Updated: Feb 23
Written by Abigail Kor
Most of us would be familiar with oatmeal in its edible form.
I, for one, am a big fan of overnight oats and oatmeal raisin cookies. But did you know that this breakfast superfood also boasts a wide range of skincare benefits? The use of oatmeal in skincare has been documented as far back as 2000 BC. In fact, colloidal oatmeal is so reliable that it is one of the few natural ingredients to be recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a skin protectant!
What exactly is colloidal oatmeal? Colloidal oatmeal is basically finely ground oatmeal that is suspended in liquid, allowing for easier application and better absorption into the skin. Unlike the oats that we ingest, colloidal oatmeal is processed with the whole bran (i.e. the outer layer of oats that contains essential nutrients like lipids, beta glucan and antioxidants for optimal skin health). The inclusion of bran is the main difference that distinguishes colloidal oatmeal from oat flour.
How does colloidal oatmeal benefit the skin?
The epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) acts as the skin’s main protective barrier, keeping irritants out and sealing water in. People with sensitive skin such as eczema or ectopic dermatitis tend to have issues with their skin barrier. Often times, their skin barrier is damaged, letting out too much water and letting in too many irritants.
This is when colloidal oatmeal comes in. When finely ground oatmeal is mixed with liquid, the fine particles expand and form a gel-like substance which acts as a protective film on the surface of the skin. This helps to strengthen and maintain the skin’s barrier function.
2) Hydrates and moisturizes
By forming a protective barrier on the skin, colloidal oatmeal also assists in preventing water loss from the skin’s surface. Colloidal oatmeal is also rich in proteins, lipids and starches.
This makes colloidal oatmeal a great natural emollient or moisturizer for your skin.
3) Cleanses and exfoliates
Colloidal oatmeal also contains compounds called saponins, which naturally create foam. This makes colloidal oatmeal an effective cleansing ingredient without stripping our skin of its natural oils. The fine particles present in colloidal oatmeal also helps to remove dead skin cells and gently exfoliate our skin.
Research has shown that colloidal oatmeal contains compounds such as phenols and Vitamin E, which can have anti-inflammatory effects. Oats are also rich in beta-glucans, which can help to soothe inflamed skin and promote collagen production. The presence of avenanthramides in colloidal oatmeal also aids in reducing skin inflammation and hypersensitivity.
Colloidal oatmeal has been found to be safe for most people, with very rare instances of irritation or allergic reactions resulting from its usage. Therefore, those who have extremely sensitive skin (especially those with eczema or dermatitis) can benefit by using products containing colloidal oatmeal. Studies have also confirmed the safety and efficacy of colloidal oatmeal for use on babies’ skin to treat minor irritations.
Product Recommendation: At A for Apothecary, our Colloidal Oat Bathsoak is made entirely from only ONE ingredient - 100% certified organic pharmaceutical lab-tested oats! We use a special type of Finnish oats, grown specifically for skincare as they contain higher levels of beta-glucan. This product is free from SLS, preservatives, parabens, fragrance & other common allergens – making it a truly safe soap for babies.
About our writer:
Abigail is a new mom to a 5-month old baby girl. When she's not working or spending time with her little one, Abigail loves to read and discuss her favourite topics - skincare, nutrition and baby care.