Even superstars like Madonna need Sudocrem wonder balm occasionally

Tanya Sweeney: The iconic grey jar is beloved by other celebrities including Rita Ora and Amanda Holden

The media appear to be constantly amazed at the lengths that 62-year-old Madonna will go to in order to hold back the tides of time. Column inches galore have been dedicated to her penchant for innovative Japanese “skin technology”, not to mention the launch of her own spendy MDNA skincare line.

In one recent Instagram post, Madonna also appears to be picking at her face with a fork (a procedure she claims tightens the skin. Something to do with microcurrents).

Yet Irish fans were recently amazed to find a €2 Irish beauty icon on the shelf of her home. As Madonna posted new photos to Twitter, a familiar-looking tub of humble Sudocrem took pride of place in her bathroom. Even pop royalty, it would seem, needs the spot-zapping/Eczema-clearing wonder balm from time to time.

The iconic grey jar is beloved of other celebrities: Girls Aloud's Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl Cole are said to be fans, as is presenter Amanda Holden. Actress Daisy Ridley, singer Rita Ora and fashion designer Victoria Beckham have also declared themselves as enthusiastic users. One appearance on The Only Way Is Essex, in which it was recommended to one cast member as an acne cure, saw sales in one chemist chain increase almost overnight by 150 per cent.


Not that Sudocrem needs any profile-boosting endorsement from Her Madgesty, for it has been a household staple in Ireland for 90 years. Now sold in over 40 countries, Sudocrem is thought to sell around 34.5 million pots globally every year.

Its provenance belies its popularity, created as it was back in 1931. Thomas Smith, a professor of pharmacy and a retail pharmacist in Dublin, created the cream in the back of his shop at 1 Old Cabra Road and originally packaged it in glass jars. He moved his operation to a larger premises in Baldoyle in the 1940s, owing to Sudocrem’s ever-growing popularity.

The wonder balm was originally called Smith’s Cream, and later it was changed to Soothing Cream. In case you’re wondering where the name Sudocrem came from – it came about in the 1950s as this is how Dubliners pronounced it (say it out loud). Only one country has thought to change the original name: in Belgium, it’s sold under the name Dermocrem.

In an initiative that was a brainchild of Smith’s son Brendan, samples were handed out to new mums in 1960s Ireland, which goes some way towards explaining how Sudocrem became synonymous with parenting. Proving himself something of a marketing mastermind, Brendan would scour local papers for birth announcements, and send out sample creams to the mothers he found on the list.

If ever a user wrote to Sudocrem to complain about the product, Brendan would reportedly visit the family personally to discuss in more depth exactly what their misgivings were.

In 2015, Allergan pharmaceuticals, the parent company of Sudocrem, was bought by pharma giants Actavis for €53 billion (Allergan is also the company behind Botox). It may no longer be part of a small family business, but the cream is still created and shipped from Baldoyle to this day.