Why You Should Rethink Using Milk Of Magnesia As A Face Primer

One of the most highly thought of beauty hacks, milk of magnesia has beauty gurus and enthusiasts regularly running to the drugstore to stock up. And though adding milk of magnesia to your beauty routine as a face primer will work to keep you looking beat all day, there are issues with heavy use of it. Let us explain.

What is Milk of Magnesia?

Milk of magnesia, or MOM, is an over-the-counter laxative used to treat common health problems such as constipation, upset stomach, and heartburn. This product is also used to relieve gastric acid and acid reflux when too much acid builds up and sits in the stomach

Why is it such a hot item for YouTube beauty gurus?

Makeup artists of all walks of life have found MOM is able to treat our most common beauty issues like

•Reducing blemishes and blackheads

•Eliminating excess oils that contribute to breakouts

•Clearing skin imperfections from acne scarring or other causes

•Healing skin irritations and infections from bug bites and rashes

So how can it be bad for the skin?

•It contains a bleaching agent:

The main ingredients in milk of magnesia are water and magnesium hydroxide, newer formulas of the solution have added sodium hypochlorite, however, which is the main ingredient in bleach. Using a product with this ingredient is far too harsh for the skin and can easily burn a sensitive area like the face. It may cause blisters, soreness, redness, and other skin related issues.

•It contains hidden inactive ingredients:

Most of us don’t exactly read product labels, and if we do, often times we don’t understand them. If an ingredient looks suspicious to you, search the web to see its real chemical structure and properties. There are hidden inactive ingredients in MOM that may trigger allergic reactions.

•It causes dryness and tightness:

Excessive use of milk of magnesia will cause dryness and tightness for those with normal to dry skin and even those with oily skin. If you have sensitive skin or broken skin, you should never use this product. Allowing MOM to sit on top of your skin for an extended period of time will create more skin irritations and problems.

And don’t worry about giving up your milk of magnesia now that you know the real deal behind the hype, there are hundreds of primers on the market, created specifically for your face and the skin issues you have that don’t have scary side effects.

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The latest beauty trend is a strange one.

The internet has exploded with beauty gurus proclaiming the benefits of Milk of Magnesia as an oil-controlling makeup primer, but does it really work? And is it a good idea to apply the product — billed as an oral laxative and antacid — directly on your face?

According to Lasaundra Lasker, an aesthetician and skin therapist at Ulta Beauty, the answer is yes — although dermatologists are more skeptical.

“I’ve been using Phillips’s Milk of Magnesia as my primer for years,” Lasker says. “It keeps oil at bay and helps set your makeup so it lasts longer.”

RELATED: 15 travel-sized drugstore buys used by celebrity makeup artists

Lasker admits to being skeptical at first and a little concerned, too. “But it really works,” she says. “It even reduces the appearance of enlarged pores.”

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TODAY’s YouTube Social Star, Angela Cruz, tested the claim for herself and wore Milk of Magnesia as an oil-preventing primer for an entire day. Her conclusion: It did offer a smoother, more finished look, but other products have done a better job at stopping shine for a full eight hours.

Although many of the reviews for this beauty trick have been positive, Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald, a dermatologist based in Los Angeles, warns that the product could cause acne with repeated use. It could even trigger an allergic reaction for those with sensitive skin.

“Your skin’s pH balance is a little acidic or neutral and Milk of Magnesia is at a basic pH. That could mess with your skin’s ability to hold water and it could cause you all kinds of problems,” Fitzgerald says.

RELATED: Watch this woman apply 100 layers of foundation

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York City-based dermatologist, says it’s OK to use the product as an inexpensive alternative, but only on occasion.

“True makeup primers are engineered to do their job,” he says. “While Milk of Magnesia can serve a similar purpose when applied topically on your face, I would recommend using it only when you are in a jam, rather than for regular use.”

