Milk For Skin: 3 Ways To Nourish Your Body From The Outside In

As a tiny baby, your body’s first taste of nourishment didn’t come from food. It came from milk, that fortifying beverage associated with nourishment, groundedness, and indulgence.    

Milk is one of nature's greatest dietary inventions, whether from an almond or a cow. Dairy and milk alternatives are chock full of nutrients and fats that fuel humans worldwide. But milk is more than just a nutritional powerhouse, and those who’ve seen the ingredient crop up in skincare products may wonder: Is milk good for your skin?

Yes. Milk has been used for millennia to soothe, soften, and rejuvenate skin, with beauty queens by the likes of Cleopatra making it a regular part of their skincare regimens. 

Here, we discuss the unique skincare benefits you can derive from nature’s most nourishing ingredient—and three indulgent ways to create your own dreamy skincare ritual at home.

Why is Milk Used in Skincare?

From milk bubble baths to milk spot treatments, people have been experimenting with milk’s cosmetic and therapeutic benefits for ages. Yet the science behind these properties has only recently come to light. Evidence suggests that milk owes its rejuvenating, fortifying effects on skin to two constituents: lactic acid and vitamin D.

Lactic acid

Exfoliation is an essential step in beauty routines for all skin types. Exfoliating helps ward off dullness and embrace its glow by removing dead skin cells. For many, it’s tempting to reach for products like soap scrubs and chemical masks to get the job done—but dermatologists agree these formulas can often do more harm than good.

Many exfoliants contain harsh chemical formulas or abrasive additives like walnuts which can backfire and damage a once healthy skin barrier, expunging more than dead skin cells, scratching the skin’s surface, and potentially catalyzing signs of aging. 

The antidote? Gentler, effective, nature-made exfoliants like one of milk’s defining components: lactic acid.

Lactic acid works as a natural, mild exfoliant on the skin. Lactic acid is a kind of AHA, or alpha hydroxy acid, which gently promotes shedding in the skin’s uppermost layers. Used regularly, AHAs like lactic acid has been shown to encourage:

  • Brighter, more even skin tone
  • Smoother skin texture
  • Less congestion of the pores
  • Visible improvement in wrinkles and fine lines
  • Improved skin elasticity
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Vitamin D

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is an essential nutrient created by our bodies through sunlight exposure and diet. It’s chiefly found in dairy and fortified plant-based milk. Known as a necessary vitamin behind a high-functioning immune system and bone health, vitamin D is also a powerful skin ally. 

In the world of skincare, vitamin D has been associated with:1

  • Soothing inflammation
  • Protecting against sun damage and pollutants
  • Boosting skin cell turnover and new skin cell growth
  • Combating aging brought on by free radical damage2

Coupled with the enviable cosmetic benefits brought by lactic acid, milk’s ample vitamin D content encourages skin health from the inside out. It’s also a powerful antidote to highly sensitive or sun-damaged skin and an excellent ingredient to double down on when skin is in recovery mode.

Is Milk Good for Skin if It’s Non-Dairy?

If you follow a vegan lifestyle, are lactose intolerant, or choose to avoid milk products derived from cows for any reason, you’re in luck. Many non-dairy milk options can be just as soothing and effective as a skincare ingredient. 

Any of the following alternative milks can bring the same bounty of skin benefits to the table:

  • Goat milk
  • Sheep milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Oat milk
  • Coconut milk

Whether animal-based or plant-based, all varieties of milk are a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that support your body from the inside and outside.

3 Luxe Ways to Use Milk For Skincare Routines

Thanks to its ultra-soothing properties, milk can be incorporated into nearly every step of your skin or self-care routine. Whether you indulge in a once-a-week full body care treatment or want to make gentle, effective exfoliation a staple of your everyday ritual, here are three ways to get the most out of this age-old ingredient from head to toe.3

#1 A Skin-Soothing Milk Bath

If you’re looking for a luxurious way to nourish your body and mind after a long week, taking a soak infused with milk is one of the best ways to exfoliate and indulge milk's intrinsic soothing properties tenderly.

To experience the many benefits of bathing in milk, we recommend turning down the lights, lighting a candle or two, and recreating this ancient ritual like so:

  1. Draw your bath – Begin to draw a bath of warm or hot water and wait until the water reaches the ¼ mark. When the water reaches that threshold, pour in 1 to 2 cups of your chosen milk or a milk-based bubble bath. Stir gently with your hands to froth and agitate.
  2. Customize your aromatics – Adding a layer of aromatherapy can ramp up the mental and emotional release that baths are scientifically proven to encourage.4 Choose a scented candle to unwind with or a dash of aromatics like lavender (for calm), jasmine (for uplift), or eucalyptus (for clarity and deep breathing). Avoid adding more than 3 to 5 drops of essential oil.
  3. Soak it in – Once your bathtub is full, indulge. Soak for at least 20 minutes or until you’re ready to get up.
  4. Rinse it off – When you’re ready to drain the bath, give your body and the tub a rinse to remove any remaining milk coating your body or the bathtub. To help wash away any excess prior to stepping out of the tub, be sure to lather Archipelago’s Milk Body Wash to cleanse and nourish your skin.
  5. Restore hydration – Replenish your skin post-exfoliation with a healthy coat of your favorite, most luxurious lotion. For a milk-infused body lotion, look to Archipelago’s Oat Milk Body Lotion or Soy Milk Body Lotion to help lock in hydration following your bubble bath. To ramp up the at-home spa day ambiance, let your moisturizer soak in by swaddling yourself in your coziest robe.

