Rani Padmavati (also known as Padmini), the legendary 16th century Indian beauty, was famous for her luxurious milk baths. So was Cleopatra all the way in Egypt. And every top-end spa worth its Indian roots boasts of an extensive milk menu in the 21st century.
Why? Milk is a terrific source of lactic acid, a natural alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) that gently exfoliates the top layer of dull, dead skin cells, diminishing blemishes and revealing a softer, brighter complexion. It also helps in cellular renewal, along with stepping up collagen and elastin production. And since lactic acid already exists in our cells, protecting against injury and sun damage, the body accepts it more readily than most synthetic AHAs, resulting in minimal inflammation. Besides this, milk is also loaded with vitamins A and D, protein and calcium – all of which are easily absorbed by the skin. Hooked? You might want to try these simple concoctions:
- To replicate the famed royal baths, add six cups of full fat milk to your bathtub and soak for about 30 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. For a more intense (though not so sweet smelling variation) use fermented whole milk, which has curdled. You will emerge with the smoothest skin imaginable!
- No bathtub? Mix some honey and whole milk powder into a paste. Then use this paste in lieu of a shower gel – silky smooth skin guaranteed!
- For deep cleansing, simply apply a layer of milk to your skin, leave on for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off with warm water. Skim well works well for oily skin, while normal, dry or mature skin would show better results with whole milk.
- Blend six teaspoons of honey with five teaspoons of milk, then apply the paste on freshly cleansed face. Leave it for 15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Do this once a week for a fresh and glowing complexion.
- To make a potent scrub, mix 2 teaspoons of milk, two teaspoons of honey and two teaspoons of ground almonds. Smooth onto the face and neck; leave on for 5-10 minutes and then massage it off the face with gentle, circular motions. Finally, rinse off all residue with warm water.
- To add body and shine to fine or lifeless hair, mix half a cup of dry milk powder with just enough water to make a paste, then gently massage the paste into your hair. Cover hair with a hot towel for half an hour, changing the towel when it cools. Rinse, shampoo and end with your favourite conditioner for super-glossy locks.