This retro skincare staple will transform your dry skin

Posted by
Viola Levy
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Once the preserve of Fifties housewives, cold cream is the perfect way to treat a flaky or irritated complexion.

When you hear the words ‘cold cream’ you might automatically think of your granny’s bathroom cabinet – but this old-school cleanser is having a comeback, with celebrity facialist Kate Somerville launching her own version which hits UK stockists Cult Beauty later this month. So what’s so great about it?

For starters, being a cream, it works wonders on dry skin (no surprise there) but also *soothes* redness and irritation. Traditionally it was composed of mineral oils, waxes and water. Speaking to Allure, cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta explained further. “The emulsifiers that hold the cream together are fatty acids or long-chain phosphates that are neutralized with triethanolamine and/or sodium hydroxide.”

He continued, “The neutralized fatty acid or phosphate basically forms a soap base, and that mineral oil/soap composition is great for removing makeup and [soothing] inflamed skin. The mineral oil and waxes are skin protectants that create a moisture barrier on the skin, which makes your skin feel soft and protects against moisture loss.”

So basically, it effectively removes make-up and grime without stripping the skin and leaving it with that tight, parched feeling that some cleansers are wont to do. It’s also ideal for those with dry or irritated skin types. Plus, unlike a cleansing balm, cold creams have a cooling sensation (hence the name!), making them an ideal choice for summer too, especially when kept in the fridge.

The version most of us are familiar with is the cheap and cheerful Pond’s Cold Cream (£3.25), with Kylie Jenner extolling its virtues on Snapchat, while the other Kylie (the formidable Ms. Minogue) causing sales to skyrocket when she endorsed it back in 2010.

However, the main issue with cold cream is that it usually contains ingredients like mineral oil which can be pore-clogging, so it’s not ideal if you’re prone to congestion. Others find the formula slightly too heavy and time-consuming to remove. 

Luckily, Kate Somerville’s forthcoming Cold Cream (£41) is far more lightweight than other versions, while being mineral-oil free and non-comedogenic (i.e. less likely to cause congestion). It’s also got an uplifting delicate scent of white honey, jasmine, rose, and daisy (but according to the brand, despite containing fragrance, it’s still safe for use on sensitive skin).

One thing you need to be wary of – this is not exactly the kind of ‘no-fuss’ cleanser to take to a festival or pop in your gym bag. It’s still a cream that doesn’t emulsify, so you can’t simply rinse off with a splash of water, you’ll need to remove it thoroughly with a warm flannel. But once it’s gone, it’ll likely take all your make-up with it, including stubborn mascara and SPF.

Ideally use it for your nightly beauty ritual when you have time to properly massage it in and let it work its magic. And if you want to go full-on vintage glamour, you can accessorise with hair curlers and a marabou dressing gown (and if it’s a Friday night, perhaps an olive martini à la Mad Men).

Image: Doctor Macro (featuring actress Ann Blyth)