The Benefits of Oat Ingredients

Reviewed by: Iris Hansen, Aveeno Dermatology Expert

Iris has 14 years’ experience in dermatology. She has advised major organisations on dermatology best-practices and has published countless papers on skin health in prominent scientific journals.

Key takeaways:

  • Colloidal oatmeal, oat extract and oat oil help balance the microbes on your skin, keeping it healthy

  • The range of ingredients found in oats strengthen the skin’s barrier, soothing and moisturising it

  • Skin cream containing oats can help soothe the effects of several skin conditions, like eczema-prone and symptoms of psoriasis

The Benefits of Oat Ingredients in your Skincare Routine

As the old adage goes – you are what you eat. In terms of staying fit and healthy, the ingredients in your food are an important consideration to make for everyone. And it’s no different when it comes to taking care of your skin. Being aware of what goes into the skincare products you use can make all the difference in achieving a healthy complexion and happy skin.

When choosing these skincare products, look out for the presence of beneficial ingredients like natural prebiotics. After all, your skin is your natural barrier against bacteria, UV rays and other hazardous external forces, so it makes sense to use gentle, natural treatments to keep in balance.

Oat ingredients have long been celebrated as one of the most effective at treating a number of minor skin conditions, balancing the bacterial ecosystem on your skin and moisturising to give you that healthy complexion. For centuries, those who suffered from itchy or dry skin were recommended to take an oatmeal bath. The reputation that treatment garnered has survived – in many ways – to this day and has been clinically proven in a variety of studies.

Colloidal oatmeal, oat extract and oat oil are found in Aveeno’s Range of skincare products, from body washes and shampoos to moisturising lotions and ointments. Aveeno’s triple oat complex help soothe and protect your skin while keeping the microbiome in balance. Learn how to care for sensitive skin with our guide on the benefits of oat ingredients in skincare.

  • What are colloidal oatmeal and extract?

  • How does oatmeal impact skincare?

  • The benefits of using oatmeal to improve skin health

  • Oatmeal, side effects and allergies

What are Colloidal Oatmeal and Oat Extract?

In spite of its centuries-old reputation as a dynamic skincare treatment, colloidal oatmeal is really no different to the oats you might have for breakfast. Oats themselves are an active ingredient which works in tandem with your skin to soothe, cleanse and moisturise. They help to protect your skin and give it a new lease of life in one fell swoop, helping to relieve:

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • Appearance of redness

The only difference between the oats in your kitchen cupboard and those in the bathroom cabinet, is the way they are processed.
In skincare products, there are two main ways that this can be done. Both produce types of oat ingredient with significant benefits for the skin.

Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is the name given to oats that have been ground down into a fine powder during the milling process – which first came to prominence back in 19451. By grinding the whole seed, it means that all the prebiotic goodness of the oats is retained, including:

  • Proteins

  • Lipids

  • Enzymes

Once oats have been picked and dehulled, they are exposed to intense steaming to deactivate lipase enzymes to reduce the level of free fatty acids. This is an important stage, as these free fatty acids cause oats to go rancid and may lead to skin irritation2.

The oats will then be rolled and pulverised to ensure the grains are the right size. This process allows the oats to achieve the right consistency to be suspended in liquid and dispersed evenly throughout products. This creates smooth skincare solutions such as Aveeno® moisturising creams, lotions and body washes, as well as Aveeno Baby® moisturizing washes and lotions for babies. They have been manufactured using a careful selection and extraction process, which retains and allows the beneficial ingredients inside to thrive – helping your skin.

Because it’s a natural skincare ingredient, colloidal oatmeal is packed full of goodness. Studies have shown that it is made up of a range of beneficial components, like:

  • Proteins

  • Vitamins

  • Minerals

  • Lipids

  • Polysaccharides3

All of these work together to give it the beneficial qualities colloidal oatmeal is known for. It is typically used for its soothing qualities, which make it the ideal option for treating dry skin conditions and itchiness.

Aveeno Triple Oat Complex

As well as using colloidal oatmeal to moisturise, Aveeno® Dermexa skin care range, targeted at eczema-prone skin, uses two other oatmeal products, oat extract and oat oil. All three combine to create Aveeno’s unique prebiotic Triple Oat Complex, which helps restore microbial balance to dry, itchy and compromised skin.

These beneficial ingredients are extracted from the raw oats through a careful process. Oat oil can also be removed from oats in a similar way. This helps to concentrate the effects of the chemical compounds found within and promotes prebiotic function to help relieve very dry, itchy and sensitive skin.

