If you've paid even a little attention to the world of skincare in recent years, you're well-acquainted with the use of olive oil in some products (and some celebrity routines). Olive oil may be a cooking staple and essential ingredient for our health, but research shows that it may also prevent sun damage. It's true—using olive oil for your skin hosts a slew of benefits.
Meet the Expert
- Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD,FAAD is the CMO of Ideal Image and president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology of Connecticut. She is also an assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital.
- Sandy Skotnicki is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Toronto's Bay Dermatology Centre.
- Paul Lorenc is an aesthetic plastic surgeon based in New York.
- Ee Ting Ng is a cosmetic chemist andthe founder of the Australian-based skincare brand Hop & Cotton.
Aesthetic plastic surgeon Paul Lorenc agrees: "Olive oil contains antioxidants that fight free-radical damage, as well as an ingredient called squalene, which is extremely hydrating. It's been used on skin since ancient times—even Cleopatra was a fan." From using it in the hair to using it on the eyebrows, olive oil isn't new to the beauty industry, yet still, there's a lot to learn about its efficacy.
Keep scrolling to find out all there is to know about olive oil for skin.
TYPE OF INGREDIENT:Emollient, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.
MAIN BENEFITS:Moisturizes dry skin, protects against premature aging, manages sun damage.
WHO SHOULD USE IT:In general, most skin types can benefit from olive oil, but those with sensitive, acne-prone skin should steer clear.
HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT:Olive oil is safe to use on the skin daily.
WORKS WELL WITH:Humectants like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids.
DON'T USE WITH:Generally, olive oil is safe to use with most ingredients.
What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is derived from pressing the oil out of a whole olive fruit. It's rich in monounsaturated fatty acids—healthy fats that pose a variety of health and cosmetic benefits—and also contains skin-loving antioxidants.
"Plant oils have been used for medical and cosmetic purposes because they have a multitude of benefits," explains board-certified dermatologist Sandy Skotnicki."Depending on the composition of the plant oil, some oils work better than others at specific issues." Olive oil is among those high-performing plant oils and is praised for its emollient, moisturizing properties.
You can find this wonder oil in anything from serums to facial cleansers, but it's also available in its pure form with humectants added to be suitable for skincare. Bear in mind that olive oil might be ruined from excessive heat, light, or oxygen—storing it in a cool area with a tightly sealed lid is best.
Benefits of Olive Oil for Skin
Olive oil is brimming with skin benefits, from moisturizing dry patches to breaking down stubborn makeup.
- Prevents water loss: "Olive oil’s main benefit is to moisturize the skin by reducing water loss," says Ee Ting Ng, cosmetic chemist andfounder of the Australian-based skincare brand Hop & Cotton."This moisturization increases the water content of the skin, improving its health and appearance."
- Protects against environmental damage: "Olive oil's antioxidant properties protect skin cells against environmental damage and inflammation," notes Ng. "This means protection against premature aging as well as signs of irritation or redness."
- Prevents premature aging: "Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, D, K, and E, as well as squalene," says Skotnicki. "These can aid with decreasing oxidative stress on the skin (which could lead to accelerated skin aging)."
- Lifts makeup: "Olive oil is great for breaking down waxy substances like waterproof mascara and eyeliner," explains Lorenc. "With the added benefits of antioxidants and hydrating squalene, it moisturizes the delicate skin in the eye area, plus nourishes eyelashes the same way conditioner works on the hair." While olive oil can lift off and move oil-soluble residues (like makeup and sebum) around the skin, it does not necessarily remove the makeup, and both the olive oil and broken down makeup should be wiped off with a cleanser.
- Heals wounds: Skotnicki maintains that the anti-inflammatory ingredients found in olive oil can aid in wound healing."Triterpenes, which are present in many plant oils and in particular olive oil, aid in many biological reactions like those necessary for wound healing: cell migration, cell proliferation, and collagen deposition," she says. "They enhance wound repair by reducing the length of time for wound closure."
