This is one of Sweden’s most popular skin products (almost 1 million of these salves are sold annually), and one of my all-time favourite beauty products. It is called Försvarets hudsalva or The Swedish Defence Forces Skin Salve. It was created by the former state-owned Swedish Pharmacy (Apoteket) for the Swedish Army in the 1940s as a blister balm for chafing caused by army boots, and to protect the skin against the cold.
It contains tallow and peanut oil among other things. Because it is water-free, it is suitable for preventing and treating frostbite and chapped skin. It is so pure you can actually fry food with it and spread it on your sandwiches (I kid you not!). You can use it as a ski wax or to treat leather.
I use it as a lip balm or on my knees, elbows, hands and face if it is really dry. In an emergency I use it to tame my hair. It has a gorgeous subtle vanilla scent and taste that is mildly addictive. The last thing I do at night is put some of this on my lips.
I have written – very enthusiastically – about it before – here. It is sold in Paris and London, and my family always ask for it when I travel to South Africa. I usually take about 12 little tubes with me to give them.
I was looking for some of this recently and discovered Christmas gift sets with matching hand and foot creams. I am not sure how good they are, but if they are anything like the original, my awful feet will thank me. I, and a number of members of my family, have inherited rhino-like heels which crack and are really painful. Maybe this will work for them?
In South Africa when I grew up, boys were conscripted into the armed forces for two years. The best sunscreen at that time was also a defence force product. It was not available to purchase, but my fiancé at the time used to bring some for me whenever he could.