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What if I told you about an all-natural skin care ingredient that smoothed and brightened your complexion and worked wonders on sensitive skin? What if I told you it was gentle enough for babies, but strong enough to repair sun-damaged skin? And what if I told you it came from … goats?
Yes, I’m talking about goat milk, and believe me when I say that this is the milk that does a body (and face) good.
“Goat milk has been used for thousands of years to soothe sensitive skin,” explains Dr. Brent Ridge, co-founder of Beekman 1802. “It’s a starting point for people who have skin issues — especially those who are doing an ‘elimination diet’ from all of their other skin care products and want to start a simpler routine that is kinder and gentler.”
Simple, gentle skin care itself is appealing, but what about results? Good news: this sleeper ingredient is actually quite the workhorse. Much of the credit goes to the lactic acid and moisturizing fatty acids naturally found in goat milk.
If you feel like you’re constantly at battle with your skin, many say goat milk skin care absolutely lives up to the name. Read on for a look at the benefits of this GOAT (greatest of all time) ingredient, plus my recommendations for the best goat milk soaps, lotions, and cleansers.
Goat milk is routinely described as a “natural” skin care product — in the best way.
“Goat milk has the same pH as human skin. So, when you cleanse with a goat milk product, you do not disturb the acid mantle, or the skin’s natural microbiome,” says Ridge.
That’s a game-changer if you’re dealing with sensitive skin issues, like eczema, psoriasis, or keratosis pilaris. While many skin care products will only exacerbate these conditions, that’s not the case with goat milk.
“The skin’s first response to a foreign substance is to mount an inflammatory response, which creates an obstacle for active ingredients,” says Ridge. “Because goat milk is so similar to human milk, the skin recognizes it and drinks it in.’’
It’s the perfect delivery vehicle for active compounds — and, believe me, goat milk is full of active compounds.
“One of the special properties of goat’s milk is its lactic acid content,” says Nana Duffy, MD, FAAD.
This alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) is known for its gentle hydration and exfoliation properties.
“Lactic acid has been shown to increase the production of ceramides, which you can think of as the mortar between the bricks of your skin cells,” explains Duffy. “When there are nice, tight junctions between your skin cells, that keeps the good qualities inside of your skin — like moisture and lipids — and the not-so-good qualities out — like bacteria and allergens.”
As a natural humectant, lactic acid works like a magnet to attract and retain moisture in the skin. That means goat milk skin care products can deliver a smoother, brighter, more hydrated complexion. And isn’t that what we all want from our cleansers and moisturizers?
In addition to lactic acid, “goat milk contains fatty acids that help repair the skin barrier, probiotics to encourage the growth of normal skin flora, and vitamin A to help gently exfoliate,” says Dr. Purvisha Patel, a board certified dermatologist. Those fatty acids also contribute to noticeably softer skin.
And you can reap all of these benefits with a few simple product swaps.
Full disclosure: it’s hard to go wrong with goat milk skin care. Companies making goat milk soaps and skin care products tend to be really proud of both their all-natural ingredients and their goats.
Still, I researched brands and products to find the ones that really stood out, and here’s what made my list.
After stumbling upon Beekman 1802’s products on a tiny-house getaway on the Oregon coast, I was hooked. These creamy, moisturizing soaps left my skin incredibly soft and smooth, and I had to find out if it was the soap itself or all that fresh coastal air. Spoiler: even in the dry high desert climate of my home state, Beekman’s soaps and lotions are working wonders from head to toe.
The pure goat milk line is a fragrance-free approach to happy skin, and I enthusiastically recommend the Milk Bar Facial Cleansing Bar, the Pure Goat Milk Body Soap for the shower, and the Pure Goat Milk Body Cream.
My skin was noticeably brighter, smoother, and more supple within days of switching. Even my family has jumped on board, and we all agree that the difference is night and day.
Beekman 1802 products are cruelty-free and made without parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, alcohol, phthalates, synthetic colorants, formaldehyde, or talc.
If you’re new to goat milk skin care, these luxurious products are the perfect place to start.
In a quest to help resolve their son’s eczema, the founders of Bend Soap Company searched high and low for skin care products made without synthetic or, as they say, “genetically wacky” ingredients.
