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Memories of this old standby always bring me such pain. Pain, you ask? Well, yes, actually. You see, every time I get a whiff of this product, I am immediately returned to those days of yore, so many years ago when as a child, I would come home after a day in the sun, totally burned to a crisp. It was always with Noxzema cream in that familiar deep blue jar with cool light blue and white lettering and designs that my mother would pull out of the medicine chest when she needed to ease my suffering soreness. I can even recall the tune of the ad jingle that touted Nox-ZEE-MA, med-i-cat-ed, COM-FORT cream.
Yes, this was truly a comfort cream for me. You see, back then, sun creams just werent what they are today, and no matter how much was slathered on my pale skin, I would invariably become the victim of those ultra-violet rays. Even today, when I havent any Aloe Vera in the house, Ill turn to his faithfully friendly rich blue pot of potion to soothe the skins of my own offspring.
And theres something very special about this cream, as well. When you open the jar, youll be greeted by a strong combination of scents. The jar will tell you that its a blend of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus. If this sounds almost exactly like Vicks rub, then youd be right. But this isnt meant for clearing your sinuses during a bad cold. Far from it, in fact - even though you might find yourself sniffing this if you run out of Vicks. No, this is primarily for your skin. While Vicks is also a topical product, its used to assist internal symptoms. On the other hand, Noxzema is a topical product for topical problems only. So while the scents may be slightly similar, there is a softer, more powdery or even flowery overtone to this product which Vicks doesnt have. In fact, I actually like the smell of this cream and its medicinal undertones. Call me strange, but thats me.
Furthermore, Noxzema is a lovely product to just look at. Instead of being some goopy, greenish gunk that we associate Vicks with, this has a lovely, creamy, iridescent, almost pearly look to it. In fact, it almost shimmers in the jar. And when you stick your fingers into this cream, you wont have some greasy feel, but rather youll find yourself dipping into something soft, and smooth with an almost fluffy texture - as if someone had made a fragrant velvety mousse out of a mixture of whipped cream and mother of pearl.
The biggest difference between Noxzema and Vicks would be the fact that Vicks is very difficult to wash off - especially if you get it on your bed clothes, but also just from your hands. I think that Vicks has some kind of paraffin in it, which we all know as being a type of wax, and thats what makes it hard to wash off. Noxzema, on the other hand has been specially formulated to be very easy to wash off. It mixes well with water, and can even lather up a bit like a soft soap if you put it on your dampened skin. That means it will rinse off with no problem, despite having two different types of oil in it.
Moreover, when you put this on, youll feel a very cooling element on your skin, practically as if its come right out of the fridge. Im guessing that this sensation is what made the inventor of this lovely stuff believe that it would be best used to help heal burnt skin. Certainly my mother thought so, and Ill never forget the way I felt like Id been slathered with whisked ice when she applied this to my sore arms, legs, shoulders and back.
Today, this is cream is generally best known for its cleansing properties. My husband uses this regularly to clean his face. He has slightly sensitive skin which is also very, very oily. This is one of the few products hes used (hes trying the Lush Coalface right now. Well let you know his results soon, I promise) that has truly kept his greasy skin in check. He hardly ever gets blemishes and while the Noxzema cleans away the bad elements, it also seems to balance the moisture of his face, leaving it soft but not dried out.
On the jar, they instruct you to apply a generous amount of this on wet or dry skin and then to either massage in a circular motion with the tips of your fingers or with a damp flannel. Afterwards, you are told to rinse this thoroughly off of your face. Very simple and the instructions are precisely correct. And although they say you should use a generous amount of this, the 170g jar seems to last and last. If youre as careful as we are to put sunscreen on yourselves and your family, youll find that a jar of this, despite the generally high cost (see technical stuff below), can last you for years. You may only buy a new one just because the old jar has begun to look a bit ratty. I know we did that once.
What more can you ask for? Well, the jar doesnt tell you about using it on burns, so I will instead. If you put this on your sun-burnt skin, youll find that it almost melts into the reddened areas. The pearly colour of the product will help you easily see which areas youve covered, and which still need to be taken care of. The whipped texture will cushion any pressure you may accidentally apply. Finally, the chilly feel of this will start easing the heat from the burn the moment it touches your irritated skin.
My mother used to put a thick layer of this on us at night and then cover us loosely with a light-weight sheet. In the morning, she would wash the excess off with cool water and a very soft sponge. By that time, the skin would be much more touchable, and then she would smooth more of this into our skin. If the burn was really bad, shed take us to the doctor. If it was manageable, shed just do this over again the next night. By the morning of the second day, most of the redness would usually have passed and wed keep putting this on to keep the peeling of the dead skin to a minimum.
I realize that you in the UK may not really need all this information for your own climate, but in case you ever go on holiday somewhere with strong sun, you might think of picking up a jar of Noxzema cream just in case. And if you have really oily skin on your face that youve had trouble controlling, this really is a product you might want to give a try. Whats more, I sometimes have tiny patches of eczema that show up behind my ears or in other strange places on my body, like above one eyebrow or on the back of my upper arm. If I use Noxzema on them for a day or two, they go away completely.
Pretty amazing stuff, no? Well, I think so, and thats why, in conclusion, I would wholeheartedly say that this is one product that belongs on everyones shelf. Theres no way I could give this product any less than the full five stars - even if some people might mark it down for its relatively high price (but it lasts and lasts, and I think its cheaper per gram than the Coalface soap) or its fairly medicinal scent (which I happen to like), I cannot in all honesty do this. No, for me, this product is a 5/5 and as the title of this op indicates, for me it really is a Positively Painfully Perfect Product!
Thanks for reading.
Davida Chazan © November 2002, updated June 2006
I found that the 170g version of this product is available at Auravita (http://www.auravita.com) for £8.87. We usually get this when we go to the US at large chemists like Osco Drugs for about $3.50 for the large jar. Weve also purchased this in a 70g trial size jar, which cost just about $1. And now they seem to package this in flat pump bottles as well as the familiar round jars. Plus, they now have formulas of this cream with added moisturizers as well as another for sensitive skin, and special cleansing pads.
The official website for this product can be found at http://www.noxzema.com/ where youll be able to find information about all of their present product line.
Noxzema products are produced in the UK by Proctor & Gamble UK, St Nicholas Avenue, Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE99 1EL, phone +44 (0) 1932 896000, Website Address: http://www.uk.pg.com/products/products/noxzema.html/.
Tiny bit of trivia: in 1914 a pharmacist George Bunting in Baltimore started making this cream as a sunburn remedy. The product name changed to Noxzema when customer exclaimed, Your cream really knocked my eczema!
(Ingredients for those who may have any allergies: Water, stearic acid, linseed oil, soybean oil, fragrance, ammonium hydroxide, camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, propylene glycol, gelatin, calcium hydroxide.)
Use greaseless Noxzema instead of soap, every time you wash / Deep cleans and dissolves oil, but won't overdry your skin /