Is Milk of Magnesia a Cure for Oily Skin?

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post, Skin Care

Sam

Written by Sam

The subject of today’s guest post from makeup artist and blogger Sam has been soothing tummies since 1829! Now let’s see what it can do for skin. ;)

Milk of Magnesia for skin

The product that finally brought my skin to genesis is incredibly easy to use, portable, and comes in a chic little package. Since I’ve begun using it, my pores have all but disappeared, my skin redness has faded away, and my skin is as smooth as non-comedogenic butter. That’s right. I’m talkin’ about the Clarison — oh, wait. We already did that review.

No, what I’m here to hype today is not meant to be a skincare product at all. It’s actually a digestive aid. Liquid milk of magnesia (about $6 for a 12-oz. bottle) is a suspension of magnesium hydroxide in water, given its name due to its milky white appearance, and its typical uses include soothing raucous stomach acids and easing constipation… Not quite the kind of thing you think about using near your face, right?

Wrong (I bet you didn’t see that one coming).

For a long time, I’d been hearing about DIY beauty remedies involving milk of magnesia as a weekly facial mask to soak up oil and help reduce acne. But, probably like many of you, I was extremely wary of putting anything meant to be in my acidic stomach on my sensitive skin, so I relegated this tip to the REJECTED pile and went on, going through bottles of cleansers, foundations, serums, and medications in an attempt to find something that could control my over-eager sebaceous glands.

A few products certainly helped reduce oil production, and my Clarisonic has done wonders for my skin overall, but the search continued to find a single product able to keep that dreaded shine off my nose, chin, and cheeks for more than a few hours at a time.

For years I’d dart into restrooms to blot my face with those not-so-great-for-hands-but-oddly-wonderful-for-faces paper towels (the really stiff brown ones), and to smooth out the smile lines that would appear after a couple of hours of laughing and bearing my pearly whites (thank you, Crest Whitestrips!).

As for photos? A nightmare! I’m surprised that my recent passport photo was accepted despite the blinding glare.

But for me the worst thing about oily skin had always been foundation transfer and absorption. Whenever anything would touch my face (be it the collar of my coat, a stack of papers I may rest my head upon, or my pillowcase on the rare nights I pass out before cleaning up), it would come away with a nice coating of Revlon Colorstay Foundation in 150 Buff…and do you know how hard that stuff is to get out of Dry-clean Only clothes??

Even when I’d been fortunate enough to make it through a day without any foundation transfer accidents, my foundation still looked a fright by 4pm, with my oily skin absorbing and redistributing foundation in all the wrong places, leaving me with a blotchy, dull complexion that night. Not cute.

Then a few weeks ago I ran across a brief post on a blog mentioning milk of magnesia as a treatment for oily skin. Out of both patience and resources, I decided to take the dive and go for it. I thought, what do I have to lose (besides a bit of dignity), so I stopped by CVS to snag one of the small blue bottles from the foot care and digestive aid aisle before hurrying home.

Not wanting to just smear it on with my fingers, I grabbed a disposable cosmetic sponge, pressed it up against the mouth of the bottle, and tipped it over. Taking the now damp sponge, I dabbed it over my nose, and repeated this for each of my cheeks, my chin, my forehead, and under my jaw. And I hit my nose once more for good measure.

Within a minute, the stuff had dried, and left a few chalky, white streaks across my cheeks. Fantastic. However, a bit of gentle rubbing with the sponge quickly smoothed these out. Next, I applied my normal primer, and then went about my normal face routine.

Looking in a mirror for the first time that day was not a pleasant experience. My foundation looked thick, cakey, and most of all, dry. Well, this was new. Mortifying, but new. Not a spot of shine lit up my face, and this was about three hours in, a time when my nose would have already begun to act as its own little mirror.

Something was different, that was for sure.

So, the next day, I went about the same initial routine, but applied about a third as much foundation as I normally would, and barely any powder (I used to press it in to get my face to be relatively matte) at all.

If I may be so bold, I think my face looked amazing! Surprisingly, my skin actually looked like skin, and not like a layer of product covering up bad skin. More than that, it looked like normal skin. No oil. No glow. Just a perfectly bare, slightly flushed matte canvas. All. Day. Long.

