Oats, Groats, Haver. Whatever you wish to call it, Avena Sativa or it’s wild sister Avena Fatua just might be the most versatile and beneficial plant alive. It is a graceful grassy plant with it’s fragile grain heads dancing in the breeze. How a plant so elegant and delicate can pack such an enormous punch amazes me. As with all plants, the Oat derives it’s name from Latin. Avena-nourishing, and Sativa-cultivated, Fatua-foolish, but also associated with amour-love, affection, infatuation.
Oatmeal is my number one comfort food. I love steel cut Irish Oats with butter and lots of brown sugar and whole milk. Yes, I know all the fat probably negates some of the benefits, but we’re talking comfort here! For those of you who aren’t big fans of oatmeal, you’re not just missing out on the cardiovascular/cholesterol lowering benefits; here are a few more: Body building- oats are a great source of protein, vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron which make them perfect for strong, healthy teeth and bones. With traces of vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, selenium, iron, calcium, zinc, and copper, Oats have the ability to raise energy levels and reduce
stress. They can regulate hormones. Eating the fiber of oats regularly promotes a healthy digestive tract, which leads many to believe Oats to be beneficial in cancer prevention. So that’s all on the inside of your body. It gets even better when we look at what Oats can do for your skin!
Since I could write a page for both Oat straw and Oat grains, I will focus on just the grain’s cosmetic use at this time. From the humble but mighty Oat grain, we can extract the following: Oat flour, Oat oil, Oat protein, Oat CO2 extract, Oat beta glucans, and of course, ground Oat kernels, or oatmeal.
Oat flour contains approximately:
6% beta glucan
3-7% fat (or lipids)
High in unsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid which smooths the skin. Oat flour can be used as an ingredient in a soothing body powder and cosmetics. In lotions it not only adds nutrients to the formula, but also adds body and a nice after feel to the lotion itself. Oat flour is wonderful in skin care products for sensitive skin and even those with eczema or inflamed acne. As well as being a film former (which helps guard against pollutants and environmental conditions), Oat flour contains phytate and phenolic acids, which are known
After the Sun Soothing Bath
1 cup buttermilk powder (in the baking aisle of larger grocery stores) or 3 cups fresh milk
¾ cup finely ground Oats or Oat flour
½ cup dried Chamomile flowers (if you do not have access to these, use 5 bags of Chamomile tea)
20 minutes before your bath, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add Chamomile, remove from heat, cover and let set for 20 minutes. Start bath water (just warm, not hot) and add milk and Oats. Strain Chamomile and add the liquid to bath water. Soak for 15 minutes and finish off by rinsing in tepid water and moisturizing well while still damp.
Oat oil is not an oil you’ll find on the ingredient labels very often. It’s fairly rare and expensive to start with. In it’s unrefined state, a very dark brown oil. While it wouldn’t make an aesthetically pleasing lotion by itself, as an additive in lotions, creams, facial oils, salves and balms, it’s properties add unique benefits. Oat oil is rich in the omega-6 and 9 essential fatty acids, vitamin E and the lipids contained in the Oats are phospholipids and glycolipids which soothe and smooth. It adds excellent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, and skin barrier protection.
Hydrolyzed Oats are the liquidized, or soluble form of whole Oats. This golden liquid contains oligosaccharides, which are basically large molecules of sugars attached to either lipids(fats) or, in this case, proteins. When used in cosmetics, hydrolyzed Oats have the ability to maintain elasticity and moisture on the skin, regardless of humidity levels, which makes it a fabulous humectant, especially for those living in arid conditions. In hair care formulas, hydrolyzed Oats add softness, strength and body to the hair shaft.
Oat CO2 extract is the extreme concentrated form of the Oat grain. It is extracted with Carbon Dioxide (yes, the same thing we breathe out), no solvents or salts are used in the process. It’s extra rich in the essential fatty acids which make it a super nourisher and a lovely soother to mature, or damaged skin.
Oat Beta Glucans
Oat Beta Glucans are the shining star, the cream of the crop, the cat’s meow of the tiny little powerhouse known as the Oat. Clinical studies have proven that oat beta glucans actually penetrate the dermis and work within the lower layers of the epidermis to reduce wrinkles, fine lines , and actually soften the texture of the skin. Researchers believe this gives promise to a Botox alternative.
Sweet Organic Oat & Flower Masque
5 tablespoons kaolin or bentonite clay
2 tablespoons organic rolled Oats
1 tablespoon dried Rose petals or Lavender buds
1 tablespoon organic sugar
Using a small food processor or coffee grinder combine the oats, flowers and sugar. Grind until a fine powder. Combine with clay and store in a tightly closed jar in a cool, dry place. This is a facial masque you can make ahead and store for up to six months.
Moisten face by splashing with warm water and allow the pores to open. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of the scrub with enough liquid of your choice to make a wet paste. Slowly and gently massage over face and neck avoiding the eye area. Massages for 1-2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. If you are extremely sensitive, limit your scrubs to bi-weekly. If you do not show irritation, once a week will be fine.
And oatmeal? Ground Oats have been used for literally centuries in baths to soothe itchy, sensitive skin. Poultices are used for dermatitis conditions such as eczema, acne, and especially chicken pox. It’s an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-irritant. It improves skin hydration and elasticity. It’s a great natural exfoliator in scrubs and masks. And best of all, oatmeal tastes great…especially with lots of brown sugar.
Simple Scrubs for Face & Body
Basic Ingredients –
Equal parts coarsely ground Oats & finely ground Almonds
Equal parts finely ground Oats (or Oat flour) & Poppy seeds
Mix-Ins for Individual Skin Types –
The simplest choice of course is water, plain and simple.
For Dry Skin – Unsweetened Apple juice & Pineapple juice are great to gently remove dead skin cells.
For Sensitive Skin – Aloe Vera & Honey are very soothing. Whole milk and cream are also beneficial.
For Normal/Combination- Buttermilk, Sour Cream, or plain Yogurt are high in lactic acid, which helps to balance oily skin and helps eliminate blackheads. Cucumber puree and Aloe vera are cooling and soothing.
For Oily/Acne Prone – Along with the above, diluted Lemon juice, Honey and mashed Papaya work as a natural peel to encourage skin cell turnover and healing.
Moisten face by splashing with warm water and allow the pores to open. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of the scrub with enough liquid of your choice to make a wet paste. Slowly and gently massage over face and neck avoiding the eye area. Massage for 1-2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. If you are extremely sensitive, limit your scrubs to bi-weekly. If you do not show irritation, once a week will be fine.