The compounds found in all forms of oatmeal4 include:

  • Saponins - designed to absorb dirt on the skin, ideal for cleansing

  • Polysaccharides - which bind to skin fluids to create a protective barrier

  • Carbohydrates - which have hydrophilic qualities, making them perfect for moisturising

  • Proteins - which moisturise and emulsify, helping to create a protective barrier for your skin

  • Lipids and flavonoids - which have anti-oxidant qualities that help make your skin healthier.

How Does Oatmeal Impact Skincare?

As a skincare ingredient, oats and oatmeal can have a significant impact on the health and appearance of your skin, as well as helping to treat conditions that cause dry, flaky skin and irritation.

The active ingredients used in oatmeal products not only bring moisture to the surface layers of your skin, they also use their natural properties to soothe and cool itchiness and aid the protective performance of your skin’s outer layer. As such, they are the perfect solution for many skin conditions and ensuring a perfect balance of your skin’s microbiome – the ecosystem of bacteria that keeps your skin healthy and glowing.

Oatmeal-based products work with your skin to do a number of things, including:

  • Restoring moisture to dry skin to improve its appearance and reduce irritation

  • Creating a protective barrier, known as the skin microbiome, on the surface of the skin that guards against bad bacteria and UV rays

  • Helping your skin achieve optimal pH levels, particularly if this has increased

  • Soothing sensitive skin and reducing the effects of itchiness and other forms of irritation

  • Cleaning the skin by sticking to dirt and dead skin cells to allow them to be washed away more easily

Iris says: “Oat ingredients contain a range of compounds, including proteins, enzymes, lipids and carbohydrates - which come together to form a skincare dream team, soothing, moisturising and protecting your skin.”

The Benefits of Using Oatmeal to Improve Skin Health

Clinical studies have shown that products making use of oatmeal ingredients can have a positive effect when used to relieve a number of skin conditions, including:

  • Dry skin: Dry skin is often caused by a lack of water in the upper layers of the skin. However, oatmeal ingredients work to retain that moisture, creating a layer that traps5 water. This gives skin a fuller, more radiant appearance and reduces areas of dry skin.

  • Eczema: As well as causing dryness in the skin, eczema is a condition which can leave sufferers with patches of itchy and inflamed skin across their body. This is partially due to defects in the surface of the epidermis, which prevents it from retaining the moisture it needs. Oat ingredients are often recommended for eczema sufferers, adults and babies, to strengthen the outer barrier of your skin, as well as for the anti-inflammatory qualities that help to reduce itchiness6. The Aveeno® Dermexa range and Aveeno® Baby Dermexa range contain prebiotic triple oat formula and ceramides to relieve the symptoms of dry eczema-prone skin.

  • Psoriasis: Usually affecting the skin on around the elbows and other joints, this condition is caused by skin regenerating too quickly. The build-up of skin cells leads to dry, scaly skin that can be itchy or sore7. Oatmeal can help wash away layers of dead skin to reduce the impact of psoriasis.

  • Acne: A condition usually seen in young adults, acne is caused by a build-up of natural oils on the skin, which clog the pores. However, it’s believed that oat ingredients bind to these oils, making them easier to wash away and reducing clogged pores8.

  • Nappy rash: Irritation of the skin, caused by wearing nappies that are either wet or on for too long, this condition can cause discomfort to your baby and affects as many as a third of all infants9. The cooling and soothing qualities of oats can help to reduce irritation in little ones. Aveeno® Baby offers a wide range of washes and lotions that help baby’s skin become softer and smoother and relieve irritation from nappy rash.

Allergies and Effects of Oatmeal

One of the biggest benefits of oatmeal ingredients over other active ingredients in skincare products, is the fact that there is a very low risk of skin reactions or allergies. As a natural ingredient, oatmeal is gentle on the skin that generally doesn’t do any harm.

In addition to this, studies have found that when oatmeal is used in skincare products, there are very few instances of allergic reactions, as well as a very low risk of irritation to the skin10. This means that for those who have sensitive skin, colloidal oatmeal and oat ingredients are considered a safe product for skincare, even on babies.

This is particularly important if you’re looking to relieve dry, irritated or itchy skin, or if you are using products on little ones to treat nappy rash. You can therefore have confidence that the products you use are not going to cause any problems.

Iris says: “Oatmeal has been found to have little in the way of side effects and few allergens, making it the ideal ingredient for those with extremely sensitive skin.”

Colloidal oatmeal, oat oil and oat extract are used in a variety of different skincare products. From adult moisturisers and body washes to baby skin care products, find out how oat ingredients can moisturise, protect and soothe yours and your baby’s skin, with Aveeno.