Angela Cruz.Beauty News with Angela Cruz / YouTube

So, why does it work in the first place? The product’s active ingredient, magnesium hydroxide, helps dissolve fats and oils, Zeichner says.

Professional makeup artist and YouTube star Kandee Johnson says there’s no need to resort to alternatives when there are great products on the market.

RELATED: See why mirror nail polish is the internet’s new beauty obsession

“These products have been tested and are amazing,” she explains. “They’ll keep your skin looking matte all day long.”

Model in a Bottle

Model in a bottle makeup setting spray, $18, modelinabottle.com


Cover FX custom blot drops, $42, sephora.com

In other words, stick to the beauty aisle when shopping for makeup at the drugstore.

Meet Angela Cruz, first finalist in TODAY’s Social Star Search

June 29, 201604:59

Should You Use Milk of Magnesia on Your Skin?: The Internet Rumor, Researched

You always hear beauty gurus say that Milk of Magnesia (MOM), an OTC antacid and laxative, can secretly double as a life-saving foundation primer or mask for those with oily skin . But does this actually have scientific merit in regards to absorbing facial oil? And are there any drawbacks to this off-label use?

What is MOM’s original purpose?

In its unflavored and most widely-used form, magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2) is the active ingredient, accompanied by water and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) (Philips’).

Mg(OH)2 acts as an antacid (to counter something like stomach ulcers) via neutralization: Mg(OH)2 will dissociate in water, and the basic hydroxide ions (OH–) will combine with the acidic hydrogen ions (H+) in stomach acid to form water. Hence, neutralization.

As a laxative, Mg(OH)2 relies on the magnesium ions (Mg2+) that form upon dissociation. Because these ions aren’t largely absorbed by the intestinal tract, they will draw water from the surrounding tissues, which will increase the water content of the intestinal tract, resulting in softer and more “passable” fecal matter. Mg2+ ions also cause the release of a compound called cholecystokinin, which similarly results in higher levels of water, electrolytes, and intestinal movement (The American Journal of Gastroenterology).

Sodium Hypochlorite

The other ingredient of importance is sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), otherwise known as bleach. It is in very low concentration and acts as a pH adjuster or buffer. When dissolved in water, NaClO will slowly decompose, releasing chlorine, oxygen, and sodium hydroxide.

The reaction of this process is: 4 NaClO + 2 H2O >>> 4 NaOH +2 *Cl2 +O2.

*Keep in mind that the rate of decomposition is extremely slow, so the amount of chlorine gas emitted will probably be negligible. However, it’s best to not inhale bleach for any prolonged period of time.

What attributes are relevant when referring to MOM’s applications in skin care?

Milk of magnesia does indeed have some ability to absorb surface lipids on the skin. Although not many studies have been specifically designed to test this concept, one study suggests that Mg(OH)2 is more adept than magnesia or magnesium oxide (MgO) at facilitating the absorption and separation of wax and stearyl esters, which are similar to compounds found in sebum (Lipids). While this is far from conclusive, it does give some weight to the efficacy of MOM as a “degreaser.”

Furthermore, what little of the bleach content is present, can further “degrease” the skin. As a strong oxidizer, bleach can cause defatting or the chemical dissolution of surface lipids (Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine), resulting in less oil on the skin.

Are there are drawbacks?

Clearly, the most obvious drawback is that milk of magnesia is quite basic — as are its two main ingredients, magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2) and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). MOM has an overall pH of 10.5, while sodium hydroxide (NaOH), as seen above in the chemical reaction has an astonishingly high pH of 14 (Miami Museum of Science)!

When the skin is at a basic pH, all kinds of problems related to impaired skin can manifest, such as: contact dermatitis, increased acne (since a basic pH interferes with regular desquamation and allows for bacteria proliferation), and many others. With consistent use, MOM can seriously wreck your skin!

What do I do?!

