Food trend followers know that goat milk is increasingly popular as an alternative to cow milk and as the basis for cheeses, yogurt, butter and other products.
But this rich milk can also be turned into beauty products, a usage with a centuries-old pedigree. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is said to have often taken baths in goat milk because she believed it make her skin radiant.
Julia Shewchuk, owner and operator of Serenity Acres Farm in Pinetta, Florida, notes that goat milk can be used in beauty products "either as a powder or in its natural liquid form, which enables it to retain many of its inherent benefits. It is added to the formulation and combined with oils and/or shea butter to provide the final product."
Goat milk is used in soaps, face washes, lotions and shampoos, says Alain Michon, MD, CCFP-EM, medical director of the Ottawa Skin Clinic in Ontario.
"The key skin-health component in goat milk are its alpha-hydroxy acids. These acids also help break down dead skin cells, shedding them from the skin's surface," says Michon.
What's more, goat milk contains skin-crucial vitamins, particularly A, B and E.
Goat milk has a high fat content and is naturally homogenized, with very small fat molecules. "This increases moisture without feeling greasy," explains Shewchuk.
Goat milk's pH balance is also very similar to that of human skin, which means goat milk products can be used to cleanse without stripping away the skins natural oils.
Older skin, which requires more moisture—especially on the face, hands and feet—also "benefits tremendously from the gentle and moisturizing properties of goat milk–based products," Shewchuk adds.
Goat milk soaps tend to have a higher fat content than commercial soaps as well as more natural ingredients. Because they include glycerin, which attracts moisture to the skin, such soaps help keep skin moist.
Shewchuk explains that most commercial soaps do not contain glycerin "because it has been steam-distilled out of soap used in more expensive beauty products."
Goat milk is also used in face and body creams as well as lip balms and face masks. Goat milk haircare products are available; these products, Michon says, "provide the same kind of nourishment for the hair as goat milk soaps do for the skin."
Consuming goat milk itself can enhance skin, hair and nails by nourishing the bodys tissues from the inside out. Many people with lactose intolerance find they can drink goat milk; its smaller fat globules makes it easier to digest. (If you fall into that category, check with your practitioner before trying any dairy product.)
As with any other skincare ingredient, goat milk soaps, shampoos and other topical products should be tested on a small patch of skin first.
One final benefit: Shewchuk says goat milk shampoo bars provide the same benefits to your pet's skin as it does for yours.
"We use it for our dogs, as it cleanses their coats well without drying out their skin," she notes.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.