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Does bathing in milk, à la Mariah Carey, *actually* benefit your skin?


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Since Mariah Carey is one of the most iconic artists in the music industry (not to mention forever on everyone’s workout and holiday playlists), she’s earned her right to be a diva. Recently, however, Carey—who just got real about her struggles with mental health—shared one facet of her bathing regimen that might be even more outrageous than you’d expect.

The artist was once thought to bathe exclusively in French mineral water, but she says she actually prefers soaking in a tub full of cold dairy. Yes, you read that correctly. “I bathe in milk. Sometimes I use milk as a beauty treatment. I don’t want to give away all my secrets,” she told The Guardian.

But taking a cold milk bath doesn’t sound too relaxing—especially if there’s no spoon or cereal involved. In fact, lounging in there long enough for the milk to reach body temperature makes me feel a bit disgusted—that smell can’t be good. Alas, Carey isn’t the first to fall in love with milky suds. “These baths are making a definite comeback due to milk’s natural skin-smoothing and anti-aging properties. If it was good enough for Cleopatra, it’s certainly worth a try,” Libby Rhee, DO, a New York City dermatologist, tells me.

“Taking a milk bath once a week can leave your skin feeling soft, supple, and youthful.” —Libby Rhee, dermatologist

So, what is it about milk baths that have allured people for centuries? According to Dr. Rhee, it’s an easy medium through which to score complexion benefits from its healthy fats, protein, lactic acid, and skin-nourishing vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and zinc. “Lactic acid is a naturally occurring mild alpha hydroxy acid, which can gently exfoliate your skin while you soak,” Dr. Rhee says. “Taking a milk bath once a week can leave your skin feeling soft, supple, and youthful.”

To draw a diva-worthy bath at home à la Carey, Dr. Rhee says to use the high-fat stuff for the best results, like goat’s milk. Don’t worry: It doesn’t have to be cold (although chilling your beauty treatments, like Mandy Moore does, can offer added benefits). Also, it doesn’t have to be all milk, thank goodness. Dr. Rhee recommends adding two cups of full-fat organic milk, a quarter cup of organic honey (make sure it’s high-quality!), and the essential oil of your choice to warm bath water.

To get the full effect, soak for 15 to 20 minutes listening to “Always Be My Baby” on repeat, and voilà, emerge looking like a true ’90s pop star. (Avoid attempting her signature moves, though, because it’ll be slippery.) The last step? Rinse off thoroughly and moisturize—unless you want your new signature scent to be Spoiled Milk No. 5.

Want to take a bath sans milk? Here’s why to soak in jojoba oil, or keep things simple and go for good old-fashioned Epsom salt.

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