Celebrities never fail to amaze with their claims of what works for their skin. Jennifer Lopez famously swears by olive oil, the kind you might cook your eggs or protein pancakes in. Bella Thorne likes to scrub her skin with a concoction of sugar and lemon water, something dermatologists and skin experts widely agree is a recipe for disaster. Some celebrities though, tread a milder, more 'normal' line, touting staying out of the sun and religiously wearing SPF as their secrets to happy, healthy skin.
For singer/songwriter Halsey, her skincare epiphany came after the birth of their son: “I've always been really conscious about what goes on my skin, but when your baby is kissing you or snuggled up against you, you become hyper-cognizant [sic] of what's on your face," they shared in a previous interview with Nylon magazine.
"I love the Biologique Recherche Colostrum VG Serum, which I got into when I first had my son. I started breastfeeding and I figured out that breast milk is the best skincare ingredient ever because it's so full of antioxidants and good fats and stuff that speed up the healing process.”
That serum, while aptly named, does not contain breast milk proper. Instead, it uses an intense blend of ingredients to help imbue skin with lost moisture and repair compromised skin barriers. A godsend if you're dealing with thirsty, tired postpartum skin.
A specific type of breast milk, colostrum is the first milk a person (or mammal) produces after giving birth. It's chock-full of protein and fats to help support a newborn's entry into the world. Also referred to as 'first milk', colostrum encourages the healthy functioning of a baby's immune system and helps stimulate the digestive system for the first time. So, how does it work externally when slathered onto the skin? Women's Health UK asked the experts.
"Many people see breast milk as a great home remedy for treating all skin concerns. Due to its natural healing and anti-inflammatory properties, breast milk can be used for cuts, eczema and acne," explains dermatologist Salomé Dharamshi, founder of the Sky Clinic.
Breast milk may also help to exfoliate the skin. "Breast milk is full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can benefit the skin in various ways; its high-fat content can help moisturise and hydrate the skin and the natural antibodies present in breast milk can help fight off bacteria and infections which can prevent spots and blemishes. Because breast milk also contains lactic acid, it may help to gently exfoliate dead skin cells," describes aesthetic doctor and founder of G&M Healthcare, Dr Grace Hula.
"It’s also a great ingredient for brightening skin, reducing signs of ageing and can act as a mild exfoliator, due to the Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) present. Beta Hydroxy Acid is an exfoliating agent found in breast milk and helps slough away dead skin cells, revealing glowing and smooth skin underneath."
That sounds like only good news, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite the whole story.
"While there are lots of benefits to applying breast milk to the skin, it’s important to consider the potential risks too. Firstly, there is a risk of transferring bacteria to the skin, especially if you are already prone to bacterial acne. There is also a risk of infections if the milk is not stored properly or allergic reactions as breast milk isn’t suitable for all skin types," cautions Dharamshi. "Nonetheless, I would recommend doing a patch test beforehand and speaking to your dermatologist who can set you up on a personalised treatment plan."
Something of a mixed bag, the number one rule when introducing anything new to your skin is to practise caution. Before you put it on your face, try the inside of your wrist or behind your ear to gauge whether you're likely to have an allergic reaction.
For something like breast milk, there is also the risk of contamination through bacteria. Our advice would be to check with your doctor or dermatologist before forging ahead. It could save you a skin meltdown further down the line.
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