Drying lotion definitely seems a bit of an oxymoron, but the name comes courtesy of Mario Bedascu, along with the idea for the product. It is, more or less, rubbing alcohol, salicylic acid, and calamine lotion, and it’s designed to dry out your zits and make them vanish like a magic trick. It also performs a bit of a magic trick on your wallet, ringing in at a whopping $17/oz (hence the need for a DIY dupe).

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This lotion is a definite oddity, and really a lotion in name only. It’s a two-parter in one bottle. Part one is a pinkish sediment of calamine at the bottom of the bottle, and part two is a solution of mainly rubbing alcohol and salicylic acid. The idea is that you dip a cotton bud through the mixture without shaking the bottle, and when you withdraw it, it will be soaked through with the alcohol mixture, with calamine all over the tip. That’s what you dot on your zits before going to bed. Interesting.

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Part one, the calamine mixture, was easy enough. Calamine is really just red iron oxide (ferric oxide) in zinc oxide. The rest of the powdery ingredients in the original were titanium dioxide, more zinc oxide, and talc. I ditched the talc and blended the three ingredients together into a pink powder, and then used a funnel to tap that into the bottom of a bottle. I recommend using a bottle that a cotton bud can actually reach the bottom of. I did not and now I have to use a long handled make up brush to apply this—whoops.

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For the liquidy bit, I steeped white willow bark in some water for its natural salicylic acid. After straining out the bits of bark I added rubbing alcohol, vegetable glycerin, and camphor powder. I then used a funnel to pour that into the bottle as well. Because of the natural source of the salicylic acid the liquid does turn a dark brown as the sediment settles out of it. Oh well.

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Zit Drying Lotion

60mL | ¼ cup boiling water
10mL | 2 tsp white willow bark

22mL | 1½ tbsp isopropyl alcohol or high-proof clear grain alcohol
¼ tsp vegetable glycerin

1½ tsp zinc oxide
1/8 tsp red iron oxide (I use these tiny measuring spoons to measure out such small amounts)
½ tsp titanium dioxide
1/32 tsp camphor powder or 5 drops camphor essential oil + 5 drops either polysorbate 20 or Turkey Red Oil

Broad spectrum preservative of choice (why?)

Pour the boiling water over the white willow bark and let steep 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid.

Blend the zinc oxide, red iron oxide, titanium dioxide, and camphor powder together in your DIY coffee grinder. Use a funnel to divide the mixture between two 30mL (1 fl oz) glass bottles.

Combine 7.5mL/half a tablespoon of the white willow bark mixture with the rubbing alcohol, glycerin, and your preservative. Divide this mixture between the two bottles, topping off with extra white willow bark water as needed. Do not shake.

To use, dip a cotton bud through the entire bottle. Do not shake. Apply the pink goo to your spots before going to bed. Don’t rinse off until morning.

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