Cold Cream for Beauty

If you’re looking for a vintage beauty regime, it doesn’t get much more historic than Cold Cream.

old advert (28) commons
Chrissy from The Lindy Charm School for Girls takes a look at the history of the most famous Vanishing Beauty Cream there is and how you can make your own at home today.


Ponds Cold Cream Promo

Print Advertisement 1910

Cold Cream has been around a lot longer than you probably imagined. It was formulated by a Greek physician named Galen in the 2nd century. His formulation consisted of one part melted white wax added to three parts olive oil. To add a scent to this cream, he steeped rose buds in the oil. He then blended in as much water as he could and voilà… cold cream!

The formulation has changed a little since Galen’s experiments, but its core essence of a moisturising cleanser has stayed with us – and for good reason. This splendid concoction has the unique ability to deep cleanse whilst nourishing the skin, which has seen it remain a firm favourite all over the world.


Cold cream was a real hit in the 1940s when women liberally used it all over their bodies to achieve all-round glowing skin. But more to the point, in times of austerity it was an affordable luxury for everyone.

Have you met ’Peter and Polly Ponds’? They are funny little characters that were invented to sell Ponds Cold Creams in magazine campaigns in the 1920’s to everyday people. Sample sachets were also placed in every magazine. In fact commercial cosmetics are still using the same advertising campaign today with their free giveaways.

Ponds Vanishing Cream pres ad 1917

Ponds Vanishing Cream press ad 1917

Vanishing Cream press ad

Lady Maureen Cooper endorses Vanishing Cream 1949

Here are some home remedies you can make yourself:

These recipes come from a Swedish beauty book from 1946, Skönhet by Vivan Huber.

Cold cream – Classic recipe
250 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/ester)
25 gm White beeswax
250 gm Olive oil
150 gm Rose water
2 drops of Rose or Lavender oil
7 pinches of Borax

Mix oil, wax and spermaceti and heat it slowly under constant stirring. Let it cool a little and mix the borax with the rose water with a silver spoon. Add that to the cream and continue to stir until it is cold. Then add the rose or lavender oil.

Lemon cold cream
250 gm Almond oil
14 gm White beeswax
14 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
250 gm Rose water
5 pinches of Borax
50 drops of lemon juice or essence

Made in the same way as Cold cream.

Almond cold cream
5 gm Borax
300 gm Water (Distilled)
100 gm White beeswax
100 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
200 gm Almond Oil
300 gm Lanolin
30 drops of Rose oil

Made in the same way as Cold cream.

Salicylic cold cream
For irritated skin
5 gm Salicylic acid
15 gm Glycerol
150 gm Water (Distilled)
100 gm White beeswax
100 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
500 gm Lanolin
10 drops of Bergamot oil
10 drops of Orange flower oil

Heat wax, spermaceti and lanolin while stirring and add a mixture of borax, water and glycerol. Stir until the creme is frothy and then add bergamot and orange flower oil.

Nourishing cold cream
Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
Olive oil
9 drops of Bergamot oil

Made in the same way as Cold cream.

Muscle oil
Not a cold cream, but this oil is an excellent complement. It is used to ward off wrinkles around eyes, mouth and forehead.
20 gm Castor oil
10 gm of Almond oil
8 drops of Rose oil

Pour all ingredients in a bottle and shake until well mixed. Keep in a cool place.


Note:  Home-made beauty products lack preserving components and don’t last as long as the cosmetic products you buy, so it’s a good idea to keep them in the fridge. When preparing them, be mindful of contamination. Sterilise your containers first and make sure you wear gloves or use a utensil when mixing.

Do you have any cold cream formulas passed down by the women in your family?


For more beauty tips and fashion tricks, visit The Lindy Charm School for Girls at the Sydney Vintage Fair, September 27 – 29, 2013


Images sourced from: Flickr:Jussi Nesster; Creative Commons: Wikimedia Commons



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