Relax. If you’ve been applying MOM to the skin, just discontinue use. If you’re bummed out because something so promising isn’t actually so, don’t worry! There are other (better) ways to deal with oily skin, ranging from something as complicated as oral isotretinoin, to something as simple as a pressed powder. There are too many to identify, describe, and analyze! Therefore, keeping in line with this post, here are a few topical “cosmetic” absorbents that can easily replace MOM:

  1. The Smashbox Anti-Shine ($28.50, Amazon.com) contains a similar, but less basic, compound magnesium aluminum silicate, to absorb excess facial oil. I have personally tried this and it’s quite effective, although you may have some difficulty obtaining it in-stores. For some reason, both Nordstrom and Sephora have pulled it from their shelves. The texture is a slightly thick paste- or spackle-like gel that’s excellent for filling in pores, and can be applied underneath or on top of makeup and/or sunscreen.
  2. The Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer ($52.00, Amazon.com) contains the powerful absorbents, isododecane and alumina. Furthermore, it contains a gentle mineral-based sunscreen wrapped up in an elegant silicone base and whose texture is simply divine! While pricey, I always have one of these on hand. It’s best used underneath or mixed with makeup and/or sunscreen.
  3. The OC Eight Professional Mattifying Gel ($27.73, Amazon.com) contains a patented type of acrylate copolymer that allegedly forms “micro-particles that trap facial oils.” While the concept and marketing are impressive, I have yet to try this and therefore, cannot give a wholehearted recommendation.
  4. The Paula’s Choice Shine Stopper ($21.95, Amazon.com) also contains a type of (meth)acrylate crosspolymer, in addition to a small amount of the absorbent present in the Smashbox Anti-Shine, magnesium aluminum silicate. Coincidentally, the textures of both are also quite similar. Likewise, they perform about the same for my very oily skin type. You’ll want to be careful with these two products, as using too much will cause them to ball up and make a mess.

Ultimately, my personal Holy Grail product is the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer because it really extends the wear-time of anything I apply over it by a few hours. It also provides decent UVA and UVB protection, which coupled with its silky, water-light texture, makes it a perfect mixing medium for my regular sunscreen.

Have YOU tried MOM before? Let me know what you think either on down below or on my blog!

Looking for the best skin care? FutureDerm is committed to having its customers find — and create — the best skin care for their individual skin type, concern, and based on your ingredient preferences. Learn more by visiting the FutureDerm shop!

The internet can be very persuasive when it comes to hacking beauty products and treatments with household solutions. The weirder, the better! But instead of slathering diaper cream all over your face or rubbing onion juice into your brows, we fully endorse using Milk of Magnesia—yes, as in the laxative—as a pre-face-beat primer this summer.

For starters, this drugstore beauty trick is actually pretty O.G. and by that I mean it was forum fodder long before there was a new crazy beauty trend every single day. In fact, many major makeup artists are crazy for the stuff, using it in favor of professional mattifying primers on celebrity clientele. Kylie Jenner’s go-to MUA Hrush Achemyan loves to prep the face with it as it creates a layer between the foundation and the face to ensure that it doesn’t sink into the skin under white-hot lights.

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A post shared by Anthony Merante Makeup Artist (@anthonymerante) on Apr 9, 2016 at 11:04pm PDT

The Pepto-Bismol-like fluid (it’s white, not pink) is also really, really great for oily skin as it sops up excess grease, controls shine, and tightens pores—kind of like a clay mask. In fact, if you don’t use it as a primer, you can use it as a mask or spot treatment, leaving it on as long as you like, and washing it off for a smooth, fresh canvas.

“A lot of the water-based primers on the market just feel like another moisturizer and the silicone-based primers feel waxy or, while they’ll matte you down, they still don’t stick,” makeup artist Julianne Kaye, who works with everyone from Brooke Shields to Britney Spears, tells the Daily Mail. “When you put milk of magnesia on your face you can actually feel that veil over the skin.”

