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#1
Old 02-17-2013, 05:11 AM
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Chemistry experts: Milk of Magnesia on the face.. how does it work on skin?

I'm a guy and I have a super oily face.

Recently, one of my girl friends recommended me some Milk of Magnesia on the face and I'm surprised it worked!
My face stays matt longer and the oil volume has gone down tremendously.

I had used tons of products but nothing worked as well as this cheap product.

After doing some googling, all I got was a bunch of ladies discussing hypotheses, but no exact science. One website I visited even said that it is too basic and may encourage bacteria growth.

What the straight dope on this? How does Milk of Magnesia work on the skin?
#2
Old 02-17-2013, 05:15 AM
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Some links for your reading pleasure:

The girls really swear by it!

http://makeupandbeautyblog.com/s...for-oily-skin/

http://futurederm.com/2012/07/12...or-researched/
#3
Old 02-17-2013, 06:00 AM
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Can't answer your specific question, but if you use any kind of soap on your face, that's most likely why your skin gets/got so oily. It seems counter-intuitive, but it's pretty much the same principle as the "no poo" (not using shampoo on your hair) thing. Instead of soap, use something like Clearasil Daily Face Wash, or Walmart brand Equate Oil-Free Daily Face Wash, which is just as effective and much cheaper.

If you must use soap, the more gentle, the better. Still, dilute it with water as much as possible and rinse it off promptly. Soap dries out your skin, which stimulates it to quickly produce oils, which becomes a vicious cycle to the point where your skin is constantly trying to recover from the drying-out by producing more oils.
#4
Old 02-17-2013, 12:11 PM
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Exactly! Milk of Magnesia is actually a strong alkali. However, it is able to control sebum production for a longer period than soap.. supposedly without much side effects.

I'm just wondering whether is it because it is so alkaline to the point where it kills all the acidic bacteria that causes acne, and hence reduces the oil?

But there are also theories that it is so alkali until it encourages the growth of alkaline bacteria, which isn't good for the skin.

Boy.. I really need a scientist here!
#5
Old 02-17-2013, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teddybound View Post
Exactly! Milk of Magnesia is actually a strong alkali. However, it is able to control sebum production for a longer period than soap.. supposedly without much side effects.
Just to be clear, soap doesn't control sebum production at all, it just removes it from the skin. And in so doing, it causes more sebum production.

I have no idea about the effects of MoM, but my guess is that it doesn't "control sebum production" either, it really just functions like an even stronger soap, by more effectively removing the sebum, perhaps more deeply. If that second link provided above is to be believed, I would stay away from that stuff - you might just make the problem worse in the long-run. Better to stick with a product like I mentioned above, which is purpose-made and tested for safety and effectiveness on facial skin. I'm quite confident that if you stop using soap, and give the Oil-Free Daily Face Wash a try, you'll be pleased with the results after a week or so.

Also, if you continue to use shampoo, try to rinse it off without getting it on your face. But you might even get better results by also going "no poo" since the oils created in your scalp easily migrate to your face.

But if you don't listen to any of this advice, and continue using soap and/or shampoo (with or without MoM) try to use the most mild soap/shampoo in the least amount, with the most dilution, and for as short a time as possible. It's really when you leave harsh soaps applied for extended periods that you're going to have the worst problems - more is not better!

Last edited by voltaire; 02-17-2013 at 01:42 PM.
#6
Old 02-17-2013, 03:49 PM
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MoM is magnesium hydroxide- it's a WEAK alkali. If it were a strong one, you couldn't swallow it or put it on your face. Alkalies (bases) convert the lipids in skin to soap- sebum's a lipid but there are lipids in skin cell membranes, too. Strong alkalies can really do great damage to skin. Nair and Neet use diluted sodium hydroxide to dissolve off hair. I've been told they can burn pretty badly if left on too long.
#7
Old 02-17-2013, 05:29 PM
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Isn't Milk Of Magnesia a home remedy for treating exposure to tear gas?
#8
Old 02-18-2013, 12:03 AM
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Thanks for the insight. Good to hear that.

As in the links I've provided, the ladies were commenting that magnesium hydroxide is a STRONG alkali, and I wasn't sure whether that was true. It's good to clarify that.

I suppose that means alkali are good on the face to clear the oily lipids?

Quote:
Originally Posted by california jobcase View Post
MoM is magnesium hydroxide- it's a WEAK alkali. If it were a strong one, you couldn't swallow it or put it on your face. Alkalies (bases) convert the lipids in skin to soap- sebum's a lipid but there are lipids in skin cell membranes, too. Strong alkalies can really do great damage to skin. Nair and Neet use diluted sodium hydroxide to dissolve off hair. I've been told they can burn pretty badly if left on too long.
#9
Old 02-18-2013, 11:09 AM
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A base being 'strong' or 'weak' is a measure of how much of the dissolved substance dissociates into ions. One that dissociates fully is a strong base, one that dissociates partially into both ions and an aqueous form of the substance, is a weak one.

