It may not sound quite as catchy or impressive as, say, ‘hyaluronic acid’ or ‘retinol’, but the humble oat packs some serious skin-soothing power - so much so that it counts organic skincare brands, DIY beauty aficionados, and poison-ivy victims as die-hard fans.
The breakfast staple may look rather unassuming, but it actually possesses the highest lipid content of any grain cereal, and is an impressive source of fibre, vitamins, and sugars. When added to your skincare regime, oats can offer three major skin-lovin’ qualities.
Firstly, and perhaps most famously, oats are incredibly soothing for itchy, irritated skin. Their rich cellulose and fibre content gives them emollient properties making them great for calming redness and irritation. Itchy skin is also usually down to the skin's pH level being imbalanced, which oatmeal is known to help normalise to relieve discomfort. As such, a steaming oatmeal bath is the perfect remedy for those with mild-to-moderate eczema, itchy skin, or sunburns.
The impressive grain can also help you overhaul your approach to hydrated skin as it not only provides heaps of moisture, but also ensures it remains locked in. Water-binding polysaccharides (long sugars) in oats draw moisture from the environment into your skin; and lipids reinforce the skin’s barrier to prevent it from escaping - they basically make your skin a prison cell for water.
Oats also contain compounds called saponins, which are natural cleansers. They exfoliate the skin while absorbing any dirt and oils that clog the pores, which can then be rinsed off - kind of like soap (but with a less pleasant scent). Combined with the other components in oats, saponins leave behind soft, silky skin and smaller-looking pores.
How to use them
Actually reaping the benefits of oats takes more than just diving face first into your breakfast bowl. Below are three easy ways to incorporate the grain into your skincare routine.
- Run a good ol' oatmeal bath: While there’s a plethora of products that contain oatmeal, from cleansers to moisturisers, there's something to be said about dunking yourself into a whole bath of the stuff - namely re-emerging with baby-smooth, undeniably fresh skin. To make your own oatmeal bath at home, blend one cup of oats into a fine powder using a food processor. Run a warm bath and pour the powder into it. Jump in for a relaxing 15-20 minute soak and make sure to gently rub the solution into your skin for better results.
- Face cleanse: You only need three basic ingredients to create the ultimate at-home oat mask: warm water, oats and honey. Mix them into a paste and apply to your skin to reap the bacteria-battling, skin-cleansing properties of oats.
- pH treatments: Soothe irritated skin by applying oatmeal as a pH neutralising treatment. Blend some oats into a powder, and mix into water until you get a fine paste (or with milk for a more soothing effect). Apply the paste to inflamed skin, and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
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