I Used Pond’s Classic “Cold Cream” Every Day for a Week—Here’s What Happened
One Millennial writer discovered this multitasking classic still does it all for skin. Here's what cosmetics scientists told us about the ingredients.
In an era of choices between serums, masks, cleansing oils and balms, there are few beauty basics that have stood the test of time like Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser has. This iconic skincare product has weaved its way through generations of women who swear by its effectiveness as a makeup remover with hydrating benefits. While I may not have learned about the all-in-one product from someone in my own family tree, it landed on my radar by another iconic matriarch: Dolly Parton.
In a 2021 interview with Refinery29, Parton referred to Pond’s Cold Cream as one of her “old faithfuls.” Naturally, I figured if this nostalgic multi-hyphenate product was good enough to be on Dolly Parton’s shelf, it was certainly worth trying—so I bought myself a jar of the $9 staple and used it in lieu of my regular face wash. As I sit here one week later with visibly dewier skin, I can attest to the hype.
What is cold cream?
The name “cold cream” is derived from the cooling effect that takes place when it’s applied to the skin and the water in the formula evaporates, according to a explainer from PharmaEducation. While the origin of cold cream is credited to Galen, a physician in second century Greece, Pond’s formula dates back to 1846 when Theron T. Pond, a pharmacist from Utica, NY, introduced a witch hazel-based “wonder product” that was later coined as Pond’s Extract.
According to the brand, Pond’s Cold Cream hit shelves more widely in 1905 and was the first moisturizer that didn’t require refrigeration. Since then, Pond’s has become a versatile beauty staple purported to suit even the most sensitive skin types, which the brand attributes in part to its ingredients and its hydrating quality.
Unlike most face cleansers, Pond’s Cold Cream is made up of 50% moisturizer. According to Valerie Plaza, esthetician and owner of Golden Hour Skincare in Austin, TX, the formula’s main ingredient of mineral oil helps make for an effective moisturizer.
Does Pond’s Cold Cream have side effects?
For those who have oily skin (myself included), it might seem counterintuitive to reach for a product heavy with oil. But according to Pond’s, the Cold Cream is suitable for oily, dry, and sensitive skin.
What about the “clean beauty” factor in this near-200-year-old product? For clarity about the safety of Pond’s Cold Cream ingredients in a time when more consumers than ever are concerned about the chemicals in our products, we asked for the opinions of two PhD-level scientists who each spent decades leading research, toxicology testing and product safety at another major manufacturer of consumer cosmetics and personal care products. After reviewing the list of ingredients in Pond’s Cold Cream, here’s what one told us: “All of the ingredients in this product are commonly used materials,” one of these scientists said, adding that companies like Pond’s parent company, Unilever, “conduct testing on products among hundreds and even thousands of people before placing a product in the market as well as a complete safety and toxicology review.” This source also noted that when new safety or toxicology information is available, a manufacturer of this caliber likely “will reformulate products to ensure safety.”
The second scientist we spoke with noted that in fact, these companies “have departments that receive and review consumer comments and monitor for reports of undue health experiences. Analysis of these data are fed back to both the Quality Assurance and the Product Development departments to identify and understand any potential product- or use-related cause that might warrant product or label modification.”
While there aren’t any specific publicly known side effects to using Pond’s Cold Cream, if you experience any irritation or rashes, you’ll want to discontinue use. If the symptoms persist, it may be a good idea to reach out to a licensed healthcare professional.
Can cold cream be used as a moisturizer?
Using the cold cream in my nightly routine proved to be an effective makeup remover. I was impressed by how efficiently it lifted even my toughest eye makeup, waterproof mascara included. But it was the added moisture that took me most by surprise. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the intense feeling of the cream. Since I usually stick with lighter products, I chalked it up to a learning curve.
On a day when I didn’t wear makeup, I decided to apply a thin layer at night and let it absorb as I slept. When I woke up to hydrated skin, sans breakout, I further understood why Pond’s formula has the following it does.
That said, it’s important to take inventory of the way any cold cream influences your skin when being used for the purpose of hydration. “If clogged pores and breakouts develop, it’s time to look for another moisturizer,” says Plaza. Consulting with a dermatologist or licensed esthetician may guide you in the right direction if it’s not a fit for your skin.
Here’s what I learned from using Pond’s Cold Cream for a week
While it’s probably generally safe to use Pond’s d Cold Cream everyday, I found I’m too attached to my arsenal of retinol-packed products to make the swap permanent. Instead, I plan to continue using it as a pre-cleanser in my nightly routine since it removes all traces of makeup with an ease I haven’t experienced in any other remover.
To use the cream cleanser, apply a light layer all over your face with clean, dry hands. Then, massage it in gently and follow by wiping it off with a cotton ball or wipe. To take things a step further, Plaza suggests using a cloth—like The Original MakeUp Eraser—to ensure all of the residue is removed before applying the rest of your skincare regimen.
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