Milk is rich in nutrients and vitamins and has been a favored ingredient in skin care for centuries. In fact, Cleopatra, the legendary queen of Egypt and fashion plate, was known to take milk baths as a means to keep her skin supple, smooth and radiant. The beautifying enzyme has not lost any steam in the beauty world since then and is commonly employed for its various benefits to the skin.
Milk contains lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that gently sloughs away dead skin cells and also promotes cell renewal. In her book, "The Skin Care Ingredient Hand Book," author and skin-care manufacturer Linda Walker says these exfoliating properties are ideal for reducing wrinkles, pigmentation and discoloration.
In "Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary," Natalia Michalun and Varinia Michalun note that the lactic acid found in milk also effectively hydrates the skin by increasing its water retention capacity. They also mention that milk is rich in amino acids, which enhances water retention and skin moisture and allows for deeper penetration into the skin.
The Potent Protector
Complexions can also benefit from milk's antioxidant-rich properties, as antioxidants are attributed to helping combat free radical damage and environmental toxins. "Skin Inc." magazine's October 2012 article antioxidants in skin care states that anti-aging products often harness milk's antioxidant powers as they can also help improve cell function and elasticity and boost collagen production in the skin.
If you are sensitive to lactose products, avoid using milk-infused products as they can lead to allergic reactions or irritation. When applying products with lactic acid, be sure to apply a strong SPF before sun exposure, as AHAs can increase sun sensitivity.