Dairy milk has many health benefits for adults. It’s packed with vitamins A and D, as well as lactic acid. Some of these components are popular skin care additives. This may be why many skin care enthusiasts have started applying milk to their skin.

While there are dozens of DIY recipes online that recommend putting cow’s milk in everything from face masks to bodywashes, there’s very little clinical evidence that milk has topical benefits for your skin. While that may change in coming years as researchers investigate, you may want to hold off on covering your skin with milk — for multiple reasons.

If you’re one of the 65 percent with a sensitivity to the lactose in milk, applying milk to your face can cause hives or other reactions.

This article will look into different claims about how milk can help your skin.

Dairy milk contains lactic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) ingredient that many modern skin care products include. Lactic acid is especially popular in anti-aging face cleansers. Studies show it helps remove dead skin cells and stimulates new cell growth.

But lactic acid alone isn’t a good reason to use milk as a cleanser for your face. There’s no clinical evidence that milk can cleanse your face better than gentle soap and water.

Milk’s creamy texture and gentle acidity leads some people to believe that it’s a great ingredient for a face mask. But even if you’re not sensitive to dairy, you still might be better off using one of milk’s fermented by-products, like yogurt or sour cream, as a foundation ingredient for DIY face masks.

One review of studies even suggests that using fermented milk on your face may be beneficial, but those researchers concluded that more studies are needed. There are currently no studies that suggest that dairy milk is an especially effective ingredient in face masks.

There’s a popular belief in some communities that applying milk to your skin can make it lighter. Many skin lightening treatments are only supported by anecdotal evidence and can actually be harmful when used long-term.

Lactic acid, which comes from milk, is included in many skin brightening treatments and creams that treat dark spots. But there’s no clinical evidence to suggest that milk or lactic acid makes your skin lighter.

Applying milk to treat your acne might seem like a good idea. After all, vitamin D deficiency is linked to acne, and fortified milk is full of vitamin D and other vitamins. Milk may also feel soothing when applied to painful acne.

Milk may temporarily lessen the appearance of acne, though there’s only anecdotal evidence to suggest this. But consuming dairy milk has been strongly linked to high rates of topical acne. Applying milk to your acne may clog your pores or irritate your acne-prone areas in the long run. Since there aren’t clinical studies about this, we just don’t know.

Applying dairy milk topically to moisturize your skin may be better than not moisturizing. But this is another area where there’s no research to definitively suggest that this is a good idea.

Milk isn’t an emollient, meaning it doesn’t seal in moisture on your skin. Using clinically proven moisturizing ingredients, such as essential oils, will be better at making your skin feel less dry.

Milk’s natural acidity levels and lactic acid content makes it a popular exfoliating ingredient. Anecdotally, it seems that some people have had success using milk as a gentle exfoliant on their skin.

There are studies that show that highly concentrated lactic acid encourages cell turnover while clearing away dead skin cells. However, there are no direct clinical studies that suggest using milk for exfoliation is better than using other proven exfoliating ingredients.

Applying cool milk with a washcloth may help draw heat out of the layers of your skin after prolonged sun exposure. Some people swear by this. But there are no clinical studies that back up using milk as a treatment for inflammation or sunburn. Still, as long as you don’t have a dairy sensitivity, there’s probably little harm in giving this remedy a try.

Use shelf-stable canned milk or cool dairy milk from your fridge to make a cool compress that might soothe your symptoms. Of course, your best bet is always protecting your skin from the sun using sunscreen.

Raw milk is dairy milk that hasn’t been through the process of pasteurization. That means that it has additional bacteria in it, which changes its nutritional and topical possibilities. Using raw milk on your face is probably not a good idea if you’re prone to bacterial acne because raw milk will deposit bacteria on to your skin.

There’s no clinical evidence that supports the use of raw milk on your face as a cleanser, exfoliant, or brightening ingredient.

Using milk on your face might have side effects. At least 65 percent of the world’s population has a sensitivity to dairy milk. Consuming milk may cause digestive issues and skin side effects, and using it on your face may result in hives, itching, inflammation, and redness.

Some people may also be allergic to milk. Since consuming dairy milk has been strongly linked to acne, you may want to avoid using milk on your face.

There are proven health benefits for milk — if you drink it. Milk:

Putting milk on your face is probably not the best use of your skin care energy. Unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to milk, using dairy milk on your face won’t do any harm.