The History of Cold Cream

cold cream


What is a cold cream?  Historically it was a mixture of a natural plant oil, beeswax and floral water used to nourish and cleanse the skin. The first cold cream is attributed to the Roman physician Galen (CE 150) who made a basic emulsion by mixing rose-water with beeswax and olive oil. Vegetable oils in these emulsions would deteriorate when mixed with water, so early forms were not long-lasting. Their short shelf life meant that cold creams were purchased in small quantities, freshly made up by a local pharmacist.

For centuries, prominent society ladies, noted for their exquisite skin and complexions, used cold cream.

In the second half of the nineteenth century cold cream was manufactured on an industrial scale.  Natural oils were replaced with cheaper, more stable petrolatum and mineral oil and borax was added to ensure emulsion.

Cold creams formed the basis of early beauty regimes developed by Pond’s, Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein and others.

By the 1920’s the all-purpose nature of the original cold cream, which had been its strength, was also its weakness. Keep in mind, natural plant oil based creams like the first cold cream, had long since disappeared.  It wasn’t long  before the recognition of the skin’s need for nutritive ingredients which petroleum products could not provide, lead to the proliferation of skin creams containing ‘beneficial additives’. Manufacturers began adding things like lanolin to cold creams, allowing them to make claims that these creams had ‘nutritive’ value.  Additionally, the development and marketing of detergent based cleansers reduced the appeal of cold creams as facial cleansers and petroleum-based moisturizer, filled with ‘beneficial additives’ finally took their place completely.

Today, thanks to the efforts of green cosmetic chemists consumers once again have come to recognize that formulas akin to the original cold creams, those rich in natural oils and beeswax, nourish and protected the skin and are far superior to their industrial counterparts. Likewise, they are superior to drying detergent based cleansers and petroleum based moisturizers which, thanks to those early marketing efforts, still dominate the shelves today.

We encourage you to try our unique formulas which are wonderful blends of ancient cold cream magic and modern-day science.  Like everything else we create they are 100 percent natural and highly effective.

Your skin, and the environment, will thank you.



Ayer, A. G. (Ed.). (1890). Facts for ladies. Chicago: Any G. Ayer.

Jellinek, J. S. (1970). Formulation and function of cosmetics (G. L. Fenton, Trans.). New York: Wiley-Interscience.

Phillips, M. C. (1934). Skin deep: The truth about beauty aids. New York: Garden City Publishing.

Schlossman, M. L. (Ed.). (2009). The chemistry and manufacture of cosmetics (4th ed., Vol. II). Carol Stream, Il: Allured Publishing Corporation.

Verni, M. (1946). Modern beauty culture (2nd ed.). London: New Era Publishing.

Sagarin, E. (Ed.). (1957). Cosmetics: Science and technology. New York: Interscience Publishers, Inc.

Schlossman, M. L. (Ed.). (2009). The chemistry and manufacture of cosmetics (4th ed., Vol. II). Carol Stream, Il: Allured Publishing Corporation.

Thomssen, B. S. (1947). Modern cosmetics (3rd ed.). New York: Drug & Cosmetic Industry.




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