Olive oil for skin: what are the benefits and why is it a big part of Japanese skincare?

Posted by for Skincare

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.

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.”

Here, Dr Aikaterini Charakida, consultant dermatologist & dermato-surgeon at EF Medispa, explains everything you need to know.

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.”

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.”

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

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