I originally wrote about cold creams in 2010 (oh dear, how time has passed) and it was in desperate need of a revision. I’m still a huge fan of oil based cleansers though in the past few years I’ve been faithful to my simple virgin coconut oil recipe.
I’ll share my recipe below along with the revised post on the glorious vintage beauty must-have that is cold cream.
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Modern cold cream has been a staple for hundreds of years. I call it modern because it’s new when compared the thousand plus year history of oil cleansing. A whole book could be written on such a glamorous and historic subject, but for the time being, let me share with you some tidbits of what makes cold cream magical, which cold creams are the classics, which beauty alchemist has recreated a 1901 recipe, and, of course, the recipe for my own oil-based cleanser that I whip up at home.
Cold Cream Demystified
Cold cream is an oil-based cleanser. It has a high amount of slip and does not absorb straight away into your skin like traditional moisturizers do.
How it Works
Cold cream works by encapsulated oil-based makeup and facial oil. This makes it incredibly efficient at lifting up the debris so it can be wiped away smoothly,
Why it’s a Beauty Staple
- It leaves skin moisturized by leaving behind a thin film of oil on your skin, usually there is no need to follow up with a separate moisturizer.
- It protects skin by moisturizing it and by acting as an artificial barrier. This is especially important for gals with rosacea or undergoing facial treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion or when using products that thin out the skin like retinol.
- It’s versatile ~ It’s a facial cleanser, eye makeup remover, moisturizing mask and heavy cream all in one!
- It’s oh so elegant ~ there is something so romantic about massaging your face clean. As an added bonus, massaging stimulates blood flow that gives you a natural rosy glow.
How to Use it
Apply generously to dry skin, rub it around in an upward circular motion, let it sit for 30 seconds or so, then wipe off with tissue or warm, moist cloth. These disposable esthetic wipes are excellent as they will not tug at the skin and can be used either wet or dry. Reusable facial sponges are lovely as well as the crevices remove just a bit more of the cold cream (best if used moist) and can re-used for a month before you toss them. Just make sure they dry thoroughly every night.
Strangely, toilet paper did not seem to do a thorough job in wiping the cold cream off, but we’ll just leave that one alone.
I like to cleanse my face and eyes separately, either by doing the eyes first and wiping them clean before I move on to my face and neck.
Note: in my experience, as a well as comments from others, Ponds Cold Cream can cause eye irritation. Use a separate cold cream, such as Albolene, for the eyes and Ponds for your skin. Of course with the added menthol, Noxzema would not be a good idea for use around the eyes.
What about Double Cleansing?
Double cleansing is a European style of cleansing, is standard in most facials and is just that, cleansing twice. The first cleanse is to take off surface debris and the second to cleanse within the pores. You can use cold cream as your first cleanser, then follow that with a foamy cleanser (I’m currently using this Bio Elements Cleanser for my second cleanse). Of course, you can always just do one cleanse and follow that up with a refreshing swipe of a toner-moistened cotton pad. Whatever works for you doll! I often change the routine with the season, skipping the gel cleanser in the cooler months and adding it back in the summer months. But always follow with toner until the cotton pad appears clean when you swipe your skin.
Skin Types and Cold Cream
Almost every skin type will benefit from cold cream, however, gals with pustular or cystic acne may not benefit as much. However, often treatments for acne involve heavy exfoliation that can leave your skin feeling raw, so a cold cream mask will help relieve that uncomfortable feeling. Masking is done pretty much in the same fashion as cleansing, except you leave it on for 10+min and use it only 1-2 times per week, instead as a daily cleanser.
The jury is still out on whether mineral oil clogs pores. In my opinion, it greatly depends on the level of refinement of the oil (impurities in mineral oil can cause clogged pores) and your individual skin reaction. If you have a tendency for clogged pores and/or an aversion to mineral oil, there are plenty of plant-based cold creams that may suit you better.
On a side note, simple plant oils usually fine with active acne. Grapeseed oil and Coconut oil are especially light on the skin. I’ve used it with no problems during, ahem, that time of the month when a blemish seems to make an ugly appearance
Nivea Creme ~ This seller on Amazon has assured that their product is the original 1911 creme imported from Germany. I’ve read on several forums that formulas from other countries did not produce the same classic standard.
Jergens All-Purpose Face Cream ~ My Grandma’s favorite! I just read a great comment on Amazon from a 70-year-old doll that had been using Jergens since her Vegas chorus line days in the 1950’s. Says her skin looks half her age and owes it all to this face cream. Well, I’m convinced!
Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser ~ Ponds has been in the cold cream business for well over 100 years. I’ve learned that recently there was a small formula change, from what read, it was an ingredient that was a suspected carcinogen. Since the change was an eensy weensy one that was mostly a binder for the oil and water in the cream, I doubt that it made any difference to the performance of the product. Still an essential and classic staple!
Albolene~ A relatively new cold cream on the market and quickly becoming a favorite. Albolene has a simple 4 ingredient formula and contains no perfumes or dyes. It’s clinically shown to improve the condition of eczema and gentle enough to use on babies as a moisturizer. I’ve used it in a pinch when I had run out of baby wipes…super clean and smooth! With the added mineral oil layer, it can help prevent diaper rash too!
Noxzema~ Who didn’t want to be a Noxzema girl? The beauty of this cold cream is the cool, tingly sensation that comes from the added camphor. Camphor is also found in chest rubs and is what gives eucalyptus is characteristic freshness. This cold cream can be applied on either wet or dry skin and is a great choice for acne prone skin. I’ve heard of skin clearing up in as little as a week after using it daily.
Alchemists on Etsy
Of honorable mention are the brilliant crafters that can be found on Etsy. Little Bits has recreated a 1901 cold cream recipe made with real rose oil and it appears to be super popular with over 1,500 positive reviews. Buffalo Gal’s cleansing oil is made with Moroccan Argan oil and has over 2,000 positive reviews.
Coconut and Lavender Cleansing Oil
My cleansing oil is super to make. It’s made with 3 ingredients (though you could just use coconut oil with nothing added) — unrefined extra virgin coconut oil and essential oils of Bulgarian lavender and/or sweet orange. I place the oil jar in a warm place to melt (like inside a turned off oven), then when it’s all melted I put 20 drops of lavender and 10 drops of sweet orange into the 12 oz jar of oil. I give it a good shake and that’s it! Sometimes I pour a bit into a fancy jar to keep in the bathroom and store the rest in the fridge and other times I just use it right our of the jar.