That day I did my face around 6:30 in the morning, and by 8 pm the same day it looked almost as bright and fresh as when I had first applied. A miniscule amount of shine had drifted onto my nose, but not anywhere near enough to disrupt my foundation. Only when I actually rubbed did any product come off on my testing fingers.

But the thing I’m the most excited about is that I can now use my NARS Albatross highlighting powder to give my skin that sultry sheen (you know the one).

After using milk of magnesia daily for two weeks, the large pores on my nose have practically disappeared, even without foundation and powder to hide them. I haven’t gotten a single new pimple, and the ones I had when I first started using it were gone within two days, leaving not even a red blotch to remind me of their awful presence. My cheeks are much less red, and I haven’t seen head or scale of my dermatitis (for which milk of magnesia is given as a folk remedy), which is incredible in this extremely cold, dry weather. But perhaps the biggest change is that my skin seems to be producing less oil on its own. On days when I’m home and lounging, I’ve noticed that my bare skin looks a tad less oily on its own than it used to.

I also used it once as a facial mask, applying a layer all over my face without blending out, letting it dry for 15 minutes, and rinsing. Afterwards, my face felt a bit tight, but my skin was amazingly even. The small red bumps I sometimes get on my cheeks had flattened completely, and my pores were definitely lighter.

Now, in my semi-extensive reading, I have found that some people have had issues after using milk of magnesia on their face. Mostly, it’s made their skin red or itchy, but that’s pretty much it. Like any new skincare product, I suggest testing this somewhere out of sight before you go all in (behind your ear is usually a good spot; who looks back there?).

For extremely oily skin like mine, one to two layers all over the face should do the trick (you may have to experiment a bit; always start with less and build up to more). For less oily and combination skin, a thin, well-blended layer or spot application (like just in your T-zone) should do the trick.

Now, I think normal to dry skin folks should stay far, far away from milk of magnesia, even if they suffer from bad makeup transfer or blotchy-face. I could actually see this stuff doing some minor damage to those not cursed with trigger-happy sebaceous glands.

On a final note, make sure to get the original, unflavored version. I’m sure my face would love to smell like strawberry or chocolate laxatives, but for some reason that just doesn’t seem right.

Sam

Written by Sam

Sam is a 17-year-old, oddly tall guy whose love of all things skincare, makeup, and fashion started when he entered the modeling world at 14. Since then, he’s established himself as a freelance makeup artist in the theatre and fashion worlds, and started his own blog to preach the wonders of orange eyeshadow, Asian skincare, and designer fragrances to the masses.

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  1. Catherine says:

    If you do more reading, you’ll also find that some people who have used this long term have ended up with really terrible breakouts. Milk of Magnesia is very, very alkaline, which is why it’s used to neutralize acid in the stomach. Using it long term can destroy your skin’s acid mantle, which protects it from infection, etc. If you search MUA’s skin board you’ll find at least three people who discuss how this happened to them.
    Catherine recently posted … Short Hiatus

    • Alice says:

      I just recently discovered MoM myself and have been using it on and off for about two weeks, about 10 hours a day… I just tried to search the skin care and make up boards on MUA but didn’t see any reports from users like that. I really am concerned if this is an issue people have been having though. Could you please point me towards some of these posts?

    • Jen says:

      yut oh. was on their earlier. will definitely look again.

    • Sarahc says:

      I’m very curious about this too. I couldn’t find anything really negative on MU, just lots of positive results.

      Maybe it’s a case of everything in moderation?

  2. mandy says:

    Crap, this sounds too good to be true. I’ve heard about it too but I’ve been wary of using something meant for my stomach on my face. However, your post might just change my mind! My oily skin can be way too embarrassing at times. Thanks, great post. How long have you been using it, may I ask?

    • Sam says:

      About a month and half now. It has literally saved my skin. I flew to Russia yesterday, and today, my skin was actually *dry*! Like, flakey dry! That has never, ever happened, not once (it’s definitely the dry cold). I’m gonna try doing just a very thin layer in my T-zone and across my cheeks tomorrow to see what happens.

