What do the experts say about using calamine lotion as a primer?
Their take: Don’t use calamine lotion on your face, but if you must, do so sparingly.
“Calamine lotion includes a combination of zinc oxide, ferric oxide and phenol. When used for bug bites, it can help with itching. When recommended for poison ivy or other types of contact dermatitis, calamine lotion generally helps with excess weeping,” explains Garshick.
“Calamine lotion can also dry out the skin, which is why those with oily skin may find it helpful. But it is not meant to be used as a daily primer and should only be used for a limited duration of time,” she concludes.
Makeup artists agree. “Using calamine lotion as a primer can actually damage your skin. If your skin is normal and you use calamine lotion as a primer, it can cause harm by affecting the skin’s top layer (epidermis), which protects against environmental pollutants,” says Gabbay.
“Using this product can also make other skin conditions such as acne, dryness, rosacea etc., even worse. If your skin is on the greasier side, it may help makeup stay on in the short term, but you’ll still be causing damage without realizing it. Use calamine lotion in the way it’s meant to be used—to treat bites and itching,” she adds.
So, what are some alternatives?
If your skin is on the oilier side and you struggle to find a primer that keeps your foundation intact, below are five recommendations from the pros. (Bonus tip: “Those with oily skin should look for products containing salicylic acid, which can help to reduce oil and unclog pores. Also look for gel or foam-based cleansers, and moisturizers and toners that are intended to help control oil,” advises Dr. Garshick.)