A Dairy Tale

milk bath, milk treatments, dairy skincare, dairy spa treatments

It seems that milk really does a body good, both inside and out. Milk and other forms of dairy are commonly used in spa treatments today because of their skin-smoothing and -nourishing benefits, leaving clients satisfied and craving more. Dairy is not a new ingredient in the beauty world, as milk baths have been popular for thousands of years. In fact, Cleopatra is said to have taken milk and honey baths to help her skin maintain its youthful appearance and soft texture. Because its benefits are so plentiful, however, dairy will likely be a popular ingredient for years to come.

Milk contains natural fats, calcium, and vitamins A and D, which help to smooth and condition skin, treat dryness, promote skin elasticity, boost collagen production, and protect skin from free radicals. It also contains lactic acid, which is an alpha-hydroxy acid that helps break down dead skin cells and is known for its exfoliating and anti-aging properties. This helps the skin rejuvenate faster and stay moisturized longer. According to Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Clinical Enterprises, there are several forms of dairy that are commonly used in skincare treatments and products, each providing a different benefit. “Goat milk and lactic acid are great for skin rejuvenation, hydration, brightening, and fighting inflammation,” she says. “Goat’s milk also helps reduce alkalinity. Other ingredients, like milk proteins and yogurt extracts, provide valuable nutrients and a positive effect on traumatized skin. The yogurt extract is also a powerful probiotic and delivers vital minerals, growth factors, vitamins, and calcium to support healthy skin.”

April Zangl, CEO of HydroPeptide, believes there is also a lesser known benefit to dairy that is highly effective to the skin. “There is a milk peptide complex called whey protein that contains natural bioactive polypeptides, or cytokines, produced from milk that are beneficial for the regeneration of mature skin,” she says. “These cytokines are essential for cell-to-cell communication and signaling of connective tissue such as collagen and glycosaminoglycans. They have been shown to strengthen the dermis and counteract the visible signs of aging. These milk-derived cytokines contain active forms of Transforming Growth Factor ß and thus boost collagen type 1 synthesis, hyaluronic acid, and fibronectin synthesis.”


Milk Money

Because of dairy’s skin-softening qualities, it is often used in hydrating, nourishing, and moisturizing treatments, such as milk baths, according to Lincoln Lee, director of Dermaesthetics. Guests at Mii amo (Sedona, AZ) can immerse themselves in relaxation with the Milk and Honey Bath ($160, 60 minutes; $235, 90 minutes), which is an exfoliating and moisturizing service for the entire body. The treatment begins with a honey scrub followed by a warm bath filled with milk and honey and ends with a light massage. Treatments that feature milk-based lotions and other products can also provide skin-smoothing benefits. At The Spa at Ballantyne at The Ballantyne (Charlotte, NC), guests can soften their skin with the Contouring Marine Body Wrap ($150, 50 minutes). This treatment includes a seaweed body mask, a full-body scrub, a foot and scalp massage, and an application of contouring cream and moisturizing body milk to hydrate skin.

Formulas containing milk proteins are particularly beneficial during the mask phase of a treatment to provide soothing, nourishing, and healing support, says Allison. During the month of February, The Spa at One Ocean at One Ocean Resort & Spa (Atlantic Beach, FL) offered the Honey-Wine Resveratrol Recovery Facial ($99, 50 minutes), a specialty treatment to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Using FarmHouse Fresh products, the facial started with a coconut milk and green tea wash and an exfoliating shea butter scrub. Skin was then treated to a raw honey, yogurt, and oat face mask designed to soothe and clarify, followed by a wine-infused serum to reduce pore size and fine lines. An application of FarmHouse Fresh Three Milk Ageless Moisturizer provided hydration and helped to firm skin. “Guests love treatments with botanical milks or dairy,” says Beverly Fox-Crismond, spa director of The Spa at One Ocean. “Not only is it rich and creamy but it also calms the skin and provides a soothing finish that has long-term effects. Plus, the natural ingredients smell delicious.” 

Allison suggests using dairy formulas containing goat milk, lactic acid, and other enzymes in treatments where exfoliation and rejuvenation is desired. At GrapeSeed Spa at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa (Temecula, CA), guests can experience the anti-aging benefits of lactic acid in the Brightening Facial ($130, 50 minutes; $165, 80 minutes), which addresses uneven skintone, acne scarring, melasma, and hyperpigmentation. Fruit enzymes, kojic acid, and lactic acid are combined in a peel to refine and brighten the skin. “The lactic acid used in the multi-acid peel removes dull surface cells to provide a fresh, bright, and healthy appearance to skin’s surface,” says Stevi Smallwood, interim spa director at GrapeSeed Spa.

Dairy is also an effective ingredient in hair and nail services, as it helps to strengthen and moisturize. At the Thalasso Center & Spa at Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya (Mexico), guests can indulge in the Yogurt and Honey Pedicure ($99, 60 minutes), which relies on a yogurt cream to help preserve the skin’s natural protective barrier, moisturize, and improve the skin’s tone and texture. The service also incorporates an exfoliation and a nourishing melting elixir, rich in honey extract, to soften dry and dehydrated skin. The ritual restores vitality and provides a soothing sensation for the feet.


