It’s been said that Cleopatra would take milk baths to improve the look and feel of her skin. Turns out, she was onto something. Fast forward many centuries later, and the idea of milk as a skin treatment is popular again; however, it doesn’t involve soaking in almonds, oats, or pistachios (keep those for your latte). Today, there are skin milks, specifically formulated to nourish your face and body.
Products like Laneige Cream Skin Toner and Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Milk Treatment were pioneers, launching back in 2019 and 2014 respectively. As of this summer, they have some company — the skin care aisle has started to rival the dairy aisle. Rhode Skin, Chillhouse, and Biologique Recherche all launched milk-inspired products in the second half of 2023. So did By Rosie Jane, Abi Amé, and Milk Made Skin.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum explains that the lightweight texture is the perfect solve for greasy summertime skin. Much like the jelly-texutured products that reigned supreme for a while, milky formulas keep the skin moisturized while still feeling light in peak humidity.
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And besides the fact that these serums, lotions, and toners feel good on your skin, there is also something nurturing about the concept of milk. We saw this with a recent wave of vanilla fragrances. The nose behind Ellis Brooklyn Vanilla Milk scent, Meabh McCurtin, a perfumer at International Flavors & Fragrances, has told Allure, “Milks are having a huge moment as well [for their] comfort level.” It’s what inspired Chillhouse founder Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton to create Alt Milk Bathing Cream. She reiterated that “milk is one of those things that’s very comforting, so it makes sense that people want it in their skin care.”
Here, experts share more about summer’s most popular skin care trend, how to include it in your routine, and our favorite new skin milks your skin is sure to drink up.
What is a Skin Milk?
There is no actual milk in these products — it all comes down to the texture resembling your cereal’s best accessory. Cosmetic chemist Alex Padgett explains that a milky product typically contains both oil and water-soluble ingredients. Together the two “give products barrier nourishing properties,” says Padgett.
Actual milk is known to calm irritation, hence why it’s a remedy for flare-ups like a poison ivy reaction. And milky skin care products have the capacity to do the same. Dr. Nussbaum says, “skin milks are good for sensitive, dry skin and those with compromised skin barriers.” The liquid consistency is light enough to sink into the skin without clogging pores while moisturizing and soothing skin.
As for their unique milky white color, “that’s simply from the emulsification of the water and oils, so there are no color additives needed to achieve the look,” says cosmetic chemist Amanda Lam.
How To Use Skin Milk In Your Routine
Adding a splash of milk to your coffee gives it a smoother texture; the same goes for your skin care routine. If you’re looking for a more gentle and nourishing cleanse a milky face wash is a nice replacement for your everyday gel or foam. Switch out your heavy winter body cream for a lightweight, milky lotion that will keep your skin just as moisturized — without the sticky feeling. Or opt for a milk toner after cleansing for a feel-good prep step before the rest of your skin care routine.
Allure editors have refreshed their summer skin care with new favorites. Sarah Hoffmann, Allure commerce producer, immediately fell in love with Biologique Recherche Lait EV Cleanser for its silky texture that gently removes her makeup and impurities without stripping skin.
Using less than five skin care products in a routine is practically unheard of for a beauty editor, but associate features director Dianna Mazzone recently left the house wearing nothing but the Rhode Skin Glazing Milk (and sunscreen, of course!) on her face. “The milky lotion, which literally looks like spilt milk, has been the first step in my post-cleanse routine for about two weeks now, and my skin has been noticeably more hydrated and less redness-prone ever since,” says Mazzone.
If you love the shine you get from applying a body butter or lotion in the summer, a milky lotion like the By Rosie Jane Calm The F*** Down Body Milk is a refreshing way to keep your body moisturized — minus the greasy feel. “I slather the body milk all over my skin after a post-beach day shower to hydrate my skin while soothing it from a day in the sun,” says Allure associate manager of special projects, Talia Gutierrez.
And long shower lovers can get in on the madness too. A generous scoop of the Chillhouse Alt Milk Bath in the shower (slathered on after body wash) leaves my skin feeling soft enough to skip lotion. You can even drop a dollop into the tub to create a Cleopatra-approved milk bath.
Discover Our Favorite Skin Milks
Chillhouse Alt Milk Bathing Cream
By Rosie Jane Calm The F*** Down Body Milk
$28.00, By Rosie Jane
Rhode Glazing Milk
$29.00, Rhode Skin
Truskin Soothing Cleansing Milk
Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer
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Originally Appeared on Allure