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The Game Is to Save Athletes' Skin

Products' aim is expanded from fixing people's hides to protecting them

October 10, 2002|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jeffrey Neal flipped open a thick red binder full of photographs of satisfied customers. This was no ordinary stack of testimonial letters. On page after page were before-and-after shots of bloodied legs, scraped shins and battered calves of athletes who had tried Brave Soldier products to heal wounds sustained as they battled nature, or perhaps asphalt, and lost.

Neal is an avid cyclist who knows from experience about road rash, the catchall term for skin injuries resulting from bike crashes and falls. His photos documented the healing time and reduced scarring on athletes who used Brave Soldier Antiseptic Healing Ointment, a $12 product that he and biking buddy Dr. Ezra Kest developed years ago. The Beverly Hills dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon had created the ointment for post-laser surgery patients. Soon they added other products such as lightweight "crash packs" for hikers and bikers and a $6 First Defense wound-cleaning spray treatment.

The partners tested their ointments on athletes who crossed finish lines at triathlons, marathons and bike races, with injuries.

"We've fixed up thousands of people at these events over the past few years," Neal said. "We wanted to know how they worked on a range of people." The company soon added three other sports experts as partners and spent nearly five years developing the concept of skin care products for active men--and women.

Now relaunched and relabeled, Brave Soldier includes 10 products the company claims help protect the skin, not just repair it.

With botanical and pharmaceutical ingredients, the line includes basics such as moisturizing cream and shaving cream, sunscreens for protection and first-aid products for healing.

One of the products, the Lip Defender, offers 15 SPF protection and ingredients that are supposed to decrease fine lip lines.

The line of products costs between $6 and $18.

"The product evolved out of need," said Robin Coe-Hutshing, owner of Fred Segal Essentials, where the new line was launched. In October, the line will be available at Sephora stores, as well as on the www.bravesoldier.com Web site. The name, said Kest, derived from what some moms used to tell children as they salved their wounds: "Be a brave little soldier...."

Just don't call your injuries "boo-boos."

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