Side Effects ofOlive Oil
While any skin type may benefit from olive oil, both Ng and Skotnicki advise against using it if your skin is congested or acneic. "The fatty acids prevalent in olive oil—and all plant oils and butters in general—are the very food source for acne-causing bacteria and yeasts to grow," notes Ng. "Thus, olive oil is not ideal for acne-prone skins."
"I overall don't recommend it for use on the face as it can cause acne and impair the ability for your other skincare products to most effectively work," Robinson echoes.
Skotnicki agrees, adding that the oleic acid component of olive oil can exacerbate dermatitis and shouldn't be used near infants. Also, olive oil doesn't appear to have an antibacterial effect like some other plant oils (most notably, coconut oil), so it shouldn't be used as a makeup remover on its own. Finally, according to Ng, if your skin skews oily, it naturally produces high levels of sebum, potentially making the need for more emollients unnecessary in your daily routine.
Is it the Miracle That Some Might Claim?
While some celebrities might say that's their secret to younger-looking skin, olive oil won't turn back the clock. "Oliveoilcan be effective at nourishing the skin barrier and locking in skincare products applied underneath it, but the reality is the hydrating fatty acids are too large to be broken down and absorbed into the skin's deeper layers," Robinson notes.
Can I Leave Olive Oil on Skin Overnight?
Like other emollients, olive oil can be left on for several hours (including overnight, if you wish). Just be sure to apply moisturizer over top (more on that below). And because olive oil is an oil, after all, Lorenc urges that less is more. "There is no reason to walk around dripping with olive oil to receive its incredible benefits," he says. "In fact, using too much may also lead to clogged pores in some skin types."
How to Use It
Olive oil can be found in many skincare products, namely serums and facial oils. "Being an emollient with occlusive properties, olive oil will work best when maximum moisture is sealed into the skin, which is typically at the last step of the routine (in the day, use just before sunscreen)," says Ng."You can use it before or mix it in with your moisturizer."
Dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson says that it should be used as part of your larger skincare routine rather than as a standalone product. "If you're curious about usingoliveoilon your skin, I'd start by using it as an occlusive agent (i.e. slugging) applied overtop of a moisturizer on dry, cracked heels, knees, elbows or hands."
And as with all moisturizers, the best time to apply olive oil is when your skin is still slightly wet from your shower or bath.
The Best Products With Olive Oil
Skotnicki recommends Olivella Moisturizer Oil ($30) as it utilizes the powerful antioxidant squalene, which helps skin retain moisture on the face, lips, and body.
Have problematic skin? Olive Oil Skincare Company's Face Wash ($14) is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants meant to wash away impurities and fend off signs of aging.
DHC's Olive Virgin Oil Essential Cream ($42) is lightweight yet packs a hydrating punch—100 percent organic olive oil along with olive-derived squalene and hydrogenated rice bran oil make for an antioxidant-rich formula that promises to deliver ultra-soft results.
And if you're going to use oil straight from the bottle, reach for the good stuff. "I recommend using certified-organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed, and unrefined extra-virgin olive oil because it is produced without the use of heat or chemical refining, and contains the highest concentration of olive oil's beneficial compounds," says Lorenc. "It also contains zero preservatives or additives that can be harmful to the body."
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Dermatologists say that the anti-inflammatory ingredients found in olive oil (triterpenes) aid in wound healing by assisting with collagen production and reducing the length of time for wound closure. And studies have shown that olive oil helps heal the skin after a sunburn.Do dermatologists recommend olive oil? ›
Dermatologists recommend applying extra virgin olive oil – or creams that incorporate EVOO – while the skin is still damp in order to trap the water inside the cells. However, too much olive oil may clog the pores of the skin, which can lead to pimples, acne and skin irritation.Is olive oil good for skin problems? ›
Olive oil contains antioxidants, including vitamin E. Antioxidants help calm redness and irritation caused by acne or psoriasis. They also protect against free radicals that can lead to wrinkles and premature aging of the skin.Which type of olive oil is best for skin? ›
Figaro Olive Oil
The Figaro brand of olive oil is neither extra virgin nor cold-pressed. It is the best olive oil for the skin since it contains calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. This oil can be used in cooking and is refined. In order to reap its benefits, it is applied to body and hair massages.
