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What Is Cold Cream And Does It Actually Work?

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Cold Cream is Back

Cold cream is making a comeback! When you think of cold cream you may think of a more traditional approach to skin care, as many women grew up watching their mothers and grandmothers apply cold cream at night to refresh their skin. This is because our beloved anti-aging cold cream has quite the history, and has been around a very long time, with good reason. Its creation dates back nearly 2000 years ago to Galen, a Roman physician, who reportedly mixed molten beeswax with olive oil. Then, in 1846, American pharmacist, Theron Pond began to experiment with women’s beauty products and created the first marketed cold cream, Ponds Cold Cream and Vanishing Cream, which became very popular as World War II (WWII) began. As the 20th Century advanced and WWII broke out, societal roles shifted and women had to step in to take over men’s jobs as they went off to fight in the war. Pond’s unique duo of Pond’s Cold Cream and Pond’s Vanishing Cream was the first moisturizer on the market that didn’t require refrigeration, and took off with this feminine economic boom, helping women to retain their grace, softness and femininity in these stressful new roles.

Cold Cream for Cold Weather

Well, it turns out that our grandmothers may have been on to something; cold cream has had a modern resurgence for good reason – its hydration effects. With cold weather comes dry skin, and cold creams are amazing for dry skin. Let me tell you why.

Simply put, cold cream is an emulsification of water in oil. It feels cold on the skin when applied (hence its name), and the distinction of water in oil is significant to the composition of the cold cream formula. This is because oil in water products generally are quickly absorbed into the skin when applied, but cold cream is different. Cold cream tends to have four essential ingredients: water, oil, an emulsifier, and a thickening agent. The amount of water and oil are added in approximately equal proportions, allowing the cream to penetrate the outer layer of skin without being absorbed as deeply into your skin as water-based products. The result is that it feels more like an overnight mask than a moisturizer when applied as a nighttime skin treatment.

Why Should I Use Cold Cream?

You can think of cold cream like a heavy moisturizer, essentially anyone looking to boost hydration will find a good cold cream helpful. Those who suffer from dry itchy skin will benefit most, as using it nightly will improve the texture and appearance of one’s complexion. Cold cream can provide a natural barrier to the environment which is hard to achieve when you have dry skin (and cold weather just amplifies this effect). At night for a nice relaxing skincare treatment, try using a Rose Quartz roller (these ones are amazing and don’t cost a small fortune like some of the higher-end ones).

Cold creams can also feel great on the skin after having a mild chemical peel, it will help with the flaking skin and help speed the healing process, the same principle applies to using retinol products. Introducing cold cream treatments at night can offset any drying or redness that occurs from overnight retinol treatments. Try alternating your nighttime skincare routines with cold creams and retinol products for a power-packed skin combo. My favorite one is Kate Somerville's Cold Cream - let me tell you this one is not your grandmother's cold cream! It has a whipped texture that works as a cleanser and moisturizer in one. Kate's Cold Cream is free from sulfates and mineral oil, making it safe for all skin types.

Other Uses for Cold Cream

Even though cold creams are known for their moisturizing effects, there are a few other ways you can use these products as the formulas are quite versatile. The thick oils are great for removing makeup and dirt, which is ideal for a pre-cleanse at night, follow this up with a cotton pad soaked in micellar cleansing water – I like the Caudalie one it feels really soothing on the skin, and clears any leftover residue from your initial makeup remove with the cold cream. This two-step-skin-solution is one of my go-to routines at night, particularly if my skin is feeling sensitive and I want to minimize wiping and rubbing effects. I also really like SKINNY & CO. Cleansing Balm and Makeup Remover. It's technically not a cold cream, but it has the same oil-in-water principle and my skin feels clean after removing makeup with this product - then I'm ready for my cold cream at bedtime! You can also use cold cream by itself to remove makeup without water if you’re in a hurry or you need something easy to take on a road trip or camping trip.

Cold creams are also great lip balms! This is because cold creams have a high concentration of mineral oils and waxes such as beeswax or ceresin. Using cold cream on your lips helps lock in moisture and provide that barrier of protection for combating cold winter winds. In the morning use a nice exfoliating lip scrub to get your perfect pout on for the day.

If you are looking for some intense moisturizing on your legs, arms, back and hands throw on some cold cream! It is just as effective at relieving dry itchy skin on other body parts as it is on the face.

Whether you suffer from dry skin or just need some extra hydration to get through these cold winter months, cold cream can help your skin feel moisturized and more even textured. Most skin types will not be irritated, however if you suffer from acne-prone skin check with your dermatologist to make sure you don’t use any products that counteract the effects of other skin treatments you might be doing. Keep this same advice in mind if you suffer from rosacea or psoriasis.

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