by Carol MacGuineas

Maybe Albolene is 75 years old, maybe 100," explained Susan Linz of Norcliff-Thayer Inc., the Tuckahoe, N.Y., company that makes this moisturizer and cleansing concentrate. "We just know it's ancient."

Certainly this American product has been around for a long time. Developed for cleaning newborn babies, Albolene liquifying cleanser contains mineral oil, paraffin and petrolatum, which seals moisture into the skin. To remove makeup, dirt and pollution from our less-than-pristine environment, wash on Albolene--it liquifies on contact with the skin--then wipe the product off with tissues or a towel. Persons with particularly dry skin may even leave a bit as an overnight moisturizer--the product contains no water.

Actors have traditionally used Albolene to take off their thick oil-base stage makeup. Athletes use it too: boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier are said to have bought immense quantities. Slathered on during training sessions, Albolene both protects the skin against bleeding from the friction of the sparring partner's glove and, because it seals the skin, promotes an increase in perspiration. It comes in both scented and unscented versions.

You could even try it as a lubricant on a squeaky door hinge.

Albolene. 6-ounce jar, $2.64; 12-ounce jar, $4.39. At Tschiffely Brothers, 1315 Connecticut Ave. NW (331-7176 and other drugstores.