How To Create Your Own Oatmeal Bath & Why You Should, According To Derms

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Woman In a Bath Tub
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Touted for their many skin-nourishing benefits, oats have secured their place both in your kitchen and on your bathroom shelves—and rightfully so. But if you're in the market for super-soft, creamy skin (is that not all of us?), allow us to introduce you to the beloved oatmeal bath. Here's exactly how to run your own oatmeal bath for dry, cracked skin, plus some modern spins on the age-old brew.

What are the benefits of oatmeal?

You might equate oatmeal baths with not-so-fond memories of childhood (say, if you've ever fallen into a bush of poison ivy). That's because oatmeal is an age-old remedy to soothe inflamed skin, allergies, and rashes. Due to antioxidants like vitamin E, avenanthramides (an active in oats with major anti-inflammatory benefits), and ferulic acid, an oatmeal bath can calm angry irritation on the skin. 

"Extracts of oatmeal have been shown to lessen inflammatory mediators in the skin, giving significant clinical improvements in skin dryness, scaling, roughness, and itch intensity," board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo M.D., FAAD, once told us about using oatmeal in skin care.

And while there's a plethora of products that contain oatmeal—cleansers, moisturizers, and body lotions, to name a select few—there's something to be said about dunking yourself into an entire bath of the stuff (which we'll get into later). At the very least, you'll be able to cover way more surface area, letting oats' anti-inflammatory properties ensue all at once. 


How to run your own oatmeal bath: 5 simple steps.

It's surprisingly simple. All you'll need is, you know, some oats. According to Jana Blankenship, product formulator and founder of the natural beauty brand Captain Blankenship, you can use any type of oats to brew your bath—be it instant, quick cooking, or regular rolled oats. Then when you're ready to run your oatmeal bath, follow the prep steps below:

  1. Grind 1 cup of oats into a very fine powder (a coffee or spice grinder works great, says Blankenship, but a high-speed blender can work just as well). "You want the oat powder to be fine enough to evenly disperse in the bath and make it milky," Blankenship explains. 
  2. Run a tepid bath. Temperature is important, as "hot water can inflame skin, so only use tepid water," advises Ciraldo. 
  3. As you run the water, slowly pour in the oat powder. Stir with your hands until the water takes on a white, creamy quality. 
  4. Soak in the bath for at least 15 minutes. Just be careful when you get out of the tub, Blankenship warns: "The oats can make the bath a bit slippery."
  5. Pat dry with a soft towel right when you get out of the tub. According to Ciraldo, "air drying our skin actually dries it out more than immediate towel drying." 

If you've mastered the basic recipe and are looking for something a little extra, here are some ways to upgrade your oatmeal bath experience: 

  • For a muscle-relaxing bath, add 1 cup of Epsom salts as you stir in the oats.
  • You can also add ¼ to ½ cup of finely ground chamomile flowers or rose petals to the bath. This gives a "skin-soothing and sensory delight," says Blankenship.
  • For an extra boost of moisture, add 1 cup of milk (either dairy or nondairy) and 1 tbsp. of honey. We're partial to the Manuka variety, known for its ability to tame inflammation and fight oxidative stress.
  • To better enhance the absorption of the oatmeal, Ciraldo suggests lightly exfoliating dry areas beforehand (a loofah works great) to slough dead skin cells even before melting into the tub. 

Why should you bathe in oatmeal?

By now you may be familiar with oatmeal's benefits for the skin (and if you still aren't sold, no sweat—read our guide to oats in skin care), but bathing in the goodness can increase those benefits by leaps and bounds.  

First up: "Bathing in an oatmeal bath is more beneficial than simply applying an oatmeal lotion to dry skin," says Ciraldo. Why? Because soaking actually leads to better and faster penetration: "Dry skin has a buildup of the dead cell layer, which acts as a major barrier to penetration of topical skin care products like lotions," Ciraldo explains. "When we take a bath, we're actually swelling up the surface area of the skin to allow for more penetration of beneficial ingredients like the oatmeal."  

By soaking in an oatmeal bath, you're also getting double the hydration; Ciraldo mentions that bathwater can rehydrate the skin, especially for those who suffer from conditions like atopic dermatitis (which is why a lukewarm bath feels so soothing when those individuals have flare-ups). Add oatmeal into the mix, and the anti-inflammatory benefits work twofold.

The bottom line. 

In case it hasn't soaked in already (pun very much intended), allow us to reemphasize: Oats are pretty much a staple for skin care. And in bath form, the benefits soar. Because oatmeal is natural, soothing, and hydrating, consider it the not-so-secret ingredient for soft skin.

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