One would likely not think to clean their face with milk. But with the best cleansing milks featured here, one would not actually be cleaning their face with dairy products at all. Instead, these cleansers earn their milky monikers from their smooth, runny consistencies, achieved from an emulsion of water and (non-dairy) fats. The result: An extra-gentle, non-stripping cleanser that's especially well-suited for dry and sensitive skin types.
Extra emphasis on gentle. Most of these cleansers claim to melt away makeup, but they’re probably not hardcore enough to wash off a full face and/or waterproof mascara. Instead, you’re better off using a micellar water or oil cleanser as your makeup remover, then following it up with your cleansing milk. (Cleansing milks are water-based, so they’re actually the ideal second step in a double-cleansing routine for dry, sensitive skin.) Similarly, since these cleansers are so gentle, they're perfect for mornings when you just need a light wash.
From probiotic-rich formulas to classic French pharmacy buys, scroll on to shop five of the best cleansing milks on the market right now.
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1. The Drugstore One
Cleansing milks tend to be favored by luxury and/or European skin care companies, but this one from Garnier is a solid showing from an American drugstore brand. It’s not quite as “clean” as other cleansers on this list, but it is well-loved on Amazon, and designed with dry, sensitive, and reactive skin in mind: It’s formulated without some of the most common additives and potential irritants, like dyes, fragrances, and parabens; while the addition of rose water gives it an extra soothing and hydrating kick. Pair it with their cult-favorite micellar water for a budget-friendly double-cleansing routine.
2. The NATRUE-Certified One
This Weleda cleansing milk is another reasonably priced cleanser, though this has the added distinction of being certified by NATRUE, an international organization that monitors natural and organic cosmetic products. Obviously, that means it contains almost entirely natural ingredients, like sesame seed and jojoba oils to nourish and soften your skin; and witch hazel to calm, refine, and gently tone. Note that this does contain alcohol — a little unusual for a cleansing milk, since alcohol can be drying and irritating — though Amazon reviewers with dry, sensitive skin still rave about it as a holy-grail product. (Heads up: The Garnier cleanser has some alcohol in it, too.)
3. The One With Probiotics
For the literalists out there: This TULA cleansing milk actually contains something milk-related! That would be lactococcus ferment lysate, a probiotic derived from a bacteria that’s normally found in milk and does amazing things for your skin. Namely, it helps rebalance your natural protective barrier for stronger, more moisturized, and clearer skin overall. The formula is packed with other skin-soothers, too, like aloe, cucumber, and colloidal oatmeal, which all help leave irritated, redness-prone skin feeling comfortable and calm. Even though it contains that milk-adjacent ingredient, it's still vegan.
4. Writer's Pick
This Naturopathica cleanser was my first entree into cleansing milks, and I have yet to find another I love as much. Consistency-wise, this strikes the right balance between milky and creamy — not so runny that it slips right off your face and down the drain, not so creamy that it can’t be rightfully classified as a milk. Functionally, it leaves my sensitive, redness-prone skin feeling silky-smooth and visibly calmer, thanks to soothing chamomile and rose water (which also impart a light, herbal scent). One more thing to love: It’s made of 100% natural ingredients, 86.84% of which are certified organic by ECOCERT Greenlife.
5. Editor's Pick
I've been using this cleanser day and night for over a year, and I've never been interested in swapping it out for something else. It leaves my skin feeling super soft and comfortable, it does a solid job at removing makeup (though on heavy makeup days I do start with a micellar water), and it's never provoked any sort of redness in my dry, sensitive-ish skin. Technically, you don't have to rinse this off, though I choose to. Other highlights: Its big, 6-ounce bottle that never seems to run out, and its fresh, mild scent that lingers in a good way. — Adeline Duff, Beauty Editor, Affiliate