If you’re looking to save money on skin care (and, um, in life), consider a humble canister of oatmeal. Beyond the infinite breakfast options it provides (peanut butter overnight oats, anyone?), it’s also a key beauty ingredient for soothing and smoothing over dry or itchy skin.
Tell me: What are the benefits of oatmeal?
The use of oats in skin care dates as far back as 2000 B.C. in Egypt, where oat baths were reportedly used to heal various skin conditions. In the last century, it became one of the first (and very few) ingredients that is acknowledged and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (in 1989, as a "safe and effective Category I ingredient" and again in 2003, as a skin protectant).
Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory properties, many of the same qualities that make oatmeal a healthy breakfast option (or, let’s be honest, slapdash dinner) also make it beneficial to your skin.
To get even more (ahem) granular, oats have two major components that give it its super powers: avenanthramides and lipids. Avenanthramides are a group of phenolic antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and can help calm itchiness and irritation when used topically. Lipids help moisturize and maintain your skin barrier, which is crucial for preventing dryness and more serious but common skin conditions like atopic dermatitis or eczema.
Oatmeal is also rich in saponins, which are compounds commonly found in grains and legumes that are often added to shampoos, liquid detergents and toothpastes because they emulsify and create a nice lather. Which brings us to our next point…
What are some ways I can use oatmeal as part of my skin-care routine?
The easiest (and most commonly used) method is something your mom might have made you do right around the time you had chickenpox: a simple oatmeal bath. All you have to do is fill your tub with warm (never hot!) water, pour in a cup of plain oatmeal and soak your body for 15 to 30 minutes for some sweet, sweet relief.
There’s a reason why our friends at the American Academy of Dermatology recommend an oatmeal bath as a treatment for everything from the aforementioned chickenpox to hives, poison ivy and sunburn.
Another option is to make your own exfoliating face mask. For this, we’d recommend grinding up plain, whole rolled oats (no instant or flavored varieties here, guys) in a food processor or blender until it reaches the consistency of a fine flour (aka colloidal oatmeal, which you can also buy pre-ground online). This makes the good stuff in the oats more accessible and primed for better absorption. Plus, it’s way less scratchy than rubbing whole grains of oat on your mug—a major faux pas if you have sensitive skin.
Once ground, mix the oats with a tablespoon of honey (which has additional antibacterial and healing properties) and a tablespoon of warm water to make a nice paste. Apply the mixture evenly across your face, let sit for a few minutes, and gently massage it into your skin using circular motions before rinsing everything off with warm water.
And last but not least, you can create your own body scrub using the humble oat. Again, make sure to grind your oats beforehand to get maximum benefits. We like to mix ours with some coconut oil, brown sugar and water (so essentially the same recipe as the face mask above, just swap out the honey for coconut oil). This home-concocted scrub has helped us through the dead of winter (when our legs look and feel like cracked tiles) and in the middle of summer (to smooth things over before a self-tanning sesh).
And in case you’re looking for yet another way to max out your handy can of oats, here’s an ultra-creamy and delicious recipe for making oat milk at home. Oat is G.O.A.T., y’all.