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Milk of Magnesia: The Secret to a Matte Face?

Shiny Face fix, how to use milk of magnesia as a primer to keep your face matte

Getting a matte face in even the most hot and humid weather is definitely possible. It doesn’t take a hard to find primer or a finely milled powder that you can only buy in Paris. Nope. What it takes is a quick visit to your local drugstore for Milk of Magnesia (MoM). Really. You can use Milk of Magnesia as a makeup primer and it will keep your face super matte!

I thought this tip was crazy when I first heard about it as well, but I looked it up on Makeup Alley, where hundreds of girls have written about it in product reviews and on various forums. There are also quite a few YouTube videos about how to do this properly.

I’ve been doing this for a few weeks. I bought Phillips MoM, but that was because the Walmart brand was out of every size except what appeared to be a full gallon. I didn’t want a gallon. It’s best to buy the Original flavor, but if you have to buy a flavor make sure that it does not contain Mineral Oil, since this can cause clogged pores and breakouts.

I apply the MoM as soon as my daily moisturizer has fully absorbed. Shake the bottle well and pore a small amount into the plastic cup that comes with the MoM (you don’t want to get bacteria into your bottle, so excess from the cup should just be washed down the sink). I dip my finger into the cup and apply a small amount across my nose, onto the center of my cheeks and up onto the center of my forehead. Only apply to the areas that you get oily. I rub in until I can’t see it, and then give the MoM a minute or two to dry. Areas that have too much MoM can get a white chalky residue, just rub this off.

You can apply makeup directly over the MoM, but I find that foundation applies more easily if I apply a primer first.

Using Milk of Magnesia has dramatically cut down on shine for me. Much more so than any primer, oil absorbing product or powder ever has in the past. I no longer need to repowder my t-zone during the day, my face stays matte all day long.

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About Me

Iā€™m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 5.14.10
    Christina said:

    Why does it work so well? I also flake on my nose, so would that make it worse?

  2. 5.15.10

    I'm glad MoM worked for you! I tried it awhile ago, it but it didn't work at all šŸ™

  3. 5.15.10
    Jean said:

    I have never heard of this – thanks for the tip!

  4. 5.15.10

    HUH! I had never heard this before. I can get quite oily in the summer, so I'll definitely have to try this out. Thanks!

  5. 5.16.10


    I currently swear by Murad's Oil-Control Mattifier as a primer and to control shine on my naturally-oily face (http://bit.ly/csBSFG) But the product is not cheap.

    After reading your post about Milk of Magnesia, I think I'm going to try using it instead. (I'm assuming that because you can purchase it at drugstores, it's not ridiculously expensive.)

    Most people's skin builds up a resistance to mattifiers after a while and I wonder if that happens with MoM, too? I guess I'll just have to try the product for a while and find out!

    Thanks for the tip about this product. I'm excited to try it!


  6. 5.17.10
    Maria said:

    Whoa – I am totally going to try this!

  7. 5.17.10
    Christine said:

    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. šŸ˜€ 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.

  8. 6.25.10
    MissHikerGirl said:

    Should I use MoM before or after putting on sunblock?

  9. 1.31.12
    Kathy said:

    Thanks for the post/ I will try this!

  10. 2.14.13
    Anonymous said:

    I dab it on my face where my hair sits – forehead, side of face, jaw line – as that's where I tend to get oily. Works like a charm!

  11. 7.15.13
    Anonymous said:

    After trying so many high end primers, MOM is definitely the best product for oily skin. Thanks for the tip.

  12. 7.26.13

    Just discovered your blog, love it! I'm a second year medical student; it's great to see a female physician who can do it all. Definitely heading out to buy some MoM tomorrow.


  13. 9.9.13

    I also use it as my deodorant. For the last 16 years it has been my only deodorant!! Love me my blue bottle!!!

  14. 9.9.13

    Milk of magnesia didn't work my t zone is still just as oily. its so fustrating! but i only have the mint flavour, so that might be the reason why. in the uk they only sell mint though šŸ™ or maybe im just not applying enough?

  15. 9.11.13

    You shouldn't be using any flavor actually, in the US we have "original" and that's the one that works the best. I'm not sure how, but the flavors seem to make it work less (and the mint one actually kind of burns on my face). You can try applying more, but there's a good chance the issue is actually a formulation difference between the US and the UK.

  16. 9.24.13
    Anonymous said:

    I was intrigued by this post, but did a little research and don't think the long term effects are worth it…


  17. 10.8.13
    Jorndyce said:

    Thank you for this article. I found it researching this as a possibility for my readers. I must give you credit on my blog.


  18. 10.21.13
    Anonymous said:

    Funny that THE research on the long term negative effects of MOM was authored by an "aspiring dermatologist", which included a list of very expensive replacements for MOM…(makes me wonder…). I've stopped seeing my "dermatologist" and stopped paying him (and prescriptions) my good earned money when I discovered MOM.
    I am a long time user of MOM. I use it as makeup primer on special occasions, and deodorant every day. This stuff really works!

  19. 10.28.13
    Anonymous said:

    Do you use it before or after your moisturizer? I have a moisturizer with sunblock that I don't want to skip!

  20. 1.13.14
    Anonymous said:

    Oh wow! I am so thrilled with the info received here. I have suffered with the inconvenience of having to blot oil from my face like every hr especially my t-zones and also have to re apply make up very often during the day. This stuff sounds like a saviour and I will definitely be trying it!!

  21. 4.3.14

    Apply the MoM after moisturizer.

  22. 4.24.14

    My daughter uses Milk of Magnesia as a primer and the results are beautiful. I am going out to get a bottle of Milk of Magnesia today!

  23. 12.15.20
    Koco said:

    The only MOM that works for me as a primer is Philips and no other. I tried Assured and it didn’t work