In 1998, Sara Damelio, an aesthetician in Silver Spring, started experimenting in her kitchen. She was looking for an all-natural cure for acne and other skin problems that had plagued her since she was a teenager. After what she estimates to be a thousand tries, Damelio concocted a mixture of apricot-kernel oil, black tea, and other natural and organic ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties that soothed her skin. Friends and family reported that it helped with eczema, diaper rash, and blisters. In 2005, the cream was sent to a soldier in Iraq, who found that it worked wonders on his sand-flea bites and sunburn. Combat-Ready Balm has found its way into medicine cabinets across Washington.
This stuff has been a mainstay in mine for years. I love it for mosquito bites; it takes away the itch. And on sunburned skin, it alleviates pain and redness.
A word of caution: The cream—which smells of cocoa butter with a bit of menthol—is greasy. A little goes a long way. Combat-Ready Balm—prices start at $5 for 0.125 ounce—is sold in salons and boutiques; you’ll find a list at skincando.com. Damelio also sells it through that Web site and donates jars to troops overseas. There’s a less greasy Combat-Ready Balm for kids.