  3. oh i need to try this! i know what you mean by foundation on dry clean only clothes! ugh i hate my oily skin!
    candace grubbs recently posted … Skinny tuna noodle casserole

  4. Tracy says:

    Wow! That’s amazing Sam! I’m glad you found something that works for you!
    Tracy recently posted … STELLA AND DOT GIVEAWAY!!!!

  5. Vijaya says:

    Interesting. I’m not sure if I want to try this, though. I’m always scared to experiment too much with skincare.
    Vijaya recently posted … Urban Decays Naked Palette

  6. Barbara says:

    MOM is brilliant for special events where I don’t have time or want to worry about oily shine.

  7. Alice says:

    Somehow, I never thought to use a make up sponge before! Brilliant. I wish I’d thought to buy some when I was at Target today, because that would certainly be easier than using a cotton round. Thanks for the idea! :D

  8. Mary says:

    I am definitely going to pick this up tomorrow at work and try it out! Thank you so much for the tips!
    Mary recently posted … Elizabeth Arden Smokey Eye Black Eyeliner

  9. Silva says:

    It sounds so great, but I’m really scared to try something new out, my skin has been behaving relatively well and it’ll probably freak out if I try something different :(
    Silva recently posted … P2 Elegant

  10. Amee says:

    great for oily skin ppl like me…. thanks a lot for informative post…
    Amee recently posted … What I am wearing today 12 !!!! – Pure Purple

  11. Emmaline says:

    Does it show under your makeup when you are photographed? I am in a wedding and will not have much time for touch ups, but I also don’t want to have a white tzone in the wedding pics!

    • Sam says:

      Not at all! I’ve been photographed with it on multiple times, and my face looks fantastic. Just make sure not to use too much, or your foundation could start to look cakey (also remember that you’ll need less foundation than normal).

      I’ve found that I like to apply my primer after this dries, so that while smoothing it on, I can make sure to rub off all of the white streaks.
      Sam recently posted … Off to Russia!

  12. Jen says:

    Ok I was JUST reading about this! I’m definitely going to give it a try. Still looking for something to help with the oil.

    • Sam says:

      It really is incredible. I think my skin has adjusted to it, and now I need even less, and can go ten hours without seeing a spot of shine. The other morning, I got started with my day at 6h00, and went to wash my face at 1h00 the next morning, and only my nose and the tops of cheeks had begun to look even the slightest bit greasy. That’s 19 hours!!!
      Sam recently posted … Off to Russia!

  13. Jesi says:

    I use MOM everytime I wear makeup and I must say it is the best primer I have. I just use a moisteriser before and a thin layer of MOM. My makeup last all day and I do have a very shiny face and sensitive skin.

  14. Lisa says:

    Sam, get your hands on some Smashbox “Anti-shine,Anti-Brilliance” in “neutral” ASAP! It is a Magnesium Aluminum silicate cream/gel/paste product that is basically MOM in a tube.
    Yes, it is way more expensive, but also (for me) an easier-to-apply, more portable option than the blue bottle . I toss it in my bag for touch-ups on meltingly hot days-I simply pat a dab over any shiny areas that may have turned up. The paste needs to be patted on & pressed into the skin, or it may ball up. & Just like MOM, this product is for oily skin only- it is very drying.

  15. Wendy says:

    Milk of magnesia is bet used for sunburns trust me my dermatologist told me last time my burns were really bad and you can apply it as manny times as you want to.

  16. Lily says:

    Hello there people, I just read this and I ‘m like WHAT???????? It’s like wonder product. And as I read in the post all the things it does for the skin, I wonder, does it helps to clear spots in skin??

    • Sam says:

      It’s certainly seemed to lighten the red marks left my by acne. Not considerably, but definitely detectably. However, I have no doubt that it would be completely ineffective against hyperpigmentation… Try something with hydroquinone or plant enzymes for that.
      Sam recently posted … Quick Update!

