My personal stab at a DIY cold cream cleanser

Just pretend it looks like a real bottle.

Well, I didn’t think my first bit of content was going to be about do-it-yourself alchemy projects, but it was this or my answer to the Instagram makeup challenge.  And you know, I don’t want to scare away my potential audience on the second post, I’ll save that for the third.  So cold cream it is!  Take a moment to bask in the glory of my copyright-free creation of artistic glory for this article.  This is what happens when you get serious about respecting intellectual property but your drawing tablet breaks.

Anyway. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with Pond’s Classic Cold Cream, even before I began to wear makeup. You see, Pond’s Cream was the magical cleanser that my freakishly ageless mother always touted as her secret weapon of choice.  It’s the cold cream that would send scores of Japanese tourists to the drugstores to clear out the shelves in the 80s and 90s (maybe they still do).  And to my teen-and-college-aged self it was the only cheap, reliable product I could find that would remove permanent marker from the surface of my skin.  Oh yeah, Pond’s Cream, that was the stuff.

Imagine my surprise, decades later, when I cracked open a new tub, smeared it over my face as usual and immediately felt my eyes put up an angry red protest to the assault.  That had never happened before.  Pond’s Cream and I had an Understanding.  Hurt, trembling, somewhat in pain, I powered through so I could read the ingredient label.  Lo and behold, someone at the Pond’s Institute decided that simple was NOT better, and had radically changed the Cool Classic into a concoction meant to destroy eyeballs.  Well, no thank you, sirs and madams.  I immediately began looking for an alternative makeup removing solution.

Thank you, almonds. I love you, man.

I found it in almond oil, thank you almonds, but seeing as how the relative expense and ease of use for an oil all over my face on a daily basis was a bit prohibitive, I decided to stick with the cold cream for my face and cheeks, and switch over to almond oil for my eyes alone.  And while my five backups of economy-sized Pond’s Cream tubs as only the USA can make them will conceivably last for the rest of my natural life, I still wanted more.  I wanted satisfaction.  You don’t end a 20 year relationship badly without developing some bitterness, after all.

Google to the rescue, of course.  The first recipe I found came from xovain’s blog, which filled me with great hope.  It was possible!  It was doable! They’ve been doing it since ancient Greece!  Then I read the recipe.  Soy lecithin?  Essential oil?  I may not know what the penguin I’m doing here, but I do know that obtaining soy lecithin seemed above and beyond the call of my armchair DIY duty, and also that essential oils don’t always jive well with my face.  So, I promptly moved on to Miss Fairchild’s Charm School recipe, which actually tapped Pond’s Cream by its name.  Yes!  This one only called for mineral oil and… borax.  Borax!  What the heck is borax?  (I looked it up, and in essence, it’s on a level higher than soy lecithin, what with borax being banned for resale in Germany).

DIY cold cream
The texture is a little runnier compared to commercial creams.

Well, being completely unmotivated to try harder, I just mashed the recipes together using only what I had on hand.   And so, with what little knowledge I had managed to cobble together via Google*, a few paper towels, an electric mixer, a bowl of ice water and a large mess later, I achieved a limited measure of success.  It was a custom blend of perfume-free baby oil, distilled water and white beeswax.  I specifically omitted perfume from the final mix, as it’s the one element in skin care that almost always bugs me – I’m very sensitive to scent.  And what do you know, it worked!  The result was a glorious perfume-free, non-eye-stinging vat and a half of pure, home-grown cold cream.  Of course, I ended up miscalculating the time it would take to make so I couldn’t whip it as much as it needed.  This resulted in a cream which “melted” into a liquid much too readily once spread on the face, as I had been warned by other DIY cold cream recipes.  Moral of the story: if you think you’ve solidified your DIY cold cream enough in your ice water bath, beat it for 10 more minutes with your electric mixer anyway.

Nivea Classic on the top, DIY cold cream on the bottom

All in all, the runny texture due to my time miscalculation was my only complaint about the whole process.  Most of it fit neatly into my emptied Pond’s Cream container, and I potted the runoff into my nearly panned tin of Nivea cold cream.  (Yes, I love cold cream, alright?)   This also allowed me to make a nice comparison of the two creams next to one another.  I don’t use the Nivea cream as a facial cleanser, as it’s formulated to be very dense and emollient and sink into the skin.  Comparatively, commercial Pond’s Cream is specifically made to remove makeup, so it’s less difficult to towel off with a warm facecloth.  And in comparison to both of those textures, the DIY cream had the most in common with Clinique’s Take the Day Off cleansing balm.  It just melted a tad more readily than the Clinique version.

I was extremely pleased with my success, even with the texture caveat, and my skin loved every minute of using the DIY cream as a makeup remover.  When I eventually ran out of my own cream and switched back to Pond’s, it was almost dare I say it… unpleasant.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I have an army of Costco-sized Pond’s Creams tubs waiting to be finished in my basement, I’d do this again in a heartbeat and never look back.  If you’ve been itching to try some DIY skin care and have a bit of free time on your hands, cold cream is an excellent place to start.  Take the plunge!  Make a vat!  You won’t regret it.

DIY Coldcream, finished
DIY cold cream!

* random Googlefacts – take them with a grain of salt.

  • Tea tree oil, an essential oil, is great if you have acne (this is not for me though).
  • Borax was traditionally added into Pond’s Cream for improving texture. Its safety in cosmetics is still under debate in the EU, so while I believe it’s not banned per se from use, it’s banned from being sold to average Joes like me in the local pharmacy.
  • Don’t use olive oil for cold cream, it’s too heavy and rich for just about every skin type.  I have never read a review of DIY cold cream using olive oil that ended well.
  • Mineral oil is not only cheaper than almond oil, but also very unreactive with most skin, so it’s a great choice for making cold cream.  Mineral oil, however, is also a very bad choice as an eye makeup remover, as it may cause clogging and buildup in your tear ducts.  This probably attributed to the reason why Pond’s Cream reformulated, besides the usual expense of ingredients issue – it is still a mineral oil based cream, so not really safe to use as an eye makeup remover, technically speaking.

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