You may love them. Perhaps they make you think of cold mornings, and you can remember how a steaming, brown-sugar flecked bowl swimming in cream would warm you all nice and cozy. Or maybe oatmeal makes you think of a gummy thick paste forced down your throat before school. Which was bad enough, but what you really wanted was a bright, sugary cereal like the kids on TV eat as part of a balanced breakfast. Either way, oats are more than breakfast these days. At the end of this article are a few wonderful recipes using oatmeal in ways that the Quaker may not have intended.
The edible grains of a widely grown cereal grass, oats (avena sativa) appear in many beauty products. People appreciate their soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. Come to think of it, that's another childhood memory. When I got the chicken pox my mom popped me into an oatmeal and baking soda bath to relieve the itching. Oats are also highly absorptive, hypoallergenic, and help to soften skin. They have the best amino acid balance of all the cereal grains (amino acids work as water-binding agents in skin care products). Oats have also been clinically shown to help heal dry, itchy skin. Oat grains and straw appear in shampoos, dusting powders, moisturizers, and cleansing bars and that's just the start of a list!
Always be careful when using natural skin care products to note all ingredients and avoid any which you are allergic to (nuts, for example, are found in many recipes for facial scrubs). If any persistent stinging or redness occurs, thoroughly cleanse your face and rinse well with cool water.
Sometimes skin sensitivities can develop seemingly out of the blue. If this happens, discontinue use. When working with essential oils, remember how potent they can be. It takes perhaps 10 pounds of lavender to make just one ounce of the essential oil. Also, it is best to consult your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or epileptic.
When choosing rolled oats (the breakfast cereal kind) for the following treatments, make sure to check the ingredients. There are plenty of popular brands available that are nothing but rolled oats, as they should be. Don't get the quick-cook or flavored versions. When the recipe calls for ground oats, use a clean coffee grinder or blender to grind the flakes to a fine powder. Mixed with cornstarch and/or arrowroot powder, this makes a very mild dusting powder for you or baby.
The following recipes are perishable and should be used right away.
Oat and Brown Sugar Scrub:
2 Tbsp. ground oats
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. aloe vera
1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a clean bowl until you have a smooth paste. Gently massage onto damp skin, and rinse off with warm water. You can triple the recipe for a fantastic smoothing body treatment.
Banana Bread Masque:
½ really ripe mashed banana - moisturizing
2 Tbsp. ground oats - soothing
milk or cream, add as necessary - softening
pinch nutmeg - antiseptic
2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour - antioxidant
Whip ingredients together, adding cream or oat flour as necessary to get a smooth, paste-like consistency. Spread on clean face and leave for 5-10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
Oat and Honey Milk Bath
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup powdered milk
2 Tbsp. honey
Place all ingredients in a small, natural fabric bag (muslin and cheesecloth are great choices). Hang the bag under the faucet as you fill the tub, so running water disperses the goodness throughout your bath.
Eleanor Athens is the founder of E aromachologic fragrance oils; scents created from pure essential oils and perfumer's absolutes. Her interests in phyto- and aromatherapy led to the creation of a fragrance line that uses organic ingredients to enhance the well-being of the wearer.
© Eleanor Athens. All Rights Reserved.