How to Use an Oatmeal Mask to Treat Acne

Got acne? Maybe the best way to improve your skin is to try wearing your oatmeal instead of eating it. An oatmeal mask for acne can help freshen and rejuvenate your skin—but it’s not a miracle cure for acne.


  • An oatmeal mask is a great way to reduce inflammation and redness of the skin.
  • Cooked oatmeal reduces inflammation. Raw oatmeal only exfoliates the skin.
  • The way cooked, colloidal oatmeal soothes the skin is by reducing the production of one class of inflammatory chemicals.
  • The right kind of honey added to a cooked oatmeal mask can reduce inflammation further.
  • Oatmeal or oatmeal and honey masks are an addition to sensible daily skin care, not a substitute for it. For the best products for daily skin maintenance, check out Exposed Skin Care.

How to Make an Oatmeal Mask

You prepare oatmeal for a face mask the same way you prepare oatmeal for breakfast. Take steel cut oats and cook according to the instructions on the box. You won’t need to cook more than the equivalent of one serving. Allow the oatmeal to cool to room temperature.

Then, with a towel in place to protect your clothes and the table over which you are working, apply warm (not hot) oatmeal over your face and leave in place for 20 to 30 minutes. After the oatmeal has set on your face, rinse off with warm water and pat your skin dry.

How to Make an Oatmeal and Honey Mask

The oatmeal and honey mask is an even more effective treatment for your skin. Cook one serving of oatmeal. While it is still hot, add 2 tablespoons (about 30 grams) of honey. Any kind of honey is helpful, but Manuka honey is best for your skin. Allow the mixture to cool, and use as directed above.

Why not just mix raw oatmeal in water and use that for the mask?

Raw oatmeal contains fibers with jagged edges. These jagged edges will remove more dead skin and hardened skin oils from your face than the fibers in cooked oatmeal, but they can also cause irritation and inflammation on sensitive skin. If you already have red and itchy skin, you need to use a cooked oatmeal mask, not a raw oatmeal mask.

How Oatmeal Rejuvenates the Skin

Oatmeal is the basis of all kinds of bath additives and skin treatments labeled as “Avena,” from the scientific name for oats. There have been over 100 studies of why colloidal oatmeal—the form of oatmeal after it has been cooked—should relieve inflammation in the skin, and there is general agreement among scientists that it contains chemicals that influence the arachidonic acid pathway in the skin.

Arachidonic acid is a “bad” fatty acid that is found in eggs, organ meats, and fatty beef. In a cell, arachidonic acid encourages the production of pro-inflammatory substances rather than anti-inflammatory substances. Inflammation is not always a bad thing. Bodybuilders sometimes take arachidonic acid supplements to increase the breakdown of muscle tissue so new, stronger muscles will appear in the place.

In the skin, inflammation destroys pathogenic microorganisms and opens a path in the skin for them to be forced out of the body. But acne bacteria have the ability to release chemotactic compounds that protect them from inflammation by making surrounding skin more susceptible to inflammation. That’s why acne makes your face break out. Your immune system is trying to get rid of bacteria but actually getting rid of healthy skin.

Colloidal oatmeal contains compounds that reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in the skin. More specifically, these compounds reduce the formation of tumor necrosis factor alpha; they don’t interfere with the skin’s ability to get rid of foreign particles by releasing the chemical histamine. This action stops redness and inflammation and helps soothe the skin. Raw oatmeal, on the hand, just scrubs debris off the surface of the skin.

Why Oatmeal and Honey Is Even Better

Cooked oatmeal is a great anti-inflammatory, but honey is a great antiseptic. Together these two face mask ingredients work even better than either works alone.

Bees have to keep their hives free of infection. That is a daunting task, considering that thousands of bees make thousands of trips for long distances in every direction from the hive. They carry in bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and molds, all of which could cause devastation inside the hive. Fortunately for the bees, honey contains potent antioxidants and compounds that kill microorganisms that could kill bees or infect human skin.

Honey also reduces the activity of a kind of skin cell known as a fibroblast. This is the cell that causes skin to grow over a cyst or to raise up to form a pink acne scar. Applying honey to the skin after a scar has formed won’t shrink it, but applying honey to the skin while acne is still active will help keep the pore open, reduce infections, and stop scar formation before it starts.

Why Manuka Honey Is the Best Oatmeal Additive

There are additional benefits to using Manuka honey. This is a kind of honey that is only harvested on the southeast coasts of Australia and New Zealand. There is no such thing as Chinese Manuka honey.

Manuka honey is made by bees that feed on the manuka bush, also known as the tea tree (which is actually a coastal bush). The pollen of tea tree bushes contains compounds that reduce redness and inflammation by canceling out the ability of bacteria to use their chemotactic compounds. Colloidal oatmeal reduces the production of inflammatory compounds, and Manuka honey helps make sure that the inflammatory compounds that are produced attack bacteria, not the skin.

Manuka honey has one other advantage over other kinds of honey. It’s easier to spread over your face evenly. When Manuka honey is stirred with your fingers rubbing over your skin, it becomes thinner and more spreadable. As it sits on the skin, it tightens, holding close to the skin. Unlike other kinds of honey, it is less likely to drip during application.

Cooked oatmeal or cooked oatmeal with Manuka honey make a great occasional skin treatment, but the are an addition to a healthy skin care routine, not a substitute for one. For the best collection of acne care products offered with a money-back guarantee, check out Exposed Skin Care.

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