Colloidal Oatmeal Benefits for the Skin
The Ancient Egyptians were among the first to recognize the skin-soothing properties of oats (Avena sativa), dating back to 2000 B.C. It wasn’t until 2003, however, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved colloidal oatmeal as an effective ingredient to treat skin ailments, including eczema, psoriasis, and rashes.
What is Colloidal Oatmeal?
Colloidal oatmeal refers to oats that are finely milled and then suspended in water, another liquid or gel. In a liquid or gel, Colloidal Oatmeal disperses evenly. This suspension of oats allows it to be applied and absorbed easily, providing many protective benefits for sensitive, irritated skin.
Skin Benefits of Colloidal Oatmeal
Helps Defend the Skin
While Colloidal Oatmeal should not be consumed because it expands greatly in water, its actives effectively soothe dry and sensitive skin when applied topically. Oats contain polysaccharides, which have a gel-like texture when combined with moisture. This light gel leaves a protective layer over the skin that seals in skin’s natural moisture while also providing additional nutrients. For many with sensitive skin, the skin barrier function may be compromised, and a layer of Colloidal Oatmeal acts like a protective, second skin. The proteins in oats also improve the skin barrier’s functionality by increasing the production of filaggrin, an essential building block of the skin barrier’s function.
Hydrates Dry Skin
The protective layer Colloidal Oatmeal imparts over the skin’s surface helps retain its natural moisture, while other actives help replenish moisture levels. The starches in oats are able to absorb water and bind it to the skin.
Evens out Skin Tone and Texture
Oats are also a rich source of avenanthramides, a unique group of antioxidant compounds not found in other plant sources. Avenanthramides are the main actives in oats that reduce redness and inflammation, especially irritation from excessive sun exposure (UV radiation).
In addition to its calming qualities, oats also act as a gentle exfoliator for skin, excellent for removing dead cells and revealing brighter skin that lies beneath.
Natural, Gentle Cleansing
Oats contain saponins, compounds that are naturally occurring in many grains and legumes. Saponins are an ideal, gentle cleanser for sensitive skin because they absorb dirt and debris on the surface of the skin. As a result, dirt can be easily rinsed away without disrupting the skin’s barrier.
How to Make Colloidal Oatmeal
If you wish to make your own Colloidal Oatmeal to add to baths or to your skincare ritual, it’s simple to make at home. You’ll need:
- A food processor, spice grinder, coffee mill, or mortar and pestle. If you have very sensitive skin, we recommend using a separate blender kept only for at-home skincare. Trace amounts of spices and coffee may irritate the skin.
- Whole rolled oats (do not use instant or flavored oatmeal)
- An airtight container for storage
Mill the oats into a soft, fluffy powder. Keep the Colloidal Oatmeal in an air-tight container in a cool pantry so the actives stay fresh.
How to Use Colloidal Oatmeal
Below we share some of our favorite ways to use Colloidal Oatmeal at home:
Begin filling a bath with warm (not hot) water and add two to three cups of colloidal oatmeal as the tub fills, near the faucet. Feel free to use your hands to break apart any clusters of Colloidal Oatmeal. Soak in the bath for ten to fifteen minutes. When you’re done, your skin will feel silky-smooth. When you get out of the tub, take care as the Colloidal Oatmeal can make it slippery.
To keep the goodness in, gently pat yourself dry with a soft towel. Do not rub your skin as this may irritate it and will remove the soothing layer from the oats.
For an itchy scalp, a simple Colloidal Oatmeal treatment can relieve irritation. After washing hair, fill a pitcher with warm water and mix with 1/3 cup Colloidal Oatmeal. Gently massage this mixture into hair and scalp, cover with a shower cap and wait 15 minutes before rinsing and air drying.
You can enjoy a simple and comforting face mask made of Colloidal Oatmeal, too. Combine 1/2 cup Colloidal Oatmeal with 2-3 teaspoons of honey. Use warm water as needed for desired texture. Gently apply the mixture to the face with fingertips, avoiding the immediate eye area. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes before gently rinsing from face with lukewarm water. Pat dry with a towel and follow with your favorite moisturizer.
If you have lighter-colored hair, you can use Colloidal Oatmeal as a dry shampoo. Dust your fingertips with Colloidal Oatmeal and run your fingers through your hair, especially around the part and roots. With a soft-bristled brush, comb through your hair until the Colloidal Oatmeal blends in and is no longer visible. This non-irritating dry shampoo effortlessly absorbs excess oil while also soothing your scalp.
While oatmeal makes a healthy and delicious breakfast, Colloidal Oatmeal is a nutrient-rich ingredient for the skin, especially suitable for those with sensitive, easily irritated complexions. Because oatmeal is one of the ingredients least likely to cause a reaction, it is a wonderful way to care for sensitive skin or just help you boost your everyday glow.