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Olive oil is no longer something we just keep in our kitchen. More and more people are using olive oil as part of their daily grooming, whether that’s in their hair, on their skin, their eyelashes, or, yes, their beards. (A bottle of olive oil is cheaper than most beard oils, after all.)

But if you’re just hearing about this trend now, you’ve probably got some questions. Here’s what you should know.

Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.

That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.

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All hair — including beard hair — needs some oils to be healthy.

Your body creates many of those beneficial oils in your skin and scalp, but when your hair is thick, coarse, or damaged, it sometimes needs a little help staying moisturized to keep its shine, body, strength, and softness.

So, some people have turned to olive oil as a relatively affordable option — and bearded folks started using it to moisturize their beards, too.

The idea is that olive oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and even bacteria-fighting properties, which might help decrease acne, according to a 2010 research review.

In particular, olive oil has vitamin E, a vitamin that is well known for helping moisturize skin, so the thinking is, it should be able to moisturize beard hair too.

Plus, olive oil’s main chemicals are oleic acid, palmitic acid, and squalene, which are known as emollients, or softeners. As a result, people assume that olive oil could soften beard hair.

This is why olive oil is often an ingredient in hair and beard care products, according to a 2015 research review. But now, some people are opting to skip the in-store product and use the original ingredient, hoping to save money while obtaining the same softening effects.

It’s honestly hard to know for sure because there has been very little scientific evidence regarding the effect of olive oil on beard hair.

One 2013 study did suggest that if folks with testes ate olive oil as their main source of fat, it could lead to an increase in their testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone that helps drive beard growth.

It is possible that eating olive oil could help beard hair grow — but further research would be needed before we can say that for sure.

Also, a 2017 research review indicated that olive oil has a moisturizing effect on hair in general because it can penetrate the hair shaft and lock in moisture. Olive oil contains an abundance of monounsaturated fats, and a 2015 research review suggested that these fats can penetrate hair fibers and strengthen them.

Still, olive oil is heavy and it still doesn’t absorb that well into your hair — especially coarser facial hair. So, if you use too much, it could just leave you with a greasy beard and clogged pores.

So, the jury is out on whether applying olive oil directly to your beard will help — at least from a scientific perspective. Lots of blogs and beard care sites contain many anecdotal accounts of people saying that olive oil can help make your beard softer, thicker, and shinier — and even grow faster.

Olive oil is a natural and generally safe ingredient — which is why we eat it. So, it’s generally pretty harmless to use on your beard if you want to give it a try.

It is possible to be allergic to olives, though it is very rare. It is more common that someone would be allergic to olive tree pollen than the fruit itself. However, some people are allergic to the fruit, and in some extreme cases, they’re also allergic to olive oil (though that is even rarer since the oil contains fewer proteins).

Skin reactions to olive oil are also rare but have been documented, particularly if you already have sensitive skin, particularly oily skin, or a condition such as dermatitis, according to a 2010 research review.

Overall, if you are sensitive to olive oil on your skin, it’s best to avoid using it on your beard since it’s easy for beard oils to rub onto your skin.

You should also keep in mind that olive oil doesn’t keep forever. In general, it keeps between 18 to 24 months, though extra virgin olive oil only lasts 12 to 18 months. This isn’t usually an issue for home cooks (we tend to use a bottle of the oil faster than that) but when you’re using it as a cosmetic, you won’t be using as much at a time so it could go bad faster on you than a typical beard oil product you’d buy in a store.

If you’ve ever spilled olive oil on your hands, you’re probably well aware of how slippery and sticky it can be. So, if you want to use it on your beard, don’t just pour it directly onto your beard — you’ll make it too oily.

Instead, if you want to keep it simple, pour a small amount of oil into your palm then use a beard comb to apply it.

You can also mix lemon juice with olive oil and apply that to your beard, especially if you have an itchy beard. The lemon juice will help kill bacteria that could be causing your itch while you moisturize your beard — and it smells nice, too.

Or, make your own olive oil conditioner mask to tame any frizzy, unruly beard hair. All you need is 1 ripe avocado, 1 3/4 cup oats, and 1/8 cup warm olive oil, then follow these steps:

  1. Mash avocado.
  2. Combine avocado and oats.
  3. Mix olive oil in until it forms a paste
  4. Apply to your beard and skin around your beard.
  5. Let it sit 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse.

You can also mix extra virgin olive oil, argan oil, castor oil and coconut oil for another DIY recipe — though you might not have all those ingredients in your cupboard.

If a DIY olive oil beard recipe seems like a little much for you (no judgment here!), you can find some excellent beard products that contain olive oil. Here are a few you could try:

  1. Don Juan Fine Grooming Charmer Beard Oil
  2. Every Man Jack Beard Oil – Sandalwood
  3. Smooth Viking Beard Oil
  4. V76 by Vaughn Beard Oil
  5. Wisdom Beard Oil by CanYouHandlebar
  6. Barrel Brands Base Layer

Olive oil is having a moment amongst bearded folks as a natural alternative to expensive beard oils sold at stores. It’s believed to make beards stronger, softer, and shinier. Scientific proof that olive oil moisturizes your beard is a little lacking, but unless you’re allergic, there’s no harm in trying it out if you want to.

Simone M. Scully is a writer who loves writing about all things health and science. Find Simone on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.