Olive oil and skincare:  Did we find he fountain of youth?

Olive oil and skincare: Did we find he fountain of youth?

Olive oil: better than botox? Is this extract from the fruits (olives) of Olea europaea trees the antiaging answer we have been looking for? Well let’s take a look at its composition, potential benefits and the difficulties of formulating with a natural plant derived oil.

What are the main chemicals in olive oil? Olive oil has more than 200 chemicals including sterols, squalene, carotenoids, tocopherols, triterpenic alcohols and phenolic molecules (hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein). It consists mainly of oleic acid and smaller fatty acids (linoleic and palmitic acid). Why is this important? Well, oils with a higher linoleic acid:oleic acid ratio are better for barrier repair, whereas oils with higher amounts oleic acid tend to irritate the skin (exacerbate dermatitis), delaying barrier repair which are potential red flags. On the other hand, oleic acid modulates the immune system, facilitates wound healing and has anti-cancer effects. Oleuropein is the main glycoside in olives and its degradation produces hydroxytyrosol (see below). This molecule protects against UVB induced damage by preventing expression of MMPs (they destroy collagen and elastin). It also decreases erythema (redness) and TEWL (skin dehydration) and facilitates wound healing. Hydroxytyrosol oleato, one of the main phenolic molecules in olives, has anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a good suppressor of PGE2 (involved in redness and pigmentation) and other pro-inflammatory mediators and preserves membranes in good conditions by preventing lipid peroxidation.

So, in summary which are the skin benefits of olive oil? Well, olive oil has the potential to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protecting the skin and promoting anti-aging benefits . Olive oil also has emollients that moisturize the skin.

Should I replace my serums with extra virgin olive oil? No! Save it for your salads and cooking. Although olive oil has a great collection of molecules it can irritate your skin and it is not the best addition to an acne-prone skincare.

How much olive oil is required in a skincare product to obtain all the benefits? This is a great question. All natural plant oils are subjected to different protocols for extraction and refinement which will determine the quality and quantity of key molecules. Basically, my oil can be different from yours. Dose suggestions for skincare products can be as broad as 0.1-10%, so it is hard to find that sweet spot in which we have mainly benefits. Olive oil extracts also tend to have mild odor (the more you add to the product the more its smells) and a yellow-orange-brown color.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I love all the potential benefits of olive oil extract on the skin but I am also aware of the adverse events. I prefer to use olive leaves extract (which comes from the leaves of the trees and not from the fruits, AKA olive). The olea europaea leaf extract can be standardized for active ingredients, for example oleuropein levels, providing us a better indication of the dose to get results (this extract also has an odor and certain level of color).

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