  17. Chantel says:

    I have been trying this for a week and I love it! I have rosacea and it actually looks like it’s calming the redness. I also don’t look like an oil slick by noon anymore. And my faces seems smoother, pores look so much better! I have told a few friends about this (even forwarded your post) and now they are trying it too! I can’t wait to see how it works with the upcoming summer weather here in Florida! Sam, thanks so much for posting this.

  18. Natalie says:

    I just stumbled across your blog and i’m addicted! Ive been reading all of your recent posts for the past hour from my phone while laying in bed.

    You had me laughing so hard a few times throughout the post.. I love your wit and humor.

    I definitely need to give MOM a try!

  19. Diva Style says:

    Actually, I’ve read reports that Milk of Magnesia can help with sebhorreic dermatitis, and I’ve used it for this purpose. I have used it on my face in the shower, as well as when I’m just routinely washing my face in the evening. I will have to use it a few more times before coming to any conclusion, but from what I’ve seen thus far, it certainly hasn’t hurt my face.

  20. Herianna says:

    I was kind of shocked to find this out about MOM, I’ve got to say that I was a bit skeptical about trying it. My skin is the epitome of SENSITIVE BREAK OUR PRONE OILY skin, At one point this past winter I was beginning to lose hope not to mention self esteem the acne was so bad. I was recommended a doctor and Thank God now my skin is amazing, well considering how it was.
    But because of my oily sensitive skin I still break out here and there once in a while.
    I’ve tried different primers and they would work for about 3 hours then my skin was back to oil central!!!
    I read this post, and finally after considering all the good comments to give it a try.
    Let me just say ITS AWESOME!!!!! My skin like you said in the post “If I may be so bold, I think my face looked amazing! Surprisingly, my skin actually looked like skin, and not like a layer of product covering up bad skin. More than that, it looked like normal skin. No oil. No glow. Just a perfectly bare, slightly flushed matte canvas. All. Day. Long.”

    THANKS SAM, ♥

    I do have to say though, the top comment made me a little worried, the one about Long term leading to terrible breakouts, if someone PLEASE could add to this Good or Bad.
    I don’t want to go to back to spending hundreds of dollars on my Derm, not that his not worth it but Im just sayin’.

    xoxo
    - H

  21. Jean says:

    I read this and am quite intrigued!! I think I’m going to try this. Anything to de-slick my skin is worth trying!
    Jean recently posted … Accountability

  22. Lisa says:

    Do you put on sunscreen first, before the MOM?

    • Herianna says:

      Lisa,

      Yes, and any other type of moisturizer.
      But for personally, Im usually indoors 18/7 (24/7) I only use my moisturizer which has already sunscreen.

  23. Bobbi says:

    Holy cow this is amazing. I’m on day one of a mild coating in the morning, once it dries wash it off and apply my make up. Like many posters here, my make up just oozed off throughout the day – I used sticky notes at my desk to soak up the oil! – and it’s 11 hours later and my face is still not an oil slick. I’ll keep my eyes open for long term effects and everyone’s skin is different but certainly during the work week I’m keeping with MoM for the near term. Thank you Sam for bringing this to our attention. I was a lot less self conscious throughout the day b/c this really, really worked for me!

  24. Jackie C says:

    I decided to do more research on this MOMM (that extra M is for miracle lol) since I saw a video about it on YouTube n I cannot wait to try it!! So let me get it straight…. First I:
    -wash face
    -pat dry
    -apply moisturizer???
    -apply MOM
    -foundation
    Is this he exact order?

  25. mairead says:

    great post!!!!

  26. Dee says:

    Thanks for the great post. But like Jackie C. I would also like to know how one would go on applying the MoM, a routine that would be best?

    Wash, Moisturize, MoM sweep, Primer, Foundation???

    Thanks!

  27. Jacki says:

    This was so helpful thanks so much I’m definitely trying this on a weekend when i have nowhere to go!

  28. Vonetta says:

    I read about using MOM as a primer from another site and hastily purchased at the supermarket. This is day 2 since I began to use as a primer and the results are startling. I saw immediate results from day 1. My makeup stood out all day yesterday and well into the night. When I got home at 9PM it was still fresh, no shine!!! That’s over 12 hours! Even my friends commented on how great my face looked.

