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Calamine Lotion as a Makeup Primer? NO!

By: Bowie Zeng

Recently, using calamine lotion all over the face before applying makeup has gone viral on TikTok; the hashtag #calamineprimer has about 3.5 million views. TikTokers say that calamine lotion helps their makeup stay on longer, makes oily skin dry, and covers acne scars. “I cannot see my pores anywhere,” one TikToker said in approval, claiming the product made her skin appear “super matte.”

But dermatologists and makeup experts are warning that using calamine lotion before foundation could exacerbate skin conditions and cause long-term skin problems. “It just doesn’t make sense to use calamine lotion and risk drying out the skin and damaging the skin barrier,” Azadeh Shirazi, a dermatologist practicing in the San Diego area, told The Washington Post.

A TikToker, Shirazi, is trying to debunk this beauty-care myth. Shirazi is using the platform to urge people to consider the negatives of using calamine lotion as a primer; for example, calamine-lotion overuse may lead to more skin irritation and permanent scars. “Calamine lotion is made up of zinc oxide, ferric oxide and phenol. Zinc oxide is an astringent that can help absorb excess oil and have a mattifying effect,” Shirazi said in a TikTok post. She points out that, normally, calamine lotion is used to treat chickenpox and monkeypox. The lotion can also be used to soothe insect bites, pimples, rashes and poison ivy.

Due to the popularity of calamine lotion, it is becoming harder to find in stores. In the UK, some parents with children suffering from chickenpox reported that they are struggling to find the lotion in recent months. Also, in the U.S., there are people who have reported the same issue. As a comment on one of calamine lotion’s many primer videos, one user wrote on TikTok: “I have to use this when my lupus flares up, now it’s sold out in Walmart.”

Despite all the negatives, this lotion may keep its appeal because it is inexpensive compared to other primer products made by the beauty-care industry. One makeup enthusiast told her followers on TikTok that she had tried many high-priced primers, but that a bottle of calamine lotion that costs $4.50 works best for her.

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