hands with lotion on the palm

A gentle, natural make-up remover and cleanser and a highly effective barrier cream, cold cream has been around since the second century, the creation of which has been credited to the Greek doctor and philosopher Galen. The original recipe was olive oil, rosewater, and beeswax; there were no emulsifiers or preservatives added as there are in commercial cold creams sold today.

Here’s what’s in one of the top-selling cold creams made by Ponds: Mineral Oil, Water, Ceresin, Beeswax, Triethanolamine, Behenic Acid, Fragrance, Ceteth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Carbomer, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, and Methylparaben.

Cold creams are supposed to provide intensive protection against damaging external influences such as the cold, wind, water, or dryness. They are also wonderful for removing make-up and can dissolve even the heaviest mascara. When you apply one that contains the ingredients above, you are also adding a lot of toxic chemicals to your skin. Is that sort of cream going to help cleanse and protect your skin, or will it make matters worse?

Thanks to Galen it’s very easy to make your own cold cream and avoid all those nasties. This cold cream recipe is similar to the original with essential oil added, it’s quite thick but will soften when it touches the skin. I love using it as a cleanser and it’s also very good for dry skin on elbows, feet, hands, and knees.

Make it in small batches and store away from the sun to ensure it lasts, when applying use clean hands and common sense; if it starts to smell funny or get mould then it’s gone off. Stored correctly (you can keep it in the fridge over the summer months) it will last for around six months. Rosewater is naturally antibacterial which helps the cream last longer.

You’ll find many versions of this recipe on the net, but I like Elizabeth Francke’s from her book Make your Own Cosmetics and Fragrances New Zealand.

DIY Cold Cream

84 ml hemp seed oil (or olive oil)
28 g beeswax
28 ml rose-water
10–20 drops rose geranium essential oil (optional)

Put the oil and wax in a jar and stand it in a pan of hot water on the stove. Warm until the wax is just melted. Warm the rose-water and then stir slowly into the oil/wax mixture. Remove jar from hot water and stir until it cools.
I like to add rose essential oil to make it really rosy.