To use Milk of Magnesia as a primer, shake the bottle well, then apply a thin layer (you never want it to read chalky) all over your face, rubbing it in until you can’t see it. Wait until it’s completely dry before you apply your foundation. You can also concentrate it to your most oil-prone areas, like the T-zone or chin.

Phillips Milk of Magnesia, $6.49; wallgreens.com.

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10 Benefits Of Using Milk Of Magnesia For Oily Skin Jayshree Bhagat Hyderabd040-395603080 September 20, 2017

Milk of magnesia is also known as magnesium hydroxide. It is great for skin care if you have oily skin. Milk of magnesia can combat oily skin and impart smoothness to your skin. It is even available in tablet and liquid form.

How to Apply Milk Of Magnesia?

  • Cleanse your face thoroughly
  • Removes excess moisture. Pat dry with a towel
  • Apply a thin layer of this product on your face with a cotton ball.
  • This has a calamine lotion-like texture, hence use a small amount.
  • Allow it to dry.
  • If you are planning to go out, apply your regular makeup.
  • Dab on some loose powder for smoother skin.

Here Are The Benefits Of Milk Of Magnesia For Oily Skin:

1. Cleans Up Your Skin:

Milk of magnesia can be used for countering your oily skin problem. This is also a very effective cleanser for oily skin.

2. Use as a Primer:

Some also use milk of magnesia as a primer. This can smooth your skin and make it ready for the application of makeup. This has oil-blotting properties that can reduce oil production during summers. This is also used to cure seasonal outbreaks and other oily skin issues. Milk of magnesia is also applied to the bride’s skin to keep the makeup looking fresh all day. This also helps the bride to look flawless in photos without the need for touch-ups.

You can also apply this after moisturizing as a very thin layer. Allow it to dry and follow your normal makeup routine.

3. Controls Extra Shine:

Milk of magnesia is popularly used as a laxative and controls extra shine. Milk of magnesia acts as a clay mask to remove excess oils from your skin.

4. Kills Bacteria:

This is useful to kill bacteria on your skin. Since, milk of magnesia contains zinc, it can heal wounds.

5. Gently Strips Away The Blackheads:

Nose strips and facial strips are often used to remove blackheads. Using milk of magnesia is an even gentler way to remove blackheads. Lightly cover your blackhead-affected areas with milk of magnesia and clean off with warm water once it dries. This is the best way to treat blackheads.

6. Cleanser and Toner:

Milk of magnesia is one of the best cleansers and toners that can minimize your pore size.

7. Removes Oiliness And Suntan:

This helps to make your skin lighter, healthier and glowing. Milk of magnesia can be applied once a month to get rid of oiliness and suntan.

8. Reduces Blemishes:

Use milk of magnesia on oily skin. This is useful to prevent blemishes and skin irritations.

9. Facial Mask for Oily Skin:

Milk of magnesia is the best facial mask for oily skin. It absorbs excess oils and balances your complexion. This also helps to neutralize acids on your skin and cures acne outbreaks. This is a natural ingredient to take off impurities from your skin.

10. Skin Rashes:

Milk of magnesia is very effective for treating skin rashes. This has acidic properties to neutralize acids that cause skin rashes on oily skin. This is also a disinfectant that prevents the rash from spreading.

Dos and Don’ts of Using Milk Of Magnesia:

  • This can cause dryness and tightness.
  • Use this only if you have problems related to oily skin.
  • It may cause irritation and flakiness
  • This can create a “chalky” or whitish film on your face.
  • Use this in a small quantity to treat oily skin.
  • This is not suggested for use on dry skin.
  • Shake well before opening the bottle of milk of magnesia.
  • If you note any side effects of using milk of magnesia, stop using the product.
  • Don’t use the product too often. Use only 1-2 times a week.

Hope you found the post useful. Leave us your comments below.

