Olive oil contains polyphenols, which are natural antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K. While you may be familiar with the idea of taking these vitamins internally, it’s not immediately obvious that there are benefits to applying them to your skin. Bear in mind the skin is your largest organ and it is incredibly absorbent. Using oil on the skin is not a new thing – it goes back at least as far as ancient Greece and Rome and probably much longer.
Use the best oil you can afford – preferably, non-GMO, certified organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed oil. As a rule of thumb – if you wouldn’t put it on your food, don’t put it on your skin. For optimum freshness and shelf-life, you should store them in a sealed container in a cool, dark place. If you have very sensitive skin, to try a test before you use it – rub a couple of drops onto the skin of your inner arm. If there’s no reaction after 24 hours, you should be fine. So, here is how you can apply 10 magic uses of olive oil on your skin:
1. Face and body moisturizer
Olive oil is an excellent face and body moisturizer. A quarter of a cup of oil in your bathwater will moisturize your entire body. Alternatively, and especially if you prefer to shower, a small amount rubbed into damp skin will have the same effect without leaving an oily residue. You could even add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil if you prefer a more luxurious and relaxing experience. If there is any excess oil left on your skin, simply towel it off and remember to use less oil next time. For your face, dab a small amount onto cotton wool and apply to your damp face.
2. Remove stretch marks and scars
Olive oil has been used to treat stretch marks since ancient Roman times. It is known that vitamins A, C, and E have tremendous benefits for the skin. It is likely the vitamin E that confers this benefit. Used on the face, it has been known to smooth out blemishes, even minimizes the appearance of acne scars although it’s unlikely to heal them completely. It does seem to be useful for stretch marks. It may be that the gentle massaging action of rubbing in the oil helps too.
3. Speed up wound healing
Although you should not apply any oil to fresh burns as it will hold in the heat, thereby exacerbating the problem, the moisturizing and antibiotic properties may well speed up the healing process when applied a little after the initial wound. Interestingly, recent research indicates that the efficacy of olive oil in treating wounds is higher when the oil is ingested rather than applied topically.
4. Protect against sun damage
Although olive oil cannot and should never be used in place of a good sunscreen, it can soothe and protect skin after exposure to the sun. The vitamin A helps mitigate against some of the effects of UV damage and can slow the signs of aging so, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, this could be just the thing for you. The moisturizing properties alone will soothe and prevent that feeling of tightness that comes with too much exposure to the sun. The easiest way to apply the oil to afford you relief is to add a little to your bath water. This also ensures that oil is applied to those harder to reach places as well.
5. Reduce signs of aging
The polyphenols which are natural anti-oxidants found in olive oil, together with the moisturizing effect, can reduce the signs of aging. The anti-oxidants revitalize the skin, removing greyness and leaving it glowing while the moisturizing effect helps to plump up any fine lines. In addition, the massaging action of applying the oil can stimulate the collagen in the skin, reducing sagging.
A small amount of oil should be massaged into your face in the evening. Any excess can be easily wiped off with a tissue or a piece of cotton wool. You should avoid contact with the eyes as it may sting. It won’t harm you but it may be uncomfortable.
6. Use as a lip balm
At certain times of the year, we’re more susceptible to dry, chapped lips. This can be unsightly as well as uncomfortable but there’s a simple solution. A little olive oil mixed with honey applied at bedtime is sure to give you sweet dreams and when you wake up in the morning you should see beautiful, youthful, plump and healthy looking lips.
Of course, this would be even more effective if you used a lip scrub first. Just a little sugar and oil mixed and rubbed gently onto your lips will exfoliate all that dead skin leaving it even more receptive to the honey oil balm. If you want to use the lip balm during the day as well, go right ahead but try and avoid the area around your lips, especially if you’re prone to break-outs.
7. Remove eye make-up gently and safely
As eye-make-up is often oil-based and therefore oil soluble, olive oil is ideal for removing it. It is far milder than commercial eye make-up removal products and has the added advantage of moisturizing the skin at the same time as cleansing. Simply add a few drops of olive oil to a cotton ball and gently wipe around the eye area and you’ll find the make-up easily gone. Added advantages are that any fine lines around your eyes will be perfectly moisturized and the small amount of oil that gets onto your eyelashes will condition them although you should be careful not to get any oil in the eyes themselves.
8. Treatment for acne
This one is controversial and I would certainly not recommend it for severe cases of acne to you. However, for mild cases or occasional break-outs, the following treatment can be very effective: Mix 2 tablespoons of fine salt or sugar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a paste.
First of all, wash your face as normal, then, gently work a small amount of the paste into your face and keep massaging. Leave it for a few minutes and then wash off with warm soapy water. Do this daily for a week and then gradually reduce the frequency. The salt (or sugar) cleanses by exfoliation while the oil moisturizes. A similar scrub can be used for your body although, in this case, it’s safe to use slightly coarser sugar or salt.
9. Treatment for dry and damaged cuticles
A few drops of oil massaged into your nails and cuticles will keep them looking and feeling glowing and healthy. While we’re looking after our nails, let’s not forget the toes. Our toes are often hidden away. It’s an easy matter to deal with dry feet and cracked heels at the same time. Making this part of a weekly self-care habit will bring added benefits as it will help protect against and even heal toenail fungus.
10. Treat nappy rash
Olive oil can be an effective relief from the discomfort of nappy rash. Although you should bear in mind the caution on sensitive skin, and make sure you do a sensitivity test first, at least you can be sure there are no added perfumes that may irritate baby’s skin. Try a few drops on unbroken skin on an arm or leg first. If, after 24 hours, there’s no redness or any sign of discomfort, you should be fine. Olive oil is also an effective yet gentle treatment for cradle cap, gently softening and lifting the scales while moisturizing the scalp. It may also help to soothe the itching of eczema.
It seems that the best way to get the maximum benefit from this magical oil is to use a combination of topical application and including it as part of your diet. That said, once you’ve established that you don’t have a reaction when you apply the oil topically, you can make it a safe and affordable part of your routine.
There are so many other ways you can use this magical oil. Staying close to the skin, you can use it as a hair conditioner or even in place of shaving cream as it’s such a wonderful lubricant. Remember to buy the best quality you can afford and store it correctly.
A glass or stainless steel container is probably best. If you live in a hot, humid climate, it may even be best to store it in the refrigerator. There’s no need to be concerned if it appears a bit thick and cloudy after being chilled – it’s quite normal and is simply a function of the lower temperature. You’ll find that your oil will return to normal quite quickly once it comes back up to room temperature, with no harm done.