Hi, hey, yo, I’m going to talk about two ingredients which are seen in many cosmetics but we never really think about them specifically.
Firstly, I personally use aloe vera as a light moisturiser for burns and stretch marks. Of course, it is another thing you can squidge into a bowl with some other stuff to make a cheeky face mask.* Aloe vera is thought to have numerous health benefits, the parenchyma (inner gel of the leaf) has been commonly used on the skin for epochs to assist skin repair against sunburn or accidental burns. Vitamins C and E are present in fairly high amounts and are involved in skin repair, the former being integral to collagen production. So without vitamin C, your skin’s elasticity would be pretty poor, in fact the structure would probably be very odd. This is probably why aloe is used furthermore for stretch marks and scars, to increase production of collagen and reactivate the bounciness. With the additional presence of vitamin A, these three help neutralise free radicals and provide anti-oxidant properties, thus keep skin condition tip top and glowing!
Oats can be used as a natural cleanser, and I use them as my absolute go to face wash. They are referred to as ‘colloidal oatmeal’ when listed as an ingredient in cosmetics, which put simply, means finely ground oats. The soothing properties have been recognised by many companies for years and thus are used as a cheap but effective constituent for their products. So to use oats a personal face-wash; remove makeup, grab some oats and hold them in your hand whilst running under warm water. When the oats get a bit soft, proceed to rub them all over your face, throwing oats all over the skin and bathroom floor.
Alternatively you could treat yourself to a muslin cloth and put your oats in there so just the milk strains out, or use Ready Brek which will turn into a paste with just a bit of hot water. Unless you find that the roughness of the oats is in fact useful to exfoliate delicate skins! If your skin is a bit more resilient and you want more of a scrub, try adding a bit of sodium bicarbonate, which might help slough away some more dead skin cells clogging up your face.
So if you find yourself in a sticky (or dry in some cases) situation, with no face wash, but you have porridge lying around, give it a whirl, even just as a last resort. It may surprise you!
‘How do they do it?’
I guess the idea of putting your porridge on your face may sound a little silly, but oats, like aloe vera, go way back in history as having health benefits. The main moisturising properties seem to stem from compounds known as avenanthramides, present in oats, which are known to be useful in combating skin inflammation. There have been studies on the benefits of oatmeal binding to the skin and protecting it from irritants via a barrier. As oatmeal contains fats, these add to the emollient activity which reduces dry skin itchiness. Due to the contents of the oatmeal it can neutralise and normalise the PH of the skin through buffering agents. Oats can be useful in calming down allergic reactions and there are some theories and studies showing their use to help troublesome skin conditions such as contact dermatitis and with eczema. For the latter two conditions they are sometimes used in baths or as the only product used on the skin to soothe and keep dry bits hydrated.
*Two cute recipes for facemasks with aloe vera and oats:
Soak oats in milk or yoghurt for up to 20 minutes, add warmed honey and a squirt of aloe vera. Rub on face and leave for 15 minutes or more. Wash off, feel and then enjoy your nourished skin.
Chocolately face your hangover:
Are you feeling hungover? Does your skin need a little detox or refresher? Do you want to smell beautiful whilst doing your skin a service? But really, try this; use a teaspoon of cocoa powder, a handful of oats and a squidge of aloe, mix them together and apply to a (as much as possible) make-up free face. Wash off after about 20 minutes. It smells chocolatey and should help draw some impurities out.
**NB Gluten allergy sufferers may want to be cautious when using oats.