We all know the health benefits of eating extra virgin olive oil but what about its benefits for our skin? The use of olive oil as a natural home remedy for skincare dates back to ancient Greece, where it was used as a massage oil to prevent sports injuries and reduce muscle fatigue. Olive oil was considered a valuable medicine in these times, so much so that Hippocrates himself reported over 60 conditions that could be treated with it, including ear infections, wounds and burns! Along with beeswax, olive oil was commonly used as a moisturizer, natural cleanser, and antibacterial agent by the Egyptians, including Cleopatra.
So what gives this golden beauty its healing benefits? The following antioxidants and a bunch of fatty acids:
- Vitamin E: Powerful antioxidant that heals and soothes irritated skin, helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and rejuvenates and moisturizes the skin.
- Polyphenols & Phytosterols: Naturally occurring antioxidants that restore smoothness to the skin and protect it from premature aging and UV damage.
- Oleic Acid: Moisturizing, anti-aging and soothing omega-9 fatty acid that helps keep skin soft, while also repairing damaged cells present in conditions like eczema.
- Linoleic Acid: An omega-6 fatty acid that's helpful in reducing inflammation and protecting the skin's barriers.
- Oleocanthal: Strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties helpful in soothing joint pain and calming irritated skin.
Soften Cuticles: Simply rub a drop onto each cuticle before going to bed or while cooking (it's easier to remember this way!) to condition and heal cracked, rough cuticles and prevent hangnails. Tip: Soak your nails in a bowl of warm olive oil for 30-60 minutes for deeper moisturization and to help nail growth.
Moisturizer: While it's perfectly fine to use olive oil as a moisturizer, I find it too strong to use on its own. It's best when mixed with other ingredients as in our Face + Body Balm ;) Tip: If applying alone, warm up the oil for a few seconds in the microwave, or use a double boiler, and apply while skin is damp from a shower to lock in extra moisture.
Calm Irritated Skin & Relieve Joint Pain: The naturally occurring oleocanthal in olive oil is great for reducing inflammation and calming irritated skin, which is why you'll find it in all of our balms! Simply massage warm olive oil over sore joints or inflamed skin a couple times a day. Tip: Add a few drops of olive oil to a warm bath for extra relief.
Exfoliate: Olive oil is the perfect base for exfoliating lips. See our sugar scrub recipe below! Tip: Replace coffee grounds with raw cane sugar for a stronger exfoliation and use on the rest of your body for extra smooth skin.
Improve Skin Elasticity: The natural polyphenols found in olive oil help increase elasticity and strengthen cellular walls, making it a great ingredient to help retain youthful skin. Tip: Look for a daily moisturizer that has organic olive oil as an active ingredient.
Sunburn Relief: Olive oil's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties work well to soothe sunburned or peeling skin. Gently rub onto affected areas as needed. Tip: Make a DIY lavender infused olive oil for extra relief. Recipe below!
Hair Conditioner: Olive oil is one of the best natural conditioners for dry, damaged hair. Simply heat up a small bowl of olive oil (no more than 10-15 seconds in the microwave) or use a double boiler, and gently massage into hair beginning at the roots and working your way down. Wrap your hair in a warm towel or shower cap for at least 30-minutes (an hour is best) and rinse out well with organic shampoo. Tip: Leave the shower cap on in the shower until you’re ready to wash your hair, to allow for extra absorption and to prevent damage from any hard minerals that may be present in your water.
With all of the different types of olive oil on the market, it can be hard to know which one to get. I recommend buying an organic extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil as these are typically unrefined and preserve the most nutrients since they are not processed with high heat. Just be sure to store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to best preserve its natural properties. A few other things to keep in mind:
- Price Matters! Olive oil is not cheap and the best ones are typically imported from Europe so I'd be wary of anything under $10.
- Look for the IOC Seal. The International Olive Council (IOC), is a UN-chartered organization that sets the worldwide quality-standards for the olive oil industry.
- Non-GMO. Unfortunately, most olive oils found in our grocery stores are mixed with other oils, including GMO-produced soybean oil. To be safe, look for the NON-GMO seal. Oils that have the IOC seal mentioned above are typically NON-GMO as well.
- The Darker the Bottle the Better! Don't buy oil that comes in a clear bottle (or worse, plastic). Light can cause oils to spoil. Dark bottles protect the oil from oxidation and preserve their natural healing properties.
- Put it to the Test! If you're unsure of the quality of your oil, stick in the refrigerator. It should start to look cloudy and thicken. If it remains liquid then it's most likely mixed with other synthetic oils and is no good.
Here are a couple easy DIY recipes using this golden beauty. Enjoy :)
Olive Oil Lip Scrub: Gentle exfoliator and natural lip plumper, plus super easy to make!
- 2 tsp fair-trade coffee grounds
- 1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Using your fingertips, gently rub onto moist lips in a circular motion for 15-20 seconds.
- Rinse and moisturize with our Original Lip Balm.
Lavender Infused Olive Oil: Great for soothing bug bites and sunburn.
- 1 cup Organic Dried Lavender Flowers
- 2 cups Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Wide-Mouthed Glass Jar
- Place flowers in a dry, clean jar and pour in olive oil.
- Cover and leave in a warm, sunny spot for two weeks.
- Strain using a cheesecloth or muslin.
- Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
- Apply a small amount to bug bites, sunburn or irritated skin as needed.
Are you an Olive Oil Lover? Share your favorite tips and recipes below!