You probably know that oatmeal's a fiber-rich superfood that does an all-star job of sopping up cholesterol and speeding it out of the body. But do you also know that its grainy little flakes perform mini miracles when applied to skin? Oatmeal whisks away dead cells, irritation, and redness, leaving a soft, moist glow behind.
While this could be news to you, oatmeal's long been a staple among skin pros—even ancient ones. Its skin-soothing powers were known as early as 2000 BC, and to this day, the FDA cites it as effective for relieving dryness and inflammation, including insect stings, rashes, and eczema. That's why finely powdered ("colloidal") oatmeal is sifted into soothing body soaks, moisturizers, and soaps. (Pulverizing the oats into powder makes it easier to disperse their healing goodness—and in soaks it keeps them from collecting in the bottom of the tub.)
"There are four reasons why your skin adores oatmeal," explains New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD:
1. Dryness fighting: Oats contain polysaccharides, which become gelatinous in water and leave a fine protective film on the skin, preventing dull, flaky dryness.
2. Moisturizing: Oats are full of healthy, lubricating fats.
3. Defense building: The proteins in oatmeal help maintain the skin's natural barrier function, which ensures that the world outside the skin stays out, and what's inside the skin stays in.
4. Pore cleansing: Oats are filled with natural cleansers (called saponins) that gently remove dirt and oil from the pores.
To reap all of these benefits, Wechsler suggests treating your skin to a colloidal oatmeal mask every week or two. Here's her super simple recipe -- good bet the ingredients are already in your kitchen.
The Skin Doc's Smoothing, Soothing Oatmeal Mask
1. Put the oats into a clean herb or coffee grinder on the finest setting, and process into powder.
2. Pour into a small bowl and stir in hot water and honey. Let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Wash face with warm water. While skin is still damp, massage paste onto face, circling around eyes and mouth. Leave on for 10 minutes.
4. Remove with tepid water and a washcloth. Apply your favorite moisturizer to seal the deal and set the glow.
P.S.: Don't stop eating oats just because you've transformed them into a beauty treatment! They're hard to beat as a source of health-protective soluble fiber -- and eating a high-fiber diet can make your RealAge up to 6 years younger.