Olive Oil in Skin Care

Olive oil in skin care

Olive oil is a great choice for skin types without acne concerns.

Olive oil has been used for cosmetic and hygienic reasons since the ancient Greeks used it to bathe themselves.

It is a natural, often organic ingredient and is very sustainably produced.

Olive oil is not recommended for acne prone or extremely dry skin subtypes, read below to find out why!

To find out if olive oil products are right for you, make sure to check out your custom skin care regimen and shop by your Baumann Skin Type!

olive oil in skin care

Dangers and side effects of olive oil

Olive oil is not right for every skin type, or for people with allergies to olive products.

Allergies and irritated skin are extremely rare when using olive oil, but the risk does exist.

Olive oil has been shown to directly correlate to comedone and acne development in rabbits(5).

Is olive oil comedogenic?

Olive oil is very much a comedogenic ingredient, meaning it can easily clog pores and cause the development of comedones in some skin types.

To avoid clogged pores, don't leave olive oil products on your face for prolonged periods of time. Use a good cleanser to get it off.


Is olive oil safe for use in skin care?

Olive oil is safe in skin care as long as it is a part of your personal skin care regimen; it is not a good ingredient for many skin types.

The EWG safety rating for olive oil is "1," the second highest score after "verified."

This means that olive oil is regarded to have no common safety risks.

Olive oil can increase side effects of some face serums like retinoids.

Shop by your Baumann Skin Type to see if olive oil products are right for your custom skin care regimen.

is olive oil safe for use in skin care?

Olive oil for specific conditions

Olive oil can be used in tandem with skin lightening ingredients to light dark spots or treat melasma.

Olive oil has unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid that help inhibit tyrosinase.

Olive oil also has many antioxidant properties which are great for anti-aging products alongside ingredients like retinoids.

Olive oil is not recommended for many of the most common skin conditions because it is comedogenic and can damage dry skin.

Olive oil for Dry Skin

Olive oil is not good for use on extremely dry skin when used on its own because of its high concentration of oleic acid.

Oleic acid is the primary fatty acid found in olive oil, it makes small perforations in the skin which can lead to an increase in dehydration and skin irritation.

It is better to combine olive oil with other ingredients with more robust fatty acid profiles that can repair the skin barrier. There are many products that include olive oil alongside other ingredients. Some common ingredients to see alongside olive oil are:

  1. Evening primrose oil
  2. Jojoba oil
  3. Mineral oils
  4. Unrefined coconut oil

Some of my favorite skin care products for dry skin types containing olive oil are:

Does olive oil cause acne?

Olive oil absolutely can cause acne in acne prone skin. It is comedogenic and has been shown to increase clogged pores in many studies over the years.

Olive oil is not antibacterial either, meaning it does not eliminate any of the acne causing bacteria that it locks into your pores.

If you are acne-prone, olive oil is likely not the right ingredient for you.

Can you use olive oil with eczema?

Eczema is a dry skin condition which can be worsened by exposure to high concentrations of oleic acid.

The best oils for eczema have much lower (if any) concentration of oleic acid, with high concentrations of soothing, hydrating fatty acids like linoleic acid.

Olive oil is not effective at keeping the skin hydrated; one study showed that mineral oils prevented trans-epidermal water loss 170 times more effectively than olive oil did(4).

Olive oil can make your skin more susceptible to irritation from detergents, fragrances and preservatives by injuring the skin barrier.

For those reasons, olive oil is not recommended if you have a history of frequent skin allergies.

benefits of olive oil

Benefits of olive oil in skin care

Olive oil can have many benefits if it is a part of your skin care routine.

Oleic acid, the most common fatty acid in olive oil, helps with ingredient absorption in many kinds of creams and serums.

It is a weak tyrosinase inhibitor because of its predominance of unsaturated fatty acids, so it is used in the formulation of some hyperpigmentation treatments.

It contains high concentrations of antioxidants which are great for anti-aging treatments and repairing sun damage.

Some studies have also found healing properties and anti-inflammatory effects present in olive oil.

And of course, olive oil is one of the most common and healthy cooking fats in the food industry across the globe.

It is affordable and accessible globally.

There are organic forms and this is found in many natural skin care products.

