With new product brands, launches, and categories popping up every day, beauty can be a bit overwhelming. Back to Basics, our new rudimentary beauty series, serves as your crash course on the science behind some of the best formulations in the game.
When it comes to natural ingredients recognized for their beauty powers, olive oil is at the top of that list. It's a staple ingredient in at-home hair treatments, is almost always included in homemade skin care elixirs, and it goes without saying, but it's also great for your insides. But when it comes to olive oil for skin, specifically, there are only a few ingredients out there that are better for restoring moisture, and repairing even the driest of skin — making it a wonder why it's not more frequently seen in products of today.
According to Olive Oil Source, an online resource dedicated to the history and business of the ingredient, its benefits were recognized thousands of years ago. "The olive was native to Asia Minor and spread from Iran, Syria, and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years ago," the website reports. "It is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world, being grown before the written language was invented. The Phoenicians spread the olive to the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Southern Europe. The olive culture was spread to the early Greeks then Romans. As the Romans extended their domain they brought the olive with them." Even now, it's extremely prevalent in the African birthing process. "It is common in many African cultures, to use olive oil to soothe and protect a newborn’s skin immediately after birth," Ashley Davenport, Licensed Aesthetician at Coolspa, tells TZR. "Olive oil is natural and gentle so you don’t have to worry about the impact of harsh chemicals."
But it's not just babies that benefit. "Olive oil is full of antioxidants that protect the skin and promote anti-aging," Davenport says. "It's also a wonderful emollient." It's so emollient, in fact, that it's come to be known as a superior ingredient for moisture. "Olive oil is a powerful moisturizing agent, and it has an amazing absorbent ability to just slip into [the] skin," Kim Walls, Furtuna Skin co-founder and CEO, adds. "It helps maintain that moisture, which balances out hydration levels in your skin, helping fight dryness."
Its antioxidant properties also help protect skin from UV damage, while its high oleic concentration helps repair damage that has already been done to the surface of the skin. "Its high vitamin content nourishes your skin with essential nutrients that you may not get through your everyday diet or other skin care products," Walls shares. In addition, it’s not always easy to find good-for-skin ingredients that help fight bacteria, but olive oil is known for its exceptional purifying powers. "For those who have sensitivities and are prone to acne, it’s important to remove any trouble-making bacteria from skin," Walls says. "Olive oil can help fight the bacteria that causes problem skin — studies have shown a decrease in skin impurities. It has the ability to soothe and even tone."
Even for those with more serious skin ailments, it can be of serious help. "Olive oil is great for children and adults who suffer from eczema and atopic dermatitis," Davenport says. "Olive oil helps replenish and restore the skin’s lipid barrier."
And while your initial thought may be to slather your skin's surface with the oil, move cautiously. "You want to make sure your skin stays balanced — not too dry and not too moisturized," Walls says. "Applying too much oil could affect the skin’s natural ability to produce oil on its own." Instead, search for products that are blended with other key ingredients. "Olive oil is the ideal carrier for vitamins A, D, E and K, which are oil soluble and can only be delivered in oil," Walls says. "Rather than using mass produced, synthetic bases which do not have the same living properties, it helps the nutrients from the other botanicals work better together and facilitate skin’s uptake of the nourishment." But because of its emollience, both experts suggest using it at night when the skin is more absorbent and can retain moisture more effectively. It's also great for your bath time routines. "Fill a tub with warm water, add one to two tablespoons of olive oil, soak for 20 minutes, and your skin will feel silky smooth," she says, also insisting that now more than ever it should be applied to the body. "Many of us are experiencing dryness, especially in our hands, for the first time with all the hand washing and sanitizing we are doing to prevent the transmission of COVID," she says. "Rub a few drops of olive oil to the palms and of back hands to help prevent and treat dryness and flakiness."
Ahead, check out the products that are the perfect blend of olive oil, and so many other good-for-skin ingredients.
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"What I went back to was basically secrets my mom told me when I was young, like how olive oil was kind of a cure-all for your hair, your skin, your nails, your body," Lopez said in a promo for her new skincare line. That's why she packed this serum with the ingredient as well as squalane and leaf extract.