Penelope Cruz is responsible for outing me. The sultry celebrity, who appears in the new Woody Allen movie To Rome With Love, has revealed a beauty secret that prompts me to make a confession. Despite all I have learned about ingredients and my access to some pretty sophisticated products, I am, like Ms. Cruz, a devotee of Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream ($25).

When asked about her beauty secrets, Penelope Cruz said: “I’m the wrong person, because every day when I’m not working, I don’t wear makeup. I like messy hair, and I wear jeans and a big T-shirt. If I could, I’d be barefoot in the street.” In this context, it isn’t surprising that her go-to should be the multitasking Eight Hour Cream. And I mean multitasking.

More of a gel than a cream, Elizabeth Arden supposedly developed it for the legs of her (thoroughbred, of course) horses back in the 1930s. Eight Hour Cream’s formula was one of the first ever uses of beta hydroxy (salicylic acid) and it hasn’t changed since.  There are so many things that I would normally pass on – mineral oil (pore clogging), lanolin (an irritant), BHT, linalool, and a paraben (all possibly carcinogenic) -  that it is, frankly embarrassing to admit that I always have a tube on standby.

But here’s the thing, Eight Hour is handy, nea indispensable, for so many things:

1. Zapping zits

2. Soothing sunburn

3. Dabbing on insect (especially mosquito) bites

4. Nourishing jet-lagged skin – British Airways Flight attendants swear by Eight Hour Cream (warning: this is a gel, not a cream and slathering it all over your face during a long flight really does work but you will look and feel like a burn victim)

5. Moisturzing, like nothing else, brittle nails

6. Soothing chapped lips

7. In a pinch, it even works as a hair gel

8. Healing (according to Arden legend, in a mere eight hours) scratches and scrapes

See, indispensable. And, anyway, it seems I’m in pretty good company.

Ingredients: Petrolatum (56.8%), Lanolin, Mineral Oil, Tocopherol, BHT, Salicylic Acid, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil (Castor), Vegetable Oil, Zea Mays Oil (Corn), Fragrance, Citral, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Propylparaben, Iron Oxides