Some simple ingredients found in the kitchen may also benefit the skin when used topically. This may include oatmeal, milk, and more.

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The kitchen is likely your go-to destination when hunting down a snack. It may also contain almost everything you need to improve the condition of your skin.

The cost-saving benefits are clear. Kitchen skin care ingredients are much cheaper than costly products you might find in-store or online, and you probably already have them in your cupboard.

The question remains: Can they make the cut when compared to store-bought cosmetics?

Whether your main skin concern is dehydration, sensitivity, or acne, it may be worth raiding the kitchen cupboard or refrigerator before you break out your wallet.

Some of the most common kitchen staples have skin-boosting benefits.

While it’s versatile in the kitchen, oatmeal also has plenty of applications for healthy skin.

Its rough texture makes it a great gentle exfoliator that helps to slough off dead skin cells. It also has proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that may help relieve dry, irritated skin and protect against damage.

Louise Walsh, a registered nurse in the United Kingdom specializing in dermatology and cosmetics, confirms that oatmeal can be gentle enough to use on sensitive skin types. “Oatmeal has a calming effect on red, sensitized skin,” she says.

When combined with a moisturizer, oatmeal may also help to treat skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends a colloidal oatmeal bath to provide relief from itching caused by eczema. This type of oatmeal is sold as a finely ground powder that dissolves in water.

Skin on the dull side? Oatmeal may be a powerful ingredient when it comes to skin brightening, too.

In one 2020 study, participants with hand eczema saw a significant improvement in moisture and skin brightness after 2 weeks of using colloidal oatmeal twice daily.

Another 2020 study found that a 1% colloidal oat eczema cream improved skin pH, barrier function, and hydration compared to a standard moisturizer, which only improved hydration. A 2021 study also noted the benefit of colloidal oats to skin barrier function.

Oats also contain a compound known as saponins, a natural cleanser that may help clear out blocked pores.

Colloidal oatmeal (ground oats) is great for red, sensitive, itchy, inflamed, and dry skin. When mixed with water to create a mask it protects and nourishes the barrier of the skin, preventing loss of water and hydration. It will moisturize and calm the skin,” says Walsh.

How to use it

Ground down 2 to 3 tbsp. of oatmeal and add water until you get a paste-like consistency. Apply to the skin, and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing off.

If you have a peanut allergy, don’t use peanut butter on your skin. If you’re unsure, talk with a doctor and always do a patch test first.

Maybe you like to eat it with a spoon, or you forgo cutlery altogether and simply dip your fingers in the jar, but would you smear it over your face?

Like all nut butters, peanut butter contains large amounts of oils that can leave your skin feeling nourished.

Back in 2015, it went viral as a shaving hack. Proponents of this unlikely trend claimed that replacing their usual shaving gel with peanut butter gave them a closer shave and softer skin.

There’s some science to back this up.

One 2018 study claims that peanut oil, which is found in peanut butter in large quantities, supports the skin barrier. It may also offer protection against UV radiation, according to a 2018 review of research.

If that’s not enough, peanut butter also contains vitamins B and E, which may reduce many signs of skin aging, including hyperpigmentation and redness.

“Peanut butter contains lots of oils and vitamins, which could be nourishing on the skin and easy to find in the kitchen,” says Walsh.

If you’re using peanut butter on your skin, Walsh recommends always opting for an organic version. Supermarket brands often contain with salt and sugar, which aren’t so great for the skin.

How to use it

Walsh suggests mixing 1 tbsp. of peanut butter, 1 tbsp. of honey, and 1 egg. Then gently massage the mixture into cleansed skin. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water.

We all know cinnamon is ace in baked goods and hot chocolate (and on top of oatmeal), but did you know it may also be good for making your skin glow?

Walsh confirms that cinnamon is known for its antibacterial properties. Its warming quality also increases blood flow, helping to achieve a perky, plumped-up appearance on the skin.

A 2017 review notes that cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory.

“Inflammation leads to redness, irritation, and potentially chronic skin conditions such as rosacea and acne, so anti-inflammatory treats are a must for many skin issues,” Walsh confirms.

Walsh adds that ground cinnamon can be an especially potent skin care ingredient when mixed with honey.

Honey mixed with ground cinnamon is a great face mask to make at home for congested skin with breakouts. Mixed together, they make an exfoliating component, which will encourage healing of breakouts and spots,” she explains.

