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Calamine lotion goes viral among makeup Tiktokers as a makeup primer

By: Ruyi Wang

Calamine lotion, which usually treats bug bites, itches, and poison ivy, is now becoming viral on Tiktok as a primer- a type of lotion used before foundation makeup to help maintain the makeup throughout the day.

Some influencers use makeup brushes and sponges to blend the lotion on the skin, and some just use their hands to smudge the lotion on their faces.

Apparently, the calamine lotion hides pores and makes skin "super matte." Many makeup influencers claim that it maintains the makeup perfectly for about 12 hours on a hot summer day.

Influencers say they are “obsessed” with the calamine "primer," and the hashtag #calamineprimer has almost 3.5 million views on Tiktok. Yet dermatologists and makeup professionals say that the lotion could risk exacerbating skin conditions and causing long-term harm.

“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 in the San Diego area, said to The Washington Post.

Shirazi, also known as "skinbygrazi" on TikTok, uses her TikTok account to disprove beauty myths like this one. Recently, most of her followers tagged her in the comments section of makeup videos, asking for her medical advice. She said the overuse of the calamine lotion may cause "severe irritation and worsening of 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,” she said.

The product causes the skin surface to dry up and harden to prevent any damage while the skin heals. “Ferric oxide helps with itching, and the phenol is also a powerful exfoliant,” she said. “Combining phenol with an astringent as in calamine lotion can be very drying and irritating, leading to a damaged skin barrier. It can worsen skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and dermatitis.”

After all, calamine lotion is a drug to treat problems that often comes with an itch. There are effective chemicals in it that heals the skin, and using it for makeup is like eating pain killers even though you don’t feel any pain.

The trend is also causing the calamine lotion to sell out. In the United Kingdom, some parents reported that in recent months, they were struggling to get the calamine lotion to treat children suffering from chickenpox.

Similar things are also happening in the United States; many have reported issues on social media. Under the comment section of one of the calamine primer videos, one user commented: “I have to use this when my lupus flares up, now it’s sold out in Walmart.”

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