The Gear Junkie: Brave Soldier LLC skin care products
By STEPHEN REGENOLD
Take some tea tree oil, add jojoba, mix in some lavender and neem leaf extract and you have the base formula for Brave Soldier skin care products, a line of natural ointments, salves, creams, gels, and lubricants developed a decade back by a dermatologist and his mountain biking buddy.
What started as a tiny company making an underground formula for cyclists in the L.A. area has grown in recent years to an operation with a line of outdoors-oriented products, from first-aid cream and lip balm to pseudo-luxury shave gel that costs $17 for a 6 ounce tube.
My primary interest in the company (www.bravesoldier.com) was with its Friction Zone product, an anti-chafing, anti-blister salve and body lubricant developed for aerobic pursuits like trail running, hiking, cross-country skiing or mountain biking.
You apply Friction Zone to toes, your heels, under the arms, even in your shorts—anyplace that rubs and chafes during repetitive movement. After years of blisters and hotspots, I now swear by products like Friction Zone to keep my feet healthy and lesion-free mile after pounding mile during long training runs, big hikes or in events such as triathlons and adventure races.
Like all of the company’s products, Friction Zone includes natural hippie ingredients like soybean oil, siliconized beeswax, shea butter, macadamia nut butter, and aloe vera extract. It costs $16 for a 2.5 ounce tube, which is enough lube to get you through a dozen or more outings.
I tested the clear and sweet-smelling solution during a long orienteering race last month, running through the woods for three hours straight in search of flags. Friction Zone at first felt slippery on my toes. Then it became unnoticeable, quietly doing its job down there to keep my toes rubbing smoothly together in my socks, staving off blisters.
After running for three hours I removed my socks to inspect the lubeâ€™s resiliency to friction and wear. The concoction was pretty much rubbed off or absorbed into my skin at that point, which was a little disappointing. I like a foot lube to be tacky and slippery still after several hours of running or racing.
But later I realized this wasn’t such a big deal. After all, Friction Zone had done its job for three hours straight, and my feet were blister free. Bonus: With all its aromatic and natural constitutes my socks smelled, paradoxically, almost fresh and clean after the long run.
March on Brave Soldier!
(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)