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.