Animal milks have a long, well-established history of being beneficial ingredients in skin care (Cleopatra and her milk baths, for example). The one you’re most likely to see, though, is goat milk. Mostly because in the battle of goat milk vs cow milk, the benefits of goat milk in skin care tend to come out on top as it’s been found to be richer and more nourishing thanks to essential fatty acids in the milk, including a high concentration of medium-chain fatty acids, and is incredibly gentle for those who have particularly dry, sensitive, and eczema-prone skin (and when it comes to goat milk for babies, the formulas seem to get an overwhelming tick of approval from mums).
While we’ve seen other milks come into play in the last few years (the Koreans love a bit of donkey’s milk, and even camel’s milk is tip-toeing its way into the mainstream), goat milk formulas tend to reign.
But now there’s a new milk coming onto the beauty scene that may just change the pecking order: deer milk.
Kōtia, a just-launched skin care brand from New Zealand, is offering world-first first skin care products based around 100 per cent pure deer milk.
So how is it different to old-favourite goat milk? “If you have a look at the profile of what goat’s milk contains versus what deer milk contains, they’re like chalk and cheese,” says Robert Jarmyn, Marketing Manager at McPherson’s (kōtia is a joint venture with McPherson’s).
Kerrie Moore, National Training Manager for the New Zealand brand, adds, “It’s really about the fat content and the solids. In deer’s milk it’s almost three times as much [as goat’s milk]. Deer milk is about 20 per cent solids, whereas most milks are around five to six per cent solids.”
Um so for those of us without science degrees? “Deer milk provides very intense moisturisation, faster and [for] longer.”
According to Moore, there are a whole slew of other benefits for the skin: “It’s great for anti-ageing, because of the proteins [in it]. There are high levels of vitamin A, which as you know helps to speed up cell turnover and brightens the skin and it improves the exfoliation process. And there are lots of multivitamins like vitamin B, vitamin D, and they’re not additional vitamins – they’re part of the milk itself.”
I was lucky enough to head over to Queenstown, New Zealand, to learn more about the brand and the benefits of deer milk, as well as experience the products first-hand (yep, I got to meet some cute baby deer, too! See pic above). But before I get into that, let’s for a second just enjoy how bloody glorious New Zealand is.
So, the whole thing about deer milk is that it’s meant to up skin hydration, and if you’re wondering how in the world kōtia discovered it does this, it was purely by accident. A milk-hand found that after a few weeks of milking the farm’s deer, her weathered hands become soft and smooth to the touch. And how did it fare on my skin? Well at the age of, ahem, early 30s, my skin isn’t exactly weathered. But it could always do with some extra hydration and some natural vitamin A to keep those forehead lines and crow’s feet of mine from deepening.
I was treated to a complete facial using the range of kōtia products, and post-treatment my skin felt plump, smooth and overall happy, and the good times rolled until the next day. So, I guess we can say deer milk ticks that long-term hydration box (but just an FYI, each product has been formulated with other ingredients to get the most out of the deer milk, so it wasn’t just pure or raw milk from deer being slathered on my skin). The range is pretty comprehensive and features a milk cleanser, day cream, night cream, serum, eye cream, face mask and hand cream; if I had to pick a favourite, I’d say it was the kōtia Rejuvenating Serum.
Now, something you may be asking is, “but is the whole deer milking process ethical?” (it’s something I wondered myself, and asked the brand, too, because just look at these sweet little guys).
First, the fawn and mama deer are not separated when the mother starts producing milk. The fawn is never deprived of its necessary milk supply from its mother, and I’ve been told that the mother is never over-milked.
“You get about one litre a day from a deer,” says Jarmyn. And because the ingredient is so potent, you don’t need much of it in each product. In addition, Jarmyn explains, “We have several hundreds of thousands of deer that we work with to get the milk. That’s why we don’t have a farm as such, because we have a number of different deer farmers. So, we work with them to produce milk from those particular farms.”
So there you go, efforts have been made to ensure the safety and comfort of the deer.
The world of deer milk is definitely new territory, but given the hydration and universal skin care benefits it offers, we’ll be watching this space to see if more brands get in on the action. For now though, if you want to try deer milk skin care for yourself, you can find kotia here in Australia at Priceline stores soon.
Deer milk may be the newest ingredient on the skin care scene, but this old-school ingredient is making a comeback!
Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.