Fact: Moisturizer is not sexy. Unlike serum, which promises to make wrinkles and sun spots disappear, or a face mask, which provokes an abundance of Snapchat opportunities, moisturizer doesn’t do much except… moisturize. When it comes to moisturizing our bodies—well, that product is even more banal: the dreaded lotion, or some heavy cream that probably smells amazing but takes forever to sink in and has you hurrying to the sink post-application to wash your hands. Sure, there have been some alternatives (hi, body serum!), but for the most part, the “body hydration” space (least glamorous area ever?) has mainly been dominated by boring, thick, and heavy hydrators. Yawn.
Recently, however, I’ve discovered a new breed of body moisturizers. These modern hydrators are silky, fragrant, hydrating… and milky. Enter body milk, the hydrator that’s been flying under the radar for years. I started using one recently, and frankly, I don’t see myself ever going back. If body lotion is the $5 champagne you pick up at Trader Joe’s, then body milk is Dom Perignon—it’s more sophisticated, it doesn’t leave a greasy residue, and it’s just easier to apply. Curious? Keep scrolling to learn more.
To help me understand my newfound obsession, I spoke with two experts in the body milk field: Bee Shapiro, founder of Ellis Brooklyn, which makes some of the most loved and luxurious body milks in the industry, and Lucy Primrose, learning and organizational manager at L’Occitane. Shapiro’s sophisticated line features five body milks, each with a scent worthy of being bottled with a literary-inspired name to match. So, why did she choose milks over traditional lotions? “I was inspired by the old European formulations where body milk was much more of a staple,” she says. “Also, I love how body milk goes on more smoothly than lotions or creams, and the formula almost immediately sinks in.” Other than consistency, Primrose says the key difference is in formulation. "A body milk contains a blend of real milk proteins and oil which help to nourish the skin, whereas body lotions tend to be created from a water and oil base," she explains. (L’Occitane’s fragrant and super-hydrating Roses et Reines Body Milk ($27) certainly fits the bill.)
So, what exactly does this mean for your scaly skin problem? According to Shapiro, body milks might actually be more hydrating than your trusty thick cream. “If you increase the water content quite a bit to thin the formula into a milk, then yes, you're going to have a less moisturizing lotion,” she says. “But if your body milk, like ours, has a more fluid texture than a body lotion because you've avoided fillers and thickeners, then the body milk is actually more moisturizing because there isn't all that extraneous stuff.”
From my own personal experience, I’ve found body milks (specifically Epicuren’s Coconut Hydrating Milk, $26) to be just as hydrating as lotion when applied post-shower, with the added benefit of being so much easier to apply. Plus, no sticky hands.
Shop some Byrdie-approved body milks below!
Now that I've sufficiently waxed poetic about body hydrators, tell me—have you tried a body milk? Are you team milk or team lotion? Sound off below!