Little Johnny watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream
on her face.
"Why do you do that, Mommy?" he asked.
"To make myself beautiful," said his mother, who then
began removing the cream with a tissue.
"What's the matter?" asked Little Johnny. "Giving up?"
But seriously: the invention of cold cream is attributed to a second
century Greek physician named Galen. The original formula
consisted of olive oil (scented with roses), water, and wax. It is supposedly called cold cream
because of the cool feeling produced by the evaporation of the water
in the mixture as it is rubbed into the skin.
In modern cold cream, mineral oil is usually used instead of olive oil, because the mineral oil doesn't spoil as rapidly. Cold cream
is used to remove makeup, and is readily available at
pharmacies, supermarkets, department stores, etc.
You can also make your own cold cream at home, and if you read the
recipe you'll see another reason why it might be called "cold
cream." To make cold cream, you'll need 4 parts oil (vegetable
or mineral), 1 part beeswax (may cause allergic reactions in some
people), and 4 parts distilled water. You'll also need a double
boiler and a spoon or whisk for stirring the mixture.
Before you start, make sure that your equipment is clean. Place the
oil and beeswax in the top of the double boiler, and heat until the
beeswax is melted. Meanwhile, warm the distilled water in a
separate pan. When the beeswax is melted, remove both the water and
the beeswax/oil mixture from the heat. Using a small spoon or a
dropper, add the water to the beeswax mixture, one drop at a time,
stirring the whole time. Once all the water has been added, stop
mixing and let it settle for a few minutes. Any water that has not
been incorporated into the cream will sink to the bottom, and can be
discarded. Transfer the cream into ice cube trays. Place the ice
cube trays in the freezer until the cream is frozen, then transfer the
cream cubes to an airtight storage container. Cold storage is
necessary because this cream contains no preservatives.
To use, take out a cube each night and put it in a clean jar. Keep
it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight for use the next day. Once
you've taken it out of the freezer, use it within 24 hours.