Colloidal Oatmeal For Skin: Benefits, How To Use, And Side Effects

Written by Arshiya Syeda

Skin issues like dryness, flakiness, or irritation are becoming more common these days. While most products on the market claim to help, sticking to time-tested home remedies could be ideal. One such remedy is colloidal oatmeal.

Here, we explore everything you need to know about colloidal oatmeal and how to use it for skin treatment. We will also explore its benefits and any potential side effects.

What Is Colloidal Oatmeal?

Colloidal oatmeal is made by grinding and processing whole oat grains. It contains protein, fats, and other nutrients and works as an excellent emollient (skin softener) (1), (2). It is approved3).

Colloidal oatmeal functions as a moisturizer, cleanser, skin soother, and protective anti-inflammatory agent. It contains ingredients with both moisturizing and antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals and delay the formation of wrinkles.

It is available in multiple forms, including creams, powders, and gels. It is typically found in bath and shower products, shampoos, cleansers, ointments, and moisturizers.

Colloidal oatmeal is replete with important nutrients. We will explore the same in the following section.

Nutrients In Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is obtained by grinding the whole oat seeds. It contains the following nutrients:

  • 60% polysaccharides
  • 10 to 18% proteins (glutamic acid and aspartic acid, which contribute to the oatmeal’s water affinity)
  • 5% lipids (phospholipids and sterols)
  • Starches, which are hydrophilic in nature and can absorb huge quantities of water
  • Enzymes, flavonoids, vitamins, and phenolic acids

These are the nutrients in colloidal oatmeal. Let us now dive into the benefits of colloidal oatmeal for the skin.

Skin Benefits Of Colloidal Oatmeal

  • Prevents Transepidermal Water Loss 

Natural colloidal oatmeal creates a film on top of the skin surface. Consistent use of oatmeal reduces the amount of lost water in the skin and boosts overall skin hydration. However, more research is warranted to further understand this mechanism. The starches in colloidal oatmeal may contribute to its water-binding properties.

  • Helps Strengthen Skin Barrier Function

Our skin comprises the skin barrier that prevents water loss and protects the skin against various environmental aggressors.

However, several internal and external factors, like weather, UV radiation, or genes may damage this skin layer. Colloidal oatmeal may strengthen this skin barrier.

  • Helps Fight Skin Inflammation

The polyphenols in oatmeal may possess anti-inflammatory properties (4). They may also protect the skin from harmful UV radiation. That said, you cannot use oatmeal as sunscreen.

  •  May Soothe Irritated Skin

Colloidal oatmeal adds moisture to the skin and works as an emollient. It helps keep the skin soft and prevents irritation. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also offer relief to irritated skin and prevent redness and inflammation. Colloidal oatmeal is also believed to benefit those with eczema because of its fiber and cellulose content. However, information is less in this regard. Consult your doctor for more information.

  • May Act As An Effective Cleanser

While mostly present in thicker moisturizing creams, balms, and lotions, colloidal oatmeal naturally creates foam and works as an effective cleansing ingredient.

Are you wondering how you can use colloidal oatmeal in your skin care routine? Find out in the next section.

Ways To Use Colloidal Oatmeal For Skin

The saponins in colloidal oatmeal give it its remarkable cleansing properties (3). It can be used in skin care as:

  • Moisturizer
  • Cleanser
  • Bath soak
  • Scalp relief
  • Face mask
  • Exfoliant

Here is how you can use colloidal oatmeal for your skin:

  • As An Exfoliant

Colloidal oatmeal’s grainy texture makes it an excellent scrub to clean skin and remove dead skin cells. It gently exfoliates your skin and adds enough moisture.

  • During The Bath

Add a few cups of colloidal oatmeal to your bathtub to help soothe irritation. Soak yourself in the tub with colloidal oatmeal for about 15-20 minutes.

  • To Treat An Itchy Scalp

Colloidal oatmeal is also recommended for those with an itchy scalp. Its anti-inflammatory properties can relieve irritation:

  1. Take 1/3 cup of colloidal oatmeal and gently mix it with a pitcher of warm water.
  2. Wash your hair thoroughly and rinse completely.
  3. Gently massage the colloidal oatmeal mixture into your hair and scalp.
  4. Cover your head with a shower cap for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Rinse properly and air dry your hair.
  • In Your Moisturizer

Moisturizers with colloidal oatmeal can be used two to three times a day. The oatmeal can also soothe your skin and offer added nourishment.

  • As DIY Colloidal Oatmeal Soap

Those with sensitive skin can make their own DIY soap with oats to treat their skin. The oatmeal soap would help fight skin inflammation and redness. It also can help clear away the dirt and excess oils.

You would need a few basic, natural, or organic soap bars. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Take any two organic soap bars and grate them into a pot.
  2. Add 1 to 2 oz of chamomile tea and keep stirring to avoid burning or sticking.
  3. Turn the heat off once the mixture melts completely.
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal and 2 tablespoons of regular oatmeal to this mixture.
  5. You can also add other healthy ingredients of your choice, like honey, essential oils, or herbs.
  6. Pour the mixture into muffin tins and let it cool for 24 hours before removing it from the mold.
  7. Let the soap bars sit for a few days and dry completely.

While colloidal oatmeal has many benefits, it also may have some side effects. Read on to know.

Side Effects Of Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is generally considered safe for most people. There have been zero or minimal allergic reactions reported by 445,820 consumers of colloidal-oatmeal-containing personal care products within three years (1).

In another study conducted in a large group of adults, only 1% of participants reported low-level skin irritation after using a colloidal oatmeal patch for 24 hours (1).

However, it is recommended that you don’t use colloidal oatmeal if you have an oat allergy. Also, if you experience severe symptoms, such as a rash, burning sensation, or stinging, discontinue use and discuss the same with your healthcare provider.

Apart from the side effects of colloidal oatmeal, you also need to be aware of the necessary precautions you need to take before using it. Read about them in the next section.

Precautions You Should Take When Using Colloidal Oatmeal

It is always safe to check the ingredients thoroughly before beginning your treatment with products containing colloidal oats. Avoid products with any ingredient you are specifically allergic to.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for a non-comedogenic product containing colloidal oatmeal.


Colloidal oatmeal is an excellent treatment for dry, itchy, and irritated skin. It is usually added to common beauty or skin products. It can easily be made at home and used with a regular bath. Colloidal oatmeal has various unique compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that boost your skin moisture.

It is safe for most people, including children. But those with a known oat allergy must exercise caution. Read the product labels carefully before you pick one containing colloidal oatmeal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use colloidal oatmeal every day?

It is recommended to use colloidal oatmeal twice a day if you have dry and sensitive skin (including those with eczema). But those with oily skin may use colloidal oatmeal once in two days.

Who can use colloidal oatmeal?

Colloidal oatmeal is generally safe for everyone, especially people with dry skin. It is, in fact, considered one of the safest emollients available. However, do not use colloidal oatmeal-based products if you are specifically allergic to oats.


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