Olive oil has always been a star player in the culinary world, appearing in everything from decadent pastas to everyone’s favorite millennial scapegoat, avocado toast. It’s been years since Rachel Ray introduced “EVOO” into our daily lingo (that's "extra virgin olive oil," ICYMI), and it may seem that in the time since, olive oil has done some major glowing up. But in reality, olive oil has been used in beauty products and routines for, well, ever—and it has some pretty epic skin benefits.
We’ve raved about using coconut oil for glowing skin, and now we're sharing all the ways olive oil can tackle your skincare problems. However, there are a few things to know before you start slathering yourself in it, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Continue reading below for intel from Dr. Karan Lal of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Hillsborough, NJ, and for our best strategies to incorporate this wonder ingredient into your skincare routine.
About the Expert:
Whether you’re using pure olive oil or it’s an ingredient in another product, it can help fight dryness and protect the skin barrier. And although there are some caveats to know (more on that below), “it is good for patients who would like a natural moisturizer and emollient,” says Lal.
The vitamin E, antioxidants, and other health benefits you associate with olive oil and the Mediterranean Diet? They extend to the skin, too. “Olive oil is a naturally derived oil full of unsaturated fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties,” explains the derm.
Studies have shown that the antioxidant properties in olive oil may protect against free radicals and photodamage when applied topically. Although, as always, you still need to wear sunscreen!
Moisturizer is just the tip of the iceberg as far as olive oil’s uses. Keep reading for more ways to use the ingredient.
You can simply use olive oil on its own, although using high-quality oil is key. “For my patients who want natural emollients, I recommend cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to be used at bedtime or immediately after showers for quick absorption,” says Lal.
It’s also surprisingly great for removing makeup, even waterproof mascara. “Another good use is as a makeup remover—oil fights oil,” says Lal. But don’t skip your usual face wash, says the derm. “Skin should then be washed with a gentle cleanser.”
Olive oil also makes an incredible ingredient in products, so you get the benefits in a more targeted way. For example, olive oil is often found in moisturizers and body lotions, and this way it’s less greasy—and also less likely to clog pores.
There are a few things to know before you start dousing yourself in EVOO. In general, says Lal, “People with acne, facial or scalp dandruff should avoid olive oil because it could make these conditions worse.”
If you’re concerned about breakouts in particular, it’s important to know that olive oil “is comedogenic (pore-clogging) and acts as food for yeast, both of which contribute to acne,” explains Lal. Plus, it may not be the best choice for those with skin conditions such as eczema, says the derm. “Unlike other oils, such as coconut oil and sunflower oil, it does not have antimicrobial properties,” explains Lal. “Because it doesn’t have antimicrobial properties I do not like it for people with eczema because they are prone to skin infections.”
If your skin is a candidate for olive oil products, here are five we love.
Sure, facial oils are a natural fit for olive oil, but this all-natural option is one of the best. Not only does it contain olive oil, but also squalane, jojoba esters, camellia oil, and other botanical ingredients to keep skin soft, hydrated, and glowing.
This rich, cushiony moisturizer is made with 100% organic oil from Spain. Add in hydrating squalane (also sourced from olives) and hydrogenated rice bran (for moisturizing and brightening), and it’s everything dry skin wants and needs, especially in cold winter months.
Who doesn’t love a face mist? This formula is spiked with extra virgin olive oil from the Greek Isle of Crete, adding an extra layer of moisture every time you spritz it on. Plus, it can be used both before or after makeup.
Olive oil is particularly great for strengthening and repairing the under-eye area, where skin is very thin and prone to drying out. Dab on a bit of this rich eye cream right before bed to hydrate and infuse skin with olive oil’s antioxidant properties.
Don’t neglect your skin from the neck-down, either! Olive oil is amazing in body lotions and creams, such as this one from KORRES, which is formulated with pure Greek olive oil.
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