TikTok trend of using calamine lotion as makeup may damage skin, health experts warn

Young people who follow a TikTok trend for using calamine lotion as makeup could be at risk for serious reactions and skin damage, experts have warned.

The drug, on sale in pharmacies for as little as £1.60 a bottle, is used to reduce pain and itching caused by minor skin problems including sunburn, insect bites and stings .

It is especially useful in weeping skin conditions that cause the skin to weep and is commonly recommended for children with chickenpox.

But a so-called ‘beauty hack’ on TikTok encourages viewers to apply a layer of calamine lotion to large parts of the face, if not all of it, before applying foundation and other makeup on top. .

It’s for people with oily skin and, as one TikTok star claims, “will create a barrier between their skin and the foundation they’re putting on, to prevent oils from breaking down the foundation.” The face looks “flawless” and “pores are minimized,” others say.

On the platform, thousands of videos follow similar themes. In a clip that has had over 7.3 million views, TikTok user @BrittanyBowman applies lotion all over her face with a makeup brush.

The caption reads: “I heard calamine lotion gets rid of acne scars and dark marks.” In another, with over 700,000 views, she applies her foundation to the layer of calamine and claims, “It will dry up your current pimples but won’t prevent future acne.”

The TikTok creator is seen applying calamine lotion to her face before adding foundation and other makeup

The hashtag #calamine has been used more than 2.3 million times on TikTok alone, as the trend has sparked a surge in demand – and a nationwide shortage of the lotion, pharmacists have claimed.

Earlier this month, Well Pharmacies, which has more than 750 stores across the country, issued an alert after their stores ran out.

Well Pharmacy’s chief pharmacist, Ifti Khan, said: ‘Part of this is due to a recent spike in chickenpox, but there is also a trend on social media advocating calamine lotion for cosmetic purposes. .

Calamine lotion treats a wide range of skin conditions that cause itching, including chickenpox, insect bites, stings, measles, and sunburn. But it should only be used by those who need it and for the treatment of medical conditions.

Two suppliers, Thornton & Ross and Alliance Healthcare, have reportedly been out of stock for months.

Abell Chemist in London Road, Bushey, is a community pharmacy affected by the shortage.

Her spokesperson said: “Calamine Lotion is totally unavailable, and has been for a long time. There are very few other things we have to offer for chickenpox.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed it was aware of ‘intermittent supply issues’ and said more supplies were expected in early September.

Doctors fear that this craze could cause lasting skin damage. The main active ingredient of the lotion is zinc oxide, a mild antiseptic which gives the color white. It also contains phenol, a preservative with mild anesthetic properties prohibited for use in cosmetics.

The history of the lotion is unclear – dating back to a 16th century German alchemist or a 1st century AD Greek physician.

Consultant dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed from Frimley and Barts Health NHS Trusts explained that when used long term it can damage the skin.

“The lotion wicks moisture away from the skin and can also act as a keratolytic, which means it can exfoliate the skin. This is helpful when dealing with wet, itchy rashes, but leaving calamine lotion for extended periods of time on areas like the face, under or under makeup, can lead to excessive dryness of the skin. , which will manifest as scaly or scaly patches with redness. .

“Excessive exfoliation leads to issues such as rashes and sensitivity, and can ultimately damage the skin barrier.”

The calamine lotion trend follows other social media-based makeup tips to use laxative liquid milk of magnesia in the same way as a cheap makeup base.

Women’s magazine Marie Claire endorsed the practice, saying “it’s really great for oily skin as it absorbs excess oil, controls shine and tightens pores” – and said reality star Kylie Jenner l used to stay shine-free “under hot lights”. .

Earlier this month, Well Pharmacies, which has more than 750 stores across the country, issued an alert after their stores ran out of Calamine lotion (stock image)

Earlier this month, Well Pharmacies, which has more than 750 stores across the country, issued an alert after their stores ran out of Calamine lotion (stock image)

Milk of Magnesia contains magnesium hydroxide – a chalky substance that absorbs moisture, hence the cosmetic effect when used on the skin – and also small amounts of sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach. Although harmless when ingested in small amounts as a medicine, used on the skin, it can also cause damage and lead to infections.

A YouTube beauty star, Youkeyy, has revealed that she used milk of magnesia on her face almost every day for five years, with disastrous results.

“I’ve always had oily skin, so when Whole Milk of Magnesia came along I thought, this is what I need. The makeup will finally stay put,” she said.

But over time, her skin became “horribly” dry and she began to suffer from acne. She has stopped using milk of magnesia, but the problems persist.

She says, “My skin has never been like this.”

Dr Ahmed says: ‘There seems to be a general tendency on social media to try cosmetic products that are not intended for this purpose, whether it’s milk of magnesia, calamine lotion or whatever.

‘This should be avoided. The damage may not be immediate, but over time it can become quite unpleasant. It might make you look good in the short term, but it’s just not worth the risk.