How to use it

Take Walsh’s advice by mixing ground cinnamon with some honey and using it as a gentle scrub. Leave it on the skin for 10 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

Ground cinnamon can potentially cause irritation and burns. Talk to your doctor before using ground cinnamon on your skin, and always do a patch test first. Don’t use cinnamon essential oil on your skin.

Milk does a body good, and not just on the inside. Your skin can also benefit from cow’s milk.

“Milk contains lactic acid, which is often used in gentle skin peels,” Walsh says. “Its large molecular weight stops it from penetrating too deeply, so it tends to not cause too much irritation,” she adds, making it safe to use for sensitive skin types.

Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). These acids are used in professional chemical peels and at-home products for acne, scarring, enlarged pores, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation, according to research.

The proteins and fats in cow’s milk may help soften the skin, while lactic acid is a gentle exfoliator that promotes skin cell shedding, giving the skin a silky feel.

There’s also some scientific evidence to suggest that cow’s milk can help soothe a variety of skin conditions, in particular those characterized by dry, itchy, and irritated skin.

While most research on the effectiveness of lactic acid does not involve applying cow’s milk to the skin, one older study from 2006 indicates that women over the age of 65 may find relief from itchy skin by applying cow’s milk topically.

According to Walsh, there are other skin treats hiding in the dairy section.

“Similar benefits can be found with yogurt, and may be more practical to use as a face mask, without having to mix ingredients,” Walsh says. “It’s lovely and cooling, too.”

How to use it

You can use cow’s milk like a toner to exfoliate your skin, or mix with flour to create a mask, Walsh suggests. Or add 1 or 2 cups to your bath for an all-over skin treat.

For some, it’s a morning pick-me-up. Coffee may be just as good at reviving your energy levels as it is for reviving your skin.

“Coffee [grounds], when applied topically to the skin, have a number of amazing benefits,” says Beverly Hills-based celebrity aesthetician Katrina Cook. “They can be used to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, reduce body breakouts, and can even help fade stretch marks over time.”

Coffee may also reduce the appearance of cellulite.

A 2021 review of research notes that the caffeine content in coffee may help stimulate blood flow, which in turn may reduce the appearance of dimpling on the skin.

How to use it

“My personal favorite way to incorporate coffee into my weekly routine is by using the grinds to exfoliate away dead skin,” says Cook.

In the shower, massage the grinds in circular motions using your hands, working from your feet all the way up to your shoulders. Then rinse off.

This yellow spice doesn’t just add flavor to food. It’s also packed with anti-inflammatory properties.

“Turmeric is known to be anti-inflammatory and has antiseptic properties, which is why there are skin care products with [turmeric] as… a priority ingredient,” Walsh says. “It’s also taken by many people as a supplement for general anti-inflammatory purposes for health.”

A 2019 review of research indicated that when applied topically, turmeric can be a powerful ingredient for the acceleration of wound closure and reduction of inflammation.

What’s more, growing evidence suggests the active component of turmeric, curcumin, may be used medically to treat a variety of skin diseases, including acne, atopic dermatitis, facial photoaging, psoriasis, and potentially, skin infections, though more research is needed.

A total of 10 studies noted statistically significant improvement in skin disease severity following the topical and oral application of turmeric. However, it’s important to note that further studies are needed.

How to use it

Walsh advises mixing turmeric with honey, flour, or milk to make a paste and applying it like a face mask. Leave it on for 15 minutes before washing off with lukewarm water.

Turmeric can stain fabric and lighter skin tones. If you’re allergic, direct skin contact can cause irritation, redness, and swelling. Always do a patch test by applying to a small area of skin and waiting 24 to 48 hours to see how your skin reacts. You may want to talk with a doctor before using turmeric on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin or a skin condition.

Can kitchen skin care ingredients make the cut when compared to store-bought cosmetics?

Some can combat various skin issues, while others work to smooth and brighten the skin.

It’s important to remember that scientific research is limited in some cases, so it’s essential to exercise caution by using a patch test when trying any new ingredient on your skin. If you have a pre-existing skin condition, be sure to check in with a doctor or dermatologist.

Still, there are plenty of items in the pantry that your skin may love.

Victoria Stokes is a writer from the United Kingdom. When she’s not writing about her favorite topics, personal development, and well-being, she usually has her nose stuck in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails, and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.