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Milk of Magnesia for the Skin

Milk of Magnesia

This is an odd one.  Alexi writes

Hi, Colin

I have question about milk of magnesia. A lot of ladies are saying that it’s effective at controlling oil on their skin, but is it safe? I’ve heard that milk of magnesia has a pH of 10.5. Wouldn’t it disrupt the skins acid mantle over a long period of time?

I had this discussion with a couple of other ladies. One told me that she asked her professors (retired doctors) and they told her it’s not strong enough to change the skins pH. Another lady told me that her husband (who’s a cosmetic chemist) told her that using it daily would not cause any long term damage. I would like to know your opinion. Thank you!

I have no idea what would suggest to someone that applying a treatment for an upset stomach to ones face was a good idea.

First off the pH thing. Extremely alkaline and extremely acidic conditions are bad for the skin, so it sounds like a high pH or a low pH also ought to be bad for the skin.  This does make sense, but pH isn’t exactly a measure of how acidic or otherwise something is.  The best analogy I can think of is shade of colour.  A very pale red cloth and a bright red one are both red.  But only the bright red will enrage a bull.

So just because Milk of Magnesia has a high pH it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be harmful to your skin. Avoiding extreme pH is often a good idea, but it isn’t a firm rule.

The more difficult question is what good can it be doing?  The only thing I can think of is that the magnesium hydroxide in the milk of magnesia is reacting with the oils on the skin to produce a form of soap.  If people are finding this beneficial I wish them all the best.  But I have a feeling this may well be one of those things that doesn’t work for everyone.


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