What is a Milk Bath

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Taking a milk bath can help exfoliate, moisturize, and revitalize the skin, while also being a soothing and relaxing experience!

What is a Milk Bath?

Simply put, a milk bath is an ancient practice that consists of bathing with milk. According to various studies, Cleopatra, the ruler of ancient Egypt, is said to be the first to use this technique to improve the complexion of her skin. The practice of milk bathing is also attributed to medieval-era British royalty. In the present day, the lactic acid present in milk has been shown to be a gentle exfoliant, loosening dead skin, while the milk fat provides moisture that your skin needs to look and feel healthy.

Health Benefits of a Milk Bath

Most of the benefits of milk bathing are skin-related, but they can also help with mental health if you are struggling with anxiety.

Milk bath

  • Exfoliation: This is the process of removing old or dead skin cells. While exfoliating usually means using an abrasive scrub or brush, or a chemical treatment, such as a chemical peel, the lactic acid in milk gently breaks apart the bonds between skin cells and allows exfoliation without harsh methods, according to a research. This is especially beneficial for those with sensitive skin.
  • Soothing Irritated Skin: Those with eczema, psoriasis, rashes, or other skin irritations often find relief from their uncomfortable conditions with milk baths. Milk can reduce both irritation and inflammation that is commonly caused by these ailments.
  • Moisturizing Skin: The milk fat acts as a natural skin moisturizer. Especially in arid or cold climates, regular milk baths can help keep the skin from drying out, which lowers your risk of other skin conditions or afflictions.
  • Better Appearance: The exfoliation of dead skin cells can stimulate generation of new cells, which can result in the more youthful-looking skin. Additionally, your skin will feel softer after milk baths as well.
  • Relaxation and Stress Reduction: According to Lynn Keegan from the Alternative and Complementary Modalities for Managing Stress and Anxiety, if used with soothing herbs and oils, warm milk baths can relax the muscles of the body, and the time spent in the bath allows for mental relaxation and stress relief.

How to Prepare a Milk Bath?

While the milk baths of historic royalty consisted entirely of milk, using only a small amount of milk is enough to enjoy the benefits.

  • Step 1: Begin to fill the bathtub with warm water, and while the water is running, mix in two cups of a high-fat, high-lactose milk, such as whole milk or goat’s milk. Use an extra cup if the bathtub is exceptionally large. Alternatively, one cup of powdered milk can be substituted.
  • Step 2: Stir the milk in until it is uniformly mixed.
  • Step 3: Adding a few drops of essential oil, and/or a few sprigs of therapeutic herbs, such as lavender or rose hips, can enhance the aromatic experience of the milk bath. Honey is also commonly added. There are also many commercially available bath milk bases, which are often premixed with herbs and oils. These can be found in both liquid and powdered forms, as well as in single-use bath balls.
  • Step 4: A soak of 15 to 20 minutes once a week is usually enough to begin to see the benefits for your skin.
  • Step 5: Once you are finished bathing, rinse off in the shower to wash away the milk and any exfoliated skin.
  • Step 6: Use lotion after rinsing and drying to maximize the moisturizing benefits!

Note: While vegan milk, such as coconut or almond, may have some moisturizing benefits, the lactic acid required to exfoliate the skin is not present in non-dairy milk. 

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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