Why you should use oats to cleanse, moisturise and brighten your skin

We’ve probably all had oats for breakfast at some point but have you used it on your skin? Oats can be used as a natural moisturiser, cleanser and acne treatment. It is gentle on your skin and has anti-inflammatory properties to help treat skin conditions like dermatitis, sunburn or inflammation.

Egyptians and other peoples from around the Arabian peninsula have been using oats as a treatment for skin conditions, insomnia and stress since 2000BC.

Oats were included in ancient medical texts as a treatment for various skin conditions. Dioscorides, the Greek physician included it in his study of herbal medicines β€œDe Materia Medica” as a treatment for “skin eruptions”.

Over the centuries oats have fallen in and out of favour both as a food source and a herbal treatment. It has been cultivated and used in Scotland pretty consistently throughout the ages. It is known to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Non-contaminated natural oats can also be an alternative for those with a sensitivity to gluten.

The FDA recognised colloidal oats (finely milled oatmeal suspended in water) as a skin protectant that can be safely included in skincare products.

It has been recognised as a natural treatment for dermatitis, burns, inflamed skin, itching and even eczema. Oats can be included in products like soaps, cleansing bars, shampoos, shaving creams, bath treatments, lotions and moisturisers.

The Science:

Oats contain a group of polyphenols called avenanthramides. They are antioxidants that are responsible for the anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and antihistamine properties of oats. They help to relieve itching, swelling, redness and inflammation.

Beta-glucans are a polysaccharide in oats which is deeply hydrating, reduces lines and wrinkles, accelerates healing and improves elasticity. Used as a hair treatment, beta-glucans will soften and smoothe hair, calm and itchy scalp and prevents breakage by improving elasticity.

Oat peptides (oils) form a thin film on the skin to retain moisture, stimulate collagen production and smooth skin.

Saponins are molecules found in plants that are known to foam when combined with warm water. They are abundant in oats and help to gently cleanse the skin without over-drying. They help to remove excess oil and dirt without drying out the skin.

How to use oats to treat your skin:


Gentle Face Wash: Oats contain saponins which are naturally foaming compounds. They are a gentle cleanser that removes oil and dirt.

1 handful oats or oatmeal
1 cup hot water (more if needed)

Soak the oats in the water for at least 15 minutes to soften. The water will turn cloudy and thicken. Strain the mixture to get the oat milk. (Add more water if it is too thick to strain) Apply the oat milk to your skin with your hands as you would any normal face wash. You can leave it on for a minute to work and then rinse with warm water.
NOTE: You can also use the oats as a gentle scrub instead of throwing it out.

Moisturising Face Mask: The peptides or oils contained in oats form a thin film on the skin sealing in moisture and soothing dry skin.

4 tablespoons oats
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
2 cm banana – for an extra boost of vitamin C and glow!

Add the oil to the hot water and then add the oats to soak. Wait until it has softened and reached room temperature. Apply the mask to your skin and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.


Moisturising Bath Soak: The saponins in oats will gently cleanse your skin while the peptides moisturise. You can add oats directly to your bath water but it might clog your drain. Instead, take a linen cloth or flannel and put the oats inside, you can add some lavender or rose oil to the oats. You can also add rose petals or lavender flowers. Tie the cloth with a ribbon or chord. You can throw it in the bath while the water is running or hang it under the hot tap so that the water drains through the oats. Soak in the bath for at least 30 minutes to soothe irritated skin and moisturise.


Brighten Skin: Oats contain polysaccharides that promote healing and cell renewal. Oats can be used to brighten skin as well as, lighten discolouration and pigmentation.

4 tablespoons oats or oatmeal
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons yoghurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Soak the oats in the hot water until softened. Add the yoghurt and lemon juice. Mix everything together until it forms a paste. If it’s too runny you should allow the oats to soak up the moisture a little more before applying it to your skin. Leave the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes then rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Exfoliator: Because of its texture and moisturising properties oats can gently exfoliate the skin without causing irritation. You can simply add a few tablespoons of hot water to oatmeal and wait for it to soften a little. Apply the mixture to your skin and gently scrub in circular motions. This is a great option for people with sensitive skin that still want to gently exfoliate away dead skin cells and rough patches.

Acne Treatment: Soak up excess oil, anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness and swelling. Gently exfoliates away dead skin cells and excess oils.

4 tablespoons oats or oatmeal
1/4 cup hot water
2 drops tea tree oil
1 teaspoon honey

Add the oatmeal to the hot water along with the other ingredients. Allow the mixture to soak and cool until it can be applied to the skin. Leave the mixture on for 30 minutes and rinse with warm water.

Dandruff Treatment: Soak a cup of oatmeal on two cups of boiling water. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour through a sieve. You can add a little more water if it’s too thick. Make sure that it’s has cooled to a lukewarm temperature. Wet your hair with warm water. Apply the mixture to your scalp and gently massage. Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse as usual.

I use oats all the time. I put it in my bath to soften my skin and treat stretch marks. I also use it as a scrub and a face mask to treat acne. My husband loves his oats for breakfast, he is Scottish after all. I like to add raw cacao powder and a teaspoon of honey to mine because I find it a bit bland otherwise. Apparently, this is sacrilege. Oats release their energy slowly which keeps blood sugar levels from crashing and it’s also great for keeping cholesterol under control. You can buy raw oats from most supermarkets or health food stores. Just check that nothing has been added. It’s usually cheap and can be kept in a store cupboard for AGES.

Try it. It’s a very underrated beauty product and a lovely treat for your skin.

Happy scrubbing!




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