Cold cream is really, truly nothing new—just ask your grandma—and yet most people still don’t really, truly know exactly what it is or how to use it (myself included). Is cold cream just another term for a creamy face wash? Or is it a moisturizer? Am I supposed to wash it off or wipe it off? Or am I just supposed to leave it on forever?! Because I admittedly did not set the curve in my high-school chemistry class, I turned to cosmetic chemists Gloria Lu and Victoria Fu of Chemist Confessions to demystify the world of cold creams and answer my millions of questions. Keep reading, then check out 13 of the best cold cream products to try…uh…now.
What is a cold cream used for?
K, let’s back up a little and go over what a cold cream actually is. As the chemists explain it, “cold cream” is a historical term that referred to thick creams in a jar that felt cold when applied to the skin. A cold cream was literally a cold cream in the olden eras. Nowadays, cold creams are typically ultra-rich and moisturizing face creams with a higher oil content than standard creams or lotions. They basically coddle your face in moisture, making them excellent at repairing and moisturizing dry, irritated skin (especially while you sleep).
Is cold cream good for removing makeup?
Because of their higher oil levels, cold creams have also been used for decades to remove makeup—just massage it on and wipe it off with a tissue, says your mom/grandma/Elizabeth Warren. But unless you’ve got pristine, pore-less skin that’s never had a breakout or a rash, cold cream really shouldn’t be used as an alternative to your makeup remover. “Standard cold creams don’t have any surfactants that help remove oily substances after washing,” the chemists explain. “So even though they can, in theory, help wipe off makeup, they’ll also behind a residue.” Instead, stick with cleansing oils, which are formulated to rinse away cleanly after gently dissolving your makeup.
Does cold cream clog pores?
Yes, cold cream can clog pores if (1) You’re using it as a makeup remover and not washing your face afterward, and/or (2) You have extra-oily skin that’s naturally prone to breakouts (since cold creams are, by nature, richer). But remember that “rich” and “heavy” doesn’t automatically equal pore-clogging. “You’ll often hear that heavy creams, especially ones with petrolatum, can clog pores, but this isn’t actually true,” the chemists explain. What can clog pores, though, is “if you aren’t doing a good job of cleansing, then it’s possible for creams to trap bacteria and grime underneath.” Basically, don’t get lazy with your cleansing routine.
Got all that? Good. Now, here are the 13 best cold creams to try out on yourself and officially become a smooth, hydrated skincare god.
This Classic Cold Cream
Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser
When you think of cold cream, it’s this little turquoise jar of joy that comes to mind. Even the most stubborn waterproof makeup doesn’t stand a chance against this cold cream, which is formulated to remove makeup and cleanse. The star ingredient? Mineral oil, which is highly recommended by derms for its ability to hydrate skin and dissolve makeup. Just remember: If you’re worried about breakouts, follow this with a gentle cleanser afterward to make sure you remove all the residue.
This Fragrance-Free Cold Cream
Pond’s Fragrance-Free Cold Cream Cleanser
If you’ve ever used Pond’s Cold Cream, you know that it has a very iconic—and distinct—powdery-rose scent. If you and your skin don’t do fragrance or florals, though, try this fragrance-free version. It’s the same Pond’s makeup remover you know and love—just without the potentially irritating scent.
This Makeup Remover and Cleanser
Ole Henriksen Wonderfeel Double Cleanser
Because the term “cold cream” has some old-school connotations, a lot of brands don’t actually say it on their products anymore. But the formulas are still the same—like this moisturizing double cleanser. Though cold creams are typically known for being heavy and thick, this 2.0 version is surprisingly lightweight. It’s designed to dissolve makeup and deep cleanse all at once, while still being gentle and hydrating enough to use on sensitive and dry skin.
This Cold Cream for Dry Skin
Avene Cold Cream
This cold cream moisturizer uses a combination of Avene’s iconic thermal spring water, along with mineral oil to soothe your skin barrier and beeswax to lock in all the moisture. The result? A formula that’s perfectly suited for super-dry skin.
This Moisturizing Facial Balm
Weleda Deep Moisture Facial Balm
So far we’ve talked a lot about cleansers, but this facial balm by Weleda (formerly known as cold cream), is designed to be used after you wash your face to nourish and moisturize even the driest skin. Almond oil, which is rich in fatty acids, helps to replenish the skin while the beeswax acts a barrier, which also makes this a great cream to use during colder months when your skin needs a little more protection.
This Mineral Oil-Free Cold Cream
Kate Somerville Cold Cream Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover
Despite the fact that mineral oil is not inherently pore-clogging, as explained by the chemists, it can still feel a bit heavy on anyone with oily or acne-prone skin. So if you’re all about living a mineral oil-free life, try this cold cream instead. Made with white honey to soothe the skin, sunflower seed oil (an emollient), and glycerin (a humectant), this cold cream is great for moisturizing while removing makeup.
This Vintage-Inspired Cold Cream
Bésame Cold Cream
I can think of no better place to shop for vintage beauty products than from a line of vintage-inspired beauty products. This cold cream from Latinx-owned brand Bésame is another great mineral oil- and fragrance-free option that instead relies on coconut oil and vitamin E to moisturize while melting away makeup.
This Moisturizing and Cleansing Cold Cream
Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser
This inexpensive oil-based cleanser looks like nothing fancy, but it’ll make your skin feel like a million bucks. It’s fragrance-free and relies on a blend of mineral oil, petrolatum, and paraffin to create a balm-like cleanser that dissolves makeup, water-resistant sunscreen—you name it.
This Drugstore Cold Cream
This iconic blue tub needs no introduction, but it might need a little explanation. Some call it a miracle, some call it a La Mer dupe, but here’s what it actually is: a mixture of moisturizing, replenishing, and occlusive ingredients, like mineral oil, petrolatum, glycerin, paraffin, and panthenol, that are especially excellent at restoring super-dry skin.
This Cold Cream Cleanser
Merle Norman Cleansing Cream
Use this cold cream as an oil-based cleanser to break down tough makeup. Like many of the others, this formula relies on mineral oil to do the trick, combined with cocoa butter, paraffin, and beeswax.
This Cleansing Balm
Think of cleansing balms as current-day cold creams (but usually way easier to rinse off). This formula works as a makeup remover and a balm-to-milk cleanser. You can even use it as a moisturizing face mask and leave it on your face for a few minutes before rinsing it away to hydrate your skin.
This Multipurpose Cold Cream
Jergens All-Purpose Face Cream
Sooo, no, this packaging problem isn’t going to win a minimalist award anytime soon. But it’s what on the ~inside~ that counts, right? Made with mineral oil and beeswax, this multipurpose cold cream is said to do it all: remove makeup, moisturize dry skin, act as a barrier to protect your skin, and even prime your face for makeup.
This Cold Cream for Acne-Prone Skin
Noxzema Moisturizing Cleansing Facial Cleanser
Heads up: this formula isn’t the gentlest option—it has menthol that gives it that classic ’90s tingling sensation—so you wouldn’t want to use it to melt away waterproof mascara or budge-proof eyeliners. But If you don’t have sensitive skin and can handle the fragrance, try this cold cream to lightly moisturize your skin with soothing linseed and soybean oils.
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