My Cold Cream Recipe

EDITED TO ADD CUP/SPOON MEASUREMENTS!!!

EDITED AGAIN AT THE END

Ponds Cold Cream Ad Vintage

Before we get into it – Cold Cream is a water/oil emulsion that is used as a cleanser. It is not “Vanishing Cream” (which is actually what we would call moisturiser today) as one thing you will notice once you use it…it doesn’t really vanish – you need to wash it off.

After years of struggling with my skin I stumbled across a Fedora Lounge post about cold cream. At that point I was spending a small fortune each month on products that were getting stronger and stronger as I was still breaking out like a teenager. I was reading to throw it all away and start with something simple, but with my skin I was positively terrified of oil. I had been using coconut oil as a make up remover without any extra breakouts and had also added rosehip oil to my oil free moisturiser (during winter). But the thought of slathering my face in an oil/beeswax mixture seemed bizzare – especially as it was the “cleansing” stage. Normally I used something that would rival industrial strength floor cleaner on my face to get rid of the oil….why put oil on to get rid of oil?

Of course if you know much about chemistry oil likes to stick to oil. Dirt also clings to oil. Which is why oil cleansing works. Cold Cream is very similar to Oil Cleansing. So after reading pages and pages I decided to try it. I ordered a pot online and waited. Then while I was across the road at the chemist picking up my witch hazel (apparently the thing to use with cold cream) right there next to it was a jar of ponds classic cold cream. I raced home to try it and I have never gone back.

Ponds Cold Cream

My oil production slowed right down as I was no longer stripping my skin to within an inch of its life. My breakouts mostly went away and my skin is crazy soft all the time. I loved it.

BUT – it is still hard to get in Australia and I was going through a jar every 2-3 weeks (at $7 a jar it is still one of the cheapest things I have ever used on my skin). I discovered about a million recipes (cold cream has been around since 150AD) and decided to try to make my own. They were mostly good – but some were too thick, some to thin. Some didn’t cleanse right and one concoction I made was so thick and greasy It took dishwashing soap to get it off. I wanted one just like my ponds – but without the preservatives and mineral oil.

Enter the Cosmetics & Skin Blog and their post on COLD CREAM

1922 Cold Cream Ad

I decided to use the Ponds sample recipe from 1947 and some math

  • White beeswax 22.0%
  • White mineral oil 50.8%
  • Distilled water 26.0%
  • Borax 0.8%
  • Perfume 0.4%

I decided I didn’t need perfume, but to keep the percentage at 100% total I added perfume to water – giving water a new percentage at 26.4%. An easy way would be to treat every 1% as 10 grams – which would give you a kilo of cold cream which is too much in one go for most people, remembering that it has no preservatives in it. I then halved that to make 500g which is quickly used by me. Which gave me the following recipe

  • 110g White Beeswax (3/4 cup Australian Cup Size**)
  • 254g of Oil – I use Rice Bran Oil (1 and 1/8th cup Australian Cup Size**)
  • 132g Distilled Water (2/3rd cup Australian Cup Size**)
  • 4g of Borax (1 Tsp)

This is really quick to whip up. I measure the oil and beeswax in a disposable plastic container and pop it in the microwave for no more than 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until all the beeswax is melted. Mix the borax and water in another container and microwave until the water is hot and the borax is dissolved. Then using a whisk mix the water/borax into the oil/beeswax. It will turn white straight away but keep mixing til it starts to cream up. Some people like to use a hand blender for this to make it light and fluffy…but I find the cream is just fine. Then I pour it into a very clean jar and leave until cool.

Now I have my oil/water/beeswax/borax mix right I have been experimenting and my latest one is just divine! Keeping the oil weight the same I added 20g of Rosehip oil and a couple of capsules of vitamin e oil, then topping up with rice bran oil until it reaches 254g in weight. Now here is where it gets tricky without preservatives. Instead of using distilled water I brewed a cup of very, very strong green tea and used 132g of that instead of distilled water. As this is only a few days old I can’t comment on how long it will last. But I would urge you to be careful as without preservatives things will start to grow long before you see them. I also have no idea how effective brewed green tea is for the skin (as opposed to green tea extract which is used in commercial beauty products) – it just sounded like a neat idea.

Miss Fairchild Cold Cream Mask

Anyone else use cold cream? What about other vintage beauty ideas? Tell me all about it!

