DIY Face Primer for Oily Skin: Calamine Lotion

DIY Face Primer for Oily Skin: Calamine Lotion

I have suffered from oily skin for as long as I can remember, and the older I get the worse it gets.  Incidentally, my skin has gotten SOOOO  much better since I’ve been using the prescription Retin-A to treat my hormonal acne. But while my acne has improved, my oily skin is still an issue.

Face Primer for Oily Skin

For a long period of time I had great luck using Milk of Magnesia as a primer. To date, my Milk of Magnesia Primer video is one of my most highly viewed videos.  But guess what? Milk of Magnesia was AWFUL to my skin. And what’s worse, it eventually stopped working.

Today, I’m using Calamine Lotion and I couldn’t be happier. It’s soothing, great for acne, and it helps to mattify your face before applying your foundation.  Here’s how I use it:

Step 1. Wash your face with a good cleanser meant for oily skin. I LOVE the tea tree oil cleanser sold at Trader Joes. I reviewed it HERE. I also highly recommend Ren Clarimatte™ T-Zone Control Cleansing Gel.
Step 2. Moisturize your skin (YES, Moisturize!) If your skin is producing too much sebum (oil), it’s because your face thinks you need it. My fav oil-free moisturizer for oily skin is Origins Zero Oil™ Oil-Free Moisture Lotion
Step 3: Shake up your bottle of calamine lotion and pour a small amount into the cap.
Step 4: Use a Stipling brush (like this $3 one by Elf I picked up at Target)  to apply an even coat of the lotion to your face.


Don’t be scared, but you’ll look like this right after you apply it.


But once you’ve applied your foundation on top, you won’t see it at all. Don’t believe me? Check it out:


 Super Easy and effective! Try it and let me know how you like it!


Let me know if you found this post helpful! More to come soon.

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  1. Hey Lisa! I have very oily skin this time of the year and I’ve recently being trying out the Becca Ever Mattte Poreless primer, but it’s just not working as well as I thought it would. Would you say the Calamine lotion works better?

    1. I think you should use them both. Use your oil free moisturizer, then becca, then your foundation. I’m actually going to try the Makeup Forever Mattifier next. I’ve heard great reviews!

  2. So is this better on the skin than milk of magnesia? ….cause I heard milk of magnesia is damaging for the skin

    1. Yes, this is is better for your skin and it actually dries out pimples! But, to be honest, it doesn’t work as well as MOM, but it’s a nice alternative that won’t harm your skin.

  3. Hi Lisa, does the Dermatologist you went to work with skin of color? I ask because that seems to be the challenge I’m running into with the Dermatologists (in MA)
    I’ve seen for my adult acne..

    1. Well what i was prescribed was pretty standard two retina and another ointment to be used during the day. My doctor is asian, as was teh doctor who originally prescribed this treatment. He’s in braintree, ma. let me know if you want his contact info!

  4. I have dry skin but when i apply my foundation my skin gets oily!! Will dis work if i apply it as a base? I need the matte finish

    1. Try it! It won’t hurt! If you hate it, you can always return it. calamine lotion is really cheap. i have oily skin, so I don’t know how this works on dry skin.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I’m an Indian girl. My skin color is fair and bright. But, it is full of pimples and acne marks. As a 15 year old girl can I use this product as a primer. Is it helpful to cover your acne spots? I have oily skin.

      1. this is a primer. it’s not meant to work as a concealer. this is something you put on uour skin before your foundation to keep your skin matte and not oily

  5. Hi!! I love this post! ! I’ve been debating on rather or not i wanted to try this as a primer, but with how oily my skin has been lately and how perfect your makeup looks with I’m compelled to try it!! I do have one question and i hop you can answer it. I have horrible acne scarring and i use a orange correct. Can i still use my corrector with the Calamine lotion? If so any tips on applying them? Thanks in advance. And p.s. your makeup is flawless! !

    1. thanks! This is a primer. you use it on your fast first, let it dry, and then apply your cosmetics as normal. hope that helps!! and thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thank you so much for this wonderful trick . Its been 3 days since ive been doing this & i absolutely love it. It keeps my face dry all day long. YOU ARE AWESOME!!

  7. This makes a lot of sense. I’ve heard aloe vera and glycerin can be used as a primer aswell. I might try mixing all three together as an experiment.

  8. Follow up: so I tried mixing calamine, aloe vera gel, and foundation. It worked well for its mattifying effect, but for some reason didn’t mix together completely.

  9. Hello, Have i got good new or what? I read this page yesterday and went straight to the pharmacy and got myself calamine lotion since it is cheap, I thought it is worth a try. So this morning I slapped it on and put my foundation on top and I am still matte 6 hrs later!! whoop whoop, and everything is till in place. Thank you!!

  10. Lately my face has been SO oily! I’ve tried so many different primers, powders, foundations, and cleansers. Tomorrow I’m heading to the store to get some calamine lotion. Thanks for sharing this tip!

  11. Pingback: Makeup Primer For Oily Skin At Walmart | Get Makeup Tips
  12. Pingback: Calamine Lotion? As a primer?
  13. Hey Lisa. A guy friend of mine recommended calamine lotion for acne and I decided to do a research and found your page saying it can also double as a primer. I will try it this morning and if it works, I will love that guy forever. It would also mean treating acne day and night without looking like a ghost during the day. Have a great day.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this beauty shortcut. I’ve battles cystic acne for years and I’ve discovered that eliminating any foods that include growth hormones (milk, cheese…) also help. Going natural is easy and cheaper?

  15. Hi Lisa… Wow! I wished I would’ve known about calamine lotion in my teens. I’ve struggled with acne and oily skin for years. Now in my 50’s, pimples still a problem. Oily skin, not so much anymore. I’m going to try calamine for my breakouts, scars and the dark marks. Hopefully I’ll see results. But I’m just a little worried about it drying out my ageing skin. Any suggestions?? Thank you..CG

    1. Calamine lotion is to be used as a primer under your makeup. I would not recommend it for any of the uses you described, especially if you have dry-aging skin.

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