Would You Use Beauty Products Made with Donkey’s Milk?
We have a different opinion on the use of certain animals compared to our friends across the channel. While we recently cried out against the hidden content of horse meat in our burgers and ready meals, the French have been eating horse for years. In a similar vein, a popular anti-ageing ingredient in French cosmetics may surprise you, but it has been a skincare staple in Europe and the Mediterranean region since the days of Cleopatra. Keep an open mind…it’s donkey’s milk. However, are we Brits ready it?
According to Catherine Baron dit Faveron, founder of the French natural cosmetics brand Calinesse, she came across the amazing properties of donkey’s milk quite by chance. She recalls, ‘I was on vacation in the South of France in 2005 and staying at a small bed and breakfast, where the owners had put out soaps made with donkey’s milk by an artisanal soap maker in Marseilles for guests to use.’ While we Brits may shirk the idea of donkey’s milk-soap altogether, Baron used the soap without really thinking about it, and noticed some very visible changes in her skin. ‘My face was very soft and felt very clean and not at all dry,’ she details. ‘The soap was wonderfully rich and creamy and after using it just a couple of times, I felt such a significant difference in my skin.’
This is why donkey’s milk has been coveted by kings and queens throughout the ages, as well as the ordinary folk who wanted a boost to their beauty and wellbeing. The legend goes that Cleopatra believed in the wellness properties of donkey’s milk so much so that she bathed in it, while the Greeks and the Romans believed it was a powerful elixir for health and strength, and the fashionable “Elegantes” of 19th Century France dabbed it on their cheeks to soften and whiten their skin. Today, Calinesse offers a range of donkey milk soaps, creams and lotions for both women and babies, all of which have become popular in various countries across the globe.
However, behind Calinesse’s great products is artisan soap maker Pierluigi Orunesu, founder of Swiss company Eurolactis, which is the only company in the world with a vertically integrated supply chain focused exclusively on the production of donkey’s milk. Orunesu, whose company produces close to 60,000 litres of donkey milk per year, believes the donkey milk renaissance is only just beginning, as well as the profile of the animal itself. ‘I’m originally from Sardinia where there are tons of donkeys,’ he notes. ‘Donkeys are a part of tradition, but when we are small, we don’t understand the importance of the animal and all that we can do with it.’
Orunesu, however, has learnt a great deal about the benefits of donkey’s milk, noting that it is ideal for people with allergies to traditional dairy and soy milks. Donkey’s milk also has a low ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, meaning that it’s an anti-inflammatory that can help you fight the disease-causing damage of free radicals. You’ll also find a large amount of the anti-bacterial enzyme Lysozyme in donkey’s milk, as well as a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are excellent for maintaining your skin’s moisture barrier. Orunesu adds, ‘The milk also contains many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A for the cellular membrane, Vitamin B2, which is excellent for immunity and the biological processes of the skin, and Vitamin E, which stops the ageing process. This milk really hydrates the epidermis, nourishes and regenerates the skin tissue.’ So, are you ready to try it?