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.
Meet the experts:
- Dr. Marnie Nussbaum is an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist
- Alex Padgett is a cosmetic chemist in Dallas, Texas
- Amanda Lam is a cosmetic chemist in Brooklyn, New York
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.