You may be familiar with olive oil as a common ingredient in salad dressing or pasta sauce. But, because it’s packed with healthy fats and nutrients, olive oil can do wonders to moisturize hair, brighten skin, and give you a nutritional boost.
For thousands of years, women have made olive oil a central ingredient to their health and beauty routines. Author and olive oil expert, Carol Firenze, offers these tips for how this kitchen staple can give your beauty routine a boost:
Olive oil on your hair:
- Olive oil’s fatty acids can make your hair shinier and help you control frizz. You can use a little bit (start by rubbing ¼ teaspoon between your hands) to stamp out dullness. Run your hands through your fly-aways doing your best to distribute the oil. Too much in one place can make your hair look greasy. Continue adding small amounts of oil as it suits you. You can wash it out or leave it in for styling. (Careful – it could get slippery in the shower or bath!)
- Olive oil is a natural way to help you manage unwanted flakes. Massage your scalp for 8 nights with a bit of olive oil. The technique works best if you leave it in overnight, so make sure to protect your pillow.
- Olive oil can be a conditioner, especially if your hair has been damaged from the sun, chlorine, or hair coloring. Firenze suggests using ¼ cup of olive oil, leaving it in for a few minutes, and then rinsing. Be forewarned, sometimes it can be tricky to wash out the residue from an oil treatment (you may have to shampoo more than once), but if you’re willing to do the work, you may get shinier, healthier looking strands.
Isabella, a high school junior from California uses olive oil to control frizz, and once a month, to deep condition her hair. “You can do this on wet or dry hair,” she says. “I usually do the conditioning treatment on dry hair.” She outlines these steps:
- Warm about ¼ cup of olive oil in the microwave. Make sure it’s just warm, NOT HOT.
- Put the olive oil on your hair and massage it into scalp and run your fingers through your hair to completely saturate. A little olive oil goes a long way.
- Keep in on for about 10 minutes.
- Shampoo your hair. Rinse and shampoo again to make sure you have removed all the olive oil. Finally, apply a light conditioner.
For your skin:
- Olive oil can be a great moisturizer and remedy to dry and damaged skin. It’s rich with Vitamin A and E which can leave your skin looking and feeling healthier and smoother. As always, start with a little bit and rub into damp skin, after a shower or bath is a good time. As Isabella says, “You can even use it as a kind of shaving cream if you’ve run out of your regular shaving cream.” She puts a small amount on her legs before shaving carefully and uses a bit more as a moisturizer. “Sometimes I mix a little olive oil with a moisturizing cream,” she says.
- You can use it to make your own scrub. Spent too much time in the sun? Want to rid yourself of flakey skin? Mix some olive oil and sea salt to make your own scrub. Use it in the bath or shower and rinse.
- Some pharmacies and natural food stores (like Whole Foods) carry olive oil beauty products. Next time you’re shopping, you may want to check them out.
* If you have oily or sensitive skin, adding extra oil to your skincare regimen or your diet (see below) can cause breakouts. Talk to your doctor to know if this approach is right for you.
Olive Oil, Nutrition, and Weight Management:
It’s true. Aside from having multiple beauty benefits, olive oil can make you shine from the inside out. Firenze, along with countless other experts point to these benefits and facts.
Olive oil is a healthier substitute for butter and margarine, which can contain unhealthy, extra-fattening fats, unnecessary chemicals (simpler food is often healthier), or unwanted hormones. Try olive oil on your bread instead of butter. Olive oil can even be used as a baking substitute in certain recipes.
- Research suggest that the nutrients in olive oil can help ensure long-term health by reducing risks of depression and heart disease, lowering cholesterol, and helping regulate blood sugar (particularly helpful for people with diabetes.) Some of these benefits might be a long way off, but why not start early?!
- Moderation is still key. While olive oil is an exceptionally healthy food, it can contribute to unhealthy weight gain if it is eaten in large quantities. Do not let this deter you from having some of it, just don’t down a cup in one sitting.
- Olive oil doesn’t make unhealthy food healthier. We probably don’t need to tell you this, but we will anyway. Adding olive oil (or any healthy food for that matter) to an unhealthy dish like…chili cheese fries, for instance, does not make a plate of fatty, hard-to-digest food any better for you.
Good to Know:
- It’s best to store and eat at room temperature or cooler. Olive oil is one of many foods that may lose some of its nutritional value when heated. If you’re looking for the biggest nutritional boost, avoid warming it.
- For best taste and highest nutritional value, it’s best to eat olive oil within a year of opening it.
- If you want to pick up a bottle of olive oil, you can find it online, at some convenience stores, and almost any supermarket (we’ve never seen one that doesn’t carry it.) Extra virgin oils (made from the first stage of a process called “cold pressing”) are the best choice. If you have a little extra money, organic brands are even better (but not essential).
Reviewed by Dr. Amy Herold.