If I were a supermodel or WB actress in the ‘90s, my Got Milk? campaign would be this: Cleansing milk, it does the face good. But I’m not talking about digestible dairy: Cleansing milk is an extra-gentle face wash — the baby shampoo of cleansers — and doesn’t actually contain milk.
Its texture is like milk — cooling skim milk, rather than creamy whole milk. It doesn’t foam, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Although it may not contain nine essential nutrients like its cow-bearing cousin, most formulas contain some calming essential ingredients, which act like an emollient (for example, Sisley’s Cleansing Milk contains white lily and Lancôme’s Galatee Confort has almond and sweet-honey extracts). It’s “new” in the way that cleansing oils and balms are “new” (so old it’s new again), and is used often in European and Asian skin-care lines.
Do you want to wash your face with what feels like a gentle cloud? If the answer is yes, then a cleansing milk is for you. Washing your face with a cleansing milk is the facial equivalent of having your delicate laundry hand-washed by a gentle laundress who tenderly irons and presses your garments with neroli water. (In comparison, washing your face with a foaming cleanser is like sending off your delicates to a 75-cents-per-pound laundromat that returns them with a “bonus” Victoria’s Secret pink thong.)
I started incorporating cleansing milks into my skin-care routine after I started double-cleansing my skin, something my mom had been urging me to do forever, with the thought being that makeup and dirt can’t be simultaneously washed off your face in one go. But washing my face twice with a foaming cleanser made it feel tight, and actually produced more oil (to compensate for its dryness). But washing my face twice with two gentle cleansers — such as a cleansing oil and a cleaning milk (like Weleda’s Gentle Cleansing Milk) or two cleansing milks (such as Eminence’s Lemon Milk Cleanser), left my face feeling like I had just had a deep-clean facial.
I need another step to my skin-care routine like Cara Delevingne needs more Instagram followers, but cleansing milk: It’s just what my face needs.