The Key Oatmeal Benefits for Skin — Plus, the Products You Need to Buy

12-Soothing-Hydrating-Oatmeal-Products-Your-Hair-and-Skin-Need-AdobeStock_296405563
Photo: AdobeStock / Courtesy of Merchants

Surprise: Oats aren't just for eating. Here, the oatmeal benefits for skin that'll convince you to add the whole grain into your beauty routine.

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Oatmeal Benefits for Skin, Explained

Rolled oats or oat flakes in wooden bowl
Arx0nt/Getty

You probably know oats are a nutritious breakfast pick, but what's often kept under wraps is that oatmeal has incredible benefits for skin. "Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve irritation and itch from the skin," says Kristina Goldenberg, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. Thanks to that inflammation-soothing effect — combined with the ingredient's ability to form a protective layer over the skin, locking in moisture — oatmeal can also calm sunburned skin, adds Melanie Palm, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Art of Skin MD in San Diego, California. Add oatmeal, which is safe even for sensitive skin, to warm water, and "it forms a milky bath that gently and naturally cleanses the skin while treating skin irritations, from sunburns to eczema [and] insect bites to rashes," she explains.

Given all the oatmeal benefits for skin, it's a common ingredient in many creams, masks, and cleansers. But you might not simply see the word "oats" on the ingredient list. Some products contain colloidal oatmeal, or oats that have been ground into a fine powder, says Dr. Palm. Colloidal oatmeal is special in that "it's anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, and may provide some degree of UV protection," she explains. "Colloidal oatmeal has biological effects on the skin, so much so that in 2003, the FDA declared that colloidal oatmeal should be regulated as an over-the-counter drug, as it's considered a skin protectant." (Translation: Any products containing the ingredient have to be approved by the FDA for sale.)

This anti-inflammatory benefit is partly due to the phenolic compounds (specifically avenanthramides) found in oats, which are known to reduce cytokines — proteins that may promote inflammation, explains Dr. Palm. On the flip side, the sugars in the oats give any skin-care ingredient with it a moisturizing and calming characteristic, she says. "[The sugars] provide a protective coating to the skin that reduces water loss from the skin," says Dr. Palm. (

You might also see "oat extract" used in your skin-care items. This ingredient is made by milling seeds from the oat plant (aka Avena sativa) and combining it with water or alcohol, creating an extract that has similar properties as colloidal oatmeal, says Dr. Palm. In general, oat extract is a more potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient, she says.

TL;DR: The oatmeal benefits for skin are tough to beat. To score those perks, make sure you add one (or all) of these oatmeal skin-care products to your regimen.

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First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
Sephora

This cruelty-free, dermatologist-tested cream is a must-have for hydrating dry-to-the-bone skin and eczema. The soothing product contains colloidal oatmeal, which has those aforementioned moisturizing sugars. Plus, "the oils in colloidal oatmeal contain linoleic acid, which helps repair very dry, cracked skin," says Sandy Skotnicki, M.D., a Toronto-based dermatologist. Adding to the ultra-nourishing properties is shea butter, which contains fatty acids that protect the skin barrier, and allantoin, which further calms the skin.

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La Roche-Posay Lipikar Eczema Soothing Relief Cream

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Eczema Soothing Relief Cream
La Roche-Posay

Suffer from eczema? This fragrance-free body cream has you covered from head to toe — literally. Oats have been used to treat irritated and itchy skin for centuries, says Dr. Goldenberg, so it's no surprise this cream's active ingredient is, of course, colloidal oatmeal. But this anti-itch beauty must-have also contains shea butter, vitamin E, and rapeseed oil to soothe itchy bumps, redness, and dryness. (

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Klorane Ultra-Gentle Shampoo with Oat Milk

Klorane Ultra-Gentle Shampoo with Oat Milk
Amazon

Because of the high level of sugars, lipids (fatty acid compounds), and vitamins in oats, studies have shown that they can protect and soothe hair, says Dr. Goldenberg. "It functions as a moisturizer that helps keep the hair shaft smooth and shiny, and it can help minimize an oily scalp," she explains. This shampoo from Klorane contains oat extract to soften and hydrate locks, protect the scalp, and increase shine.

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Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask

Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask

If you're looking to unclog pores without drying out the skin in the process, oats might just be the answer. "Oats can be used to treat acne by helping clear the skin of excess oils," says Dr. Goldenberg. This magical mask (which contains natural oat extract, plus a soothing blend of honey extract and rice bran extract) exfoliates and eliminates dirt, sweat, and oil from your skin, giving it a deep cleanse and reducing the number of blackheads and whiteheads.

