Oats – or Avena sativa – have enjoyed a long history of use as a safe and effective topical treatment for a wide array of skin conditions. First used medicinally in ancient Rome, oatmeal carries both dermatological and cosmetic benefits: it cleanses, moisturizes, soothes, and protects the skin.
Setting itself apart from other cereal grains, oatmeal is especially rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates, lipids, vitamin E, and a wealth of antioxidants.
Colloidal oatmeal is derived from finely ground whole dehulled oat grain. When combined with water, honey, oils, yogurt, lotion, or other liquids, colloidal oatmeal disperses evenly which allows it to be absorbed easily by the skin. You can buy colloidal oatmeal pre-made or you can pick up some organic old fashioned oatmeal and grind it up with a blender or food processor into a very fine powder.
Here are some remarkable ways that colloidal oatmeal does wonders for the skin:
1. A Mild Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
Oats contain saponins, a type of chemical compound found in abundance in the plant kingdom. Producing foam when dissolved in water, saponins work much like soap by binding with grease and oil molecules so they can be rinsed away. Colloidal oatmeal is much gentler than soap, however, since its cleansing action only works on the surface of the skin. And because it doesn’t penetrate deeply and strip away oils, using it won’t dry out and damage the skin’s barrier.
Try this facial cleanser: 1 teaspoon of colloidal oatmeal + a touch of water.
2. It’s Deeply Hydrating
When colloidal oatmeal is added to a liquid, it covers the skin in fine particles that create a viscous occlusive barrier – essentially a second skin – that helps protect the epidermis as it heals while preventing water loss. This effect is thanks to the oat’s polysaccharide and lipid content which holds moisture in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin.
Try this moisturizing cream: ½ cup colloidal oatmeal + ¼ cup plain yogurt + 2 tablespoons of raw organic honey.
3. A Gentle Exfoliant
As one of the gentlest exfoliants due to its tiny particle size, colloidal oatmeal is excellent as a scrub for removing dead skin cells. Use it alone or combine it with another exfoliant like brown sugar for a coarser scrub while taking advantage of its innate soothing properties.
Try this mild scrub: 2 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal + 1 tablespoon of raw organic honey + 1 tablespoon of warm water.
4. Relieve Itchy Skin
Oatmeal has long been used as a home remedy to relieve itchiness that accompanies chicken pox, exposure to poison ivy, sunburns, and rashes. The anti-itching effect of colloidal oatmeal is due to the presence of avenanthramides – a group of phenolic alkaloids – that help reduce hypersensitivity and inflammation of the skin.
Try this bath soak: Draw a warm bath and pour one to two cups of colloidal oatmeal to the water.
5. Treat Eczema
Eczema – or atopic dermatitis – is a skin condition that often expresses itself as dry, sensitive, and itchy skin. Colloidal oatmeal is an excellent treatment for eczema since it not only reduces itchiness and inflammation, but it will help to repair the skin barrier and trap in moisture.
Try this super hydrating bath: Draw a warm bath and add ½ cup of colloidal oatmeal + 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil + ¼ cup of baking soda.
6. Treat Psoriasis
Likewise, psoriasis – a skin disease marked by red, scaly patches of skin – can be successfully treated with colloidal oatmeal because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Clear Away Acne
Used as a spot treatment or all over the face, colloidal oatmeal works to kill acne-causing bacteria, restores the normal pH of the skin, absorbs excess oils, and reduces redness and inflammation.
Try this anti-acne treatment: 2 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal + ½ of a medium-sized cucumber (pureed) + a few drops of tea tree essential oil.
8. Reverse the Signs of Aging
In addition to its anti-inflammatory prowess, colloidal oatmeal is rich in proteins, vitamin E, fatty acids, and a host of antioxidants like quinones, flavones, favonols, and anthocyanidines that protect against free radical damage. Another compound, beta glucans, has shown to penetrate the deepest layers of the skin to significantly reduce fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin elasticity.
Try this rejuvenating serum: 3 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal + 1 tablespoon of raw organic honey + 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
9. Natural Sun Protection
Another unique property of colloidal oatmeal is its ability to absorb ultraviolet light. The flavonoids in oats have been shown to strongly absorb UVA radiation in the 320 to 370 nm range. Used in conjunction with mineral sunscreens, colloidal oatmeal can provide an extra layer of protection against sun burns and sun damage.
10. Soothe the Scalp
Whether you have dry, itchy scalp or the polar opposite – oily tresses – colloidal oatmeal can be the cure for both of these conditions. Use a dry shampoo to wick up any oily build up and extend your ‘do for a couple more days. Or substitute your usual wet shampoos with a gentle, scalp soothing version. And as a bonus, oatmeal will make your hair feel so soft and silky.
Try this dry shampoo: 4 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal + 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
Try this wet shampoo: ½ cup of colloidal oatmeal + 2 cups of warm water