Ingredient Spotlight on Olive Oil

I love olive oil. I cannot possibly overstate how much I love olive oil. I love it in Italian cuisine, I love any omega-rich oil that can keep me glowing from the inside out, and I especially love the olive oil base in my Olio per il Corpo body oil. A high-quality olive oil may seem basic, but take a closer look and you’ll find many potent skin-saving properties.

We’ve all likely heard that omega fatty acids are good for us, but you may not know that they play a major role olive oil’s texture. Olive oil contains a uniquely high concentration of oleic acid. This omega-9 fatty acid acts as an emollient, glossing over and filling in the inconsistencies on skin’s surface for a smoother look and feel. You’ll also find linoleic acid in olive oil. It’s an essential fatty acid—meaning your body needs it, but can’t produce it on its own—and it forms the building blocks for your natural ceramides. The omega fatty acids in olive oil remain an indispensible part of your skin’s structure and natural defenses.

We often think of fruit and vegetable extracts as the antioxidant powerhouses of skincare, but all too often plant-based oils are left out of the equation. Don’t sleep on olive oil’s antioxidant properties. In addition to vitamin E, it contains an impressive array of 30 different phenolic compounds. Phenols are robust antioxidants that scavenge free radicals to help protect skin from environmental damage. Olive oil’s phenolic makeup is mostly comprised of tyrosol, along with a partuclarly effective kind of phenol called hydroxytyrosol to help fight damage from sun exposure. Hydroxytyrosol is among the most powerful free radical scavengers in existence, making it exceptionally adept at preserving skin’s health against pollution, UV exposure, alcohol, and other environmental factors.

If olive oil is so great, why don’t we just apply it straight up? Sometimes more isn’t necessarily better. Retinol may be one of the most well-researched and beneficial skincare ingredients out there, but slathering pure retinol on your skin would leave you dry, flaky, and irritated. Likewise, olive oil is best used as an ingredient rather than a standalone formula. It’s among the heavier oils used in skincare, and would feel awfully thick and cloying when used alone. However, when used in a blend with other lightweight oils or emulsifiers, its glow-inducing benefits shine through.