Galen’s Cold Cream Recipe

This cold cream recipe with a long history of use not only softens skin, but can be used as an end-of-day makeup remover.

From “Natural Beauty from the Garden”
Winter 2019

  • Skin-cleansing cold cream is one of the oldest cosmetic recipes still in use today.
    Photo by Getty Images/robertprzybysz

Yield: Yields 8 ounces

Cold cream, developed by the Greek physician Galen during the second century, has two beauty staples: rosewater and olive oil. It’s probably one of the oldest cosmetic recipes still in use today. Ancient Greeks enjoyed the coolness of the cream against their skin, an effect created as the rosewater in the cream evaporated — the reason for its name, “cold cream.” Today, women use this heavy cream to remove makeup and keep their skin clean and soft. For an unscented product, just substitute distilled water for the rosewater.


  • 1/8 teaspoon borax powder
  • 1/4 cup rosewater or distilled water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated beeswax


Combine the borax powder and rosewater in a heat-resistant bowl. Set aside to dissolve.

In another heat-resistant bowl, or in the top of a double boiler, mix together the olive oil and beeswax, and heat gently until the wax mixture is just melted. Remove from heat, and stir until the beeswax is completely melted and thoroughly mixed with the oil.

In a saucepan on the stove, or a glass bowl in the microwave, heat the borax mixture to warm, but don’t boil.

Slowly add the borax mixture to the oil mixture, stirring briskly. You can also do this in a blender, adding the borax mixture to the oil in a slow, steady stream, and then blending on medium-high until combined.

Pour the warm cream into a clean container, and allow it to cool completely. It will thicken as it cools.

To Use: Massage a small amount into your skin, and then tissue off or rinse off with warm water.

For more homemade skin care, see:

 Excerpted from Natural Beauty from the Garden by Janice Cox, published by Ogden Publications, 2018.

Natural Beauty From the Garden

DIY Projects

With more than 200 recipes, such as the Alpine Strawberry Mask or Turkish Face Wash, you are sure to find one or many that fit your needs. The best part of it all is that the ingredients are natural (such as cucumbers, sunflowers, and geraniums). With easy-to-find ingredients and fun-to-make recipes, this book will show you how natural is better when it comes to body, bath, and hair care. Order from the Capper’s Farmer Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

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