Magnesium hydroxide has a very low solubility, but what little of it that dissolves, dissociates fully. That's why it's a strong base. The rest remains as undissolved solid, a 'suspension', rather than exist in an aqueous form. Like the dilute sodium hydroxide (another strong base) in Nair or Neet, the magnesium hydroxide is incredibly dilute too due to that near-insolubility. So it's the dilution that matters when it comes to putting it on your face, or using it orally.

Last edited by EckyThump; 02-18-2013 at 11:10 AM. Reason: Minor correction
#10
Old 02-18-2013, 12:40 PM
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I'm confused...

1. So how does Milk of Magnesia work to maintain the skin's matte appearance?

2. Does it cause bacteria proliferation when used in the long term?
#11
Old 02-18-2013, 02:44 PM
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Milk of magnesia as dispensed is an 8% suspension of magnesium hydroxide; most of this does not dissolve, but that which does dissociates completely. While this is called a strong base, it is nonetheless true that the preparation is weakly alkaline, having a pH around 10.5.

Magnesia saponifies oils; though it is not practical for soapmaking, it will definitely (a) chemically consume skin oil and (b) leave a residue of magnesium soap which continues to emulsify additional skin oil, leaving it susceptible to removal by sweating and casual wiping. In the short term, exposure to magnesia will kill some bacteria.

Unfortunately, it leaves the skin at a basic pH. This alone causes dermatitis in some people. In most, an alkaline pH interferes with desquamation (shedding), which in turn encourages bacterial proliferation and more dermatitis. Many people will show no ill effects, but then most people show no ill effects from skin oil, and I see little reason put any effort into removing it, for the most part.

There's a lot of unscientific yet authoritative-sounding rubbish on the web about this (as about most things), so I thought I'd put my two cents in.
#12
Old 02-18-2013, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
Unfortunately, it leaves the skin at a basic pH. This alone causes dermatitis in some people. In most, an alkaline pH interferes with desquamation (shedding), which in turn encourages bacterial proliferation and more dermatitis.
Would rinsing with a weak vinegar solution do anything beneficial about that?
#13
Old 02-18-2013, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
There's a lot of unscientific yet authoritative-sounding rubbish on the web about this (as about most things), so I thought I'd put my two cents in.
That's why I'm so confused, and really needed help! I'm so glad there's so many helpful people here at the Dope.

You see, my skin oil is so bad that it clogs my pores and leaves horrible pustules-type pimples. That's why I really appreciated the mattifying effect of Magnesia.

It works now, but I'm wary of the long term effects. I'm only using it once a day in the morning. Is there a way I can get my skin to continue shedding? Or to kill the bacteria due to the lack of shedding? So I can reap the benefits of Magnesia...

I'm asking all these from a scientist basis, of course.
#14
Old 02-18-2013, 03:51 PM
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So, I have very oily facial skin, too. So, I put the Phillip's MoM to the test.

1) Night time mask: I globbed it on. It left clearly white residue, as much as when globbing on Clearasil 'clear'. Skin was dry and tight, just like after a vigorous soap washing. It definitely stopped any oily shine for many hours. I rinsed it off before going to bed. Woke up with skin as it usually is in the morning.

2) Morning 'base': After showering I applied a small dollop to my face with a wet cotton pad so that there was a very minimal coating. And that's all I did. When the water and MoM mixture dried, there were some patches of residue, which tells me I could have used even less. Using another wet cotton pad, I blotted out the excess patches of MoM. About 5 hours later, oily shine started coming through. Normally the shine starts in 2 hours. Which makes me wonder how some others were able to lay on a coat so thick to stop the oily shine without creating obvious white patches of MoM residue. Other than that, no ill effects to my facial skin. Perhaps some folks' facial skin is so oily and acidic that MoM is a drop in the bucket and easily, naturally neutralized.


So, because MoM doesn't really apply 'clear', I won't be using it for daytime applications. Maybe I'll try a very light application before bed and see what that does.
#15
Old 02-24-2013, 11:08 AM
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I feel my skin has actually improved, but I've only used MoM for 2 weeks - too short to see the harmful side-effects.

It's tempting to continue using it, in view of the current positive outcome.

It's very drying, however, the shine that I used to have has reduced considerably. And for the first time in my life, I woke up one day without a pus-filled nodule in the cracks next to my nostrils.
#16
Old 02-24-2013, 07:27 PM
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Try using it on just half your face. That's the best way to be sure it's actually working.
#17
Old 02-24-2013, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
Try using it on just half your face. That's the best way to be sure it's actually working.
Did that for a week.
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