Oatmeal isn't just one of the healthiest breakfasts out there—it's also seriously good for your Skin. “Oatmeal is a humectant, meaning it helps moisturize skin, and it contains inflammation-quelling compounds,” says Ranella Hirsch, MD a Boston dermatologist. What that means for you: softer, smoother skin in a flash. Try one of these 8 ways to soak in the benefits—head-to-toe:
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Your mom was onto something with her post-poison ivy Rx. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, oatmeal soaks can help normalize skin's pH levels, relieving itchy, dry skin. "Oatmeal baths are great for persistent eczema, contact dermatitis, and other rashes," says Jessica Hayman, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Sedona, Arizona. But you don't need a rash to benefit—oatmeal soaks moisturize and soften skin, minus harsh additives and drying chemicals in many bath products.
Try it: Grind about a half cup of uncooked rolled oats (gluten free, if you're sensitive) into a powder with a food processor, then either place ground oats directly into hot water and swirl, or wrap in cheesecloth and drop into your bath to avoid a messy cleanup post-soak.
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Oatmeal boasts anti-inflammatory polyphenols that can quell facial irritation, according to research from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging At Tufts University. Plus, moisturizing lipids and essential fatty acids soften the skin, says Mary Helen Leonard, author of The Natural Beauty Solution. Trevor Cates, ND, a naturopathic physician based in Park City, Utah, suggests taking advantage of the calming, moisturizing double-whammy with an oatmeal-based face mask like this one.
Try it: Put ⅓ cup oatmeal in a bowl and pour ½ cup hot water on top. Mix, then add 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. Apply to entire face, avoiding eyes, and leave on for 20 minutes before removing with damp cloth.
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Oats' rough, but not hard, texture makes them superb natural exfoliants. Getting rid of dead skin cells leaves your complexion more youthfully radiant, says Cates.
Try it: Mix a small amount of uncooked, rolled oats with warm water in a bowl, massage onto face, and rinse. Use once daily after cleansing. (Cleanse your face with The Rain Facial Cleanser from the Women's Health Boutique.)
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You'll want to save some oats for your stomach. A Journal of Nutrition study notes that the same compounds that calm inflammation topically also aid the proper absorption of antioxidants you eat (say, the berries on top of your oatmeal). But that's not all it's good for. Oatmeal's fiber helps regulate your digestive system, an essential for glowing skin, Hayman says. Find out Which Is Healthier: Steel-Cut Oats or Rolled Oats in Prevention's health food face-off.
Try it: For a delicious twist on oatmeal for breakfast, mix a handful of oats with frozen blueberries and almond milk and give it a whirl in the blender. (Try these 5 tasty meal ideas with oatmeal.)
Check out this recipe for carrot cake overnight oats:
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The interaction between beta glucan and antioxidants, both found in colloidal oatmeal, a substance created when oats are ground, may speed skin cell repair, says Hirsch. Find it in Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($20, pack of 2, amazon.com) or Nature's Gate Oatmeal Lotion ($12.80, amazon.com).
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Saponins, plant-derived molecules that foam, abound in oats, making them a great mild facial cleanser, says Cates. The goo produced when oats mix with warm water, called mucilage, contains ingredients that help soothe skin—so your face won't dry out as you cleanse.
Try it: Instead of purchasing an expensive facial cleanser, try Cate's at-home alternative: mix uncooked oats with warm water, slather away, and rinse.
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The same properties that make colloidal oatmeal stop itchy skin from pestering can work on the scalp, too, says Hirsch. Look for colloidal oatmeal in your main scalp care product, aka shampoo.
Try it: Aquicare Sensitive Skin Oatmeal Shampoo ($18, aquicare.com) and Dermaveen Oatmeal Shampoo ($30, amazon.com); both list colloidal oatmeal as a main ingredient.
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Oatmeal's cleansing and balancing properties help remove oil, bacteria, and sebum from the skin, says Cates. And because of the trophorestorative, or tissue restoring, properties in oats, applying them topically will assist cell repair, Hayman says.
Try it: Simply mix oatmeal with warm water and honey and apply to affected areas, Hayman suggests. Leave on for up to 20 minutes and rinse.