Why Everyone’s Obsessing Over Icelandic Beauty

Photo: Twenty20/@jakestrongphotography
If you had to pick a country that epitomizes the word "beauty," Iceland’s got to be up there. It's full of rolling green hills, volcanos, hot springs, and, of course, the famous (and very Instagram-friendly) blue lagoon. The country just screams purity—so it's no wonder that more skin-care brands infused with mineral-rich, Icelandic-sourced ingredients are populating beauty shelves.

"There's this connection in Iceland to the idea of the spa and taking care of yourself—it's so intrinsic to the culture," says Sarah Kugelman, president and founder of beauty brand Skyn Iceland which is (obviously) totally inspired by the pristine country. "Sitting in the natural thermal baths and natural muds of the country's lagoons for therapeutic research does incredible things for the skin and body. It's a natural beauty destination for that reason."

"There's this connection in Iceland to the idea of the spa and taking care of yourself—it's so intrinsic to the culture."

Kugelman became enamored with Iceland from her initial visit. "The first thing that really inspired me was the purity," she says. "The air and the water and the unspoiled nature are just unbelievable. And there's such beautiful scenery, from the volcanos to the glaciers and the green tundra—it's so clean, pure, and free of stress."

Besides that, all of the waters are integral to the country. "There are natural thermal baths all over, and it's a huge part of the Icelandic beauty routine as well as a way for people to connect," says Kugelman. The reason that they provide such a huge draw is that the waters are filled with minerals that the skin (and body) needs and so they help with the overall barrier function, according to studies of the most stressed-out skin.

Icelandic makeup artist Tinna Empera echos the obsession with the lagoons. "Thermal pools are at the heart of Icelandic beauty," she says. "The public pools function as public spas that we use daily. You get your exercise, chill in the hot tubs with friends, and go to thermal steam rooms." Um, cue heart-eye emoji.

iceland beauty
Photo: Instagram/@chelseakauai

As you would imagine, such a generally clean, untouched island has potent, equally as clean ingredients that work magic on the skin—especially since the soil is so rich from volcanic minerals, according to Kugelman. Due to the shorter growing season and volcanic minerals, she believes that the plants grown in Icelandic soil have an even more potent effect than plants grown elsewhere. She's currently a fan of the actives: local angelica archangelica herb, Icelandic kelp, and local marine extracts.

Likewise, Bioeffect, has identified a way to turn those potent Icelandic ingredients, in this case, barley into a plant-based cellular activator to help smooth out fine lines, help with over all tone and texture, and brighten skin. The ingredient is, not surprisingly, grown in the Icelandic volcanic ash.

Another brand, Blue Lagoon, focuses on the underwater actives. “The source of all Blue Lagoon's products is the healing geothermal sea water that has been named one of the 25 wonders of the world," says Ása Brynjólfsdóttir, head of research and development Blue Lagoon. "Its key active ingredients—silica, algae, and minerals—are scientifically proven to boost the skin's barrier function, protect against UV-induced collagen degradation, and enhance natural collagen production."

"It's all about the conditions plants grow in in Iceland," Kugelman explains. "The waters are very cold and dark for months, so they have to grow to be incredibly sturdy and hearty to withstand the elements—which creates such a strong potency." Time to stock up on Icelandic ingredients for an otherworldly glow (and maybe look into moving or at least traveling there ASAP).

Keep reading to get a touch of Iceland on your beauty shelf.

If you want more worldly beauty inspo, these are the Korean beauty secrets to know. And these are the 3 skin-care rituals that Japanese beauty gurus rely on

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