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What is Milk Body Cream?

By Darlene Goodman
Updated May 21, 2024
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Milk body cream is a type of skin moisturizing lotion that contains milk as a main active ingredient. Many skin care products use natural ingredients such as milk to promote healthy skin. Milk body cream usually contains milk fats, also known as milk lipids, because they are purported to moisturize and nourish skin.

The term milk can be misleading because the source of the milk in these lotions may be drawn from either animals or plants. Most milk body creams use cow’s or goat’s milk as their principal nutritive ingredient. Animal-derived milk creams often use the fat solids, also called lipids, as the main moisturizer.

On the other hand, many of these creams call themselves milk-based, but use a lipid source that is derived from plants instead. These plant-derived substances are called milks because of their milky consistency. The two main types of plant-derived milk are coconut or soy. Often, the oils in these plants are the moisturizing ingredient rather than the milk. For example, a milk body cream that is based on coconut milk would probably rely on the coconut oil more than the actual milk for moisturizing.

Most lotions use some form of oil, fatty acid, or lipid to trap the body’s natural moisture within the skin. This strengthening of the skin’s moisture barrier usually occurs whether the milk lipids come from plant or animal sources. Milk body creams use the lipids in animal milk and the oils found in plant-derived milk for this process.

Cow’s or goat’s milk creams may be able to provide the skin with both lipid moisturizers and skin-nourishing proteins. Like lipids, milk proteins may also aid in moisturizing the skin. They are purported to be easily absorbed into the skin and are thereby able to help nourish and protect it.

Many of these creams can be soothing and gentle for people with dry skin. Some types of milk body cream are specifically made to be gentle for use with sensitive skin, while others are formulated for extra-dry or problem skin. Many brands of this type of lotion are marketed as being more natural than other lotions because milk is a main ingredient.

Milk lipids are often not the only nutritive ingredient in milk body cream. Many of these lotions are supplemented with vitamins to support healthy skin. Vitamins A, D, and E are common supplements in these types of lotions, especially in the animal-derived forms. Plant-derived milk lotions often include several different types of plant oils and emollients besides coconut or soy milk.

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Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Jun 03, 2012

@Mor - For the most part I don't really think that coconut fats, and for that matter moisturizers in general, do all that much for your skin in the long term.

I do admit that they can be very good for your skin if you're prone to dryness. But if you aren't, all they do is make it temporarily feel soft and plumped up. They don't generally do anything for the long run. All they are doing is providing a layer of oil to trap moisture in your skin. Some of them have other uses, but generally, that's it.

I use a rose milk lotion myself, because I think it makes me look and smell nice. But I don't kid myself that it's going to make any difference to how I look when I get older. To do that, you need to stay out of the sun and eat well, it's as simple as that.

By Mor — On Jun 02, 2012
@KoiwiGal - I think that's true of all the lipids that are used for moisturizers, whether or not they are derived from milk. Lipids can be a valuable food source for bacteria no matter where they came from originally. But I think without sugar, it takes a while for pure lipids to go off, as you can see with your cooking oils, which people generally don't refrigerate.

But I don't really care all that much about them using chemical preservatives. It's only going on my skin, after all, and people have been using milk to make their skin soft and supple for thousands of years. Cleopatra is famous for bathing in milk when she wanted to make an impression.

And even coconut milk-based products are pretty good for you. Coconut has had a lot of good press lately about how much it can do for you when it is eaten and applied to the skin.

Well, it has a lot of calories so I'd rather apply it externally as much as I can and get the benefits that way.

By KoiwiGal — On Jun 01, 2012

I imagine one of the problems with using real milk in a body cream is that milk doesn't keep very well, so you would have to add preservatives as well. If they are going for an "all-natural" cream, they won't want to add chemical preservatives, but there are very few other kinds that will work effectively for a long time, particularly when the cream is going to come into contact with skin, that will provide warmth and bacteria.

So even though it sounds good and like there's something to using milk in a firming or moisturizing body cream, I think any good it might do would be offset by the other things they'd have to add to make it last longer than a few days.

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