Sales of skin and hair care products in the U.S. are a multi-billion dollar business and growing. Many of the latest “miracle in a jar” options are marketed as high-end, but costly, solutions to everyday challenges: how to keep skin moisturized, hair healthy, and facial skin free of wrinkles. Some of the most popular products, promoted as “natural” solutions, even incorporate olive oil as a key ingredient in their formulas.
Does extra virgin olive oil contain strong antioxidants, like Vitamins A and E, that help repair and renew skin?But what many consumers don’t realize is something that people living millennia ago in ancient Greece took for granted; that extra virgin olive oil, all by itself, is one of the best beauty secrets. In addition to being a natural, hypoallergenic way to moisturize skin, extra virgin olive oil has the added advantage of providing strong antioxidants, like Vitamins A and E that help repair and renew skin that has been damaged from overexposure to sun, air pollution, and other modern-day environmental hazards – like cigarette smoke and fast food. These antioxidants have the natural ability to stimulate cells and return skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state.
To provide a slightly more scientific explanation, this damage is related to the destructive activity of oxygen-related free radicals produced by skin cells. Polyphenolic components of olive oil have been compared to traditional antioxidants, such as tocopherols, used by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry to prevent skin damage. There are a number of simple and inexpensive ways to get the best skin care and beauty benefits out of a single bottle of extra virgin olive oil. The rich emollients in olive oil allow just a little to go a long way.
Whether applied to face or body, olive oil will penetrate deep into the skin and provide a long-lasting shield of moisture to keep skin smooth and supple. Used either as a night cream or daily moisturizer, it is best applied to damp skin, when water can help reduce any feeling of greasiness. We recommend using extra virgin olive oil.
Our readers have also suggested that a little lemon juice mixed with olive oil can provide a more bracing and refreshing feeling. In her best-selling book The Passionate Olive, Carol Firenze suggests making a moisturizer made of Italian parsley, water, and extra virgin olive oil.
Expect the natural benefits of olive oil to take a bit longer to be absorbed into the skin than most lightweight packaged skin products. But the advantages can be longer lasting too.
If dry and scaly skin is a problem, Carol Firenze also suggests mixing olive oil and sea salt in a rub and massaging it into the affected area to slough off dead skin and enrich the healthy layer beneath it. Or add a few tablespoons of olive oil with a drop or two of lavender essential oil in a bath. This is a luxurious way to relax, soothe and moisturize the whole body.
Body Scrub and Skin Polishing
Can strawberries mashed with olive oil make your skin shine?When combined with strawberries, extra virgin olive oil can be used as a body scrub (mash a dozen strawberries with a teaspoon of sugar and olive oil) or as a face polisher, removing dirt and grime from your skin (mash about eight berries with extra virgin olive oil allowing enough time for the oil to soak into the berries).
Nail and Cuticle Care
Extra virgin olive oil makes the perfect, simple solution for dry nails and cuticles. Simply rub a few drops into the cuticle area and around the nail. Cuticles stay plump and moist, and nails respond with a natural shine.
Eye Makeup Remover
Just a drop or two of extra virgin olive oil on a cotton pad is all it takes to gently and effectively remove eye makeup without irritating the delicate skin around the eye area. The biggest added advantage is that when used consistently, olive oil can soften the skin around the eyes and smooth out wrinkles.
HAIR CARE AND OLIVE OIL
When used on hair and scalp, olive oil can be considered two products: a deep conditioner and a dandruff controller. After shampooing, massage a mixture of equal amounts of olive oil and water into your hair. Leave on for 5 minutes, then shampoo and rinse. Your scalp will benefit from healthy conditioning; your hair will respond with more shine and strength.
We of course always recommend that you check with your dermatologist to confirm which treatments are best for your skin – particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Carol Firenze: The Passionate Olive: 101 Things to Do with Olive Oil