Benefits of Olive Oil for Your Skin

Applying olive oil on your skin has benefits and risks

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Olive oil is a pantry staple that is known for its health benefits in our diets, and it turns out it may be just as beneficial for our skin as well. Olive oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and has been linked to improved skin moisturization, anti-aging effects, and relief from sun damage.

Olive oil can be used on the skin on its own or as part of skincare products such as facial cleansers or lotions. This article discusses the benefits and risks of applying olive oil to your skin.

A person washing their face, a bottle of lotion with a 1 (for the 1st step) , extra virgin olive oil with a 2 (for the 2nd step), and makeup articles and sunscreen with a 3 (for the 3rd step), and a person wiping the excess oil with a clean towel. (How to Us Olive Oil for Moisturizing)

Verywell / Jessica Olah

What Is Olive Oil?

Olive oil is a nutrient-packed oil made from pressing olives and then expressing their oil. It is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which may benefit the skin when applied directly to it. 

Olives are considered a soft fruit, much like peaches and plums. That means they can bruise easily, which affects the quality of the oil. Look for olive oils that list “hand-picked olives” on the label to ensure that you have a high-quality product.

After the olives are picked, they are washed, then crushed into a paste. That paste is then slowly mixed at a controlled temperature in a process called malaxation. This breaks open any oil-containing cells that hadn't already broken open and helps droplets of oil to coalesce into larger droplets. The paste is then placed in a centrifuge, which separates the solid components from the olive oil and any water remaining from the washing stage. 

Because olive oil helps to lock in moisture, it can be used on the skin for extra moisturization and treatment of dry skin. There are several beauty products like soaps and lotions that have added olive oil to their formulations for its skin benefits.

Benefits for Skin

Olive oil is packed with healthy vitamins, fats, and antioxidants, and these components can contribute to healthier-looking skin. It moisturizes skin by locking in moisture, and its antioxidants can help to improve signs of aging.

Currently, we know of the following skin benefits of olive oil:

  • Moisturizes the skin: Olive oil contains squalene and vitamin E. Squalene supports the skin’s moisture retention, whereas vitamin E increases the skin’s capacity to absorb and retain water.
  • Reduces the signs of aging: Olive oil is rich in antioxidants. These compounds can combat oxidative stress, which is associated with skin aging. They can also increase collagen in the skin.
  • Helps cleanse the skin: Because like attracts like, olive oil can be used to dissolve oily residue on the skin. That said, it can be used to remove certain types of makeup—particularly waterproof products.
  • Promotes wound healing: Olive oil also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can aid in wound healing. Studies show that olive oil may be able to promote healing of diabetic foot ulcers and prevent pressure ulcers. 

Side Effects of Olive Oil

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. A 2012 study found that applying olive oil topically can damage the skin’s barrier, potentially leading to sensitive skin and atopic dermatitis. Olive oil should be used with caution if you have sensitive skin. It should never be used on infant skin either. 

How to Use It

There are two ways to start incorporating olive oil into your skincare routine. First, you could invest in products that list olive oil as a main ingredient. There are now many facial cleansers, soaps, and moisturizers that use olive oil as an ingredient. The other option is to use the olive oil sitting in your pantry right now.

To use olive oil as a skin moisturizer:

  1. Opt for a quality extra virgin olive oil without chemical additives.
  2. Apply a small amount to your skin—a little can go a long way.
  3. Wipe away any excess oil with a clean towel. Removing the excess oil is important because it helps to prevent the oil from clogging your pores. Clogged pores can lead to breakouts. 

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. If you apply a daily sunscreen every morning, gently apply a thin layer of olive oil right before the sunscreen and dab away any excess. 

Olive oil can also be used to help wash off stubborn makeup at the end of the day. If you’ve ever had to chisel off waterproof mascara, you know how harsh makeup removers can be on your skin. Olive oil naturally lifts the makeup off of your skin, making your regular cleanser much more effective. 

Start with a Patch Test

If you’re new to using olive oil on your skin, it’s best to go slow. An easy way to determine if your skin will tolerate an olive oil treatment is to apply a few drops to a small patch of skin and observe it. If you do not notice any skin reactions for one to two days, it should be safe to try on a larger patch of skin. If your skin becomes red or inflamed, then you know that olive oil is not the best choice for you. A patch test is especially helpful if you tend to have sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions.

A Word From Verywell

We are learning more and more about the potential skin benefits of topical olive oil. If you are looking for a natural moisturizer or makeup remover, olive oil may be a good fit. It’s best to always wipe away excess oil and avoid using it on sensitive skin to avoid reactions. Remember that the composition of olive oil can change if it’s exposed to light or heat, so keep your bottle in a cool, dry place like the pantry.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American Oil Chemists’ Society. Olive oil.

  3. Pavlou P, Siamidi A, Varvaresou A, Vlachou M. Skin care formulations and lipid carriers as skin moisturizing agentsCosmetics. 2021;8(3):89. doi:10.3390/cosmetics8030089

  4. Elkhateeb WA, Noor A, Rashid A, et al. Current awareness and knowledge of olive oilInt J Pharm Chem Anal. 2022;9(2):64-70. doi:10.18231/j.ijpca.2022.011

  5. Taheri M, Amiri-Farahani L. Anti-inflammatory and restorative effects of olives in topical applicationDerm Res Pract. 2021;2021:1-9. doi:10.1155/2021/9927976

  6. Nasiri M, Fayazi S, Jahani S, Yazdanpanah L, Haghighizadeh MH. The effect of topical olive oil on the healing of foot ulcer in patients with type 2 diabetes: a double-blind randomized clinical trial study in IranJ Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015;14(1):38. doi:10.1186/s40200-015-0167-9

  7. Díaz-Valenzuela A, García-Fernández FP, Carmona Fernández P, Valle Cañete MJ, Pancorbo-Hidalgo PL. Effectiveness and safety of olive oil preparation for topical use in pressure ulcer prevention: Multicentre, controlled, randomised, and double-blinded clinical trial. Int Wound J. 2019;16(6):1314-1322. doi:10.1111/iwj.13191

  8. Danby SG, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, 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. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x

Additional Reading

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.