December 20, 2017

My Holy Grail Cleanser: Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk Review

Hey friends! Today we’re talking about one of my absolute favorite products: Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk. Keep reading to find out why I love it!

Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. This post does not contain affiliate or referral links. This product was purchased by me with my own money.

I. love. this. cleanser. I literally will not use any other cleanser on my face, and I’m very rarely committed to any product, period. I love variety. I love change. But with my cleanser? Nope, not anymore. I’m in a committed relationship with Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk. The ring is on, the Tinder profile has been deleted.

In order to really understand my love for this cleanser, we need a little background. In general, my skin is normal to oily, acne prone, and really over-dramatic. I say it’s over-dramatic because it basically loses its mind if the weather changes, or if I don’t give in to its demands immediately. I’ve always struggled with my skin being a little dry and tight after cleansing, but I thought that the couple of cleansers I was rotating between were as good as it was ever going to get for my skin. Then, I started using Differin Adapalene gel to help with my acne.

My skin went haywire, throwing a full-on diva-worthy tantrum. I have a full and very detailed review on my experiences with Differin, so if you’d like to know more about that, go here. For this review, all you really need to know is that my reaction was abnormal and the retinization symptoms were significantly more dramatic for me than they are for most people. When first introducing a retinol product into their routines, most people will experience minor dryness and irritation. My skin, on the other hand, became so dry and irritated that it was physically painful to wash my face and put on makeup. My makeup and even many of my skincare products literally stung my face. I was also using Differin’s cleanser, which was designed to be used in conjunction with Differin gel, yet it only seemed to exacerbate the dryness and sensitivity I was experiencing. It got to a point where I was in desperate need of something more gentle to cleanse my skin, and the first thing I thought of was Stratia’s Velvet Cleansing Milk because of all the great things I had heard. It turned out to be exactly what my skin needed. It was gentle on my skin, and within about a week my skin was no longer stinging when I applied makeup or skincare products. Over time, it helped to make my skin softer, and my skin feels more comfortable than ever after I wash my face. I’ve found my perfect cleansing combo (Velvet Cleansing Milk + Farmacy Green Clean= heaven) and have no plans of changing it up anytime soon. I have a review of Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm here if you’d like to check that out.

About Stratia

If this is the first you’re hearing of Stratia, here’s what you need to know.

  • The brand is created and formulated by Alli Reed, whom you may also know from her blog The Acid Queen.
  • All Stratia products are developed with scientifically proven ingredients at optimal concentrations and pH values.
  • The brand is cruelty-free. Several of the products, though not all, are vegan. According to Stratia’s website, “Fortify, Soft Touch AHA, and Velvet Cleansing Milk are vegan. Rewind uses n-acetyl glucosamine sourced from sea shells, and Liquid Gold uses cholesterol derived from lanolin (the oil on sheep’s wool).”
  • In addition to Velvet Cleansing Milk, Stratia also makes several other products which can be found here.

Stratia Velvet Cleansing Milk is a gentle yet effective creamy, non-foaming cleanser. The pH is ~5.0, which is perfect for anyone who deals with acne on a regular basis. To learn more about the relationship between pH, cleansers, and acne check out this post from Snow White and the Asian Pear here. The soundbite version of it is that using a cleanser with too high of a pH can disrupt your skin’s natural pH (5.5), strip the skin of moisture, damage the skin’s moisture barrier, and create an environment where acne bacteria thrives due to a higher skin pH. Even if you don’t have acne, using a cleanser with a low pH (around 5.6 or lower) is still a good idea for optimal skin health.

Velvet Cleansing Milk is ideally used as a second cleanser after you’ve removed your makeup, but thanks to the inclusion of Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters, it does a pretty good job of removing light makeup or the bits that your makeup remover may have missed. A lot of people, especially people with acne and/or oily skin will read ‘olive oil’ and be ready to run. Here’s why there’s no reason to be alarmed. First of all, this cleanser rinses cleanly, there’s no oily film left behind. Second, the olive oil esters are what grab onto all of the gunk (totally the scientific term) and removes it from your face. If that’s not enough to calm your fears (fair enough), here’s the actual science behind it. Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters aren’t the same thing as the oil you might use to dress a salad. Rather, they’re the result of a reaction between olive oil and polyethylene glycol. The end result of this process is a surfactant, which is able to latch onto both oil and water (for a more in-depth scientific explanation, check out this excellent blog post from SwiftCraftyMonkey here). Surfactants are also great at making things slippery, which is something you want in a cleanser. Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters are also particularly gentle and moisturizing, and are better tolerated by oily skin because they don’t have a heavy, greasy feeling that many people shy away from.

TL;DR: remain calm, Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters are not coming to attack your pores.


Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the ingredients in Velvet Cleansing Milk.

Water (Aqua), Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters, Matricaria Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Essential Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Ceteareth-20, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Disodium EDTA, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

A lot of the ingredients listed are just there to control texture, viscosity, etc., so let’s focus our attention on the ingredients that are actually there to impact the skin. The chamomile flower essential water works as an anti-inflammatory, which would definitely explain why I’ve found this cleanser to be so much more gentle than others, along with the Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters. Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil is a hydrating and emollient ingredient. Glycerin is excellent for skin hydration. This cleanser also contains Allantoin, which is another anti-inflammatory ingredient. Then there’s Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice which is a skin conditioning ingredient, essentially it helps with moisture.

One ingredient that people often have a misconception about is alcohol. Typically, people think alcohol=drying, but not all ingredients with alcohol in the name are the same (the reason for this has a lot to do with how chemicals are mixed and the naming protocols used in chemistry, which can be very confusing if you’re trying to broadly categorize things). In this case, Cetearyl Alcohol is actually an emollient ingredient that helps to control the texture of a product. Repeat: Cetearyl Alcohol will not dry out your skin. Good? Good.

Note that this does contain Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (fractionated coconut oil), which can cause breakouts for a small amount of people. Even if your skin is sensitive to coconut ingredients, I wouldn’t worry much about it here since it’s something you’ll wash off after a minute or two. Proceed with caution, but I don’t think it’s enough to completely rule it out as an option.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know what I would have done without this cleanser when it felt like my face was burning off, and it continues to be an incredibly important part of my skincare routine.  Even with other low pH cleansers I’ve loved in the past, I never knew it was possible to make my skin feel so comfortable, yet clean. I highly recommend giving this cleanser a try, especially if you struggle with your skin feeling dry or stripped after cleansing. The only people I wouldn’t recommend it to are people with exceptionally oily skin (that isn’t the result of dehydration) because this may not be quite enough to cut through a lot of oil. Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Buy it!

$15 for 4 oz at stratiaskin.com

Thanks for reading!



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