Olive oil is derived from olives and is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. The oil has many nutritional benefits when consumed, but it is also frequently applied to the skin and hair.

Learn more about the benefits of using olive oil on the face, and discover how to use it for the best results.

Some of the potential benefits of olive oil for the skin include:

1. Antioxidant content

Olive oil in a bottle which may be used on the faceShare on Pinterest
Olive oil may help prevent premature signs of aging on the skin.

Olive oil acts as an antioxidant, which is a substance that prevents oxidation. Oxidation is a process that can produce free radicals, which are chemicals that can potentially damage cells and may contribute to cancer development.

When applied to the skin, antioxidants may prevent premature aging. Also, some research suggests that putting olive oil on the skin after sun exposure may fight off cancer-causing cells.

In the study, scientists applied the oil to the skin of mice that had been exposed to potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Tumor growth was significantly lower in the mice that had olive oil on their skin compared with those who did not.

Scientists need to carry out more research in this area to understand the effects of olive oil's antioxidant properties on human skin.

2. Vitamin content

Olive oil contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some of these vitamins may be beneficial for the skin.

For example, people have used vitamin E oil topically throughout history to treat a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis and eczema.

3. Antibacterial effects

Olive oil has been shown to have antibacterial properties. However, there are very few studies on olive oil's ability to control bacteria on the skin.

One small study looked at the effects of using olive oil and coconut oil on Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on the skin. The results found that both oils exhibited antibacterial properties, but virgin coconut oil was more effective at eliminating the bacteria.

Nonetheless, olive oil may sometimes be used to treat bacterial infections of the skin. It may also improve healing in people with foot ulcers caused by type 2 diabetes.

4. Moisturizing effects

Olive oil is a popular natural moisturizer that is often used to soften both skin and hair. However, there is very little research on its effectiveness.

Olive oil is an ingredient in many personal care products, including face wash, body wash, soap, and lotions. Other ways to use olive oil on the skin include:

Moisturizer and after-sun treatment

Some people use olive oil as a moisturizing lotion by applying it directly to the skin before blotting off excess oil. Alternatively, the oil can be applied to damp skin to prevent a greasy feeling.

Based on the study of its antioxidant effects on mice, olive oil may be especially beneficial when applied following sun exposure.

Exfoliator

To exfoliate the face and body and treat areas of dry or scaly skin, a person can mix olive oil and sea salt to make a scrub.

People should use fine-grained salt on the face and other sensitive areas, and coarser grains on the rest of the body.

Eye-makeup remover

Olive oil breaks down any water-resistant substances in eye makeup, allowing them to be wiped away more easily.

To remove eye makeup, just add a few drops of olive oil to a cotton ball and gently wipe the eye area.

Face mask

People with dry skin may see benefits from using an olive oil-based face mask. Olive oil mixed with ingredients such as egg white, honey, or ground oats can soften and hydrate the face.

Wrinkle treatment

Due to its antioxidant content, olive oil may reduce aging skin and wrinkles. The oil can be dabbed around the eye area at night or following sun exposure.

Scar oil

The vitamins and other antioxidants in olive oil may fade scars by helping skin cells to regenerate.

Simply massage the undiluted oil into scars or mix it with a squeeze of lemon juice to treat areas of hyperpigmentation, where the skin has darkened due to scarring.

Olive oil may also be used to prevent or treat stretch marks, although studies on its effectiveness have found mixed results.

Share on Pinterest
Childhood eczema may develop if olive oil is used on a child's skin.

Although some studies have shown that olive oil has skin benefits, others suggest it is not the best option for everyone.

Potential risks of using olive oil on the face include:

Damaged skin barrier

A 2013 study reported that the use of olive oil for dry skin in adults and infants should not be encouraged. Researchers suggest that it may cause redness and damage to the outer layer of the skin in some people.

Childhood atopic eczema

Olive oil may contribute to the development of childhood eczema, according to 2016 research, especially in children with a family history of the condition.

Clogged pores

Olive oil is a heavy oil that may clog pores and trap bacteria if used in excess. People should use it sparingly, and wipe off any extra oil with a soft cloth or cotton ball immediately.

Using low-quality oil

Using high-quality olive oil is important. Low-quality oils may contain additives or chemicals that could irritate or damage the skin.

People should try to buy from a reputable brand and look for certification from the International Olive Council.

Research found that 73 percent of the five top-selling imported extra-virgin olive oil brands in the United States did not meet the required standards for olive oil.

Finally, be sure to choose pure olive oil or virgin olive oil over blends.

Olive oil may offer some benefits for the skin, including vitamins, antioxidants, and antibacterial effects. However, the research on olive oil benefits for the face and skin is limited.

Evidence suggests that it may cause adverse reactions in some people, so people with sensitive skin should use it sparingly and do a test patch first.

To do this, rub a few drops of the oil onto the arm and watch for a reaction. If none appears in 48 hours, it is likely safe to use.

Remember to only use high-quality, certified olive oil.