Here are some of my favorite olive oil products:

Olive oil for hair

Olive oil is sometimes used in hair care, but it can result in acne on the hairline if you have acne-prone sensitive skin. (2)

A benefit olive oil has for hair care is its high concentration of oleic acid which helps hydrate the cuticle of the hair.

If oleic acid is not irritating to your skin type, it can help other ingredients absorb into your scalp. This type of treatment has been shown to help with many kinds of hair loss (6).

The best oils for hair are:

Skin Lightening

As it is mostly made of unsaturated fat, olive oil is a weak tyrosinase inhibitor. All unsaturated fats are tyrosinase inhibitors to varying degrees.

Tyrosinase inhibitors inhibit the production of the pigment, melanin, which means they are commonly used in spot treatment products as well products for other kinds of hyperpigmentation.

Does olive oil make your skin glow?

Yes, olive oil can make your skin appear to "glow."

Olive oil, like most oils, is an emollient which can create a glowing effect on the skin when it's reflecting light.

olive oil for glowing skin

What kind of oil is olive oil?

Olive oil is primarily composed of unsaturated fatty acids.

This means olive oil could be categorized as a dry oil.

Olive oils is a pressed plant extract, but it is a carrier oil, not an essential oil.

Olive oil contains various potent compounds, many with antioxidant properties, such as (3):

Olive oil fatty acids

Oleic acid is the primary fatty acid in olive oil, followed by linoleic, then palmitic and stearic acids.

Oleic acid creates small perforations on the skin which assists in the absorption of other ingredients.

Linoleic acid soothes inflammation, so it is beneficial in many skin care products.

If you are looking for an anti-redness oil, but you have dry skin, the oleic acid in olive oil might not be right for your skin.

Some oils with high linoleic acid concentrations on the table below are:

table of fatty acids

Thanks for reading this blog on olive oil in skin care. I hope you feel more prepared to take control of your skin health. If you're ready to take the next step towards perfect skin, check out our free skin type quiz below, which will provide you with a full recommended routine and an explanation for every product. When you shop with us using your Baumann Skin Type, you can feel confident that every product you buy is right for you. Take the quiz by clicking the button below!

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Does olive oil clog pores?

Yes, if you have acne prone skin, make sure to keep olive oil away from your face. If you get some on the sides of your mouth, you could have a small acne breakout there. If you don't usually get acne, you still shouldn't put pure olive oil on your face.

Does olive oil sting your skin?

Olive oil can cause some stinging on extremely dry and sensitive skin types because it contains a ton of oleic acid, a fatty acid that can irritate some skin types. If you have resistant skin and are not allergic to olive oil, you should not feel any stinging when exposed to it.

Here are some of the best references on olive oil in skin care:

  1. Weisberg EM, Baumann LS. The foundation for the use of olive oil in skin care and botanical cosmeceuticals. In Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press, 2021 pp. 425-434.
  2. Kataoka, H., Semma, M., Sakazaki, H., Nakamuro, K., Yamamoto, T., Hirota, S., ... & Ichikawa, A. (2009). Proinflammatory event of ozonized olive oil in mice. Ozone: science & engineering, 31(3), 238-246.
  3. Aburjai T, Natsheh FM. Plants used in cosmetics. Phytother Res. 2003;17(9):987-1000.
  4. Spruit D. The interference of some substances with the water vapour loss of human skin. Dermatologica. 1971;142(2):89-92.
  5. Motoyoshi K. Enhanced comedo formation in rabbit ear skin by squalene and oleic acid peroxides. Br J Dermatol. 1983 Aug;109(2):191-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1983.tb07080.x. PMID: 6223652.
  6. Abd, E., Benson, H. A., Roberts, M. S., & Grice, J. E. (2018). Minoxidil skin delivery from nanoemulsion formulations containing eucalyptol or oleic acid: Enhanced diffusivity and follicular targeting. Pharmaceutics, 10(1), 19.
  7. de la Puerta R, Martínez Domínguez ME, Ruíz-Gutíerrez V, Flavill JA, Hoult JR. Effects of virgin olive oil phenolics on scavenging of reactive nitrogen species and upon nitrergic neurotransmission. Life Sci. 2001;69(10):1213-22.
  8. Kränke B, Komericki P, Aberer W. Olive oil—contact sensitizer or irritant? Contact Dermatitis. 1997;36(1):5-10.
  9. Danby SG, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, et al. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatr Dermatol. 2013;30(1):42-50.


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