Why You Shouldn’t Use Milk Of Magnesia As A Primer (But It’s Ok As A Deodorant)

milk of magnesia oily skin

Milk of Magnesia, the common OTC laxative, is often touted as a wonderful, and inexpensive, primer for people with very oily skin. But when things seem too good to be true, there’s usually a catch and, unfortunately, this is no exception: Milk Of Magnesia works well in the short term, but regular use can do more harm than good to your skin. Here’s why:

Milk Of Magnesia is an effective oil-absorber

The active ingredient in Milk Of Magnesia is Magnesium Hydroxide, a substance that has the ability to absorb lipids on the skin. The degreasing action of MOM is also enhanced by another of its components, Sodium Hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach. As a result, if you smear Milk Of Magnesia all over your oily skin, you’ll soon see a great reduction in shine.

So, what’s the problem with Milk Of Magnesia?

If Milk Of Magnesia can reduce shine, then why is it bad for the skin? Because of its alkaline ph. The skin’s ph is slightly acidic, which creates a good environment for the good bacteria that live on our skin and can protect it from the nasty ones, and everything else, that constantly attacks it. When this acidic mantle is damaged, skin becomes dry, and more prone to irritations and even acne.

That’s why skincare products should be formulated within the skin’s pH range (from 5 to 8). Milk Of Magnesia has a PH of 10.5. This is way too high and, if MOM is used regularly, it can cause havoc on your skin. Even skincare guru Paula Begoun, which has recommended MOM for years, has now stopped doing so: “Milk of Magnesia has a very high pH, which, over time, is not ideal for skin to use frequently. Using once an awhile, however, is ok!”

Use it as a deodorant instead

Ok, so I’ve just finished telling you how MOM is bad for the skin and am now recommending you to use it as a deodorant? Yes. Let me explain. The underarm area can get pretty sweaty and moist, which can create the perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive in. Therefore, if a high ph can increase the risk of a bacteria infection, the loss of sweat can reduce it. In other words, in this case, and this case only, the benefits of MOM are greater than its side effects.

The Bottom Line

There are lots of ways to take good care of oily skin and reduce shine, but using Milk Of Magnesia is not one of them. While MOM does reduce shine in the short time, it can cause havoc on the skin if used regularly. Only when used as a deodorant, its benefits are superior to its side effects.

Do you use MOM on your skin?

14 Comment

    • Amanda, you’re welcome. Once in a while won’t do any harm. And do try it as a deodorant, it works really well. :)

  1. Hi Gio! I’m back from my trip and I have to comment!! When I heard of MOM, I was very curious as to what it was. Milk? Magnesia?..sounds like some fantastical place haha. I have read raves about how wonderful it performs to keep skin matte and after reading this, I’m shocked so many people use it daily (I read this back in April but didn’t comment so sorry)! Good for me I’ve never used this stuff since I have dry skin. I’m sure if I had really oily skin that I might have at least tried it once. Since of course, I was very intrigued by the name and its magic.

    • Janessa, hi! Welcome back hun! I hope you had a wonderful time on your trip!

      MOM is such a cool name, isn’t it? Unfortunately, because it is a “great” quick fix, many people don’t realize how bad it is to use regularly until it is too late. Just because something works, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

  2. I’ve been using MoM for several months with great success (as a deodorant) I just use the cheapo store brand, plain. I keep it in a squirt bottle and just pour a tiny amount on my fingers and rub on, then I dry it with a hair dryer. I’m amazed out how well it works. No odor by bedtime AND even the next morning, still NO odor at all! I’m 58 years old.
    My question is this. Is it aluminum free? I’ve switched to using MoM rather than antiperspirants but am now unsure about the aluminum issues after reading this link below. :(
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_hydroxide

    • Norma, MoM is a very effective deodorant, isn’t it? I’m glad it is working so well for you. And you won’t have to stop using it. MOM contains only magnesium hydroxidet, water and sodium hypochlorite.

  3. So that explains why after my first use, my face began to breakout in these little bumps almost like hives…my face was so irritated. I immediately washed it off and quit using it

    • Tina, oh no! I’m sorry you reacted so badly to it. MOM is no good as a primer and people should be more careful about what they recommend online.

  4. Hi!

    Does it have the face affect, when applying it after your moisturizer, like most do?
    I’m curious about that. I think it has an other effect when applying it on your skin directly or applying it after you put on your moisturizer.

    • Manon, if you use it as a primer, you should be applying it after moisturizer. But it’s not really a good idea to do so.

      What do you mean with “face affect”?

      • *Face affect had to be Same effect. LOL

        Yes, that’s also the way I’ve seen it been used. I haven’t tried it yet myself. As it is with most products, if it does work for some it can be the case that it doesn’t work for others.

        Have you ever heard of deodorant being used on the face?? It works apparently, BUT that’s something I wouldn’t recommend to everyone though.

        ;-)

        • Manon, I agree that there are some products that work for some people, but not others. But the problem with MOM is its ph. Even if it can, in the short term, help keep oily skin under control, in the long run, it will damage it.

          Oh dear, I had never heard of that. What are those people thinking?!

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