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Six Topical Uses for Milk of Magnesia

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You may be familiar with milk of magnesia as a tummy soother or mild laxative, but did you know there are many other alternative uses for it?

You may be familiar with milk of magnesia as a tummy soother or mild laxative, but did you know there are many other alternative uses for it?

Milk of Magnesia for Skin

You may be familiar with milk of magnesia as a tummy soother or mild laxative, but did you know there are many other alternative uses for it? Below are some home remedies that use milk of magnesia. Here's a sneak peek.

  1. Substitute for deodorant.
  2. Makeup primer.
  3. Treat acne.
  4. Get rid of dandruff.
  5. Treat rashes.
  6. Ease the pain of sunburns.

Note: If you try any of the home remedies below, be sure to purchase the original formula milk of magnesia. The flavored varieties won't work the same way and have added ingredients that may be undesirable for these purposes.

1. Substitute for Deodorant

That's right, just wet your fingertips with a little milk of magnesia and slather it onto your underarms for a natural deodorant alternative. It sounds a little odd, but I've tested it out myself. It takes a tad longer to dry than store-bought deodorant, but it works so much better! I'm talking about 24-hour odor protection.

It's not an antiperspirant though, so to address any possible underarm moisture, you can rub a thin layer of baking soda or baby powder onto your pits as an extra precaution. But you may find this isn't necessary if you don't sweat much. If you still prefer a roll-on deodorant to a liquid, People's Pharmacy has developed a stick of deodorant made out of milk of magnesia.

2. Makeup Primer

Women with oily skin find their makeup lasts longer if a makeup or foundation primer is applied to the skin first. It creates a barrier that is more difficult for oil to penetrate, so the foundation doesn't do a disappearing act. Even if you don't wear makeup, wearing primer on your face will have a mattifying effect, reducing shine in the "T zone."

Milk of magnesia can be used for this purpose and is a nice alternative to expensive name-brand makeup primers. Just apply a thin layer to your face with your fingers, a sponge or a foundation brush and allow to dry for five minutes (avoid any areas of skin that tend to be dry). If there is any chalky residue, just wipe it off with a finger, and apply your foundation normally. Full strength milk of magnesia may not be necessary for this application. Try diluting with water in a smaller container if full strength is too drying.

3. Treat Acne

It doesn't prevent it, but milk of magnesia can treat acne breakouts. It reduces the redness and inflammation of pimples and helps fade the scars of cystic acne. With use, milk of magnesia will reduce pores, even out skin tone and eliminate oil.

If you find that daily use is too drying, milk of magnesia can be used as a facial mask instead. Apply it once or twice per week in a thick layer. Allow to dry and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.

4. Get Rid of Dandruff

Dandruff can be treated with milk of magnesia much in the same way you would treat acne. Simply massage into the scalp at the beginning of a shower and leave it on until you are almost finished. Then rinse and shampoo normally. This works for flaky skin on the face, too (facial hair dandruff).

5. Treat Rashes

The disinfectant properties of milk of magnesia are useful for treating a variety of skin rash conditions, such as eczema, diaper rash, and even poison ivy. It works because milk of magnesia is alkalizing and soothing to the skin while keeping the skin dry.

6. Ease the Pain of a Sunburn

Carefully apply a thin layer of milk of magnesia to the sunburned area and allow it to dry completely. Wait 30-60 minutes and rinse off in the shower. You can also apply before bed and just shower in the morning. This will help prevent blistering and your sunburn should feel less painful afterward.

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Possible Risks and Reactions

While it is unlikely that milk of magnesia will cause any negative health effects from topical application, it would be best to consult a physician before putting it to any sort of long-term use. The form of magnesium found in this product (magnesium hydroxide) poses very little risk of being absorbed by the body through the skin because it is a poorly soluble form of magnesium. However, when taken internally, milk of magnesia will cause a reaction when taken with certain antibiotics, blood pressure medicines, and muscle relaxants; so use with caution.

Do you know of any other uses for milk of magnesia?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can you use Milk of Magnesia for dry skin?

Answer: I don't think I would use it for this, because it will leave a white residue.

© 2013 Katie Adams


deladaly on April 05, 2018:

It also works on cold sores.

Judy on February 21, 2017:

I was working with fiber glass today and ended up with an armful of itch and swelling my husband grabbed the MoM out of desperation ; it worked like a charm drew out the particles and brought the swelling down. I am going to be putting a couple bottles in my first aid kit.

Katie Adams (author) from Midwest on August 29, 2016:

I've never had any trouble, @elishebabb

elishebabb on August 28, 2016:

Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin especially under the arms. Too much magnesium in the body causes severe diarrhea.

Kathy J. on September 13, 2014:

My friend, who is a registered nurse, just advised me to use on the back of my leg. My skin has started weeping and she said they use it for patients all the time and it works. Just dab it all over with cotton ball and let dry.

Joaquin on October 12, 2013:

I have used milk of magnesia for about 18 years with great results. The way I use it is diluting it with water at 50% then pouring 2 to 3 ml in to the bottle cup to apply it under my arm. Works great. no messy at all. It was recommended by my Dermatologist in 1995.

Katie Adams (author) from Midwest on August 04, 2013:

Thanks for sharing!

moonlake from America on August 03, 2013:

I never knew all of this about Milk of Magnesia but thought I would share it on my Tumblr and voted up.

Katie Adams (author) from Midwest on July 15, 2013:

The deodorant itself I think is only available online...I know they have it on Amazon. But I just buy a bottle of the original MoM liquid and apply that. It works just the same.

delsi on July 15, 2013:

Am in Ghana and have gone round looking for MoM deodorant but can't get to buy

Katie Adams (author) from Midwest on May 30, 2013:

Thanks a lot! I decided to write this while I was researching an article for my personal blog about alternative deodorants. I came across all these other uses for it and thought it would be good to share them.

LoosingIt on May 30, 2013:

This was a very informative article. Just full of lots of surprising tips. I never would have thought of grabbing MOM for a rash or deodorant, and make up primer too!Thumbs up, you have a new follower. Keep up the good work.

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