One thing I didn’t count on when I moved 700 km across the province was that the sun is noticeably stronger here in southwestern Ontario than it was in Ottawa.  Because of this, I’ve been wearing heavier sunscreens more often. 

And had resulting breakouts.


Many of the ingredients in the old familiar Noxzema are great for your skin.

Off I went to the drugstore to find something to help me deal with the zits.  I scanned a shelf packed with products for teens, products for adults, gels, creams, bars, tubes, bottles and jars and finally my eyes settled on the old familiar blue jar labelled Noxzema. The product was first developed in 1914 by Dr. George Bunting as a sunburn remedy.  At the time, it was lighter and gentler on skin than other products on the market and the name came about because a satisfied customer told Dr. Bunting that the product “knocked out” his eczema. 

Despite the negative rap that the product gets in some quarters, many of the ingredients used in its composition have antibacterial, antseptic and antimicrobial properties.  These include camphor oil, eucalyptus oil, clove oil and menthol (which also reduces itching). 

One of the things I like best about Noxzema, in addition to the low price, is the fact that it doesn’t strip my skin to the point of feeling bone dry.  If this doesn’t agree with you, a mild toner, maybe one from the Noxzema line, would be a good follow-up to the cream cleanser. 

After my success with my old standby product, I asked some friends and relatives which products they’ve used for years and wouldn’t part with. 

My aunt Elizabeth sells Mary Kay cosmetics now, but she won’t part with two products from Elizabeth Arden -- 8 Hour Cream and Blue Grass fragrance.  8 Hour Cream has been sold for over 50 years.  It contains petroleum jelly, mineral oil AND lanolin, so it should never be worn on the face, but it’s one of those amazing hand creams that several generations of women have sworn by. 

Blue Grass perfume is one of those quiet classics that sells consistently year after year, without promotion.  One whiff of it reminds me of my aunt instantly.  Today, it would be classed as a “green” fragrance with its citrus and grassy top notes, fading to a floral of Lily of the Valley, Rose Geranium, Hyacinth and Jasmine. 

My friend Lili still faithfully uses the Clinique Three-Step Cleansing Solution -- bar soap, mild toner and Dramatically Different Lotion.  These products, which have been around for almost 40 years, can be used separately, despite their promotion as a complete system. 

The soap lathers well, is almost-scent-free and is quite mild.  There is an “extra-strength” version as well, designed for acne-prone skin.  Lili skips the toner step from time to time, but this product does seem to have changed since we first met 27 years ago to contain little to no alcohol, which is kinder for all skin types. 

The Dramatically Different Lotion is a bit light for our mature skin these days, but it is a great light moisturizer for those with acne-prone skin.  Remember, just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean you should skip the moisturizer stage.  All skin needs moisture. 

One other old standby that everyone mentioned was petroleum jelly -- aka Vaseline.

First developed in the late 1800s, Vaseline is an oil by-product that is refined into a thick paste.  While scientific testing has shown that it has no curative powers itself, the gel is highly effective as a moisture barrier.  It is used on burn patients, for example, to prevent germs from getting into their skin.  And the rest of us can use it on cracked heels, scaly elbows and chapped lips. 

The next time you’re considering a pricey new product, take a step back and consider visiting an old friend instead.  You may find something just as effective, at a price your wallet will love.