Sometimes nothing feels better than a hot washcloth over your face, but it’s probably not news to you that very hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, especially when combined with chemical soap. For ladies with oily skin, this drying effect might actually be welcome, but if your skin’s already dry, this stripping effect can be disastrous. The common-sense answer is to wash your skin with water that’s warm or cool, not hot, and for lots of people that works. But for chronically dry skin, or in some areas with super-hard tap water, tight, flaky skin can persist regardless of the water temperature. If you’re already using a cleanser formulated for dry skin and a good moisturizer, turning on the cold tap might seem like your last resort, but did you know that in many parts of the world people cleanse their skin, very successfully, without using water at all?
It’s true — in fact, French women have long avoided wetting their faces with water when it’s not absolutely necessary. In France, conventional wisdom has always warned that washing with water causes wrinkles and aged-looking skin.
So what do they do instead? They cleanse with cold cream, a rich lotion-like mixture that often contains natural skin protectants like beeswax. The French know the stuff as Cérat de Galien, or Galen’s wax, after the 2nd-century Greek physician who invented it. Here in the states, cold cream is just as common, of course, but here, it’s sold as a moisturizer. If your skin is chronically dry, don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Cold cream is an excellent moisturizer, but once applied, its slightly waxy consistency allows it to adhere to dirt and gunk, pulling it off the face when you wipe it away. Meanwhile, the absence of harsh soaps means that your skin’s natural oils stay undisturbed, making this an excellent cleansing, moisturizing and protecting option for those who need an extra boost of moisture.
We’re all so surrounded by advertising for $300-per-ounce serums and cleansers–some of which are worth the price tag for those who care about their skin and can afford it; some of which aren’t worth it for anyone – that it’s always exciting and refreshing to come across a product that can do what you need without emptying your wallet. If cold cream is sounding good to you, you’re in luck – -lots of American brands have made super-affordable, very effective, and wonderful-feeling and -smelling versions available at great prices. Some of our picks:
This formula both protects and moisturizes with beeswax and delivers a skin-boosting dose of essential fatty acids, thanks to sweet almond oil. Beeswax ($9, 1 oz.)
With excellent customer reviews, a gorgeous fragrance including notes of bergamot and Bulgarian rose, and a dainty, old-fashioned package, this product is the perfect thing for ladies who need not only moisture, but also a touch of luxury at a doable price. ($7, 1.69 oz.)
The drug store staple, known as “the cool classic” and a great value for the lovely price tag, Pond’s does the job with traditional ingredients as well as cooling, refreshing cucumber extract. ($5, 3.5 oz.)