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Skin Science

Types of oats in skincare — and why they're so valuable

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau September, 10, 2020

Baker, green thumb, living well with anxiety

Hands down, oatmeal makes the most delicious (and healthiest) breakfast. This grain is also a total skincare powerhouse, with all sorts of beneficial nutrients that allow it to soothe inflammation, fight free radicals and retain moisture that keeps skin healthy.

A well-stocked pantry might have many types of oats — instant, rolled, old-fashioned — but using oatmeal in your skincare routine doesn't have to mean reaching for a bag of whole oats. Here's why it's worth flipping your favorite products over to see if hidden oats are secretly behind the benefits.

What is colloidal oatmeal?

The most common form of oats you'll see in skincare products is colloidal oatmeal. While this ingredient comes from the same plant as the oats in your kitchen cupboard, what ends up in your skin routine turns out much different.


So, what is colloidal oatmeal, exactly? It's made by finely grinding and boiling oats to extract the grain's compounds and suspend them in water. Not only does this process pull out all the oat's skin-healthy plant perks, but the liquid formulation makes it easier for your skin to absorb. Win-win.

Research has shown that colloidal oatmeal is effective as a cleanser, moisturizer and anti-inflammatory agent — hence why it works wonders on itchy skin. It even helps to protect the skin barrier and minimizes moisture loss, plus it has ultraviolet-absorbing properties that can play a role in shielding your skin from the sun. (You still need to wear sunscreen, though.)

Because of its numerous health benefits, colloidal oatmeal has earned a place in a range of personal care products, from moisturizers and lotions to body wash, skincare masks and cleansers. Cap off a long week in a colloidal oatmeal bath to help soothe dry, itchy skin and let your mind relax.

Oat milk: the new 'it' ingredient in skincare

What is colloidal oatmeal's alternative if you don't have any on you at the moment? Non-dairy milks have been popping up on grocery shelves for years now, and one popular variety has also made its way into the skincare world: oat milk.

It's made using a similar process as colloidal oatmeal — by extracting the plant material in water — but with one key difference: The final product contains lactic acid, which can help exfoliate and improve your skin's moisture barrier.

"Naturally fermented plant-based milk alternatives use lactic acid bacteria and other bacterial cultures to improve the texture and taste of these products," board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D. explains to mindbodygreen.

Thanks to this key ingredient — coupled with the extra benefits that oats bring to the party — oat milk is a rockstar addition if your skincare routine is in need of a refresh. Today, you can find it in lotions, cleansers and creams, and because it's lactose-, nut- and soy-free, oat milk is a safe option for people with allergies.

This little grain has a lot to offer, if you know how to take advantage of all its hidden superpowers. Next time you're shopping for a new lotion, be sure to check the label to see if colloidal oatmeal or one of the other types of oats is on the ingredient list!

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