Malai milk cream is an ingredient used in Indian cooking. Many people claim that it has a positive effect on skin when applied topically.

In this article, we review how it’s made, what the research says about its purported benefits, and how to use.

Malai is a type of thick, yellowish clotted cream. It’s made by heating whole, non-homogenized milk to about 180°F (82.2°C).

After cooking for about an hour, the cream is cooled and the malai, a layer of coagulated proteins and fat that rises to the surface during the cooking process, is skimmed off the top.

Although not specifically supported by clinical research, the use of malai for facial skin is claimed by proponents to:

Advocates of using malai for facial skin suggest that the lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, is the ingredient in malai behind the benefits.

  • According to a 2018 article in the chemistry journal Molecules, alpha hydroxy acids can prevent UV-induced skin damage.
  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alpha hydroxy acids can help skin exfoliation (surface skin shedding).
  • The FDA also indicates that lactic acid is one of the most common alpha hydroxy acids in cosmetic products

Advocates of milk cream for your skin commonly suggest using it as a facial mask. Typically, they suggest putting the malai directly on your skin as follows:

  1. Wash your face with a mild, low pH cleanser.
  2. Gently apply a smooth, even layer of the malai on your face with your fingers or a wide, soft-bristled brush.
  3. Leave it in place for 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Gently rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  5. Gently pat your face dry with a clean towel.

Combining Malai with other ingredients

Many proponents of natural beauty remedies suggest adding other ingredients, such as honey, aloe vera, and turmeric to the milk cream to increase benefits for your skin.

Research suggests that the following additional ingredients may offer positive effects for your skin:

  • Honey. A 2013 review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology indicated that honey delays the formation of wrinkles and has emollient (softening) and humectant (moisture retaining) effects.
  • Aloe vera. A 2014 study noted that a single application of aloe vera hydrates skin and that aloe vera has anti-erythema activity. Erythema is redness caused by skin inflammation, infection, or injury.
  • Turmeric. A 2016 review of studies indicated that turmeric has demonstrated antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that may provide therapeutic benefits for skin health.

If you have allergies to dairy, using malai on your face could result in an allergic reaction.

If you don’t know if you have a milk allergy, consult with a doctor or dermatologist. This is always a recommended step before adding new items to your skin care regimen.

The heavy whipping cream that you get in the dairy aisle of the supermarket is the fat that rises to the top of whole milk.

Once it collects at the surface, the cream is skimmed off the top. Unlike malai, whipping cream is not boiled. Because it’s not boiled, it doesn’t contain coagulated proteins.

Although milk cream, or malai, has not been specifically tested for its effect on facial skin, it does contain lactic acid. Lactic acid is one of the most used alpha hydroxy acids in cosmetics. It’s recognized for helping skin exfoliation.

Proponents of natural skin care remedies also suggest adding other natural ingredients, such as honey, aloe vera, and turmeric to malai facial masks. These added ingredients have been shown to have benefits for the skin.

If you have dairy allergies, you should avoid using milk cream on your face.