Before I go on, let me just say that milky skin is not a “new” trend by any means. Milk has been part of the beauty zeitgeist for ages—I’m talking centuries. Cleopatra herself has been rumored to frequent milk baths for their skin aging benefits!
Even today, many folks submerge their angry, inflamed skin in a tub of warm milk (goat, cow, coconut, rice, oat, et al.) to soothe, hydrate, and soften the skin.
“Milk is very soothing and conditioning for the skin; that’s why you’ll see a lot of hand soaps, body soaps, and products made with goats’ milk because it is super hydrating,” board-certified and renowned esthetician Caela Bulzing once told mbg. Animal-based milk in particular has natural fats that can help build up the skin barrier and seal in moisture. “In addition, [animal-sourced] milk contains enzymes and lactic acid that can help gently exfoliate dead cells,” says cosmetic chemist Victoria Fu, co-founder of Chemist Confessions.
And similar to those DIY milk soaks, “milky” beauty products tend to have a nourishing, calming feel—and some don’t even use actual milk at all. Today, milky beauty products may speak more to a product’s textural elements than the ingredients inside the goop.
“Milky products tend to be positioned as gentle, soothing products,” says cosmetic chemist and Chemist Confessions co-founder Gloria Lu. “There’s also probably some influence from Asian skincare with milky essences and toners.”
There’s also something about a milky confection that really feels like feeding your skin. After all, milk is what provides us with essential nutrients at birth and supports growth and development. Milk, in a way, is the essence of life.