The microbiome-friendly skincare brand's gentle, yet effective products consistently sell out at Ulta.
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BEAUTY BOSS: Beekman 1802/Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Credit: Courtesy Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Growing up, you were probably told a glass of milk does the body good. And it turns out milk, specifically from goats, is also beneficial if applied topically to the skin.

Just ask Beekman 1802, a skincare brand that's built all of its clean, clinically-proven formulas for sensitive skin around goat milk. The pH level is what makes goat milk so special. Because it's similar to the pH of human skin, it helps keep the microbiome balanced.

Co-founders Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge first discovered the benefits of goat milk 12 years ago by chance. The pair had moved to the Beekman 1802 farm in rural Sharon Springs, NY and inherited a herd of goats from a neighboring farm. After researching the uses of goat milk in effort to make a profit from the herd, they landed on using the goats' milk to make bar soap.

The non-stripping bar soap quickly grew popular thanks to word of mouth. Fast forward to 2022, and the brand has sold over 16 million bars of soap and has expanded to a full range of skincare and body products sold at Ulta and QVC.

Ahead, the co-founders break down the skincare science of goat milk, how Beekman 1802's approach to creating products is unique, and why kindness is the brand's other most important skincare ingredient.

How did you discover the skincare benefits of goat milk?

BR: We had a farm property in upstate New York and one of our neighbors was losing their farm and asked if his herd of goats could come on our property to graze. We were only using the farm on weekends at this point and had no animals so we said sure. We like to think this is our company's first act of kindness. Originally we were trying to figure out how to make a source of income out of the goats on our property.

JKP: We started with the soap because goat milk has the same pH as your skin, so from a cleansing standpoint, it doesn't strip your skin or throw it off balance. We wanted to figure out exactly how the goat milk was protecting the skin.

Your products are tested and certified safe for the microbiome, a popular topic in skincare right now. How does the goat milk impact the skin microbiome?

BR: All of our products are clinically tested and we first started the company 12 years ago, the research on the microbiome wasn't there. It's only come out in recent years. When we started working with goat milk because of its pH, we didn't know it was going to tie into the developing research of the microbiome.

When the research came out, it brought me back to my time working as a physician at Mount Sinai Hospital. We would give people yogurt to repopulate their gut microbiome after they've been on a long course of antibiotics. It make me think about the reason why this works is that the bacteria feeds off the sugars naturally inherent in the milk in the yogurt. So we knew the goat milk would have those sugars and if we we fed it to the microbiome of the skin, it would thrive too.

What's your approach to developing products?

JKP: We look at what's happening in skincare and new research, but we don't believe in a "more is more approach." We start with goat milk as the first step, and then figure out what concentrations of active ingredients are effective while still being gentle enough for sensitive skin.

BR: Because we've grown so much, we get feedback from our customers about what products they want to see. We're a small independent company and can't launch 50 products a year, so we're very specific about what we make. If we launch something, it has to be something our customers want and we know is different than what someone else is doing. There are a lot of great skincare companies out there making great products and we don't need to make the same product.

 Other than goat milk, why is kindness an important ingredient to your brand?

JKP: We want to bring kindness to your skin and joy to your life. People think of kindness as an emotion that's separate from science and wellness. But they do work together because acts of kindness buffer the stress which can affect the skin.

BR:  Our skincare products are kind to the skin and the microbiome, but beyond that we believe in the power of kindness (including self-kindness) as transformative. Research shows that receiving and giving a moment of kindness can influence the neuroendocrine system in the body which ultimately leaves to less inflammation throughout the body and even on the surface of the skin. It has real ripple effect.

VIDEO: How to Tell If Your Skin Is Actually Dry — Or Just Dehydrated

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Beauty Boss profiles the brains behind the brands making waves in the beauty industry. From the ideas that first inspire brands to how best-selling hair, makeup, and skincare products are made, find out how these leaders get it done.