Miss Fairchild

**As far as I am aware Australian Cup sizes are slightly larger than US ones. 1 cup here measures 250ml of water

NOTE: Thanks to everyone who visits. This is the most popular page on my blog and gets hundreds of visits per day. Thanks to this lost of people have added lots more great information including how/what preservatives you can use. Others have changed the recipe to suit themselves and this is AWESOME!!! I do try and respond to all the comments so if you ask a question be sure to check back sometime…hopefully 2015 will be kinder and I will be able to respond in a more timely manner.

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48 Responses to My Cold Cream Recipe

  1. no ideas yet, but loving the piccie! xxxxx

  2. Teresa says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I’ve never used cold cream but I’ve always been curious about. I’ll have to try it now! 🙂

    I’ve been lucky to inherit my mother’s wonderful skin so I haven’t had much trouble with it over the years but I regularly use a facial scrub and moisturiser. More so as I’m getting older!

  3. Randi says:

    Oh how you make me want to start creaming up again, especially with your recipe!
    I really love the experience of cold cream (so luxurious!) and the moisturized, dewy skin is so wonderful, but I’ve never had much luck keeping my skin clear with it.
    That said, I have terrible skin in general, always have had. I don’t think I’ve been pimple-free since the age of ten. Right now I’m on loads of stuff from the dermatologist, both oral and topical, which I know works if I stick to it- it’s just not very glamorous!
    Sigh. Someday, I will have beautiful skin.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. It really does feel luxurious. Sorry to hear your skin isn’t as great as you would want. I have heard the pill helps (I can’t go on that though) and hopefully your dermatologist can help. Do what ever you need to do – there are more ways to be fabulously glamorous than what you put on your skin!

  4. robszombie says:

    I don’t know how available it is there but jergens cold cream is really good. It has a fragrance but the recipe hasn’t changed in forever:-) i’ve been using it now on my paper white sensitive oily yet tight cystic acne prone skin, my face has never looked better. It’s worth a shot your recipe is very soothing sounding but um to scared of no preservatives to go for making my own! In a pinch my granmorher always used crisco veggie shortening she had to die for skin! I’m way too chicken for that! Cheers!

    • Unfortunately I have only ever seen Ponds cold cream here in Australia, and even then it’s hard to come by. But I will keep my eye out for it. I did buy boots traditional rose cold cream and it really stung my skin unfortunately. This green tea one is so nice. Let me know if you try it.

  5. Ari says:

    Can you please convert this to cups/spoon measuring method?

  6. Angie says:

    Yes, please covert a batch in cups/spoon for us in the US. I’ve read in numerous websites that Jergens cold cream no longer the original ingredients. They have copied more or less the pond’s ingredients. Hope someone will make and market something similar to the old original Jergen’s or Pond’s cold creams. It’s such a shame this has happened.
    Thank you for putting out your recipe, but I don’t have a measuring system for grams. Hope you do a conversion soon.

  7. Ari says:

    Thank you so very much for the conversion to cup/spoon measurement. This is so helpful!!! 🙂

  8. Madeline says:

    How did the green tea vs. distilled water work out?

  9. Kayla Krauss says:

    Just a little piont of interest for you… Vitamin E is one of the most potent natural preservatives because of its antioxcident properties. Vitamins A and C are also good but as Vitamin E is in oil form it tends to be used more for cosmetics than the pill/powder forms of the others. Even with Vitamin E though most homemade products should be discarded between 6 months and a year and some do still need to be kept in the refridgerator. The green tea, although good for your skin is what will spoil in you latest mixture. The original mixture to only risk you really run is the oil going rancid which even rancid oil can be used topically (it just gets a funky smell). If you took the green tea back out and used it as a tonic after you would still get the benefit but lose the risk of mold and such. Good luck and thank you much for sharing your recipie!!!

    • Great points Kayla – thanks so much.

    • Andrew says:

      Vitamin E is not a preservative folks. It is an antioxidant, and they are both very different things. Antioxidants only stop the oils in your cream from turning rancid – which is a good thing. However, antioxidants will not, and I repeat, will not prevent microbial, fungal and yeast growth on the micro level. You can get a very good (non-paraben) broad spectrum preservative which is really easy to use from http://www.heirloombodycare.com.au called Phenoserve. You only need about 0.5%. Hope this clarifies the continual confusion about preservatives/antioxidants. Basically, if you don’t preserve your creams & lotions they are definitely going to grow things, and these can be life threatening.

