Thursday, February 6, 2014

What I might end up being known for: finally, the recipe

We conclude our saga, and giving full credit where it's due, we try a recipe for homemade cérat du Galien, Galen's wax or cold cream

If you wish to follow up on this little, this positively Lilliputian (Boswellian?) matter, if you want to achieve true cold cream geekiness, you may do so by surfing the net for websites which actually are devoted to makeup and makeup reviews -- and reviews of products that remove makeup. While embarked on this sub-project I found someone who knows more about the nice chemists at Pond's than I do, but whose information confirms my suspicions, and frightens me a bit, too. Hear this, dated 9/11/09 from

"However, I am disappointed that Pond's reformulated the product by adding toxic ingredients like the preservative DMDM Hydantoin. The upside of this change is that the original Pond's cold cream is still manufactured." [Aside: this information from 2009 is no longer true as far as I know.] "You just have to look harder. My local drugstore has it while one major drugstore carried the new reformulated one. Good luck!"

I can't tell what is more extraordinary, this confirmation that I'm not crazy, or the news of toxicity in my Pond's, -- or other reviewers' complaints about the cold cream's intense, "been around for decades," "granny" smell. "I despise the smell of roses," one woman huffed.

Really? It still contains Galen's roses? I almost think I'm better off not noticing them, rather than being such a poor soul as to dislike them. Meanwhile, it's almost time for my nightly ritual. Bring on the DMDM Hydantoin.


And that is the end of My Pond's Cold Cream Saga, the one piece of writing in my entire career that has garnered the most response. You remember we began by discussing Biography Syndrome, and wondering what we might end up being known for. The writer always hopes that, if it must be just one thing -- and this age of the internet and instant self-publishing certainly has rendered the breadth of competition more appalling than in any previous era -- then, one hopes, that thing will be really valuable, maybe even dignified. But we also remember Flannery O'Connor's quote: you can choose what to write about, but not what you will make come alive. And so -- gad -- as for making things come alive -- gad. This?

I promised you the recipe long since. Here it is, from very busy women at websites like Makeup Alley, Jillee, and Beauty Bottle, who don't bother their heads about all This.

Homemade Cold Cream

1/4 teaspoon borax
1/4 cup distilled water
1/2 cup mineral oil, or another oil that is liquid at room temperature (Almond is nice)
1/2 ounce (by weight) grated beeswax**(see below)

"Dissolve the borax in the water in a (one cup) glass measuring cup. Set aside. [Women who want a fragrant cream say that they add something nice to the water and borax at this point. A fruit infused tea bag, for example. Or, they simply use rose water.]

"Dump together the oil and beeswax in a larger (2-cup) glass measuring cup.

"Heat the oil/beeswax mix in a microwave until the beeswax is melted in and the mixture is clear.

"Heat the borax/water mix in a microwave for a minute - almost to boiling.

"Slowly pour the borax/water mixture into the oil/beeswax mixture, using a stick blender [immersion blender] to mix as you pour. Now beat well with the stick blender until the mix is glossy white and thickened up some. [Again, women looking for fragrance can add a few drops of an essential oil here. Rose is traditional but hugely expensive.]

"Pour the (hot) cold cream into an 8-ounce jar with a lid.

"Let it cool to room temperature.

"NOTE: If you don't have a stick blender you can beat the cold cream with a whisk or in a regular blender, but the cleanup will be much more difficult. By using glass measuring cups and a stick blender you will be able to simply wipe most of the excess off with paper towels, then wash in hot soapy water. Cleaning plastic measuring cups, and a whisk or (worse yet) a blender of this wax-containing product is difficult and a pain in the neck."

One last tiny, tiny P.S. If you are the enchanting blogger Vixen Vintage, and already are supermodel- gorgeous with skin that cannot be described in terms of pearls, alabaster, milk, or velvet because those words are laughably inadequate, then the nice manufacturers of boutique cold creams may simply send you samples to blog about. One is called Queenie May and looks divine. Its cost, though ($47 for a 4 ounce jar) helps explain why some people make their own and keep it in a plastic container in the fridge.

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