Using Calamine Lotion as a Makeup Primer

Using Calamine Lotion as a Makeup Primer

Using Calamine Lotion as a Makeup Primer


In recent times, there has been a TikTok trend suggesting the use of calamine lotion as a makeup primer. Dermatologists are warning against this practice. In this article, we will delve into the scientific evidence and expert opinions to understand why using calamine lotion as a makeup primer is considered a bad idea.

Understanding Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion is a commonly available skin protectant found in most drugstores. It has traditionally been used to alleviate the discomfort associated with bug bites, sunburn, or chickenpox. The lotion contains ingredients such as calamine, zinc oxide, iron oxide, and phenol, which can absorb oil and provide a soothing effect on the skin.

Scientific Evidence and Expert Opinions

Dermatologists advise caution when using products in ways other than their intended purposes. Overusing astringents like calamine lotion can potentially dry out the skin, especially for those with less oily skin types. Dryness can disrupt the skin barrier, making it more prone to irritation, inflammation, and dehydration. This can worsen conditions like eczema, acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Furthermore, calamine lotion is often highly fragranced, which may not be suitable for individuals with sensitive skin. Fragrant products can potentially cause adverse reactions. It is important to note that calamine lotion has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a makeup primer.

Regarding the claim that calamine lotion can treat acne scars, experts suggest that there is no scientific evidence to support this. The only potentially effective ingredient in calamine lotion for reducing scarring is phenol, which is commonly used in chemical peels. However, prolonged use of phenol is not recommended, particularly for individuals with sensitive or dry skin. It is also advised against using phenol during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as it may have adverse effects.

As for the rumor that calamine lotion can provide sun protection, it contains zinc oxide, an active ingredient found in many sunscreens. While zinc oxide may offer some UV protection, it has not been specifically tested for its SPF rating. Therefore, relying solely on calamine lotion for sun protection is not recommended.

Alternative Options Suggested by Dermatologists

Fortunately, there are alternative products that have been specifically formulated and tested for use as makeup primers and to address specific skin concerns:

Primers for Oily Skin

Look for primers that contain ingredients like dimethicone, which can help control oil and provide a smooth, matte finish. Examples include OC Eight Mattifying Gel, which is formulated for oily skin, and other over-the-counter options that dermatologists may recommend.

Acne Scar Treatment

Retinoids, derived from vitamin A, have been shown to effectively repair acne scars and reduce blemishes. Differin Gel, an over-the-counter retinoid treatment, can help unclog pores and encourage collagen production. Other prescription options and in-office treatments, such as chemical peels and lasers, can be considered for more severe acne scars.

Sunscreen Protection

To safeguard your skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays, it is best to opt for sunscreen specifically formulated for sun protection. Look for products that have been tested for their SPF rating that works as both a sunscreen and a mattifying primer.


While the TikTok trend of using calamine lotion as a makeup primer may seem appealing, it is essential to consider expert opinions and scientific evidence. Dermatologists caution against this practice due to potential side effects and the lack of long-term research supporting its efficacy as a primer. Instead, consider alternative options recommended by experts that are specifically formulated for makeup priming and addressing specific skin concerns. Prioritizing the health and well-being of your skin is crucial for maintaining its natural beauty.

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