilt to workaholic syndrome to the overworked parent. One of the seven products is the Artic Face Mist, whose box reads, “Computer Crashed. Report due in an hour. …Missed flight…Lost luggage…Too tired to wash face. Hello big pimple. Wicked PMS. Lost my cool with the kids. Skin’s flaring as badly as my temper… Face is on fire. Need to cool down…” With their savvy branding, Skyn ICELAND identifies the major stressors in a woman’s life, but they don’t assign guilt for sleeping with your makeup on, blowing an interview, or screwing up dinner. On the contrary they say, take some time for yourself, and let our products help you recoup.

The fact mist is perfect for those stressed moments when you feel the blood flowing through your body, face hot and blotchy, red rising like in the cartoons. The White Willow Bark, Chapparral Extract, and yeast extract work as soothing agents; the impressive Triple T blend, a mix of white, yellow, and green teas, protects skin; finally a faint note reminiscent of licorice revives the senses.

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The other specialty products are the Cool Detox Face Mask and the Anti-stress Oral Spray. Recommended three times a day, the non-FDA approved oral spray contains the amino acid Theanine and Angelica Archangelica, said to parallel ginseng in its immunity capabilities. Theanine, a stress antidote found in green tea, is recommended in doses of about 100mg, with an FDA max of 1200 mg daily. Skyn’s recommendation of three sprays three times a day is completely safe, but may not be enough to make a difference – their total recommendation is what other companies claim is one dosage. As always, check with your doctor before using it if you have any special conditions.

The other four products represent the basics: Glacial Face Wash, Icelandic Relief Eye Cream, The Antidote Quenching Daily Lotion, and the Oxygen Infused Night Cream.

Oat is the main cleansing agent in the face wash but Icelandic Kelp combats inflammation. The rich texture resembles a mask more than a foaming cleanser, but the consistency is great for a harsh winter. However, it falls into the category of cleansers that require immediate post-wash moisturizing.

The Antidote is perfect in this capacity because it’s a moisturizer with the feel of a serum; the thick, slightly balmy texture feels as if it locks in moisture and provides a physical barrier to elements, despite a lack of sun protection. The long-lasting sensation can be likened to the icy-hot soothing of a menthol product, always reminding you to tend to your dermis.

The eye cream competes best with other new products on the market, through its inclusion vitamin K and rice peptides. Vitamin K diminishes dark under eye circles and the peptides combat wrinkles. As in any eye product, no immediate results are visible but the light, potent cream is fast absorbing and smooths the skin, which makes it an appropriate pre-makeup morning cream.

The night cream boasts the usual vitamin cocktail of A, C, and E, as well rice peptides, yeast extract, and White Willow Bark, but it’s the Imparata Cylindrica Root that claims the ‘intense moisturizing’ properties. It’s consistent with the other products because it’s light but potent. Skyn ICELAND also offers the 5 Day Detox Kit, which contains the wash, the day lotion, the night cream and the face mist, a great way to sample the line if you’re apprehensive about changing your regimen.

Whether you’re vice is caffeine, nicotine, or carbs; whether you’re a workaholic or a multitasking mommy, you’re bound to find a product that at the very least will provide temporary relief. The only thing missing in this line is an SPF; in an age where self-tanner beats booths due to sun-induced aging, it’s almost unheard of not to include a minimum of SPF 15 in the daily moisturizing product. But no line is perfect, and if it was, we wouldn’t have all the new products that competition brings us. These products don’t work miracles and they aren’t the type to produce that amazing complexion that eliminates the need for a multi-step makeup routine. They will, however, provide clear skin and restore a fresh natural look, complete with a bit of that red flush glow we often rely on Tarte Flush to provide. But until we find skin care nirvana, we can go back to work, with our face mist and our oral spray and know they will get us through another day, maybe even with one less trip to the Starbucks.

Originally published March 2005
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