    I have moderate acne and I noticed that the one ‘bump’ on my face started dry up all ready! Can’t wait for next week to see what my face will look like. I also live in a hot climate (Caribbean) so it is interesting to see if MOM will hold up when I am outdoors this weekend :-)

    This has been my routine thus far – > wash face; apply toner; moisturize; apply thin coat of MOM; foundation (Revlon colorstay); powder.

    For those of you that have started using MOM in 2011 what has been your results so far as the comment on long term use has me abit worried.

  29. Kadie says:

    Hey Sam! Well I had a question, I have really oily skin and I hate it >:( I havent been diagnosed with it yet but im pretty sure I have rosacea on my lower cheeks and I wanna know if M.O.M. is going to get rid of the redness as a bonus to the non-oily skin? also I use Klaron/claron i dont know how to spell it and its an antibiotic and i need to know what order to do this if you have an idea becase my dermatologist doesnt really get the whole M.O.M trick…give it a shot…
    Klaron (antibiotic)
    moisterizer (Neutrogena spf 55)
    Bare minerals powder matte foundation
    Bare minerals mineral veil for a finishing look
    and then if my skin is stil shiny I put on neutrogena healthy skin pressed powder…but it goes away VERY fast so i dont know why i even try…
    So…
    1. what order should i try this?
    2. Anything to help roseacea?
    3. If i dont have acess to a mirror for 7-8 hours straight will my skin stay matte and normal???
    Please help if you can! Nobody knows what to do to help and my friends say i cant do anything about it! PLEASE!!! Thanks in advance! -Kadie

  30. rawortley says:

    I’ve read tons of reviews on mua and youtube but ures made me try…I told my husband when we got home from Sam’s look baby! my makeup is still on my nose……which never happens! I’m a monistat chafing creme primer user…but it doesn’t come close to what this did…Im a stay at home mom, so I luckily don’t have to wear makeup everyday but I hope the positive results continue!

  31. Susan says:

    Hi Kadie,

    I have rosacea too. You should apply the Klaron first. I have done a lot of reading about the order to apply products. Generally, the rule is to start with the lightest first, wait for it to absorb, and then go to the next layer. So toner, then a gel, then a serum, then a cream, etc. Touch your cheek gently and if your skin feels “tacky” then the product hasn’t absorbed yet. My Klaron absorbs within a couple minute. Hope this helps!

  32. LC says:

    Great blog! I’ve heard about using MoM for oily skin for awhile now, but never really got around to trying it. I just bought a bottle of it today and I’m trying it out right now. As per a video I saw on Youtube, I washed my face, moisturized, then applied a thin layer of MoM using a cosmetic sponge. My face was completely matte :) Well, after only an hour, I saw a bit of oiliness on my nose (THE absolute worst place that I get shiny!) :(

    I’m just wondering: with continued use, will the oil production be less and less? And what if I didn’t moisturize my nose before applying it – as it will only add more moisture/oil to the area? I like the idea of using it as a weekly mask, so I’ll try that. I’ve had VERY oily skin for as long as I can remember and it’s quite embarassing. I hate having to excuse myself to go to the bathroom to powder up during get-togethers where EVERYONE has pretty perfect skin! I’m hoping that the more I use it (even without make up), the better my skin will look :S

  33. kathy says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you have to refrigerate the MoM after you open it?

  34. Juliana Blackman says:

    I read about using MOM for oily skin only last week in a daily newspaper. I immediately went and bought a bottle and put it on that same day, as I was going to the theater. I returned home several hours later and immediately checked the mirror. To my delight, my nose and forehead were not oily! I could scarcely contain my joy. Needless to say, I have been using it daily for the last couple days.

  35. linda says:

    I don’t get how you would be okay with milk of mag in you but not on you ? Backwards thinking

    Anyway I use it on my t zone when I’m going out or know it’s gonna be a long day and it does wonderful

  36. Anne says:

    Does anyone else find using their moisturizer and this at the time a bit troublesome? I will put on my Olay All Day Moisturizer (spf 15) on, left it set in for 5 minutes, then apply a thin layer of MOM on a sponge. And it instantly lifts and disrupts my moisturizer, little white curdles everywhere. I have to re-rub in everything.

