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Skin Science

Why milk baths are an age-old secret to happy skin

A woman soaks in one of many types of milk baths among floating flower petals.
Liz Thompson
Liz Thompson October, 25, 2019

Freelance writer, green beauty expert, coffee drinker, beach bum wannabe

A nice, long soak in a hot bath is an amazing way to de-stress and indulge the senses. But have you ever bathed in milk? Enjoying milk baths is a great way to support silky, glowing skin all over your body.

While this may sound unusual, it's certainly not new! Milk baths have been a favorite of skincare fanatics since ancient times. Even Cleopatra is said to have been an enthusiast, soaking in donkey's milk to maintain her supple, radiant skin.

The modern milk bath is definitely more refined (and smells way better), but one thing's the same — it still offers incredible results for skin. Here's what you should know.

What makes milk worth bathing in?

Milk baths are way more luxurious than they may sound. This sumptuous self-care ritual is used to soften, smooth and hydrate skin with a decadent blend of natural ingredients. Forget the sour donkey milk of Cleopatra's era. Today, you can select a bath made with pretty much any type of milk you choose!

Each kind of milk contains its own unique characteristics and active properties. However, they can all result in healthier-looking skin. Here are six different types of milk baths to try the next time you need an all-over pick-me-up.

1. Whole milk
Healthy fats found in cow's milk can help soothe skin, making it perfect for inflammation, irritation and sunburn. Milk also contains lactic acid — a natural alpha hydroxy acid that gently sloughs away dry, dead skin cells — making it an ideal exfoliant for sensitive skin on both the face and body.

Coconut fruit and milk splash inside it on a background of a palm tree.2. Coconut milk
The vitamin C in coconut milk can help support healthy collagen production and reduce the appearance of sun damage. It also offers a cooling and soothing sensation that infuses skin with light hydration.

3. Buttermilk
In addition to its exfoliating properties, lactic acid can also be effective at brightening skin — which is why buttermilk is another stellar milk bath ingredient. This fermented liquid can help even out skin tone and diminish the appearance of dark spots and discoloration.

4. Goat milk
Rich in vitamin A, goat milk can help reduce signs of sun damage and aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. On top of that, this milk can also be beneficial in addressing signs of acne.

5. Rice milk
Exceptionally lightweight and gentle on skin, rice milk holds tons of healthy milk benefits that can result in skin with a naturally boosted glow. This beauty industry staple also leaves skin looking seriously smooth and youthful!

6. Soy milk
Packed with phytochemicals ready to fight free radicals that prematurely age and damage skin, soy milk is a true champion in helping reduce redness, smoothing skin texture and reducing wrinkles.

Special additions for next-level milk baths

All of those benefits may seem like reason enough to use a milk bath, but the advantages don't stop there! You can make your bath even more effective by adding just a few more ingredients.

For instance, sea salt is sometimes added to moisturize skin and strengthen the skin barrier. To calm irritation, try a bath that delivers the soothing properties of oatmeal.

Looking for a bath that will wake up your skin but calm your mind? Draw yourself a milk bath made with lavender and other floral ingredients to restore balance to both your skin and senses. When your skin is feeling extra dry, a milk bath with honey for softening and moisturization is heavenly.

To put all of these special ingredients together, sprinkle a bit into the tub under running water and pour a cup or two of your chosen milk into the tub until the water looks cloudy and inviting. Stir your spa-worthy creation together to disperse it all, then slowly climb in and enjoy. On a smaller scale, you can enjoy the restorative effects of a milk bath on your face, elbows or any other part of your skin by soaking a soft cloth in the mixture and applying to the area.

Your regular self-care routine deserves a dose of luxury. A peaceful soak — that also happens to bring out gorgeous, healthy skin — can work wonders for your mind and body. So go ahead, treat yourself like Egyptian royalty!

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