S. ABINGTON TWP. — The flowers and plants surrounding the Sutton family’s home testify to Tanya Sutton’s enjoyment in and skill for gardening. Unfortunately, sometimes so do the cracks and scrapes on her hands and arms.
Sutton said in the past she used a hydrating lotion for relief from the problem, but needed something more.
“It softened up the hands, but that’s about it,” she said of the lotion. “And I was looking for something which helped to improve it.”
So the organic chemist set out to create the first in a line of liquid skin salves, which she eventually developed into her own small business, Sutton Family Skin Care, in 2015.
The pilot product was initially intended for use on hands but, after realizing its potential, Sutton changed the label to say “for dry skin.” After several people told her it helped the skin on their feet, she created another product for that purpose, using the same compound but with a “stronger, more evergreen” scent. She also created one marketed to gardeners, and her latest addition to the line is an after-sun solution.
Each salve is packaged in a spray bottle and applied as a mist, which the consumer then rubs into his or her skin.
One of the first people to try the dry skin salve was Sutton’s husband, Chad, who, as a medical doctor, is required to wash and sanitize his hands dozens of times per day, leaving them dried out and painfully cracked.
“He was my guinea pig,” Tanya said, laughing.
Chad said his hands greatly improved after he started using the salve, and he eventually started sharing it with his colleagues in the medical field, who told him it improved their skin, as well. He was careful, however, to make a disclaimer that the products are not intended as cures. As a doctor, he cannot make professional claims regarding healing power of the products, only testify on a personal level about what they did for his own skin.
Tanya said some other jobs in which people find themselves with dry, cracked or burned skin and have found help from the salves include postal work and food service.
“The application is so wide when you try to think who it can help,” she said.
A native of Russia, Tanya graduated from Moscow State University with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. She first came to the U.S. to work under a one-year contract at the State University of New York. After meeting Chad one winter day in 1996 in Central Park and falling in love, she decided to stay.
The couple now has three children, the oldest of whom, Mashka, 17, will be a senior next year at Abington Heights High School. George, 10, and Nickolai, 8, also attend school in the Abington Heights School District.
Although her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family, Sutton said what she has enjoyed most about starting her own business is getting back into her former career in the lab.
“It’s kind of fun,” she said.
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.