Beauty, Face Care, Featured, Skincare, Tried it For Science Saturday

Tried it For Science Saturday – Milk of Magnesia As A Primer

On “I Tried It For Science Saturday” I will try something new – so you don’t have to try it. Let’s just say I did it for science! I likely won’t use the scientific method, develop a hypothesis, or write up a formal theory but I will tell you what I think. Close enough, right? Today,
I am going to test the efficacy of Milk of Magnesia as a primer.

I am a sucker for bizarre makeup and skincare hacks. When cruising the internet to see what’s new in the beauty world, I jot down every one I see and put them on my “for science” list. Generally, things that sound too good to be true likely are. Don’t worry, that won’t stop me from trying out strange and unbelievable things. But I don’t expect them to work.

Where Did I Get This Idea and What Exactly Will it Do?

I can’t recall where I originally saw or heard this but sometime in the past few months I read somewhere that Milk of Magnesia works as a face primer. At first I thought “YUCK” and then I thought “but that is intriguingly odd” and then I thought “actually, that sort of makes sense.” Magnesium hydroxide, which is the active ingredient in Milk of Magnesia works as a laxative by drawing water to itself, increasing the softness and volume of feces in the intestines, which makes you go. As an antacid, it works to neutralize stomach acid, relieving heartburn and reflux. With my basic understanding of science, I can see how this might work as a skin primer for makeup. For more details on the structure of magnesium hydroxide, the wikipedia page proved quite helpful.

The theory is Milk of Magnesia can be used to prep and prime the skin for makeup. Because it will be a bit drying, it is supposed to make the skin smooth, dry, and even for application. I decided I would give this a shot. My skin is in good shape, oil control is certainly something I think about, and I am game to smear most things on my face if I don’t think they will harm me. (I’ll go ahead and insert a TWSS from Mr. SiL here before he has the chance). Why not, right? What’s the worst that can happen?

The Acquisition

On the way home from work, I stopped at the local pharmacy and picked up some Original flavored Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia. They have mint and cherry flavors as well but adding that to the mix seemed like folly…let’s not put fake sugar on our skin, right? Also, I didn’t want to smell like fake cherries all day.

I took it home, did some reading on the application, and picked out a sponge to use. Some things I read advocated using fingers but no, that’s not happening. I had a stern talking to with myself in hopes groggy morning Erin didn’t forget. Off to bed I went, eager to start my experiment.

How I Applied the Milk of Magnesia Primer

After applying all of my morning skin care products, including sun screen, I shook the Milk of Magnesia really well, as it separates and needs to be shaken to combine. I used a small wedge sponge to apply it to my face in a thin layer. Full application was achieved by dipping the sponge into the bottle and lightly coating it before pressing the sponge against my skin and blending the Milk of Magnesia primer in.

Day One: Half Milk of Magnesia Primer/Half Laura Gellar Spackle Primer

So I could get a good comparison of how this works when compared with more traditional primers, I thought I would try day one with half of my face primed with Milk of Magnesia and half with Laura Gellar Spackle, which is a good neutral primer I keep in my collection and use pretty often.

Upon application, the Milk of Magnesia Primer felt cool against my face and dried really quickly. Within a few moments, my skin felt dry. It also felt tighter. Not uncomfortably so but very much like I had just applied an oil controlling primer. It didn’t leave any discernible tackiness or color on my face and I was able to apply my makeup over it. But first, here is a photo of my face just after primer and before makeup.

Photo shows Erin's face with just the Milk of Magnesia and primer applied.
Here I am – no makeup – just primer(and laxative) on my face

I applied my makeup as usual, using Maybelline Matte + Poreless, a foundation I really love. Using a foundation brush to apply the foundation and a damp sponge for blending, full coverage was easy to achieve. Halfway through the day I took some pictures to see how things were going. Here are the results:

Photo shows the left side of Erin's face after several hours of using the Milk of Magnesia Primer.
The Milk of Magnesia Side of my Face after about 5 hours of wear.

