Oatmeal in Skincare
Kris Verburgh of ‘De Voedselzandloper’ can be proud of me: for years I have started my day with a bowl of porridge oats and almond milk. If I am to believe him, this will give me healthier veins, lower blood pressure, better metabolism and more energy. I do believe him, but I also enjoy it anyway. What many people don’t realise is that porridge oats have been used for centuries to treat skin problems. People suffering with eczema or burns would sit in a bath of colloidal oatmeal: the powder which is left after oats have been ground and refined. This relieves burning, itching and redness.
In the meantime much research has been carried out into oatmeal and the facts do not lie. In fact oatmeal, as one of the few natural ingredients, is recognised by the FDA as a ‘skin protectant’. Oats stand alongside glycerine, allantoin, dimethicone and petroleum, among others. Oats can protect the skin temporarily and relieve skin irritation and itching from rashes, eczema, insect bites and poisonous plants (such as stinging nettles or oak).
What exactly does oatmeal do for your skin?
It is made up of various substances, all of which have a different effect on the skin.
– Carbohydrates and proteins which can bind to the skin and make a protective layer. This layer helps by reducing water loss. Alongside this the proteins can ensure that the pH level of the skin is maintained.
-The fats strengthen the skin and in so doing reduce the transepidermal water loss: meaning that your skin loses less moisture (research).
-The fibre, in particular beta-glucan, helps to attract moisture and to retain it (research). This is something that dry/eczema skin is often unable to do itself.
– Another important substance is avenanthramide, a very powerful anti-oxidant. And although oatmeal contains just 0.03% of avenanthramide, most of the positive properties in oatmeal are attributed to this substance (research).
– And as if all of this isn’t enough, there are also saponins in oatmeal, which cleanse the skin, and vitamins and flavonoids: soothing substances.
Oats are used in cosmetics nowadays. Next time I will let you know the criteria such a cream with oatmeal extract needs to meet in order to be effective, and also give you some DIY oatmeal tips… To be continued!
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)