When they came up short, they started making their own. The fruit of their labor not only addressed all the dry, red, itchy symptoms associated with their son’s eczema, it was also the beginning of their own goat milk soap business.
Today, Bend Soap Company sells handcrafted soap, lotions, and bath products made with milk from their very own goats.
These are simple products that really deliver — I loved all the soaps and lotions I tried, especially the Oatmeal and Honey Goat Milk Soap. It’s a fragrant, moisturizing bar that’s made with just six ingredients, and it’s actually their flagship product.
The Unscented Goat Milk Lotion is another fan-favorite — it’s lightweight, non-greasy, and super moisturizing.
I found Dionis when I went looking specifically for a goat milk hand cream that I could keep in my bag. Their moisturizing formula leaves my hands smooth and hydrated without feeling greasy — it just soaks right in.
This was also where I learned goat milk can be used in a lip balm. Their oversized balm is made of beeswax infused with goat milk, shea butter, and coconut oil, and it comes in a handful of flavors. I’m a bit of a lip balm snob, and I can happily report that this one ticked all the boxes for a perfectly moisturized pucker.
Like the other brands on my list, Dionis products are cruelty-free and made without parabens or sulfates.
The story of Little Seed Farm is the classic tale of a couple leaving the big city to open a goat farm. In 2012, co-founders Eileen and James Ray gave up their jobs in New York City for a farm in rural Tennessee, and they’ve been producing handmade soaps and skin care products ever since. Plus, they’re committed to doing it all sustainably and humanely.
The Goat’s Milk Moisturizer is made with argan oil and aloe, and it dries to a beautifully silky matte finish. This product was my first foray into a goat milk product beyond bar soap, and I was sold from the first application. The moisturizer feels light and luxurious going on, and it layers really nicely if you’re into serums (guilty!).
Little Seed’s soaps are all equally wonderful, but the Bearwalker Beer Bar is particularly lovely. It’s made with Bearwalker Maple Brown Ale from a local brewery, plus organic vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg essential oils. It smells divine.
One note: I did seem to go through these soaps pretty quickly, even with a soap-saver in the shower. They are noticeably softer than a traditional bar of soap once they’re wet. But, then again, so is my skin.
Bar soap has traditionally never been my preference, but goat milk soap and a natural sea sponge completely changed my mind.
Both the original Goat Milk Soap and the Triple-Milled Goat Milk Soap from Legend’s Creek Farm work into a soft, rich lather, rinse clean, and leave my skin soft and supple.
The triple-milled goat milk soap, in particular, is harder and longer-lasting than the original formula. But, fair warning, the generous size is a little hard to hold onto in the shower!
Following up either soap with the Premium Goat Milk Lotion or the Whipped Body Butter kept me feeling smooth and moisturized all day, without the sticky, coated feeling of some lotions. These are rich and creamy without being greasy, and a little goes a long way.
As an added benefit, the company’s products are certified by Leaping Bunny, and the brand only partners with suppliers who are also certified cruelty-free.
Founder Elizabeth Sanders began making soap with milk from her sister’s goats, and the hobby-turned-business became a family affair when her husband Nick jumped on board. Today, Elizabeth has made more than 55,000 bars of soap, and the company still focuses on what it does best.
Simple and sweet, made with just a handful of ingredients, and endearingly cut by hand, these soaps are something special. They’re made without chemical fragrances, dyes, or pigments, and I got the sense I was doing something good for my skin when I lathered up.
Like all the goat milk soaps I’ve used, these are ultra-moisturizing, especially the Shea Butter Goat Milk Soap. My skin feels amazingly soft, both while I’m sudsing up and after I’ve rinsed. And these soaps have banished the dry, itchy skin I deal with on my knuckles every winter.
If the idea of all-natural skin care is appealing, but you don’t want to sacrifice results, products made with goat milk could be just what you’re looking for.
Goat milk is an incredible ingredient that, in my experience, delivers brighter, smoother complexions — even for those with sensitive skin.
After going all-in on goat milk skin care products — switching everything from my facial cleanser and moisturizer to my body soap and lotion — I can honestly say my skin has never looked better.
Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.