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Dermatologists warn against TikTok-viral calamine lotion makeup primer hack

(NEW  YORK) — Another day, another TikTok trend, and the most recent beauty craze comes in the form of calamine lotion.

Content creators have been sharing videos of themselves using the over-the-counter medication, which is typically used to treat itchy skin, as a makeup primer.

Videos tagged with the #calamineprimer hashtag have racked up millions of views so far on the social platform, with users curious to know whether the method actually works.

Beauty influencers and content creators like @tiasamudaa have been using calamine lotion under their makeup for some time now, but the trend has picked up steam in recent months.

One digital creator, who goes by @brittanybowmann1 on TikTok, posted a now viral video of herself applying the lotion to treat “acne scars + dark marks” back in May (a process she later said dried out her existing blemishes but didn’t lighten any of the discoloration). The video currently has more than 7.3 million plays.

A few days later she posted another video in which she’s seen applying the calamine lotion with a makeup brush before adding on a layer of foundation on top. Toward the end of the video, which Bowman says was filmed following an “8-hour shift,” her makeup appears to still be perfectly in place.

“10/10 would recommend,” Bowman captioned the clip.

Other TikTokers have been swapping calamine lotion into their routines as well, with similar results. In a video on April 28, TikTok user Whitcharae tested out the trend on half of her face while using her regular primer on the other half, beneath a full face of makeup. She reported that, by the end of the day, the side of her face with the calamine lotion seemed to be “way more matte” than the side with regular primer.

While the TikTok trend continues to grow in popularity, skin care experts and dermatologists aren’t too keen on the idea.

“Calamine lotion acts like an astringent, meaning that it dries out the skin,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told “Good Morning America.” “That could be good in the short-term if you’re treating something like a bug bite, but if you consistently use it over time, it can damage something called the skin barrier. Think of it as a smart protective shield. It traps moisture in the skin, but it blocks out things like allergens, irritants and pollutants — and you don’t want those in the skin because they can drive inflammation.”

Bowe explained that a damaged skin barrier “can show up as blotchy skin, breakouts, it can even accelerate the aging process and you just lose the elasticity in the skin.”

To keep your skin looking healthy, Bowe instead recommends an alternative called “skin cycling.”

Here’s how to incorporate skin cycling into your routine:

Night 1: Exfoliation

On the first night of the “skin cycle,” you should cleanse and follow with an exfoliating product — “one that contains ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid,” Bowe said.

“It’s going to just slough away that dead layer of skin,” she added.

This process helps to brighten the skin overnight and prep it for night two.

Night 2: Use a retinoid

To build collagen and smooth fine lines, take a tiny pea-sized amount of retinoid, dab it all over your face and rub it in. “This is going to help with texture, fine lines, wrinkles,” she said.

Night 3 & 4: Recovery

On the third and fourth nights, Bowe advised cleansing and dabbing on a product with ingredients such as hyaluronic serum to help nourish and repair the skin barrier.

During this time, Bowe said the most important step is moisturizer. She recommended her own recently launched Bowe Glow Microbiome Nourishing Cream, which includes ingredients like squalane, ceramides and sunflower seed oil, which help nourish and repair the skin barrier, she said.

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