Donkey's Milk: Yea or Hee-haw?

Image credit: ladyofhats

Image credit: ladyofhats


Standards of beauty may have changed over the centuries, but one thing has stayed the same: women - and men - have cared about how they look since they first discovered reflective surfaces!  In our weekly Beauty: then and now feature, we look at some of the ways people have tried to look, feel and smell good over the course of history, and suggest some modern ways to achieve the same effect!

Cleopatra's beauty was legendary.  Drawing by Michelangelo

One of the most popular methods of fighting aging and keeping a clear complexion throughout history has been bathing in milk from a donkey - actually, several donkeys!  Cleopatra, famous for her beauty the world over, is said to have used milk from seven hundred donkeys for her daily bath.  When she travelled, she’d have a whole entourage of she-donkeys following her caravan, and she had a group of slaves who were specially trained to care for and milk the donkeys so that she never had to skip a beauty break.

During the Roman Empire, women were no less obsessed with making asses of themselves to stay young and beautiful.  The great writer Pliny wrote a whole treatise on the beauty benefits of donkey’s milk, recommending that women wash their faces with it seven times a day!  

Pliny wrote that donkey’s milk “...effaces wrinkles in the face, renders the skin more delicate, and preserves its whiteness…” and Roman women just couldn’t get enough of it!

Did it work?

Surprisingly...yes!  Actually, donkey’s milk is still used in some soaps and creams today.  Donkey’s milk is loaded with nourishing properties that can help soften skin and reduce wrinkles; it’s also a great substitute for breast milk for nursing babies, since its levels of lactose, fat and protein are very similar to human milk.  But we wouldn’t recommend using donkey’s milk to bathe, even in soap form: it’s expensive, has a very short shelf life and it smells terrible.

Pictured: not recommended!  Image credit: Spa Vivent Vertriebs GmbH

Pictured: not recommended!  Image credit: Spa Vivent Vertriebs GmbH


BellaPelle recommends…

...a moisturizing body lotion, with an active ingredient to help promote cell turnover and fight aging.  A great example is BellaPelle’s own Limoncello body cream: Limoncello’s active ingredient is lactic acid, which is actually derived from milk.  The lactic acid helps cell turnover by stripping away dead skin for that youthful, fresh look Cleopatra craved.  Soothing fruit enzymes help smooth and moisturise the skin, leaving it soft and revived.  Like donkey’s milk, you can use Limoncello on your face, your hands, or all over your body; but unlike donkey’s milk, Limoncello smells deliciously of fresh lemons, instead of...well, donkey’s milk!

Add To Cart