Fashion and beauty experts often say, “What’s old is new again.” I see vintage looks from the 70’s, mixes of bold colors from the 80’s, and even bigger hair from the 90’s starting to return now.
In skin care, I’ve been reading a lot about the return of masques lately. But there is one sensational product I haven’t heard much about a revival about, and that is cold cream.
While our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and those at the turn of the 19th-20th century raved about, cold cream can do magic for your skin. It is an all-in-one cleanser, makeup remover, and moisturizer.
What Defines a Cold Cream?
Traditionally, a cold cream must be comprised of a few simple ingredients: olive or almond oil, beeswax and water (Journal of Chemical Education, 1944). However, as time passed, the most hydrating cold creams were found to also include occlusive agents to lock moisture in, such as petrolatum or mineral oil. Various ingredients were also added by different manufacturers to infuse a scent or for additional benefits, like antioxidants.
In addition, a “cold cream” must be cooling to meet the definition in a traditional sense. “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.
Benefits of a Cold Cream
- Dry skin relief. Those who suffer from dry, flaky patches on the skin will find some relief from regular use of a cold cream.
- Climate change relief. When the weather changes, the alterations in temperature and humidity can cause variations in the amount of moisture your skin needs. The beauty of a cold cream is that your skin tends to absorb the level of moisture it needs after a few minutes of application, and then the rest is then rinsed away.
- Excellent for use with a retinoid or AHA. Cold creams can provide an extra level of hydration to aid the irritation associated with strong anti-aging treatments.
- Cleanser. The oils dissolve all oil-based debris, and the water-based ingredients absorb the water-based products still on your face.
- Makeup removal.
- Moisturization. If you leave cold cream on your face, it can penetrate the skin well, leaving it soft and hydrated. Note: If you have oily skin, you may wish to use another cleanser afterwards, as the cold cream may leave your skin feeling a bit oily.
- Cost and preservation. A cold cream is quite affordable for most persons, and it lasts for a long time.
Who Should Not Use a Cold Cream?
- Those with oily, very oily, or acne-prone skin
- Those living in hot, humid climates
- Those with allergic reactions to oils
Isn’t Mineral Oil Terrible for the Skin?
Cosmetic-grade mineral oil does not generally clog the pores, as many are lead to believe. According to Rebecca James Gadberry, chairman and co-CEO of YG Laboratories, tests of cosmetic-grade mineral oil usually warrant only a 1 or 2 rating on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being the least pore-clogging, and 5 being highly pore-clogging.
Gadberry says, “Caution should be used when mineral oil [an occlusive agent] is included in leave-on products containing pore-clogging ingredients.”
However, cold cream is not a leave-on product. So using mineral oil in a cleanser gets you all of the hydrating and moisture-locking potential of mineral oil, without the possibility of it trapping comedogenic ingredients against your skin when rinsed properly.
My Top Picks
Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser is by far my favorite at the drugstore. While many drugstore cold creams will give the “cooling” sensation with ingredients that can be irritating or drying like mint or citrus extracts, Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser is simple. It hydrates the skin deeply with mineral oil, water, beeswax, montan wax, and cetyl alcohol, and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth after its application.
Ingredients: Mineral oil, water, ceresin, beeswax, triethanolamine, ceteth-20, fragrance, behenic acid, montan wax, cetyl alcohol, carbomer, dmdm hydantoin, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.
Eve Lom Cleanser is the La Mer of cold creams, in my opinion: Rich, expensive, and high-performing. Eve Lom Cleanser contains a mix of cetearyl alcohol (a non-drying alcohol), lanolin, and cocoa butter, all of which have been demonstrated in dermatological studies to hydrate the skin. Smaller concentrations of four essential oils (chamomile, clove, eucalyptus, and hops) also claim to soften and soothe the skin, though the published scientific research on essential oils is more limited at this time. One note: If you have a lanolin allergy, look elsewhere.
Ingredients: Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG 30 Lanolin, Bis Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate 2, Aluminum Stearate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, PEG 75 Lanolin, Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile Oil), Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Oil, Humulus Lupulas (Hops Oil), Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, P Chloro M Cresol, Eugenol, Isoeugenol
If you are someone with a dry, normal/dry, or normal skin type who is looking for a product to boost the performance of their skin care regimen, I highly recommend adding in a cold cream. Popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, I have a feeling cold creams are going to make a comeback soon, with sensational cleansing, makeup removing, and hydrating properties! I highly recommend either Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser or Eve Lom Cleanser.
What are your thoughts on cold cream? Let me know in Comments!