A milk bath ritual is said to be the secret to Cleopatra’s youthful, supple skin, though historians suggest that her milk bath of choice was slightly more unsavory. 

As it turns out, the Egyptian queen preferred to bathe in soured donkey milk, believing it to hold more powerful rejuvenating properties. Fortunately for us moderns, today’s AHAs are shown to be much more effective for skin than milk that’s well past its expiration date.5

#2 A Rich, Luminizing Facial

Most complexions are better served by using gentler, natural exfoliants on a natural basis—making milk’s lactic acid-packed formula a perfect contender for the role. To combat flakiness and dullness and restore radiance to the skin, we recommend weaving this skin-kind exfoliating facial into your weekly routine:

  1. Cleanse – Begin by cleansing your face, neck, and decolletage with a gentle, low-foaming facial cleanser. Rinse.
  2. Exfoliate – Next, opt for a milk-infused skin cleanser. The gentle exfoliating properties of lactic acid will help clear up dead skin cells resting on the skin’s surface without damaging your complexion with harsh abrasives.6
  3. Nourish – With a clean, newly supple canvas, choose a cooling, milk-based mask to apply and let soak into your face and neck for 15 minutes. For a soothing, brightening, and DIY option, use 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt from the fridge. You can mix in a teaspoon of honey to help your skin feel and look plumper post-facial.
  4. Treat – Help your skin soak in your spa treatment by steaming it to help pores receive your spa treatment. Use either almost-boiled water in a bowl or turn on the hot water in your shower and let it fill your bathroom.
  5. Hydrate – Once you’ve steamed for 5 to 8 minutes, rinse off your mask. Hydrate skin with a rich moisturizer and massage or use a gua sha tool to boost blood flow and absorption. To seal the deal, reach for our Milk Lip Balm to give your lips the hydration they so deserve.

This facial can feel like a delectable indulgence, but it’s also possible to grace your face with the many benefits of milk regularly. To improve skin cell turnover and swap dullness for radiance, opt for a daily cleanser with shelf-safe dried milk proteins for your AM and PM skincare routines.

#3 A Moisture-Drenched Manicure

Different kinds of milk can unlock their own bounty of benefits depending on where they're derived. In particular, oat-based milk products can be a super-skin hero for those who persistently experience dehydrated, red, or dry hands during colder months.

Whether you’re combatting skin inflammation, hangnails, or simple seasonal dryness, your best bet is to reach for an oat-based milk lotion or hand cream, such as our Oat Milk Hand Crème. Oats work to restore skin health by:7

  • Reinforcing the skin barrier, combatting aggravation by environmental pollutants
  • Imbuing skin with emollient ingredients that work to soften and calm ornery or damaged skin8
  • Helping skin lock in moisture by keeping skin from transepidermal water loss
  • Soothing actively irritated skin and preventing further inflammation from occurring

Despite the amount of use they get every day; we seldom look after our hands (and feet) with the same care we deliver to our face and body. To champion suave, supple fingers and toes, stash a travel-sized milk-based moisturizer, such as our Oat Milk Travel Size Lotion or Soy Milk Travel Size Lotion, in your bag to keep your skin healthy and replenished while you’re on the go.

Rediscover Ancient Rituals with Archipelago

From the heavenly skincare products you use to build your self-care ritual to the exquisitely scented candles you light to warm your hearth, Archipelago makes indulgence attainable at every scale. We use clean, plant-based ingredients to furnish you with the tools to care for yourself, your home, and the planet, in a range of relaxing scents and age-old ingredients that make everyday rituals feel luxurious.

Recreate your home oasis by exploring our award-winning bath and body Milk Collection and more at the Archipelago online apothecary today.


  1. ​​Byrdie. Dermatologists Explain Why Vitamin D Is So Crucial for Healthy Skin.
  2. Coveteur. The Beauty Industry Is Obsessed with Milk—and Your Skin Is Reaping the Benefits.
  3. Women’s Health Magazine. 5 Ways to Use Milk for Silky Smooth Skin.
  4. Cleveland Clinic. 4 Reasons to Take A Bath.
  5. McGill University. Why did Cleopatra supposedly bathe in sour donkey milk?
  6. Allure. How to Give Yourself a Spa-Level Facial at Home, According to Experts.
  7. Byrdie. Colloidal Oatmeal Is a Dry Skin Savior, According to Dermatologists.
  8. Healthline. What Is Colloidal Oatmeal? Benefits, Uses, and Safety.
  9. Bustle. Everything To Know About Walnut Scrub BEFORE You Buy Kylie's New Product.
  10. Bustle. Everything To Know About Walnut Scrub BEFORE You Buy Kylie's New Product.
  11. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Alpha Hydroxy Acids.