My skin and I have had a long journey together. In my teens and early twenties, I experienced severe acne that left me self-conscious, uncomfortable, and seeking solutions in antibiotics, harsh topical treatments, and various skin cleansing systems. The results were temporary, the expense was great, and the side effects were pretty gnarly. Eventually, I gave that approach up, and figured I was destined to a life of irritable skin.
Then, about 8 years ago, years of chronic health issues culminated into a pretty severe health crisis. In response, I changed my diet, altered my lifestyle, got proper treatments for my health issue, worked on healing my gut, learned to manage my stress better, and switched over to natural, non-toxic products for my body and home. As my health improved, my skin did a 180. The link between addressing the root causes of illness and achieving whole self health became incredibly clear to me.
These days, my skin is better than I ever expected it could be (and so is my health). Sure, I still have the scars from years of acne, and occasionally get breakouts. Combination skin like mine can be tricky to manage — it’s oily in some areas, dry in others, and generally sensitive. But overall, I am happy with and grateful for the skin I’m in! In the last year, I feel like I’ve landed on a skin care regimen that works well for me.
Although I certainly have my favorite products (lavender hydrosol, homemade oil blends for cleansing and moisturizing, Acure Organics facial lotions, these oatmeal cleansing grains), you know what the most important part of my skin care regimen is? Choosing the foods I eat wisely, drinking plenty of water, getting sleep, and managing my stress. When any of these things falter, I notice more breakouts and a more dull complexion! As my grandma Lorraine said, “No amount of make-up can cover a poor night’s sleep.”
Wise words, grandma.
This mixture of oats, green clay, and herbs is one of the staples of my skincare regimen. It leaves my skin feeling moisturized, smooth, and fresh, I think it works equally well as a gentle facial cleanser and exfoliant or as a mask. I love using this mask as part of my DIY “spa night” routine, which is an important part of my self-care. There’s nothing quite like relaxing in a warm epsom salt bath with an oatmeal-herb face mask to melt away stress!
Want to know more about the ingredients and what they do? Here’s the breakdown.
Oats have long been treasured as a gentle way to support the skin! Oats have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and itch-relieving effects. When finely ground, they form a soft, gentle cleanser and exfoliant that naturally moisturizes and leaves skin smooth and fresh. Oats are most beneficial for dry or sensitive skin types, but oily and sensitive skin types (me, me!) can benefit from oats too — especially when combined with green clay. I love this article that outlines more benefits of oats for the skin. Hint: I always buy gluten-free oats to ensure my oats are free from wheat and other gluten contaminants. As a person with a wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity, buying gluten-free oats keeps me safe from unwanted allergic reactions! I like Bob’s Red Mill GF Oatmeal and Trader Joe’s GF Oatmeal.
Clays are wonderful. They can gently exfoliate, draw out oils, toxins, and impurities, and impart important minerals to the skin. I tend to use Aztec Secret Health Indian Healing Clay or French green clay, although I’d love to try some of the beautiful clays available at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Each tiny purple flower contains high levels of volatile oils, flavanoids, tannins, and coumarins.Lavender has a wide variety of actions and applications, but it is the antiseptic, antibacterial, skin soothing, blood flow stimulating actions that make it particularly good for a blend like this.
Sage is a more recent addition to this blend, and now that I’ve started adding it, I’m hooked! Sage is aromatic and lovely, and has strong antiseptic and antimicrobial actions. Research also shows that it contains rosmarinic acid, which has anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, sage is strongly astringent, and has a drying effect that I notice works well on my often oily (yet sensitive) skin. If you are prone to dry skin, adding sage may not be the right fit for you.
Oatmeal Cleansing Grains
- 1 1/4 cups rolled oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons green clay
- 2 tablespoons lavender flowers
- 2 tablespoons whole sage leaves, crushed (optional, most appropriate for oily skin)
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until ingredients are ground into a fine powder, pausing to stir mixture to ensure it is evenly blended.
Store in a jar with a tight lid.
To use as a cleansing scrub: mix 1 tablespoon of powder with water in the palm of your hand or in a small bowl, and mix with your finger or a spoon to form a thin paste. Apply to moist skin and rub gently in small circles. Rise with warm water, and pat face dry. Also works well on neck, chest, shoulders, and back.
To use as a mask: mix 2 tablespoons of powder with water to form a paste, and spread evenly over skin, rubbing gently in small circles. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with warm water, and pat face dry. Also works well on neck, chest, shoulders, and back.
I hope you like these cleansing grains as much as I do! How do you like to take care of your skin?
Chevallier, Andrew. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. London: Dorling Kindersley, Limited, 1996.
Dr Surbhi, MD Skin.Dermatocare. “10 Benefits of Using Oats for Skin – Know from a Dermatologist (Dermatocare’s Natural Beauty Tips)”. Accessed March 3, 2016. http://www.dermatocare.com/blog/10-benefits-of-using-Oats-for-skin:-know-from-a-Dermatologist