Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Aheli Sen (Fashion & Beauty Expert)  on 20th Nov 2020

Do Milk Baths Make your Skin Soft? The Science Behind it.

Do Milk Baths Make your Skin Soft?

So what makes milk tick?

 Here is a list of things that milk contains: 

  • Carbohydrates – milk contains about 4.9% carbohydrate. 
  • Fat – milk contains about 3.4% of total fat. 
  • Protein – milk contains 3.3% total protein. 
  • Vitamins – milk contains vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, vitamin C, and folate.
  • Minerals – milk contains phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, selenium, potassium, and zinc. 
  • Enzymes – milk contains a variety of enzymes. 

The plethora of right ingredients that have positive effects on the body is what makes milk tick. It is why a million products have milk in them. 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids 

The star of milk’s composition Alpha Hydroxy Acids or, as is more popularly known, AHAs has shown signs of slowing down signs of aging (through prolonged usage of the same on the skin). AHAs are the thing in the skincare industry as well as the soluble milk drinks industry. It is either sourced naturally from milk or synthesized in labs. It penetrates the topmost layer of skin and sloughs off dead skin cells. AHAs help exfoliate the skin mildly and help the skin rejuvenate. 

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Milk Bath Benefits 

We could sit and make a list of natural ingredients that most FMCG products claim to have in them since we can remember.  

The reason behind adding these ingredients?  

Because historically, these ingredients have been part of the beauty regime for the most beautiful queens.

One of the most recurring ingredients has got to be milk. It is claimed to be in our soap bars, shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, moisturizers, everything.

Let us look at its history 

Ancient times have ushered the use of milk baths, and legendary figures like Cleopatra from Egypt and Poppea Sabina from Rome are the elite who have made milk baths legendary! 

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  • Valeria Messalina’s daily beauty regime included face masks made up of bread soaked in milk. 
  • François I, King of France in 1515, was advised by a doctor from Constantinople to go through a donkey milk treatment after returning from war. 
  • Pauline Bonaparte (1780-1825), Napoleon’s sister, used to enjoy donkey milk baths. The habit was frowned upon as milk was very rare and hard to obtain at the time. To enjoy a truly decadent bath, she had servants make a hole in the ceiling above her bath so that the milk could be poured through it. 

It is clear from both the list of ingredients in milk and the history of milk baths that there are many benefits. Let us look at conditions of the skin that benefit from milk baths. 

Benefits of Milk Bath: 

  • Dry Skin – Milk baths help replenish moisture to dry skin. Milk contains fat, minerals, vitamins, lactic acid, and protein. The fats and the protein helps soothe and soften dry skin. Lactic acid acts as a gentle exfoliator, necessary to shed older skin and smooth out patchy, rough, dry skin. 
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  • Psoriasis – Milk baths help soothe the itchy, flaky, patchy skin of people with psoriasis. 
  • Eczema – Topical application of breast milk helps treat eczema in babies. It soothes the bumpy skin, the rashes, and the irritation caused by eczema. 
  • Poison ivy – Milk baths help soothe the redness, itchiness, and inflammation caused blactic acid
  • Sunburn – The fat, the proteins, the amino acids, and vitamins A and D help calm and soothe sunburnt skin. However, it is only useful when the skin is soaked in a milk bath for more than 20 minutes. 

Ok, important inquiry. There are loads of different types of milk available in the market.  

So which milk does what? 

  • Cow’s milk – the most common dairy available in the market, and which is inexpensive is cow’s milk. It is thus, easy to acquire for baths. Cow’s milk is easy on the wallet too. However, to get the best use out of cow’s milk, the whole or full-fat variant is recommended. 
  • Goat’s Milk – yet, another common variant. It, however, does have a higher butterfat quantity than cow’s milk. It thus gives a creamier feel to the bath. 
  • Buttermilk – it has more lactic acid than other forms of milk. Thus, it has a better exfoliating capacity. 
  • Breast Milk – Instead of dumping unused milk after breast pumping, lactating mothers can put the milk to good use. Both moms and babies can use the milk for their bath. 
  • Nut Milk and Soy Milk – these are the popular variant of milk right now, especially among vegans. They are chemically not at all similar to their animal variants. However, they too, are great for baths. The presence of oils in nuts helps nourish skin, making it soft and supple to touch. 
  • Dry milk – it is used in prepackaged milk bath items. 

How safe are milk baths? 

Milk baths are not for everyone. It might not be safe for a lot of people. Avoid milk baths if you have sensitive skin as the lactic acid in milk may irritate.

It is also best to avoid such baths when one has a high fever.

Pregnant women should also check with their doctors before going in for a milk bath.

It is suggested to leave milk baths if one feels dizzy or ill while in it. 

Tip:

please do not drink the water from a milk bath. It is not safe. It is unhealthy.

Lactose-Intolerance

If you are lactose-intolerant and drinking milk upsets your tummy, you generally can take milk baths safely and sans any problem. You may be unable to digest milk, but it does not bother the skin in most cases.

It is, however, not the same case for those with a milk allergy. Do not take a milk bath if you have a milk allergy.

Coming in contact with milk will mostly cause a reaction, like rash, itches, and hives. Soaking in a tub of milk is not a great idea. 

Milk Bath Ideas: 

If you are making your milk bath at home, all you need to do is pour a few mugs of milk into lukewarm water. Make sure you use full-fat milk instead of low-fat to get the most out of a milk bath.

You can try to put in some bathing salts or baking soda for a slightly more complex bath. Sea salt and Epsom salts can help exfoliate dead skin cells, giving your skin a fresh glow when you are through. The salts also can help in relaxing sore muscles and joints to make you feel refreshed and energized.

Another option is to add ingredients such as oatmeal, corn starch, and rice meal. To get the best out of these ingredients, it is suggested that you mix them in the blender or a bowl and turn them into powder before adding them to the tub.

For an aromatic option, one may include herbs, dried petals, and leaves like tulsi. A lot of essential oils, such as jojoba oil or neroli oil, help to moisturize skin. Still, one should be careful because many essential oils irritate skin & aggravate existing skin conditions.

Fill the tub with water, mix in the ingredients, and let them soak in for about 10 to 15 minutes. One should start by running the water at a higher temperature than one usually would since it will cool down while waiting for the ingredients to blend.

Whatever recipe you decide on, the most important ingredient of a milk bath is, obviously, the milk. Remember, full-fat milk is the best option to get the soft, smooth skin you hope for.