Soldier's skincare dilemma prompts creation of waterless cleanser

June 1, 2011

A skin issue one soldier battled while serving in Iraq is the inspiration behind a new no-water-required cleanser by Innovative Skincare.

A skin issue one soldier battled while serving in Iraq is the inspiration behind a new no-water-required cleanser by Innovative Skincare.

Linda Lee, an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army, says she always had occasional acne, but never anything like the breakout she experienced in 2006, when she was deployed to Iraq.

“I was experiencing bad acne on my face, primarily on the jawline and on my forehead. It was more like cystic acne,” she says.

Tough environment
The 36-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ga., says she spent a year in an area of Iraq with few paved roads. Temperatures soared to what Ms. Lee estimates was around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The soldiers lived in trailers and could take showers when they weren’t in the field. The problem was that the dirt and sand were relentless - the soldiers’ clean skin would quickly turn dirty. And when they were sent into the field for weeks at a time, there was no opportunity for a shower or to cleanse.

Alec Call, Innovative Skincare COO (left), stands with Linda Lee, U.S. Army, and Bryan Johns, Innovative Skincare CEO. (Photo: Innovative Skincare)

Ms. Lee returned to the United States after her tour of duty and went to a spa, hoping to calm her skin. The esthetician there introduced Lee to the Innovative Skincare product line and did microdermabrasion. Ms. Lee’s skin began to clear.

The soldier thought about her next deployment and how she could avoid a big acne breakout. If only she had a cleanser that she could carry with her at all times - one that wouldn’t require water.

“We did not have our own individual bathrooms. They were … in trailers. Some were a distance away from us. I needed something more convenient,” she says.

A soldier’s request
The soldier emailed Innovative Skincare, based in Burbank, Calif., in October 2009, describing her skin challenges with international deployment and asking for a solution.

“I just told (Innovative Skincare) that I love (their) products. I was wondering if there was anything that (they) could make … either facial wipes or a cleanser that we could use, not only in deployment but also if we go and stay out in the field for 30 days,” Ms. Lee says. “(Innovative Skincare) did send me a response, and said they didn’t make anything like that at this time. I didn’t think anything else about it.”

What Ms. Lee didn’t know was that thanks to her request, the company began working on a product to help her stay relatively clean while deployed and in the field.

“I was very intrigued with her email … and I decided to oversee the creation of a product just for Linda,” says Innovative Skincare President and CEO Bryan Johns. “(She explained that) when she was deployed in the field, she doesn’t have access to water for washing her face. That’s when I decided: Let’s create a cleanser that is not only a wash-off but also a wipe-off. It has other treatment qualities, as well.”

Cream Cleanser is born
The iS CLINICAL Cream Cleanser (Innovative Skincare) is a botanically based cleanser that can be used with or without water, according to Mr. Johns.

Among the active ingredients: a seaweed algae extract, ahnfeltia concinna, which has potent healing properties, according to Mr. Johns. Ingredients that clean away the dirt include carthemus tinctorius (safflower seed oil), squalane, glycerin and cocos nucifera (coconut oil).

“There are things in the product that cleanse that don’t strip the natural barrier. We’re not proponents of astringents,” Mr. Johns says. “What’s interesting is that this type of cleanser, because of the balance of the formulation, controls oil in a very effective manner. When you put this on, you’re going to feel an immediate soft glide and, when you wipe it off, you’re going to feel a very soft, oil-free surface.”

Mr. Johns recommends using a foam pad to wipe off the scentless cleanser, rather than tissue.

Candidates for the new cleanser include those who, like Ms. Lee, don’t have access to water. It’s useful on people with all skin types, ages and skin sensitivity levels. It’s especially good in cold climates (which happens to be Lee’s next deployment), Mr. Johns says.

A fitting launch
Ms. Lee received news of the new cleanser on Jan. 12, 2011, when Mr. Johns emailed her to let her know the company had developed the Cream Cleanser product - all with her in mind.

“It was really a surprise to me, because I thought they forgot about it,” Ms. Lee says.

California-based company representatives, including Mr. Johns, asked if they could visit Ms. Lee, present her with the first Cream Cleanser product off the product line and give Ms. Lee and a friend a free spa day. The resulting presentation and media event took place at a spa in Savannah, Ga., Feb. 9, 2011.

To celebrate the launch of iS CLINICAL Cream Cleanser, Mr. Johns also presented a $5,000 donation to Stars for Stripes, a nonprofit organization that provides celebrity entertainment to internationally deployed U.S. military forces. Mr. Johns is vice-president of that organization.

Ms. Lee plans to use Cream Cleanser during her next yearlong deployment in May 2011 to Korea. She’ll put it in her cargo pants’ pocket, she says.

“(Korea) is a very different environment. We have barracks and houses … It’s very cold,” Ms. Lee says. “Some of the soldiers wear makeup, but most of the time, we’re not wearing makeup, so I can cleanse at any time.”

Ms. Lee will receive free Cream Cleanser for life, according to Mr. Johns.