Milk of Magnesia for Acne

Every so often, an ingredient or product typically found in our kitchen or medicine cabinets picks up steam on the internet for its potential benefits outside its primary use.

Such is the case with milk of magnesia, an over-the-counter laxative with supposed anti-inflammatory properties that can calm inflamed and acne-ridden skin.

But before taking someone’s word for it and jumping on the bandwagon, it’s important to understand what milk of magnesia is and how it works.

Therefore, let’s dive into the research and see if there’s evidence to support that milk of magnesia can be an effective acne remedy.

What is Milk of Magnesia?

Milk of magnesia comes in the form of chewable tablets or a milky liquid consisting of a white solid, magnesium hydroxide, suspended in water.

What is Milk of Magnesia Used For?

Sold as an over-the-counter medication, milk of magnesia is used as an:

  • Osmotic laxative: helps relieve constipation by drawing water into the intestine to increase bowel activity.
  • Antacid: due to its alkaline nature, milk of magnesia will neutralize high levels of stomach acid, which can help reduce heartburn and indigestion and calm an upset stomach.

However, although helpful for these common issues, milk of magnesia shouldn’t be used long-term.

It’s more of a quick solution that should relieve discomfort, but ultimately, you should seek medical advice if symptoms persist.

Can Milk of Magnesia Get Rid of Acne?

While there are claims that milk of magnesia can help reduce acne, there’s no evidence to support these claims, and the research on this particular topic is very limited.

When searching the internet for answers on whether milk of magnesia can help you get rid of acne, you’ll likely come across a letter written by a dermatologist to a medical journal in the 1930s which states that magnesium hydroxide, which is the main component in milk of magnesia, has antibacterial properties, and can be effective in the reduction of acne and post-inflammatory redness.

However, while this letter is often cited as the primary evidence in favor of milk of magnesia being effective in acne treatment, it’s important to note that the dermatologist who noticed a reduction in skin inflammation by using milk of magnesia also administered 250mg of tetracycline, which is an antibiotic that has been found to reduce acne and other skin related issues and is commonly prescribed to acne patients to this day.

Additionally, the dermatologist also notes that cleansing twice a day with an oil-free soap was involved in the regimen, so it is evident that the combination of these treatments provided the patient with a successful outcome instead of the milk of magnesia alone.

Furthermore, a couple of studies have been done after the original letter to try and conclude whether milk of magnesia can help balance out excess oil production in the skin since this is one of the main causes of acne in the first place.

However, similarly, evidence to support that using milk of magnesia can balance oily skin didn’t come to light, and nothing has been proven until today.

Milk of magnesia doesn’t have any effect on changing the composition of our natural oil, nor reducing the size of the oil-producing glands, which would lead to less oil production and reduction of acne.

Additionally, milk of magnesia doesn’t have any healing or soothing properties, which is why it’s unlikely to help reduce redness and inflammation caused by acne.

Finally, there’s limited evidence to support the notion that milk of magnesia has antibacterial properties that would specifically target the acne-causing bacteria that thrive inside clogged pores.

And while it has been proven that the substance has antibacterial properties in general, it still doesn’t mean that it will be effective for topical application.

In conclusion, while there are claims that milk of magnesia can help reduce acne and soothe irritation, there’s currently no scientific evidence to back this up.

Side Effects of Applying Milk of Magnesia on Acne

Applying milk of magnesia on the skin and acne hasn’t been thoroughly researched; therefore, there also aren’t any observed side effects that could be linked to using this product topically.

However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any side effects should you decide to apply milk of magnesia on your skin.

Applying anything new always comes with the risk of irritation, stinging, burning, and even an allergic reaction.

Therefore, if you’ve decided on testing out milk of magnesia on acne, make sure to do a patch test on a smaller area of the face or body to avoid any unwanted reactions.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Acne

Getting rid of acne can be a long process that requires patience and consistency. However, it is by no means a complicated one.

And getting rid of acne certainly doesn’t require applying a laxative on your skin when there are already tried and proven methods that work exceptionally well.

With that said, here are three simple ways that will help reduce acne quickly and get rid of this inflammatory condition over time:


One of the most important things you have to have in order to get rid of acne is your diet.

Certain foods we consume daily are loaded with inflammatory components that can increase inflammation in the body and throw our hormones off balance, eventually leading to skin issues.

Therefore, reducing the consumption of processed foods, sugars, and dairy products is an excellent place to start when healing your skin.

Additionally, introducing nutritious foods into your daily menu is highly recommended to reduce inflammation in the body and balance out hormones.

However, if you want to improve your diet and get clear skin, check out GoodGlow’s ebook, which contains guides packed with information on where to start, what to eat, and how to heal skin from within.


If you are not getting enough of specific vitamins which are essential for many bodily functions, including skin health through food, you can always opt for supplements.

Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids as well as zinc, vitamins A, B6, and E are all recommended for reducing inflammation and healing the skin.

However, when supplementing, avoid the mistake every beginner makes and stay away from multivitamins. These products are often full of artificial ingredients in doses that aren’t healthy or enough for your needs.

Therefore, when choosing a supplement, opt for something that you specifically need, and not a little bit of everything, because your body will flush out the extra, and you’re essentially wasting money on something that’s not helping you in any way.

Topical Products

Finally, we have the external part of the equation – topical products.

When it comes to getting rid of acne, the right topical products can transform your skin. However, unfortunately, often cosmetics are also the main culprit of skin issues, so make sure to choose your products wisely.

An excellent place to start is to find a good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen for your particular concerns.

Keep your skincare routine simple and efficient, and don’t introduce too many products at once or switch through products too quickly, as this could cause skin irritation, preventing your skin from healing.


Can You Use Milk of Magnesia as Makeup Primer?

Milk of magnesia might not make the best makeup primer due to becoming flaky and unable to grip onto makeup when it dries on the skin.
If you want to make sure your makeup stays put all day long, use an acne-safe primer instead.

Can Magnesium Help Clear Acne?

Magnesium is essential for many bodily functions, including hormonal balance and reducing inflammation.
Therefore, supplementing with magnesium can help bring underlying imbalances to the surface and help your body heal, which can potentially clear up hormonal acne.

Can Milk Cause Acne?

Milk and dairy products are known to cause acne in some people due to containing hormones that can stimulate oil production.
Therefore, if you struggle with acne, it is recommended to reduce dairy consumption or opt for plant-based alternatives instead.

Originally Published: January 23, 2023

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Analyzed by Simone Sydel

Hi, I’m Simone Sydel, a licensed esthetician and acne expert dedicated to helping others solve their skin issues including acne, eczema, and UV damage. I specialize in testing and reviewing the latest acne treatments and beauty products, offering honest, practical advice for skincare. I’ve helped hundreds of clients clear their skin and my skincare product reviews have been read by several hundred thousand people. Thanks for visiting!

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