Missy Elliott’s performance at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards was nothing short of unsurpassable. Everything about the medley of the hits that earned her the VMA’s Video Vanguard award was perfect, from the choreography to the costume changes. And if you were looking closely you know that Elliott’s makeup was flawless too, even through all the nonstop movement. She must’ve been wearing a pretty sick primer, right? Well, let’s just say you’ve probably used it when you’ve been sort of sick.
In a new interview with Refinery29, Elliott’s makeup artist, Alexandra Butler, shared some of the products she uses most frequently on the hip-hop legend. And while the kit she brings to Elliott’s shows is full of beauty brands you know and love like Anastasia Beverly Hills, Milani, and Huda Beauty, one of the key factors in her long-wearing look isn’t a beauty product at all. “To make sure her makeup lasts through hours or rehearsals and performances, I prime her skin with milk of magnesia,” Butler told Refinery29, referring to the over-the-counter laxative, “which is a slightly old-school method.”
It’s true — this hack has been around for quite some time. You’d think that with all the advancements we’ve seen in the primer category that it would go by the wayside, but makeup artists still appreciate what milk of magnesia can do. “It’s a solution of magnesium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite that works by drawing water into the intestine,” cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller previously told Allure. “Its ability to drive water into the intestines may mean it’s capable of tightening skin and leaving a smooth surface for makeup.”
Butler doesn’t rely on milk of magnesia alone to ensure that Elliott’s foundation — typically MAC Studio Fix Fluid — doesn’t budge. “I usually set her face with Ben Nye Final Seal, which is like an antiperspirant for the face — sweat rolls off,” Butler said.
So, should you be reaching into the digestive-affliction section of your medicine cabinet before doing your makeup? (What, you don’t organize your medicine cabinet by ailment?) While it won’t do great harm, Schueller also told Allure that you may want to proceed with caution: “It may dry out your skin. And since it has a high pH, it might also disrupt your skin’s natural acid mantle.”