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Aveeno Repairing Cica Foot Mask

Aveeno Repairing Cica Foot Mask
Aveeno

Colloidal oatmeal has another perk: "It acts as a prebiotic, which means that it promotes growth of good bacteria on the skin," says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. As such, colloidal oatmeal can help improve and diversify the skin's microbiome (aka the ecosystem of bacteria on the skin's surface) and, in turn, ease symptoms of dry skin and atopic dermatitis, as these conditions are linked with adverse changes in the diversity and composition of the skin microbiome, according to research published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. These foot masks are made with oat and shea butter to soothe dry skin and provide long-lasting moisture. To score those oatmeal benefits for skin, wash your feet, slip into the booties, and leave them on for just 10 minutes.

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Kiehl's Deluxe Hand and Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal

Kiehl's Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion with Aloe Vera & Oatmeal
Kiehl's

This lightweight hand and body lotion contains oat flour, as well as aloe vera, to hydrate and soothe without leaving a greasy residue behind. Apply after your shower or bath when your skin is still slightly damp and needs a little kick of moisture. Bonus: It's available in three different, gentle scents — lavender, coriander, and grapefruit.

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Ethique Oaty Delicious Shampoo Bar

Ethique Oaty Delicious Shampoo Bar
Ethique

Environmentally friendly shampoo bars are all the rage lately. This option from Ethique (French for "Ethical") is designed for kids, but it's a great mild option for adults, too. Made with cocoa oil, ground oatmeal, and coconut oil, this shampoo bar smells like lavender, produces satisfying suds, and can even be used on the body. Just rub the wet bar into your wet hair from root to tip a few times, lather, and rinse.

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Tatcha Indigo Cream Soothing Skin Protectant

Tatcha Indigo Cream Soothing Skin Protectant
Tatcha

One of the main ingredients in this fragrance-free moisturizer is nourishing colloidal oatmeal, which eases inflammation and locks in your skin's natural moisture. Even folks dealing with eczema can benefit from the cream, as it's been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. Additional key ingredients include extract of Sophora japonica (aka Japanese pagoda tree), which may counteract environmentally induced skin damage; the antioxidant-rich uji green tea; and natural Japanese indigo to soothe inflammation, according to the brand.

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Caudalie Vinoclean Gentle Cleansing Almond Milk

Caudalie Vinoclean Gentle Cleansing Almond Milk
Sephora

This milky, no-rinse cleanser packs a lot of punch when it comes to good-for-the-skin ingredients. Aside from oat extract, it also contains a natural blend of sweet almond oil and castor oil (an emollient that helps soften and moisturize) to smooth skin, as well as cornflower to soothe it. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, this product gently removes makeup (even eye makeup — it's both dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested), while simultaneously cleansing and soothing the skin. To capitalize on those oatmeal benefits for skin, put three pumps of the milk onto a cotton pad and massage gently in a circular motion, morning and evening — no rinsing necessary.

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Carmex Comfort Care Balm

Carmex Comfort Care Balm
Amazon

Winter equals chapped lips. Thankfully, Carmex created a lip balm formulated with colloidal oatmeal, castor oil, and beeswax, which will give you hydrated, super-soft lips instantly. The balm also comes in a mixed berry flavor, so you'll feel like a kid again.

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Asutra* Bubbly Ever After Soap Bar

Asutra* Bubbly Ever After Soap Bar
Asurtura

This paraben-free, unscented body soap bar is made with moisturizing shea butter, gently exfoliating honey, plus moisturizing organic oats. And if you're someone who prefers two-in-one products, you'll be pleased to know the oatmeal skin-care item is also gentle enough to use on your face.

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Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment

Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
Amazon
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If you're dealing with a gnarly sunburn — or even just irritated skin — Dr. Palm suggests placing one of these 100 percent colloidal oatmeal treatments in a warm bath along with a cup or two of milk (specifically, the dairy kind). "Milk sugars help coat the skin and reduce transepidermal water loss, [and] this also helps reduce inflammation," she explains. "Milk fats help to moisturize the skin and enable repair of the skin barrier." Thanks to colloidal oatmeal's anti-inflammatory properties, the bath soak can also be used to soothe skin suffering from poison ivy, eczema, insect bites, rashes, hives, and more, according to the brand.

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