Olive oil has been touted for centuries as having health benefits. But what exactly are the benefits—especially for your beauty regimen? Ancient Greeks used extra virgin olive oil to heal wounds, light oil lamps, cook, and of course for skincare and beauty.
Today, awareness of the benefits of this wonder oil continue to expand, from fighting obesity, heart disease and cancer to gallstone reduction. Some evidence suggests that a diet containing olive oil could even help with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. In addition to being a natural and gentle, non-irritating way to moisturize skin, EVOO (as one famous chef calls it) also contains oleic acid to soften and hydrate, plus anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidant vitamins A and E help repair and renew skin that has been damaged from daily environmental hazards like UVA, pollution, cigarette smoke, and fast food. In addition, vitamins A and E have the natural ability to stimulate cells, returning your skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state.
Whether you directly apply olive oil to your face and body, or use olive oil-based products, the oil provides a long-lasting shield of moisture, keeping your skin smooth and supple for hours, without clogging pores. “Applying olive oil directly to the hair and scalp and letting it sit for about an hour is a great way to moisturize dry scalp and relieve dandruff,” says leading dermatologist Dr. Gary Marder.
Daily moisturizers or night creams are best applied to damp skin when water can help reduce any feeling of oiliness. For anti-aging moisturizers that rely on olive oil’s health benefits, one of the newest is the reformulated Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($32). The research team from P&G (Olay’s parent-company) discovered that as we age, skin loses energy, making it look older and, gasp, less responsive to anti-aging ingredients. The new formulation contains Olivem, a derivative of olive oil that increases the penetration of anti-aging ingredients into the skin. It features another natural derivative, as well, Lys’lastine, an extract of dill seeds that works to improve hydration and elasticity.
Obviously a fabulous moisturizer, olive oil can help soften extra dry elbows and feet. Massaging a little EVOO to these dry parts—especially your heels—every night, will transform your skin. If you are wary of bringing a cooking ingredient into the bed, try Jurlique Love Balm ($6.50), a salve used to hydrate and soften dry or chapped lips, elbows, and hands. Formulated with olive oil, vitamin E, soybeans, and safflower seeds, this balm can even treat dry patches on the go.
Kiss My Face Moisture Shave in Key Lime ($4.99) is perfect for your olive oil needs in the shower. Olive and coconut oil, aloe vera, and antiseptic goldenseal moisturize and heal the skin while lime works as a natural, cooling antiseptic that doubles as an astringent. A great option for facial and body acne sufferers as the shave cream includes soapwort, which is effective at cleaning and reducing acne.
Along with moisturizing and shaving, olive oil works wonders for things like burns, rashes, wounds, and insect bites as well as removing makeup. Vincent Longo “Olive Oil Fix Tip” Makeup Removal ($20) can remove minor application mishaps without further cleansing. And from products for cuticles like Nutra Nail Olive Oil Treatment for Nails and Cuticles ($5.99) to treatments for dry hair—try DevaCurl’s products if you have curly hair, starting from $19—and dandruff, Dandruff Relief Shampoo by Jāsön ($13.49)—olive oil is like liquid gold.