    I skimmed through the comments, and couldn’t find one other person having this problem??? How is that possible???

  37. Summer Falkner says:

    should i apply MoM before sunscreen or after sunscreen ?

  38. Fatima says:

    Hi peeps. I’m heading on 40, and still suffer from breakouts. It’s extremely hot in south Africa accept in d winter. I do suffer from extremely oily skin and feel this is the cause of my acne. I’ve even went on Roaccutane as I was told I had adult acne. My daughter of 16 seems to have the same problem skin as myself. I just read about mom and am extremely excited to try it. I was told many years ago, to use Mom for underarms. It keeps it dry and also for those who sweat a lot and have smelly underarms, Mom will eliminate this problem as well. My hubby can testify to it. Thanks for great comments. Sam I would love to know if u are still using Mom a year later

  39. Lynee' says:

    After washing try mixing MoM with a moisturizer, let it dry, then apply primer with SPF, then foundation. Mixing it prevents the white streaks and ensures an even coat. It could even be mixed with jojoba oil as a moisturizer.

  40. Jo says:

    Has anyone tried the “Oil Cleansing Method” (OCM)? I have been doing this for just 4 days and already my flaky “T” zone has completely vanished while at the same time, keeping my skin smooth, yet, not oily. I have combination skin so I was worry at first, but it actually is closing my pores and my face feels soooo clean. I will try the MoM only when wearing make up since I’m pretty happy with the results of OCM.

  41. kw says:

    Hi everyone, i just stumbled onto the MoM craze as well. I just tried it this last weekend and can I say MIRACLE!!! I have combination skin and read that Mom can get rid of the oil, so I had to try. I actually just applied with a cotton ball, left it on for 15mins to dry and then rinsed off with water. I patted dry and then applied my normal moisturizer and makeup as usual. by 4pm in the afternoon, when I would normally be itching to clean my face and remove my makeup b/c it would be all oily, I was still oil free! YAY! I can see where this would be extremely drying if you leave it on for all day and would then lead to more breakouts. Be cautious and shine free friends do what is right for your skin. Yay for no more expensive harsh chemicals.

  42. PuppyLover4 says:

    If you want something home made, you should purchase cosmetic grade zinc oxide and mixing a tablespoon or two into a bottle of moisturizer. Right now I’m using it with a moisturizer I got from Citrus Clear. It is the Citrus Clear Control Moisturizer. I put on this lightweight moisturizer that soaks in quickly. It will help mattify and absorb excess oil. It helps keep acne down and helps heal acne that has popped up.

  43. GinaLee says:

    I loved this article, absolutely LOVED it! I giggled from the first lines all the way to the last ones. Your style is lovely! Then when I read that your name is SAM and that you are a guy…I loved it even more! I want to be friend with you, literally! And you definitely gave me the extra push I needed to finally try the MoM on this nose of mine which always reminds me of Rihanna’s “Shine bright like a diamond”…without the diamond part. I would love reading more of your articles!

  44. RKerr says:

    My skin is more on the oily side but I have been looking for something to cut down on the oilyness for some time with no luck. I finally decided to give this a go. I have to say after putting it on I immediately felt the moisture absorbing and within minutes my skin started to feel really tight. So I washed it off after about three minutes. I’m happy to report that the oilyness did not return and it’s a few hours later and my skin still feels great. I think maybe I only need to leave it on for a couple minutes and my skin will remain oil-free throughout the day but I will have to test this out during the day wearing makeup. I have to say though so far so good.

  45. Jessica says:

    Sam,

    2 and a half years later, is it still working for you? Because seeing posts about it causing long term terrible break outs really scares me, but I want this to work SO BAD. It sounds like it’s amazing in the short run but I’m really not interested in crazy breakouts in the future because of it, so I’m curious to see if you’re still using it and, if so, if it has had any kind of negative effect on your skin?

    Thanks!

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