An Oil Crisis: Olive vs. Beauty

Beauty huile-istas are often likened to olfactory novelists – narrating tales of distilled compositions, esoteric extractions and botanical inspirations to a clannish sisterhood of sorts. From behind the department store counters to niche brands that border the sacrosanct, is a very extraordinary extract we seek. It’s never consistent: it is dynamic and unpredictable. 

Whether it’s being eco-chic, recession friendly, clueless about science, or simply a bout of lazy girl syndrome, our devout readers wondered out loud if we should dump our beauty wares in favour of the Greek-honoured extra virgin olive oil. Here’s what we opine and why:

It’s no secret that extra virgin olive oil, all by itself, is one of the best beauty treatments. A natural, hypoallergenic way to moisturize skin, olive oil has the added advantage of providing strong antioxidants: vitamins A, B-1, B-2, C, D, and iron; carotenoids and polyphenols (both of which protect the skin against harmful UV rays). The consumption of these anti-aging ingredients is important because they balance the level of damaging free radicals in the body.

[To provide a slightly more scientific explanation, an influx of free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which results in abnormal cell function and possibly the death of cells. The antioxidants and vitamins present in olive oil are truly unique because they come from the only oil that is extracted from a fruit, the olive. Over time, these components help repair and renew skin that has been damaged from overexposure to sun, air pollution, and other modern-day environmental aggressors – like cigarette smoke and fast food. These antioxidants have the natural ability to stimulate cells and return skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state.]

Whether applied to face or body, olive oil will penetrate deep into the skin and provide a long-lasting shield of moisture to keep skin smooth and supple. Used either as a night cream or daily moisturizer, it is best applied to damp skin to seal in moisture. So, why do we deluge our beauty drawers with extravagant beauty oils? We say that beauty oils are highly distilled assemblages of nutritious components far superior to the all-around basic olive oil.

On the Olive Side

Extra virgin olive oil, the preferred choice, is derived from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste.” Yet, the New Yorker reported that only about 40% of the olive oil sold routinely meets these requirements. Consumers won’t know which form of cheap and cheerful versions are used in the market or in skin care products. While not repulsively cloying like other kitchen top oils (mustard oil, anyone), olive oil has been shown to be as irritating as any mainstream essential or botanical oil. Once and for all, folks, sensitive skins can be irked by chemically created or naturally synthesized products. Rumors of the oil serving as a natural sunscreen have been debunked. Olive oil cannot stop UV rays from penetrating the skin

In Favour of Beauty

Comprehensively blitzed, essential and botanical oils are created into intoxicating concoctions and produced by distillation, CO2, solvent or expression of different parts of the plant. Based on such intensive extractions, we’d argue beauty oils would likely have higher concentrations of antioxidants and concentrated ingredients to address skin concerns. An example of this is Morocco’s potent Argan oil, which contains twice as much Vitamin E as olive oil. Rare, exotic oils also add supplemental anti-aging compounds such as vital Omegas (Omega 3, 6 and 9) and/or incidental therapeutic benefits (i.e. relaxing, de-stressing scents). When combined, we fully attest to seeing:
  • Skin’s natural appearance restored
  • Improvements in the appearance of facial contours
  • Skin feels more hydrated and softer
  • Skin appears less tired and well rested
In the case of gourmand oils, flavor additives mask partially effective ingredients , making cheap, nutritionally negligible face and body oils. Genteel, inclusive beauty oils, with or without olive oil, are our preference time and time again. It’s an oil's artistic edge that endears to us, the inherited virtues of nature’s triumphs.