      • Andrew says:

        Correction: it’s not phenoserve, it’s Optiphen Plus. You can also get a whole bunch more preservatives from Aussie Soap Supplies.com.au.

      • Wistful Wonders says:

        Agreed, Andrew. Any product containing water will quickly grow gremlins without a preservative, but it’s surprising how many people seem to think that things like Vit E, Rosemary Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extrat and Grapeseed Extract are preservatives.

        Only wish I knew where they’re getting their information from, because they’re doing themselves, their skin and their products a great disservice 😦

  10. Monica says:

    I stumbled across your post here and in reading the comments I thought I would mention that in Canada 1 cup = 250 ml = 8 fl oz (give or take a meniscus) Hope that helps you and your readers. And by the way on the topic of cold cream… when I was little I found this jar of store brand at stedmans department store in a small town in northern ontario. I was about 7 or 8 I would guess and it just looked so grown up I had to have it. At that time it cost my grandmother (who was very proud) about 3 or 4 dollars. I have never seen cold cream on a shelf since and am not a big fan of buying skin products (besides make up that I wear very little of and moisturizers which I use a lot of) I’m sorry to say that I can never find anything that works to my budget and my lazy skin care, you have reminded me how wonderful that little jar of cold cream was and let me tell you I am absolutely going to start with it again making it myself will be the icing on the cake.

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  12. nicola says:

    i am wondering, to prevent the problems with the green tea causing the product to go moldy, could adding sencha powder instead be any different? Apart from it turning you cream bright green! (it is generally easy to find in Japanese and Korean markets)

  13. Pingback: Homemade Cold Cream - Page 2

  14. Liz says:

    Thank you! This is by far the easiest recipe to follow and your breakdown of the cup sizes made it so simple. I was having the same problems in past recipes as you, too oily, too waxy, wrong consistency. I followed yours to a tee but used my own preferred oils and made chamomile tea with the distiller water and it came out perfect on the first try. Thanks again!

  15. Liz says:

    I also wanted to add that I use germall plus as a preservative in my creams and lotions, it is a paraben free natural preservative that will keep a jar of cold cream good for 3-4 months. It’s pretty cheap too and you don’t have to use much.

    • Andrew says:

      I’ve used germall plus – it’s excellent. I reckon if you are really hygienic and preserve as you do, you should get about 2 years from your cream.

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  17. cp says:

    I love cold cream too, and it’s a real shame it’s so hard to find the traditional recipe anymore. All the drugstore brands have copied the new chemical filled Pond’s formula and there isn’t much variety of cold creams to choose from to begin with. I have made my own cold cream and I love it, but usually I’m too lazy and I just use pure olive oil. When traveling, a solid cold cream is more convenient but at home I just grab some olive oil from the kitchen.

  18. Ashley says:

    I just used this recipe to make some cold cream. I used grapeseed oil as my main oil and it seems very thick, which I wasn’t expecting. I weighed all the ingredients with my digital scale and I’m sure it wasn’t 100% accurate but I think it was pretty accurate. Did I do something wrong or is it meant to be super thick? It worked very well but it just took a long time to get it off my face. Maybe I just used too much…

    • Ashley says:

      Just to be clear, I meant the finished coldcream seemed thick, not the grapeseed oil 🙂

    • Cold cream is very thick. To make it more creamy you would need to use more liquid and a bit less beeswax. Just play with the recipe until you are happy. It could also be the oil. Each oil makes the cream more or less thick. I tried it once with coconut oil and it was just a hard unusable lump. It does take some getting used to the thickness. Also making sure you massage in for a few minutes which will make it softer and then using a super hot face washer and place it over your face to steam and then wipe up as much as you can. Then using another hot facewasher keep rinsing in hot water and wiping it off – it generally takes me at least 3 goes. It’s very emollient.

      • I’ve been using the cold cream for a few days now and I love it! I think I used a bit more than I needed to the first time–It seems that I only need a very small amount of it, about the size of a small grape. I was just surprised at the thickness because I had only ever used Noxzema and I had tried Pond’s once before and they are both quite soft. I used distilled water instead of the tea that you used, and I added some rosehip oil, rosewood essential oil, and Liquid Germall Plus preservative to the recipe. By the way, yours is the most useful article I have been able to find on making cold cream. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there on the internet about cold cream, which is sad, in my opinion, because it’s such amazing stuff!

