White and creamy milk mustaches have long been in advertisements to promote the healthy effects of drinking milk. What these ads don't stress is that the milk mustache may do more than just remind you to drink milk for strong bones. Some of the vitamins, proteins and fats found in milk might be able to benefit your skin, too.
Donning a milk mustache probably isn't the best way to take advantage of milk's beneficial effects on your skin, but soaking in a milk bath may be. Mixing a little milk with the bathwater has been done for centuries as a quick, easy and cheap way to moisturize and soften your skin while you relax in the tub.
You can buy pre-mixed milk bath powders or create your own from ingredients in your cupboard. Many pre-mixed milk baths can cost you about $20 to $30, but this should get you about four to eight baths. Some milk bath powders you can buy have additives such as extra vitamins or moisturizing agents, which may appeal to people with dry or sensitive skin. Many powders are scented, though, so if you don't want to smell like fruits or flowers, or if you have easily irritated skin, you could consider going the homemade route.
When you mix your own milk bath, the customization options are up to you. You can reap the benefits of milk simply by adding a few cups to a tub of warm water. You can also be as extravagant as you like, adding extra ingredients such as salts, oils or dried petals and herbs for scent. What you choose should be based on your skin type -- for example, if you have oily skin you may want to stay away from extra oils, but if you have dry skin, you might decide to add them in.
For some starter ideas on mixing a milk bath at home, keep reading to learn about different ingredients you can blend into your bathwater.
Milk Bath Recipes
If you're creating your own milk bath at home, all you need to do for the simplest solution is pour in a few cups of milk to lukewarm bathwater. Be sure to use whole milk instead of low-fat, though, to get the most out of it.
For a more complex bath, you can try adding in baking soda or bathing salts. Epsom salt and sea salts can help to exfoliate dead skin cells, giving your skin a renewed glow when you're through. The salts also can help to relax sore muscles and joints so you feel refreshed when you step out. Another option is to add in ingredients such as corn starch or oatmeal. These ingredients may help to soothe irritated skin, but you might want to mix them in the blender or a bowl before adding them to the tub [source: Lake].
For an aromatic option, you may include dried petals, herbs or essential oils. Certain essential oils, such as jojoba oil or neroli oil, can help to moisturize your skin, but be careful because many essential oils can irritate skin and aggravate existing skin conditions. Fill the tub with water, mix in the ingredients and let them seep in for about 15 minutes. You should start out by running the water at a higher heat than you normally would to bathe, since it will cool down while you wait for the ingredients to blend [source: My Yoga Online].
Whatever recipe you decide on, the most important ingredient of a milk bath is, of course, the milk. To learn more about the benefits of taking milk baths, keep reading.
Benefits of Milk Baths
If you can gain nutrients and other health benefits from drinking milk, it might make sense to think bathing in it should do you just as much good. But that's not quite the case. Milk typically contains vitamins A, D and E, which are great for your body if you consume them in your diet. Many skin care products include these vitamins as key ingredients, too, but they're often used in a different form, such as vitamin derivatives. And, unfortunately, your skin won't be able to really absorb the vitamins in a milk bath and get these same benefits. Even so, that doesn't necessarily mean bathing in milk doesn't do your body any good.
A possible advantage to milk baths is that they may help to moisturize your skin. The fats and proteins found in milk -- particularly whole milk -- may help to hydrate skin and retain moisture after you step out. Just be sure to rinse off in clean water after your soak so that you're left with a soft, milky glow instead of a sticky milk residue.
Some health experts suggest milk baths may be used to help improve symptoms of some skin problems. Because of the moisturizing fats in milk, it may help to calm redness from a sunburn or to reduce some of the dryness and itching caused by skin conditions such as xerosis or eczema [source: WebMD]. However, if you are concerned about a skin condition that isn't clearing up, you should consult your dermatologist before trying to treat yourself with a milk bath.
The benefits of a milk bath don't stop at your skin -- the natural fats in milk may be good for your hair, too. Some recipes for at-home hair rinses call for milk as an ingredient to help condition dry, damaged strands. So, letting your hair soak during your time in the tub may help add some life back into it.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of milk baths and the options available for them, read on to see the links and articles on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Allemann, I. Bogdan; and L. Baumann. "Antioxidants Used in Skin Care Formulations: Vitamin E." Medscape. (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/582103_2
- Ayushveda. "Benefits of a Milk Bath." July 15, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 16, 2009)http://www.ayushveda.com/womens-magazine/benefits-of-a-milk-bath/
- Bouchez, Colette. "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out." WebMD. Aug. 1, 2006. (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/skin-nutrition?page=2
- Cosmetics and Toiletries Magazine. "Yogurt and Probiotics Nourish Healthy Skin with New Product Developments." March 27, 2007. (Accessed Sept. 16, 2009)http://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/formulating/category/skincare/6728291.html?page=1
- Cosmetics Database. "Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Oil." (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient/717910/CITRUS_AURANTIUM_AMARA_%28BITTER_ORANGE%29_OIL/
- Cosmetics Database. "Simmondsia Chinensis (Jobjoba) Seed Oil." (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ingredient/705966/SIMMONDSIA_CHINENSIS_%28JOJOBA%29_SEED_OIL/
- Figueroa, Jessica. "Beauty News: We're Bursting with Berry-Scented Beauty Products." Self Magazine. Nov. 12, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 16, 2009)http://www.self.com/beauty/blogs/beyondthebeautypages/2008/11/beauty-news-were-bursting-with.html
- Lake, Jane. "Oatmeal Milk Bath Sachets." All Free Crafts. (Accessed Sept. 16, 2009)http://www.allfreecrafts.com/homemade-gifts/oatmeal-milk-bath.shtml
- My Yoga Online. "Lavender Milk Bath Recipe." (Accessed Sept. 16, 2009)http://www.myyogaonline.com/healthy_living_117_Lavender_Milk_Bath_Recipe.html
- Shape Magazine. "10 Natural Beauty Boosters." (Accessed Sept. 16, 2009)http://www.shape.com/beauty_and_style/spa/at_home_treatments/10_natural_beauty_boosters/p/page/2
- WebMD. "Sunburn." Aug. 10, 2005. (Accessed Oct. 13, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/sunburn?page=2