From Cleopatra to Jennifer Lopez, olive oil has long been used in the skincare routines of many famous faces. It’s also a firm fixture in Japanese skincare products. But what exactly are the benefits and which skin types is it best suited for? Here, a consultant dermatologist breaks down everything you need to know.
If its recent Mochi Skin trend was anything to go by, it’s clear that the key to Japanese beauty (also known as J-beauty) is fresh, dewy skin with a high-shine finish.
Alongside advocating for the benefits of double cleansing and layering hydrating formulas, J-beauty also focuses on the benefits of particular ingredients. One that is constantly at the forefront of its skincare formulations? Olive oil.
Stick with us. Olive oil is rich in fatty acids and when added to skincare products (many experts do not recommend using it on its own), it can provide skin with intense nourishment and hydration.
In fact, it seems olive oil has been a complexion favourite since ancient times as it is believed that Cleopatra often used the ingredient on her skin.
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Recently, Jennifer Lopez also claimed that olive oil was the key ingredient behind her incredible skin. When teasing her new J-Lo Beauty skincare line – in which, olive oil is the star ingredient – she said: “I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried drugstore products and I’ve tried the most expensive products.
“What I went back to was basically secrets my mum told me when I was young. How olive oil was kind of a cure all for your hair, your skin, your nails, your body – you know? It was like nature’s magic ingredient. That’s the thing that makes that natural glow.”
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What is olive oil?
“Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained by pressing the oil out of a whole olive fruit. The most common vegetable oil, it’s rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the healthy fats that offer lots of health and cosmetic benefits. It’s commonly used for cooking and also in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and soaps, as well as a fuel in some countries. It has been used for skincare since ancient times.”
What are the skin benefits of products that contain olive oil?
“Products containing olive oil offer a number of benefits to skin including its antioxidant properties, which fight free-radical damage to defend skin cells against external damage or inflammation.
“It contains an ingredient called squalene which is very hydrating and helps to keep skin moisturised by reducing water loss.
“Olive oil is rich in vitamins D, A, K and E, so it can help decrease oxidative stress on the skin which can lead to ageing. And historical studies show that oils containing vitamin E are traditionally used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”
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Which skin types are best suited to using products with olive oil?
“Olive oil is believed to be beneficial to most skin types. However, it’s particularly suitable for helping to hydrate dry, dehydrated skin, reducing water loss and therefore helping to improve its look and appearance.”
Are there any skin types that should avoid using products with olive oil on their skin?
“I would not recommend olive oil for sensitive or acne-prone skin because of the fact that the fatty acids in it are the food source for bacteria that can cause acne to grow. So, with this in mind, it can incur more damage to the skin barrier, making skin more inflamed and prone to infection. It can also clog pores and exacerbate acne breakouts.”
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Can you use pure olive oil as a skin moisturiser?
“Some people use olive oil as a moisturising lotion by applying it directly to the skin before blotting off excess oil. But while it does contain some properties that are good for your skin there are many other products out there that are far more effective for your skin and don’t come with the risk of acne, shine and barrier impact.
“It’s a naturally heavy oil which means it’s likely to encourage bacteria breeding and pore-clogging. So, despite being a great ingredient when contained in skincare, I wouldn’t usually recommend applying it directly to skin.”
Best skincare products that contain olive oil
Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream
This cult balm-to-oil has a long list of uses. From chapped lips and dry skin to parched hair and peeling cuticles, this multi-tasking balm provides instant hydration.
DHC Olive Concentrated Cleansing Oil
Japanese skincare brand DHC has long utilised the benefits of olive oil. This cleanser has a 100% organic olive oil base that works to break down SPF, make-up and sebum, while vitamin E protects skin against environmental aggressors.
The Body Shop Olive Nourishing Body Butter
Inspired by the Mediterranean, this body butter is made with community Fair Trade organic olive oil from Italy to soften skin. It also contains community Fair Trade shea and cocoa butter from Ghana for extra nourishment.
Murad Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence
Alongside olive fruit oil, this Murad serum is formulated with a collagen complex to improve the moisture levels and overall health of your skin.
As I Am Dry and Itchy Scalp Care Olive and Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
Thanks to its ability to restore moisture, olive oil-infused hair products may provide relief for those with an itchy scalp. This particular shampoo combines olive oil with tea tree oil to soothe and hydrate irritated scalps.
Dr. PawPaw Original Balm
Another brilliant multi-tasker, this does-everything balm can be used as moisturiser, lip balm, hair conditioner, cuticle balm and even to soothe skin irritation. Plus, the size makes it handy to check into your handbag.
Shop Dr. PawPaw Original Balm at lookfantastic, £6.95
Neal's Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Body Lotion
Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep with this quick-absorbing body lotion. It contains organic olive oil and pumpkin seed for intense hydration, while notes of ylang ylang, patchouli and clary sage created a calming scent that lingers on skin.
Holika Holika Daily Fresh Olive Lip & Eye Remover
While soothing lavender and chamomile extracts keep your complexion calm, Korean skincare brand Holika Holika has added olive oil to its make-up remover to ensure skin isn’t left feeling stripped.
Benton Shea Butter and Olive Hand Cream
If the cold weather and constant sanitising is leaving your hands feeling dry, this cream could help. It’s packed full of rich, nourishing ingredients like olive oil and shea butter, while added hyaluronic acid adds an extra boost of hydration.
Shop Benton Shea Butter and Olive Hand Cream, £15.95
Pai Skincare Polly Plum Calendula and Jojoba Comforting Body Cream
Created for those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin, this cream contains calendula to alleviate irritation, jojoba to soften and a mixture of nourishing oils for comforting hydration. Plus, jasmine, orange peel and plum oils make it smell dreamy.
Main image: Getty/courtesy of brands