Anyone who likes to lead a healthy lifestyle - or has ever been warned about cholesterol by their doctor - will know that oats are just about the best possible thing you can have for breakfast. They release energy slowly, they're high in fibre and they're low in 'bad' cholesterol.
However, did you know they're equally as good for you on the outside of your body? As well as eating oats, you can actually incorporate them as part of a healthy skincare routine.
History of oats for skin protection
We might think or ourselves as enlightened today, but our ancestors down the ages were also aware that oatmeal had beneficial effects when applied to the skin.
Indeed, there are records of its use dating back as far as 2,000 BC, so someone clearly tried rubbing it on at some point and discovered they liked what happened afterwards! Of course, the use of oatmeal compresses was also widespread in the more recent past, including the 19th century when homeopathy was flourishing because not everyone had access to medicine.
Why do oats work?
When we talk about oats, we're actually referring to colloidal oatmeal, which is a natural product made when finely ground oat grains are boiled. It is full of vitamins, minerals and lipids, as well as natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Indeed, studies have looked closer at the biochemistry and discovered that the ability to reduce inflammation is down to the occurrence of avenanthramides and phenols, meaning oats are fantastic for relieving itchy and sore insect bites, rashes, allergic reactions and chickenpox spots, as well as sunburn.
Oats are also good for the itchiness caused by eczema and psoriasis, as people affected by these conditions tend to have a high skin pH level and oats can help to neutralise it, while people with rosacea can also benefit from their anti-fungal properties.
Even if you don't struggle with problem skin, you can still incorporate oats into your daily regime in a protective way. They contain structures called polysaccharides, which react with water to become gelatinous and leave a protective film on the skin. You won't feel it, but you should notice that locking moisture in prevents dullness and flaking, particularly in the winter months.
As if all that wasn't enough, oats also contain natural chemicals called saponins, which have emulsifying and foaming abilities. They therefore act as a cleanser to absorb dirt, oil and odours, meaning oats are much sought-after in soaps, face masks and cleansers for all skin types.
What are oats like to use on the skin?
At this point, we'd normally talk about what a product smells like, but oats obviously don't really have any scent at all. Consequently, we like to mix them with other natural products at Heyland & Whittle when we're making our oat-rich soaps so you get an olfactory bathtime experience as well as one that's beneficial for your skin.
Our Oatmeal and Spice soap offers a rich, musky fragrance with plenty of zing thanks to the blend of spices we mix in, while we also use poppy seeds for even better exfoliation. The soap really lathers up well and you can feel those natural lipids both as you wash and for ages afterwards.
Look closely and you can even see tiny pieces of oatmeal, showing that we use entirely natural products and never substitute them for processed ingredients.
You can get the soap in a single bar, as a big block to save you money, or as a gift on a soap saver if you want to introduce someone else to it - and the product is five-star rated on our website, including one review from someone who has arthritis and swears by it it.
Other ways to use oats
Once you're a convert, you can even use oats in a host of other ways, just like our predecessors would have done. For instance, mix a tablespoon into a paste with warm water, then add a tablespoon of honey for a natural face mask that can be rinsed off after a few minutes.
Alternatively, pour a cup of milk, a cup of uncooked oatmeal and a few drops of lavender-based oil into a lukewarm bath and soak in it for up to half an hour for a treatment to rival any spa.
Why not give one of our products a try and see if you agree that oats shouldn't just be for breakfast?