Dairy Dangers

While clients with oily and dry skin benefit most from dairy treatments, those with dairy allergies should avoid them due to the potential risk factors. Although lactic or hydrolyzed milk proteins are generally safe and nonirritating, says Lee, clients with dairy allergies should be cautious when choosing services that include dairy ingredients, as there is the potential for side effects. Such side effects include inflammation, discoloration, or even internal distress if they are accidentally ingested. Allison advises skincare professionals to find out if a client has any dairy allergies prior to performing any dairy-based service. “Always ask clients about allergies prior to any treatment and do a patch test,” she says. To ensure clients with dairy allergies won’t be affected, and because side effects can differ from one person to another, it is best to note the ingredient on the treatment menu so that guests who are extra sensitive can proactively ask that a different product be used in a treatment, suggests Shannon McLinden, founder and president of FarmHouse Fresh.

Also, vegan clients might be opposed to dairy-based products and treatments, so it is best to be clear that the ingredient exists in the product or treatment. “There are various degrees of vegan,” says McLinden. “Some clients who are vegan will not like using products that contain any animal products, even milk. These customers see cruelty in the act of taking from living organisms that cannot be asked whether they would like to be active participants. And because animals cannot be asked, these types of vegan consumers prefer not to use products containing the ingredients.”

Milking It

When choosing dairy products, you need to do your research, as not all dairy-based products are created equal. According to Lee, spas should utilize U.S. pharmacopeia-grade (USP) ingredients, which means the products are the appropriate identity, strength, quality, purity, and consistency. “The cosmetic regulations don’t require cosmetic or skincare companies to use high-grade ingredients, but any skincare company claiming themselves to be professional should seek out safer and superior ingredients,” he says. Also, spas should be sure to check where the ingredients are sourced and what levels are used, as well as quality and potency, says Allison.

Because some spa clients might not be aware of the advantages of dairy on the skin, it’s important to promote the benefits of dairy-based products and treatments to guests to encourage them to try them. “In marketing dairy-based treatments, spas might focus on the powerful rejuvenation benefits milk-based acids and enzymes offer,” says Allison. “They work with a variety of skin types, with the exception of those who have dairy allergies, so these types of treatments really are marketable to anyone. Treatments and retail products that contain milk proteins and yogurt extracts offer wonderful soothing and healing relief.”

Satisfy your clients’ cravings for smooth skin with these dairy-based products.

1. CBI Laboratories Milk + Honey Firming Masque: Combining natural milk proteins and soybean oil, this mask gently draws out impurities and toxins, leaving skin soft and smooth. www.cbiskincare.com

2. Christina Cosmeceuticals Forever Young Step 4: Regenerating Under-Mask: Featuring lactose and whey protein, this milk-based mask moisturizes skin with micropeptides for a firmer complexion. www.christina-usa.com

3. Dermaesthetics Milk Cream: Suitable for sensitive skin, this hydrating cream balances skin and replenishes moisture with beta glucan, lavender oil, and milk powder concentrate. www.dermaestheticsusa.com

4. FarmHouse Fresh Pajama Paste Soothing Active Yogurt Mask: Designed to detoxify, purify, and tone skin, this paraben-free mask contains bentonite clay, wild honey, and yogurt cultures. www.farmhousefreshgoods.com

5. GiGi Milk & Honee Wax: Ideal for all skin types, this soft wax contains honey and milk extracts to rejuvenate and condition skin and gently remove unwanted body hair. www.gigispa.com 

6. G.M. Collin Eye Contour Corrector: Formulated with beech tree bud extract and milk lipids, this cream stimulates cellular metabolism and reduces the appearance of wrinkles for a youthful-looking eye contour. www.gmcollin.com

7. HydroPeptide Power Serum Line Lifting Transformation: Designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, this paraben-free serum contains 13 peptides, including a milk polypeptide, and white tea leaf. www.hydropeptide.com

8. Ilike Organic Skin Care Yogurt Power Peel: This treatment blends casein, lactic acid, and probiotics to refine and improve the overall appearance of dry, wrinkled, oily, and congested skin. It also works to dissolve rough skin on the elbows, knees, and heels. www.szepelet.com

9. L’Occitane Almond Milk Concentrate: Suitable as a post-hair removal moisturizer, this body lotion blends almond milk and oil to moisturize, soothe, and soften the skin. usa.loccitane.com

10. Pevonia Lumablanc Cream: Containing brown micro algae, lactic acid, and licorice, this cream helps lighten hyperpigmentation, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and even skintone. www.pevoniapro.com

11. Rhonda Allison Milk Plus Enriched Probiotic Cleanser: Infused with goat milk, marshmallow root, and yogurt extracts, this probiotic-enhanced formula cleanses and hydrates skin. www.rhondaallison.com

12. Skinprint Repair & Restorative Treatment Crème: Packed with lactic acid, lactose, milk protein, and probiotic bifidus culture, this cream restores the skin’s natural barrier function. www.skinprint.com