August 16, 2022 – A growing bandwagon of TikTok influencers are using and promoting calamine lotion as a makeup base under foundation. While it may work as a base coat for some people, dermatologists are concerned about this tendency, especially the risk of dryness.
As of August 12, the #calamine lotion label has over 20.8 million views on TikTok, with hundreds of videos praising the cream for its opaque pink hue and matte effect when used under foundation. .
Calamine lotion has been used for years to treat itching, insect bites, and pain caused by chickenpox and poison ivy. It’s available without a prescription and is a common treatment for skin discomfort, says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. It is also on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines, she says.
“It’s something that’s been around for a long time. It’s recognized as a medicine that matters. So every once in a while I guess someone comes across it and says it’s a ‘new panacea. for something, but it really isn’t. It’s just a simple old-fashioned product.
Calamine lotion is made up of iron oxide and zinc oxide, which gives it its antiseptic and anti-itching properties, in addition to its characteristic pink color. Zinc oxide is also commonly used in mineral sunscreens, Day says.
Although these ingredients are safe with temporary and localized use, high concentrations and chronic use of calamine lotion can be irritating to the skin, says Pooja Sodha, MD, director of the University’s Center for Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology. George Washington in Washington, DC.
At these high concentrations, calamine lotion can dry out, which can cause the skin to clump and can be abrasive, Sodha says. She also warns that the astringent properties of zinc and high pH can disrupt skin proteins, which break down the skin’s natural defenses. Using calamine lotion all over your face every day can “potentially damage your skin barrier to such an extent that you’ll have to do a lot of extra work…to bring it back.”
Day is also worried about this tendency which results in dry skin. Even in situations where the use of calamine lotion is appropriate, such as treating poison ivy, its drying effects can sometimes irritate the skin.
And dry skin can be more than a cosmetic issue: it can lead to skin breakdown, which can lead to infection and scarring, she says. While this won’t happen to someone with extremely oily skin, most people don’t have extremely oily skin, Day says, so it will be ineffective at best and damaging at worst.
If someone is looking for a good makeup base coat, Sodha recommends something that is non-comedogenic and non-sensitizing, like silicone-based primers.
“The good thing about these products is that they’re non-comedogenic, so they won’t clog your pores. They’re synthetic, so they’re not going to cause any kind of allergy,” she says.
In general, the two dermatologists warn their patients to beware of TikTok trends they see online and warn of the possible effects of long-term use of calamine lotion on the face, even if it does. seems to work with one use.
“Consumers need to think about it like they do with any type of product they come across, just thinking about the long-term effects of something like this and how it works for their own skin,” Sodha says.