Is Cold Cream Good for Your Face?

Boots Cold Cream

Boots Cold Cream

About the author:  FutureDerm.com is proud to introduce Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D., on our staff as a Contributing Writer. Dr. Taha received her MD from Kuwait University in 2002, and a master’s degree in Dermatology from the University of Alexandria in 2010.  She also runs a blog in Arabic dedicated to spreading the knowledge about dermatology and cosmetic dermatology in a simple, concise manner (elbashra.com).  For her full bio, please visit our About page.

I meet a lot of people who are not familiar with cold cream, or what it does. I’m here to tell you, this stuff is magic!  Our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers swear by it, and after being sidetracked by all the tantalizing products out there, I faithfully came back to my cold cream jar.

What is Cold Cream?

Cold cream has been around for centuries. It is the ultimate all in one cleanser, makeup remover, and moisturizer.

“Cold” is simply a reference to the cooling sensation it causes after being applied, believed to be due to the water content of the cream evaporating off the skin.

Classically, cold cream was made out of a few simple ingredients: olive or almond oil, beeswax and water (1). However, as the former two have a short shelf life and spoiled quickly, other more stable and longer lasting ingredients replaced them, mainly mineral oil. Various ingredients are added by different manufacturers to infuse a scent or add more moisturizing ingredients.

What is cold cream used for?

Noxzema Deep Cleansing Cream

Noxzema Deep Cleansing Cream, the original cold cream

Cold cream is a wonder in removing makeup, as its oils dissolve all and any makeup effortlessly and, more importantly, without the need for vigorous scrubbing. It can even be gently rubbed against the lashes (eyes shut tight!) to remove stubborn mascara and eyeliner. After applying it gently all over the face and leaving it for a few minutes, it is best removed with a warm wet towel. If it is still bothersome afterwards, some people like to use their regular face wash or use a toner to remove the remaining greasiness.

Another upside is that cold cream can be quite cheap AND, unlike in the past due to changed ingredients, it does not go bad easily. So a single jar can last you a very long time. Now what other makeup remover can you say that about?

Are the ingredients in cold cream harmful?

Mr Yuk sticker

No worries about poison in your cold cream!

Probably the one ingredient that will cause a few of our readers some worry is mineral oil. Many sources claim that it is unsafe and should not be used on the skin. Let us put this case to rest: The grade and purity of mineral oil used in cosmetics and skin care products has been scientifically proven to be safe. It is non carcinogenic and non comedogenic (2). Not only that, but because of its nature, mineral oil forms an occlusive barrier on top of the skin, that will prevent water from escaping it, therefore improving skin moisture and combating skin aging(3). Mineral oil has been around for a long time and is being used in many skin care products, including the all famous and very much loved baby oil.

What about beeswax?

beesAs for beeswax, what’s not to like?:  It’s natural, it’s moisturizing, it’s soothing, and it smells good. Like mineral oil, it is also non comedogenic(4). Lip balms are the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about beeswax, but it is also found in lipsticks, mascara and hair care products.

Who should use cold cream?

People with very dry skin, or who suffer from extremely dry, flaky patches; people on drying skin treatments such as retinoids and tazaroten; and people living in dry, cold climates will find cold cream soothing and a life saver.

Who should NOT use it?

Cold cream is quite heavy in consistency, so people with oily skin will probably not be great fans, as it will feel very “greasy” to them, though they can still use it as a makeup remover. Also people living in hot, humid weathers will find this too heavy. It is more of a winter product.

Which brand to buy?

Pond'sChoose your favorite!  Popular varieties include:

References:

(1)   George W. Hunter. Laboratory Preparation of Cold Cream to Show Saponification and Emulsification. Journal of Chemical Education, 1994; 21 (4): 175.

(2)   Joseph C. DiNardo. Is Mineral Oil Comedogenic? Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2005; 4 (1).

(3)   Zoe Diana Draelos. Therapeutic Moisturizers. Dermatologic Clinics, 2000; 18 (1): 597-607.

(4)   Stefan Bogdanov. Beeswax: Uses and Trade. In: The Beeswax Book 2009; Chapter 1: 10.

Got a question for Dr. Taha or the rest of the FutureDerm.com team?  Contact us via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page with your question today!

by Dr. Hanan Taha M.D.

13 thoughts on “Is Cold Cream Good for Your Face?

  1. lanvy-nyc says:

    I love it when you do non-complex products. I grew up on nozxema but moved on to the expensive toners (which I never could finish). Thanks to this article, Im going back to my childhood favorite.

  2. Francesca says:

    Hi Nicki: I’m 48 and my skin looks fresh & young in the a.m. but by the end of the day I look dry again. Is there a good way to prevent this (other than becoming 22 again:))?
    Also: any tips on keeping crepey neck skin from creeping up?
    thanks!

  3. Nicki says:

    @Francesca,

    Thanks for your question. The answer depends on your budget! If the sky’s the limit, the best dermatological answer is either a series of chemical peels or laser treatments, depending on the reason your skin looks dull and dry in the first place (i.e., acne scarring vs. sun damage vs. crepiness vs. other factors) and the nature of your skin at this point. For the neck, fillers, such as Juvederm (temporary) or Artefill (more long-lasting) are all the range. Mid-range treatments, such as the PaloVia at-home laser (around $500) are also good options, though do honestly take longer than their more expensive counterparts to see results. If you want to spend $200 or less, I would recommend a prescription retinoid cream for use nightly. Or, I’ve also seen great results with the NIA 24 line, with nicotinic acid. Skin becomes reddened for a few days, but once your skin adjusts to the product, it really glows! Another option is the Jan Marini Transformation line, with glycolic acid and a slew of other brighteners; I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on my skin! Let me know if any of this helps!

  4. Lynne Nelson says:

    I found care one cold cream is the best! It works wonders and it does NOT leave my nose shining all day as pond cold cream does. Why don’t you have this product on your list? I believe if people knew about this product, the manufacturer would have it in more stores and more accessible to the consumer. As it is, it’s almost impossible to find.

    • Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. says:

      @Lynne Nelson
      That sounds fantastic. I actually never heard of it before. I could not find a site for care one though. If you would provide a link I would be happy to include it in the list. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. Christy Nuhfer says:

    years ago I used a product called water rinseable cold cream. I have never found a product quite like it again. Others say they rinse off real easy but they don’t. my skin had never felt better and I never broke out. Still looking for a great product like that

    • Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. says:

      @Christy Nuhfer
      It is always such a bummer when a product we love is discontinued! Do you recall the name of the brand though? I do hope you can find it again or at least find a decent replacement.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  6. Mia says:

    I see that the last post was on December 2012, but I just found it and can’t pass without commenting about my favorite cold cream/all in one face cream.

    I’ve been using it for more than 30? 40? years. Do not even remember when I started using it.

    The cream is Jergens All Purpose Face Cream. I love the cream, the texture, the smell… And it is so inexpensive!

    • Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. says:

      @Mia
      Yes Jergens All Purpose Face Cream is good and it has the same essential ingredients of cold creams in general. The price for that huge jar is pretty fantastic!
      Thank you Mia for your addition. It always helps when there are a few good options to chose from.

  7. Erica says:

    Hi Mia,

    Why do you like the Jergens Cold Cream so much. What has it done for your skin? I am currently looking to try a cold cream and am wondering why people like certain ones for their skin.

    Thank you in advance for replying!

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