Recommended Articles:

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  • 5 Most Popular Fairness Creams For Oily Skin Available in India
  • Best Makeup Products For Oily Skin – Our Top 18

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Jayshree Bhagat

Love you stylecraze for this platform. Hy there, I am Jayshree from Mumbai, director of Milestone plm solutions pvt ltd-vasai. I basically love to read and write about make-up, beauty & fashion in ma spare time. That’s my hobby you can call. Hope you love my blog and articles. Do leave your valuable feedback! Stay Beautiful!!Find out if milk of magnesia for skin can help you achieve a fresh and youthful look
Many people remember Milk of Magnesia as that laxative their mothers gave them when they were children to ease bouts of “irregularity.” Many grownups still take it for that very worthy purpose. But Milk of Magnesia for skin has ingredients that are also good for the beauty and health of the skin. The following lets you know why.
Genuine Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia Original
What is Milk of Magnesia Anyway?
Milk of Magnesia is another name for magnesium hydroxide which is a suspension of magnesium salts in water. It was given its name by Charles Henry Phillips, and the most popular brand bears his name. It neutralizes excess hydrochloric acid in your stomach and eases indigestion. When it enters the lower gastrointestinal tract, it draws water from the tissues and softens the stool. The magnesium ions also help the contractions of your small intestine that push everything along.
Why is Milk of Magnesia Good for Skin?
Milk of Magnesia for skin is great because when it’s put on, it soaks up and inhibits the production of excess oil. It helps to tighten up the pores and keeps the skin from being excessively shiny. This makes it an excellent remedy for people who have skin that produces more oils than people with dry or normal skin; oily skin also tends to have large pores. Their skin is shiny and subject to eruptions of acne and other skin problems. Some people are turning to Milk of Magnesia as a mask they put on before they go to bed or as a remedy for patches of oiliness or acne on areas of their face.
Milk of Magnesia as a Makeup Primer
Primer is what’s placed underneath your makeup to allow it to have a smoother finish and to keep foundation, mascara or lipstick from sinking into your skin. It lets your makeup stay on for a longer time without having to be refreshed. All primers set up a barrier between your skin and your makeup, but Milk of Magnesia for skin is exceptionally good at this. It adheres well to your skin and doesn’t have that unpleasant waxy feel that some primers have.
How to Use Milk of Magnesia for Skin

Before using Milk of Magnesia, dab a bit of it on your skin and see how your skin reacts. Some people are sensitive to Milk of Magnesia. If there’s no reaction, then read on. Using Milk of Magnesia for skin is easy. Just shake the bottle to make sure the suspension is evenly distributed, and then put a thin layer of the stuff over your face. Rub it in until it disappears. Let it dry before you put on foundation. If you wear it for a face mask, rub it into the problem area, keep it on for 15 minutes or so, and rinse it off with cool water.

I think that Sarah is right- people build up resistances to different mattifiers over time. I’m really not sure how that happens, but I’ve definitely seen it happen with me.

I decided to try this out and write about it after seeing a few girls discuss this on Makeup Alley’s makeup board about a month ago. I had seen discussion on it there years before and had completely forgotten about it! I bet that MoM is discussed or recommended at least once or twice a day on that board. Some of the girls use straight MoM, like me, some found they didn’t need so much and would water it down before application. (A little travel nalgene bottle is perfect for storing this in)

The way this works is the way it works for constipation. The Magnesium salt is an osmotic laxative meaning it absorbs things. In the gut it absorbs water, pulling it into your gut and loosening things up in there (ok, it is more complicated than that, but it’s the idea). On your skin the salt sucks up the oil produced. But, if you apply too much it can definitely do this to your skin, pulling water out of it (yes, really), drying out your skin.

Christina- I’d be careful using it if you are flaky. MoM can definitely make this worse. Also, are you flaky on the top of your nose or around the folds of your nose? Let me know, I have a video to share with you if it’s around the folds. 😀 If you do decide to give this a shot I’d recommend being one of the girls that mixes the MoM with water to make it easier to get very light coverage.

