Olive oil, which is made by pressing olives and extracting their oil, comes in many different forms and has many uses.
Most of us have a bottle of olive oil sitting in our cupboards — perfect for use in a salad dressing or stir-fry. It’s likely that most people haven’t considered using it for anything other than enhancing their dinner. But people are increasingly looking toward olive oil for its benefits as a facial moisturizer.
In fact, one study found that when researchers applied olive oil to the skin of mice that were exposed to ultraviolet rays that could cause cancer, the olive oil actually worked to fight off the cancer-causing cells. The rates of tumors were significantly lower in the mice that had olive oil applied to their skin.
It’s rich in vitamins
Olive oil does have some reported benefits to the skin. According to the International Olive Council, olive oil has many vitamins, including A, D, and K, as well as vitamin E.
It has antioxidant properties
Olive oil is also an antioxidant, so it might help prevent or reverse damage from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. It has a very high concentration of an ingredient called squalene as compared to the other types of fats and oils that humans normally eat. The squalene is what gives olive oil the extra antioxidant boost.
It moisturizes and fights bacteria
If you’re prone to acne, using a soap made with olive oil may help decrease your acne by killing off the bacteria that causes the acne. Olive oil is also known to moisturize and hydrate your skin.
Olive oil is often used as an ingredient in face wash products. There are cosmetics that have olive oil bases. It can also be found in some soaps, body washes, and lotions.
It’s possible to use olive oil as a moisturizer without any added ingredients by applying it directly onto your skin. From there, you can blot off any excess oil with a towel or cloth. It may be especially helpful to use olive oil as a moisturizer after you’ve been exposed to the sun or suffered a sunburn.
Risks and warnings
While olive oil might be beneficial in some ways, other studies have suggested that if you have sensitive skin, particularly oily skin or a skin condition such as dermatitis, olive oil might not be the best choice. One study found that olive oil actually made certain skin conditions worse for adults and recommended that parents should avoid using olive oil on their infants. If you have sensitive skin, do an allergy test before applying it to your face. Rub a dime-sized amount on your forearm with the brand of olive oil that you plan to use. If you observe no reaction in 24 to 48 hours, it should be safe to use.
Another study connected that using natural oils, including olive oil, on infants might actually contribute to them developing eczema later in life. This is especially true if you have a family history of eczema.
Olive oil is a heavy oil and is not easily absorbed into the skin. Wipe off excess oil to prevent clogging pores or trapping bacteria. Choose a high-quality product that doesn’t contain additives or chemicals.
If you would like to use olive oil on your face, just remember that quality matters. Be wary of oil blends as opposed to pure olive oil. One study found that some popular brands of olive oil didn’t meet the actual standards for what olive oil should be.
Olive oil can be ruined during transportation if it’s exposed to excessive heat, light, or oxygen. The quality of the olive oil can be affected if damaged or overripe olives are used in its production or if the oil is stored improperly. Look for a label with a certification from the International Olive Council on your olive oil bottle. And when using olive oil on your face, be sure to test your skin’s reaction to the olive oil on a small part of your skin first.