Noxzema #atozchallenge

I’m one of those “pink people”: I have a redhead’s complexion, meaning pale with a tendency to freckle or burn in the sunlight. When I was growing up, we’d spend a lot of time at Hartigan Park (formerly Albion Beach) swimming in Lake Michigan, and since we were typical kids we’d run around with no shirts on all afternoon with the sun beating down on us. More often than not, I would go home with a pretty nasty sunburn, because this was in the days before sunblock and SPF factors, when we used baby oil to help us tan.

Mild sunburns were fairly easy to deal with, but mine were rarely mild. When the burn was so bad that I couldn’t sleep, my mother would come in with the blue jar of Noxzema. She’d smear it all over my back, and it would bring some comfort.

User:Gsaltzman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

Now, if you go to their website and read the FAQ’s, you see this:

Can Noxzema be used to cool sun burned skin?

Over the years Noxzema Original Deep Cleansing Cream has been used for many reasons but we have not tested it for this use. We recommend it to be used as a cleanser that needs to be rinsed off after massaging onto the face.

Kind of a bummer, since when it was first developed by Dr. Francis J. Townsend of Ocean City, Maryland, he did so specifically to treat sunburned people. It had things like camphor, menthol, phenol, and eucalyptus, all of which are good for soothing sunburned skin. The name itself is derived from the phrase “no eczema,” as it was sold as a treatment for that skin condition as well.

Initially the product was sold by the Noxzema Chemical Company, which became Noxell in 1966. Ownership has changed a few times since then, and it’s now manufactured by Unilever, who sees it as a facial scrub, nothing more. It might be good for sunburn or eczema, but they demur at the suggestion that it is.

Noxell also made shaving cream until a few years ago, or at least the company allowed the manufacturer to use the name. It was the subject of a number of popular commercials which ran from 1967 to 1973. They were popular, of course, because of the spokesmodel, the quite lovely former Miss Sweden 1961, Gunilla Knutsson.

The first time my aunt saw this commercial, she said there wasn’t a blade in the razor, or the guy would slice his face to shreds. They should have put a disclaimer on it that said “DO NOT ATTEMPT,” except back in the ’60’s we knew better.

The commercials also made David Rose’s “The Stripper,” which had been a #1 hit for him and his orchestra in 1962, popular again.

Even when the posts aren’t about music, I always manage to work some in…

37 thoughts on “Noxzema #atozchallenge

  1. As soon as I saw your post title, I wondered if you would use that commercial in your post. You did not disappoint. (I still have Noxzema in my bathroom. But the ‘jars’ are plastic now.)

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  2. I use Ingram’s Camphor Cream for sunburn; works like a charm. I’ve never heard of noxzema until now — I checked out the product page and it’s pretty, though I see what you mean about stuff changing.

    Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: More Great Music and Lyrics

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    1. I see by your site that you’re from South Africa, so you probably never came across it. Like me with Ingram’s Camphor Cream; I don’t they sell it in this part of the world. I think camphor was one of the ingredients of the original formula. Maybe that’s why it worked on sunburn so well.

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    1. I haven’t really had much call to use it, to be honest. I don’t spend a lot of time in the sun these days. I do remember Mary burned herself many years ago, and her aunt, who lived across the hall, came over with an aloe leaf and rubbed the gel that forms in the leaf on her burn, and it really helped, so I know aloe is good for burns.

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    1. It’s a fresh scent, not perfumey or anything. Guys can use it without ending up smelling like their grandmothers. It was really good on sunburns, although they don’t want to admit it, or possibly they’ve reformulated it so it isn’t. I’d be willing to chance it…

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  3. Noxema was a staple in our household and I have it still and use it for my face although the jar is plastic now. I think this is much better than all those facial creams sold. I am off this week so I can’t give a write up about Notre Dame which I saw in 1997. I heard 2 of the rose windows are gone but, like Germany after WW2, they can rebuild this. I kind of home you give a little tribute but I will when I am back working since I have no computer at home, just my IPad.

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    1. We’ve been quite upset about the whole Notre Dame incident. Mary saw it when she was in France on a high school trip, and said that the big thing was to go home with a gargoyle. If she ever had one, I haven’t seen it…

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  4. Reading the title of this post I immediately remembered the scent of Noxzema. I knew it was washing your face, but thought it was also for cooling sunburn, so I’m amazed. Huh.

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    1. It’s very good, from what I remember. They might have changed the formulation for making it, but it’s still supposed to be good for cleaning your skin. I’m not sure it’s available outside North America, though.

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  5. My only memory of Noxzema is being envious of my older cousin! She used it as a skin cleaner, supposed at the time to be best for acne. I wasn’t quite old enough for that, but still managed to idolize something a teen had for something teen got!
    I well remember the days of trying to get tan! I know quite a few people who still do. My daughter may look too white in summer, but she has wonderful healthy skin. She also knows how to keep it that way, she’s a licensed esthetician. Number one, protect your skin! She’ll always catching me without sunscreen or a hat when I garden.

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    1. There was a whole series of “Stripper” commercials with Gunilla Knutsson, then they went with another young lovely for the “let Noxzema cream your face” commercials. I posted the ad somewhere here in the comments…

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  6. I burn easily. We kept a jar of Noxema in our refrigerator just for sunburns. I remember some pretty awful blistering. Now I wont go out without the highest SPF and a sun hat.

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    1. Blistering means it’s a second-degree burn. Mom had that one summer. She decided she’d sit out in the sun reading trashy novels and use Bain du Soleil “for the St. Tropez tan,” and instead ended up with blisters that she had to rub some sort of antibiotic cream on for several weeks. It was the last time she did that…

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