Whipping up a better batch of beauty products

skincando’s latest product, Combat-Ready Shower Gel, will launch later this week. Photo by Mike Diegel.

It started in a Silver Spring kitchen with a mixer and an idea for better-quality beauty products.

Now founder Sara Damelio has grown skincando into a local company with a staff of 10 and two lines of products, Combat-Ready and skincando Luxe, with a new product set to launch later this week.

Damelio came to the Washington area in 1998 as an intern for National Geographic. She also worked part time at beauty boutique called EFX, which became Blue Mercury.

“I loved skin care and beauty, but I was using the traditional products [and] my skin got worse,” she said. “So I wanted to know what was in skin care beyond the packaging and marketing.”

Her research showed that products often carried toxic ingredients that could cause irritation in certain skin types. That led to her going to beauty school to become a licensed esthetician and developing her own products.

In doing so, she was an early adopter of the organic, green aspects of the beauty world.

“It was a very new idea,” she said. “Now it’s become very popular. In the past five years, we’ve seen the green beauty business growing.”

She launched the business in 2008 in her kitchen, and eventually graduated to a microfactory in Silver Spring for production of the two product lines. All her products are handmade here with 100 percent made-in-America, organic, all-natural ingredients, sourced locally when possible.

“I originally wanted to create just one product that was kind of like the Swiss army knife of skin care, which was the Combat-Ready Balm” Damelio said. “It’s an all-purpose healing salve to help with all problem skin issues—eczema, psoriasis, bug bites, poison ivy, sunburn.”

She described the Combat-Ready line as “organic first aid” for skin problems. The line includes the balm, a lip balm, soap and bug repellent.

“We’re just coming out with our Combat-Ready Shower Gel,” she said. “It’s not fragrant and it works really well with the Combat-Ready Balm. I find that a lot of people have skin issues from using fragrance body gels from department stores and the drug store. Those fragrances and those chemicals can cause irritation over time, so I wanted to put out a product that cleans skin without drying it or stripping it.”

The company also offers the Luxe line, which she describes as an anti-aging skin care line that includes two types of face cream, eye balm and lip balm.

“I created it to help women green up their skin care,” Damelio said.

In addition to buying via the website, Skincando products are available at places such as The Emerald Door, “an eco-friendly natural day spa,” at 8311 Grubb Rd. in Silver Spring.

The spa has been offering the products since they opened in 2010, Damelio said.

“Two years ago, [the owner] came to me and wanted to partner and work together, which makes both of us stronger,” she said. “I took over the facial room.”

Damelio offers services in the Organic Facial Room+Beauty Boutique including facials, waxing, tinting of eyebrows and eyelashes and cleansing hot shaves for men.

Photos courtesy skincando.

The full line of Combat-Ready products.

Sara Damelio and how it all started.

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