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Best Primers For Oily Skin

Listen, I’m going to say this one more time for the folks in the back:

If your face regularly looks like it’s been slathered in Crisco, you’re going to want to try these makeup primers and setting powders. However, before we get into the best primers for oily skin, we need to make sure your skincare game is on point.


Combating oily skin is no easy feat, let me tell you, but it can be done. Here are a few quick skin care tips that will help regulate your oil production:

1.Drink water. Tons of it

2.Over-moisturize your skin, using a heavier cream at night. My recommendation is the

PCA Skin HydraLuxe Moisturizer

It’s pricey, I know, but it. is. everything. Buy it HERE

A cheaper alternative is the Olay Whips moisturizer I mentioned in this review HERE. Buy it HERE.

3.Double Cleanse.

Yes. clean your face twice.

Use first an oil-based cleaned cleanser which removes excess oil and debris without drying your skin out, then use Use a cleanser with Tea Tree oil or Salicylic acid. Both work well to help with breakouts by unclogging pores, which in turn regulates sebum production.

Oil Cleansers

I’ve tried quite a few oil cleansers, but the first one I tried almost 8 years ago, continues to be my favorite. This one actually lathers a bit and leaves my skin feeling clean, not greasy.

Dermologica Precleanse. Buy a one-ounce bottle to try it out HERE.

Oily Skin Cleansers

Tea Tree-Oil based cleanser

Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash. Buy HERE


PCA SKIN Oily/Problem Facial Wash. Buy HERE

Now let’s talk makeup primers and setting powders for that oily skin of yours. The following primers are ones that I have personally tried, and find to be the most effective in keeping my face oil-free. I won’t lie, there have been times that I have combined two of these at once. You’re going to have to try them individually or mix and match to find the best combination for your skin.

Milk of Magnesia

The absolute best at keeping your face oil-free. However, Milk of Magnesia can do a number on your skin. After all, it’s meant to be ingested, not applied topically. That being said, I always apply a primer beneath milk of magnesia to make sure my skin is protected. Even still, I wouldn’t recommend it for daily use. I use it for filming tutorials and on days when I know I won’t be able to blot my skin. If you’re getting married or attending a summer wedding, use it! Buy it at your local pharmacy or HERE.

Calamine Lotion

A great alternative to Milk of Magnesia. Just like MOM, it’s cheap and can be purchased at any drugstore in the US. While it doesn’t work as well as MOM, it’s safe to use on the skin and it’s actually pretty great at clearing up acne! Check out how to apply it HERE and Shop for it HERE.

Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel

Don’t freak out. The ingredients in M.A.G. mirror the ingredients in many expensive primers. I like to apply it beneath MOM, but it can also be used alone. Buy it HERE.

Becca Cosmetics Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

One of only two high-end primers that actually work. Buy it HERE.

Makeup Forever Step 1 Mattifying Primer

It works, it works really well. When I really want to go absolutely shine-free I mix this with MOM as well. Buy it HERE.

As for setting powder, few actually live up to their reputation. These ones, however, do the damn thing.

Best Setting Powders For Oily Skin

Dermablend Loose Setting Powder

I’ve been using this setting powder for 16 years!! It works, I promise. Buy it HERE

RCMA Setting Powder

Heard great things about this one, too. Buy HERE

Makeup For Ever Matte Loose Powder. I use the color Caramel and it is EVERYTHING. Getcchu some HERE.

That’s all, folks. Now that you have this list, I better not EVA catch you in these skreets looking greasy AF.

Comment below with your best oil-fighting tips! And be sure to share this post if you like it.

Hey, Boo! My name is Lisa and you’ve stumbled upon my own little corner of the world. I’m a 30 something-year-old writer/mother/wife who happens to love lipstick, high heels, blackness, and the truth. You’ll find a mix of everything on this site, so I won’t bore you by trying to define this space. I hope you stay awhile!

Milk of magnesia makeup primer

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