Facial Masks with Olive Oil

By Carol Firenze
November 15, 2010

Want your skin to positively GLOW? Take some advice from Isabella Cortese, an accomplished Venetian noblewoman whose valuable beauty tips are over 400 years old. In her popular book, I Secreti (The Secrets), published in 1561, she touted the virtues of olive oil. Developing her own magical potions, she instructed other noblewomen to make creams and poultices that would cleanse their skin of impurities. Indeed, Isabella Cortese may be considered the grandmother of all beauty corporations today. During the Renaissance, despite the Catholic Church’s disapproval of cosmetics, I Secreti went through 15 editions, demonstrating that nothing will stop women from finding ways to enhance their natural beauty!

In one section of her book, titled Fare la Faccia Bella (For a Beautiful Face), readers were advised to make a facial mask by “…taking a day-old egg from a black hen and mixing it with olive oil…” For those of us who don’t have a black hen readily available(!), here are two facemasks that you can make at home, using olive oil.

Olive Oil and Avocado Facemask

A simple facemask made of olive oil and mashed avocado is easy to make and apply, and just wait until you see the final results! Your friends will simply marvel. All you need is extra virgin olive oil and a ripe avocado.

  • Use ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

  • Mash 1 small ripe avocado

  • Mix together for a smooth consistency

  • Apply to the face, being especially gentle around the eyes

  • Leave on for 12 minutes

  • Rinse off and see how great your skin looks and feels.

Olive Oil and Clay Facemask

This facemask formula substitutes clay for avocado. My Italian cousins love this Clay Facemask, which they call Mascher di Argilla:

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of fine clay (available at natural health stores) with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

  • Add enough water to create a smooth consistency

  • Apply to the face, being especially gentle around the eyes

  • Leave on for 15-20 minutes

  • Rinse off and apply your moisturizer.

Whenever I try these facial masks, I think back to my great-great-great (at least 20 greats) grandmothers, who relied on kitchen and garden supplies for beautiful skin. I also think of Isabella Cortese, who developed olive oil elixirs, so long ago to “preservare la faccia” (preserve the face) and had no idea that her beauty secrets would benefit women all over the world for centuries to come.

Thank you, Isabella!