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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?
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?
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?
As 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?
- Boots Original Beauty Formula Cold Cream ($10.99, Amazon.com)
- Noxzema Deep Cleansing Cream ($18.99 for two, Amazon.com)
- Eve Lom Cleanser ($135.00, Beauty.com)
- Avene Cold Cream ($13.67, Amazon.com)
- Ponds ($5.20, Amazon.com) – my personal favorite, only because its scent brings back fond memories of my childhood.
(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.
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