After about 9 hours, I stopped to take additional photos. It appears in retrospect that the Milk of Magnesia side may have been a touch oilier but in person you really couldn’t tell. My laxative primer held up against the cult favorite Laura Gellar Spackle!

Here is the left side of my face after a full day of wearing Milk of Magnesia as a primer.
Photo shows the right side of Erin's face.
This is the right side of my face up close after 6 hours of wear using Laura Gellar Spackle.

So far, so good!

Day Two: Milk of Magnesia Primer Under BB Cream

On Wednesday, I decided to go for it and wear the milk of magnesia on my entire face under a BB cream. Sometimes my skin gets oily under BB or CC creams because they tend to be more lotion-like in texture. Once again, the Milk of Magnesia went on with no issues and left my skin feeling soft and dry.

I applied the Revlon Photoready BB Cream directly on top of my primed skin using a damp sponge.

Shockingly, the whole day went by without my face getting oily. I didn’t remember to take multiple photos throughout the day but here is one after about 11 hours of wear. Something else to note is this BB cream has a tendency to oxidize and turn orange on me. This time, it didn’t. I don’t know if this is primer related or not.

photo shows Erin's face and her makeup is still visible
Here I am after many hours of wear, still looking presentable!

Day Three: The No Powder Challenge

I ALWAYS powder my foundation unless I am going for a very dewy look. Even then, the oily bits of my face typically get the spot powder treatment. However, in the name of science, I decided I should try the Milk of Magnesia primer with no powder so I applied it under the Maybelline Matte + Poreless once more.

On this day I did notice some chalky streaking on my face from the Milk of Magnesia primer. I buffed it away with a damp sponge but it showed me I do need to pay attention.

It went pretty much as expected. By midday I was oily in my T-Zone and I had to use some blotting papers to clean it up. It wasn’t terrible, my foundation didn’t cake or crack, but I definitely had some oil. This happens when I don’t powder regardless of the powder I use.

This photo shows the right side of Erin's face. She is wearing headphones and makeup and her cheeks are very shiny.
Please forgive my over blushing, I had a new highlighter and may have gotten excited

Day Four: Foundation Free!

On the final day of this experiment, I decided to throw caution to the wind and forego foundation altogether. As is now my habit, I sponged on my Milk of Magnesia primer and let it dry. Then, I checked myself for chalky spots and found none. I spot concealed and used a light dusting of translucent powder. It looked really great! While this method makes no promises of blurring or minimizing pores, I noticed I was not staring at the skin on my cheeks with disgust. Either I was having a really good skin day or my face was actually liking the laxative I’ve been putting on it.

Photo is of Erin's face,
I’m kind of feeling myself here, and I have no foundation on!

Conclusions After Four Days

I’m genuinely shocked. I really expected some manner of disaster to laugh about from this experiment. At the very least, I anticipated some pilling or problems with application. Nope! The Milk of Magnesia Primer went on great, seems to have controlled my skin well, and caused no redness or breakouts (so far). I feel as though I’ve been bested by a laxative!

The verdict is in! If you are stranded somewhere with no primer, you can use Milk of Magnesia in a pinch! It will make your skin matte and it will does seem to prevent the skin from becoming super oily during the day. It won’t moisturize your skin or blur your pores. But it will work in an emergency.

The $1,000,000 Question: Just Because You Can, Should You?

Probably not long term. Here’s an article that buzzkills describes the reasons better than I could. It essentially boils down to PH. Your skin’s PH is between 4 & 5. Milk of Magnesia has a PH of 10.5, so it is quite basic.

illustration of a "basic bitch"
No, not that kind of basic, we are talking PH.

While it can remove some of the oil from your skin, there are definitely some drawbacks from making your skin more basic…including infections and other issues stemming from increased bacteria (GROSS!).

Maybe just reserve the Milk of Magnesia for emergencies of both the makeup and gastro-intestinal kind.

Is there anything crazy you’ve heard can sub in for more traditional beauty products? Let me know and I will be sure to try them. You can check out my other Tried it For Science Saturday posts here.