Moisturizing oils, such as cocoa butter, coconut oil and olive oil can also help repair crepey skin.Is olive oil good for aging skin? ›
Prevents premature aging: "Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, D, K, and E, as well as squalane," says Dr. Skotnicki. "These can aid with decreasing oxidative stress on the skin (which could lead to accelerated skin aging)."What do doctors say about olive oil? ›
Despite the cardiovascular benefits of olive oil, it's still a fat, Dr. Rajagopal said — which means it's fairly high in calories. Drinking olive oil straight or mixed into a beverage may just add unnecessary calories into your diet. The way olive oil is made can alter its health benefits, too.What are the side effects of olive oil on the skin? ›
While olive oil boasts many health benefits, it's not for everyone. Excess oil on your skin can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts. It may also irritate your skin. Olive oil should be used with caution if you have sensitive skin.Is olive oil good for skin and wrinkles? ›
The fatty acids in olive oil can help to nourish and hydrate the skin, while the antioxidants can help to reduce oxidative stress and improve skin elasticity. This can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and leave the skin looking smoother and more youthful.Which is better for skin coconut or olive oil? ›
If you're looking for specific benefits, however, there are a few key differences to note. Olive oil has more antioxidants than coconut oil. Coconut oil has more antimicrobial properties, making it a better choice for fighting funguses and infections.
Yes, olive oil can be left on your skin overnight. In fact, it can be used as a moisturizer and to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Just make sure to use a light layer of oil and wash it off in the morning.How long does it take for olive oil to absorb into skin? ›
In addition, extra virgin olive oil absorbs quickly into the skin and after 15 minutes there is no trace of it. It also helps lock in moisture in the skin. Simply put some extra virgin olive oil in your hands and start rubbing it over your entire body and face.Can I apply olive oil in my face? ›
Olive oil may be beneficial for the skin and face. This is because it contains antioxidants, vitamins, and antibacterial properties. Learn more about the benefits of using olive oil on the face, and discover how to use it for the best results.Does olive oil tighten loose skin? ›
Using natural oils like olive oil can help tighten loose skin. Olive oil contains antioxidants like vitamin A and E loaded with anti-aging properties. Warm a little bit of oil, and massage deep into skin for 20 minutes with your fingers in a circular motion.What is the best product for Crepey skin on arms and legs? ›
1. Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ Fragile Skin Therapy: Best overall body lotion for crepey skin. A transformative multitasker that visibly strengthens skin, this cream is easily our favourite when it comes to tackling crepey skin.How do you use olive oil to get rid of wrinkles? ›
How to use: Apply olive oil on wrinkled areas and massage it gently into the skin before going to bed. Leave it overnight to seep into the skin and then rinse it off with water in the morning.What body oil do dermatologists recommend? ›
Dry Skin: Look for body oils with avocado oil because it is heavier and will moisturize the skin more intensely. Combination Skin: Look for body oils with flaxseed oil, jojoba oil and marula oil because they will keep the skin moisturized while also preventing oil and breakouts.Is olive oil good or bad for inflammation? ›
Extra virgin olive oil can reduce inflammation, which may be one of the main reasons for its health benefits. Olive oil's main anti-inflammatory effects are from antioxidants, one of which is oleocanthal. This antioxidant has been shown to work like ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug.Is it OK to apply olive oil on face everyday? ›
Olive oil can be used as part of a daily skincare regimen or as needed when your skin feels dry. Apply a thin layer to moisturize your face after cleansing. Olive oil helps to lock moisture in, so use it after putting on lotion and before makeup.Is there medical grade olive oil? ›
What does 'medicinal grade' on the pack refer to? This refers to the virgin olive oil, which meets a special quality standard intended for medicinal use, known as EP grade.