Ode to Cold Cream

Ode to Cold Cream

A pharmacy in Italy. That’s where I spotted a jar of something called “skin cleansing balm.” I’m a sucker for potions, lotions and unguents — especially in foreign countries. So of course, I bought it. It even came with a cunning little cloth…(read the full article on Medium.com here.)

I used it on my face, carefully following the instructions to rub in circular motions, then remove with the special cloth. My skin hadn’t felt this good since…

Wait! Wasn’t this just cold cream?

That’s right. My skin hadn’t felt better since I was regularly cleansing with cold cream. My mother taught me how. The instructions on the Italian skin balm could have been written by my mom in 1982.

Same kinda thing happened the time I was appreciating the fit of my pants over Spanx and suddenly thought, “Am I actually wearing a girdle?” Yes, I was. Albeit one with a marginally kinky name.

And let’s not forget a Silicon Valley company that accidentally reinvented the city bus.

Now, humble cold cream is back with a fancy new title and is the hottest thing since sliced bread — with dozens of brands jumping on the skin-balm band wagon, some costing as much as $80/jar.

Sliced bread, by the way, might be the next product tee’d up for reinvention under a different name. I propose, “pre-carved yeast-leavened wheatloaf.”

What happened to cold cream, anyway? It worked great and was not offensive. Not like girdles.

I recall some hullabaloo in the 80s about mineral oil being the excreta of Satan. We were told it clogged pores and it was removed from everything, new labels trumpeting, “No mineral oil.” Now, the most popular (and expensive) skin balms contain mineral oil, euphemized as “paraffinum liquidum.”

That’s because all the bad press about mineral oil was plain wrong. Mineral oil does not clog pores. Its molecular size is simply too big to get into pores. It does an awesome job cleansing skin. And it’s the ingredient least likely to irritate sensitive skin. Sure, it’s a petroleum product. But, really, weighed against cars and planes, does it make sense to object to a 100 ml jar? Also, fan-fave coconut oil is no environmental saint.

So, it seems a vast anti-mineral oil conspiracy doomed poor old 3-dollar cold cream. Probably in favor of some ingredient backed by a D.C. lobbying firm.

Don’t get me wrong, dear cold cream. I’m glad you’re back.

Just wish we hadn’t gone through decades of Cambridge-Analytica-grade disinformation about mineral oil. Only to have some clever company figure out how to re-market cold cream to women at 25 times the price.



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