      • I am so glad you are loving it. Seems this page is the most popular on the blog. I am so glad it is helping so many people love cold cream.

      • Oops, I was signed in to my wordpress account that time–I’m the same as Ashley above…

  19. Wistful Wonders says:

    Thank you for this, Miss Fairchild.

    I wanted to make one a bit closer to the original Pond’s version with mineral oil (only because mineral oil has always been so kind to my skin and never seems to have an expiry date) and found your site.

    So I made a batch last night, used rose hydrosol instead of just distilled water, and added a suitable preservative (Liquid Germall Plus) at the end – and oh, my! It’s so, so, so rich!

    As much as I like it, though, I think next time, I’ll reduce the % of mineral oil and increase the rose hydrosol. It’s just a wee bit too greasy – only a wee bit, mind.

    In the meantime, it’s my new all-over face and body moisturizer – although I do spray my skin liberally with rose hydrosol first so it’s almost dripping wet before adding just a titch of the cream – it makes it spread much more easily and leaves my skin feeling oh so soft without being greasy.

    I think the 500g batch I made is going to last several years at this rate….

  20. Jen says:

    Just made this, can’t wait to try it tonite! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I used rose geranium, lavender & orange essential oils with a drop of Rosemary oleoresin as an antioxidant.

  21. Rainbow says:

    I definitely want to make this. I have to ask, where do you get your distilled water and beeswax? I’ve looked around all the chemists and Coles and Woolies and I can’t find either of them except in huge bulk amounts. Also, is the beeswax you use the same as the stuff candlemakers use?

    Sorry for all the questions, like someone else said there’s not a lot of information about this around.

    • dartigen says:

      Not OP, but – in Australia, you can get beeswax and Optiphen (and essential oils) from Aussie Soap Supplies, or if you’re super lucky you might be able to find beeswax at a farmer’s market. (Aussie Soap Supplies sells beeswax beads, which are a bit easier to measure – cutting chunks of beeswax is hard work!)

      Borax you can find in the cleaning aisle at Coles, and distilled water should be in the automotive section.

      Mineral oil can be a little hard to find, but food-grade mineral oil is often sold as cutting board oil. Double check that it is pure mineral oil though – mineral oil can have tocopherol added. It shouldn’t be too hard to find cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, though you may have quite a drive to get it – I bought some from a farm in Two Wells in SA for use in a lip balm.

      I’m using it to remove makeup, and it works an absolute treat! It’s especially nice for removing waterproof makeup and lipstick. My Mum is using it as a general cleanser too, and having no issues at all with it.

      One question though – I have some vegan friends who would like a beeswax-free cold cream. Would candelilla or carnauba wax work instead?

  22. Jenny says:

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this information. I have been very disgusted with Pond’s new recipe through their new parent company Unilever. The chemicals in it now sting my eyes. I thought, I must be able to make my own based on their old recipe of 5 or so ingredients. I have no idea where you got your hands on the 1947 Pond’s sample recipe. But THANk YOU!! I am going to try this. This makes me very happy.

  23. Jenny says:

    One other note…I have read about putting Kombucha in soap (I make my Kombucha with Green Tea) so I think I will try substituting some of the water out for Kombucha. Since its a fermented drink, perhaps it won’t go bad like straight green tea. I’ll try it both ways and see what works best. Cheers!

  24. Teri says:

    What purpose does the borax serve in the cold cream? Just curious since it seems like an odd ingredient in a face care product.

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  26. Great recipe! I will certainly try this one. Have you tried making homemade bath soap? I have been making soap for a few months now and my friends and family love it. I will never go back to store bought products again.

  27. Jacque White says:

    I have been making lotions and such for years and only used essential oils as a “preservative” and have never had a batch go bad. The key is to make SMALL amounts of product (unless you are making to sell or share). In the part of the world I live in there are many natural and organic bath and body products on our local food co-op. Don’t put substances on the skin that you wouldn’t eat…..:0)

  28. lois kraft says:

    I love the cold cream but it is very thick. Is there any way of getting to be thinner after it is made? If not, the hot wash cloth does the trick. I would be interested in a homemade hand/body lotion.

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