I have dry skin and winter in Maine is extra tough on me. The dry, cold air leaves me red, blotchy and itchy if I am not constantly on top of my skincare routine. For myself, winter means a little more self-care on those long dark nights.
My curiosity is somewhat a blessing and a curse in my life. I'm learning to embrace the positive aspects, especially as part of my maker journey. Over the last few years I have begun to examine every product around my family. Why does it work? How does it work? How was it made? Is there a natural alternative? Can I create something like that myself? Is there a better way? It has taken me years to sift through the misinformation that makes up most of the DIY skincare world, but I know my oats inside and out. It always comes down to the science. When all your internet body care searching leads nowhere, go back to the textbooks.
Let's break past the malarkey and look at why oats work and how I use oats in skincare. First, let's touch briefly on the reality of oats in soap. As you'll hear me say time and time again - soap isn't the place to look for benefits for your skin. Soap is only ever subtractive. How your soap makes your skin feel isn't about what added ingredient it leaves behind on your skin, it's about how much of your dead skin and dirt it removes while leaving your natural oils intact. The more deeply cleansing a soap is, the better it is at breaking the surface tension between your skin and dirt, grime and/or your natural oils. Soap that leaves your natural oils intact does so because it's balanced to be cleansing, but not so deeply cleansing that it strips your skin. Soap doesn't give you anything, it just doesn't take everything. Oats in your soap won't soothe your skin but will act as a great exfoliant.
Your skincare routine and self-care are where you want to focus on getting benefits for your skin.
THE BENEFITS OF OATS IN YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE - Vitamin, minerals, proteins and lipids all abound in oats.
Oatmeal contributes to a healthy microbe balance on the skin.
Oats strengthen the skin’s barrier locking in moisture.
Oatmeal products can have a soothing effect on irritated skin.
First and foremost, oatmeal gives your skin the very best benefits when you eat it. Oatmeal is good for you from the inside out. It's a heart healthy, high nutrition food. Work a bowl of oatmeal into your diet 2-3 times a week. I'm a mid-afternoon oatmeal person. When you want that 2 p.m. coffee opt for a small and add a side of oatmeal. You'll be amazed at how much better those late afternoons go.
Oats can come in several forms including:
Oat Milk Powder
Liquid Oat Milk
Oat fiber and bran are not the same as oat flour. They don't contain as dense a concentration of nutrients. For the most nutrient-rich option select oat flour. Oat extract and oat oil are both excellent products but are extremely expensive. I have splurged on oat oil for body butters coming mid-October. If you find that you need an added oat boost, oat extract is the way to go. It's tricky to use but with a little guidance you can work this into your skincare routine.
What form of oatmeal you use will vary by the product. For instance to get all the benefits you want in your body butter we'll need to use oat oil. If we used oat flour, milk powder or even bran these would be gritty and unpleasant in the finished product. We don't want to dissolve the products in water or now we've introduced the opportunity for bacterial growth and that means we need a preservative. A skilled hand is needed to know which oat form to use in which application.
What's COLLODIAL anyway?
It's important to understand what the word colloidal means. Colloidal means a substance suspended or dispersed in another substance. When you purchase your oats they are going to be made into colloidal products but aren't actually sold in that suspended state. It's an industry buzzword used to get you to spend too much.
When you purchase colloidal oats what you're buying is oat powder that becomes colloidal when you suspend it in your body care. When you understand this you can look beyond what the handful of industry suppliers recommend and find better quality products for less. What you're looking for in your skincare is actually oat flour. We'll leave the fiber and bran for cereal. Why flour over bran or fiber? That decision is driven by the B vitamin content. Which part of the whole grain oat is ground to make bran, fiber and flour is different.
Oat fiber powder is made from the hull, or least nutrient dense part of the oat.
Oat bran comes from, you guessed it the bran layer. It's nutritious but still mostly focused on fiber and not as vitamin dense as it's flour counterpart.
Oat flour is created by grinding the entire seed, less the hull. It's the most nutrient dense option and the best one for your skincare.
I always go with food grade natural additives. Cosmetic grade products aren't held to as high of a standard as food grade products. If you want the very best for your skincare look to the pantry. I am not a paid sponsor so I when I recommend something it's because I love it. I go to Anthony's time and time again. My orders arrive fast. I've always had the highest quality products - not a single bad batch or experience. I also love the Bob's Red Mill if I need to run out locally and grab some.
We can sum up why oats are so good for your skin with one single letter B.
Oats are rich in B vitamins including B1 (thiamine) B2 (Riboflavin) B3 (Niacin) B5 (Pantothenic Acid) B6 (Pyridoxine) B7 (Biotin) B9 (Folic Acid) and B12 (Cobalamin)
B1 (thiamine) - B2 (Riboflavin) - B3 (Niacin) in our skincare all behave similarly. They lend their properties to soothe and calm red, irritated skin. They work to even tone, decrease inflammation and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This trio of b vitamins is a must-have in the winter.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid ) is wonderfully nourishing in skincare and deep conditioning hair care. It's also likely the one that sounds the most familiar to you. Especially if you dive into hair care. vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid or panthenol is part of the B vitamin complex that made Pantene - ProV a leading brand.
B5 is abundant in oats. B5 of pantothenic acid behaves like hyaluronic acid. While hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring it needs to be manufactured to create the amounts we need to use it to our benefit. This used to primarily happen using rooster combs but science is evolving. For me, I'll stick with naturally abundant B5 and pass on the hyaluronic acid.
B6 (Pyridoxine) - B6 lends it's hand by helping to regulate our sebum levels when used in our skincare. Sebum is your skins natural oils. If you're like me, you have parts of your body, especially your face, that are oilier than others. Mine is my nose! B6 helps to correct and control this.
B7 (Biotin) is the latest in skincare buzzwords. It's not new and it's been in your oatmeal this entire time. Biotin helps improve skin tone and even out those red blotches. Biotin is essential for a healthy skin tone and you'll find it everywhere and in everything. Don't get suckered - get oatmeal.
B9 (Folic Acid) is something you may have heard a lot about, especially if you've ever taken a prenatal vitamin. Folic acid for the win! When folic acid is applied regularly to the skin it stimulates collagen growth leading to firmer skin.
B12 (Cobalamin) works to combat redness, acne and even skin tone. Cobalamin is able to combat the redness and irritation that comes with acne. It has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Each of these vitamin power houses lends it's properties to smoother, more hydrated, even toned and clearer skin. Using oatmeal enriched products can soothe, exfoliate, moisturize and nourish. I provide a wide variety of oatmeal enriched products for my customers. That includes Oatmeal Bath, Oatmeal Scrub, Oatmeal Mask and coming soon that oat enriched body butter.
Here's a great recipe for a soothing oatmeal bath:
Mix the following in a glass bowl. Add your mixture to your running bath water.
1/2 Cup Oat Protein Powder
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Citric Acid
1/4 Cup Epsom Salts
When your bath water is finished running add your essential oils.
15 Drops Favorite Essential Oil
References https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235995930_oatmeal_in_dermatology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508548/ https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-18449/colloidal-oatmeal-topical/details https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508548/