Olive Oil for Skin: 6 Ways it Can Benefit Your Complexion

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Natural skincare is becoming increasingly popular, and rightly so. With so many skincare products out there containing ingredients that are actually quite harmful, it only makes sense that more and more people want to know exactly what it is they’re putting onto, and therefore into, their skin.

One natural skincare ingredient that’s been in the spotlight lately is olive oil. This botanical is nothing new – it’s been used on the skin since ancient times. Even Cleopatra was reputed to be a big believer in the benefits of olive oil. Want to know what these benefits are? Read on to learn about how this botanical could help to improve your skin, along with tips on how best to use olive oil on your face.


What is Olive Oil?

Olive Oil

If you cook, or even if you don’t but you enjoy good food, then you’re probably already very familiar with olive oil. It’s a pantry staple that has numerous culinary uses, as well as many health benefits.

As you can tell from its name, olive oil comes from olives. The extraction process involves pressing olives to release the oil within, after which this can then be processed in different ways.

The Olive Oil Benefits Your Skin Will Love

Olive oil is packed with healthy vitamins and antioxidants, all of which soak into your skin each time you use topical olive oil. Here are some of the skin benefits that you can expect to see after using olive oil regularly on your skin:

Moisturizes Dry Skin

One of the biggest skin benefits that olive oil offers is how it moisturizes the skin so effectively. Technically, it doesn’t actually add new moisture to the skin. Instead, it forms a protective seal over the surface of the skin, which then prevents any existing moisture from evaporating away. As a result, skin hydration improves.

Reduces the Signs of Aging

Whether you’re dealing with the first signs of premature aging or you already have deep wrinkles, olive oil can help. As stated by the International Olive Council, olive oil is brimming with numerous vitamins and fatty acids, both of which have been proven to help with aging skin. Olive oil’s antioxidant properties are key here too – they’re what you need to neutralize free radicals in the skin, which would have otherwise caused some serious damage to your skin cells.

Granted, many other plant oils contain similar beneficial components, but olive oil is the best at penetrating into the skin [1]. This enables it to work its magic on a deeper level.

Helps to Treat Acne-Prone Skin

When it comes to treating acne and clogged pores, olive oil can be surprisingly effective. It contains both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties [2]. This means that it reduces the inflammation that triggers pimples, while also clearing away any acne-causing bacteria from the surface of your skin. Olive oil also contains an ingredient called squalene, which you’ll find in many anti-acne products.

However, don’t get too excited just yet. Since olive oil is quite a heavy oil, there’s a chance that it can lead to clogged pores. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid the ingredient altogether – it just means that you should try not to have olive oil sitting on your skin for too long. Rather than using it as a moisturizer, add it to your cleansing routine instead.

Woman with acne prone skin checking face

Soothes Inflammatory Skin Conditions and Sensitive Skin

As mentioned, olive oil contains several anti-inflammatory compounds. In fact, one of them, known as oleocanthal, has very similar anti-inflammatory effects to ibuprofen [3]. This means that, in addition to its ability to soothe inflamed, acne-prone skin, the ingredient is also able to help with other inflammatory skin conditions. Symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and sun damage can all be improved with the use of olive oil.

Cleanses the Skin

If you’ve been looking for a natural cleanser or makeup remover, give olive oil a try. It’s highly effective at breaking down and lifting up waxy substances on the skin, enabling it to target excess oil and even stubborn makeup. Plus, unlike many of the other facial cleansers and makeup removers out there, which are known for stripping the skin of its protective oils, this one is extremely gentle and deeply nourishing.

Speeds Up Wound Healing

Olive oil contains chemical compounds known as triterpenes. These play a key role in many of the biological reactions that occur in the skin, particularly when it comes to wound healing. They speed up the rate at which the skin is able to repair itself, reducing the amount of time that it takes for a wound to fully heal.

Helps to Fade Stretch Marks and Scars

Olive oil is often touted as an effective home remedy against stretch marks and scars, and this is mostly down to its vitamin E content. Although there aren’t any peer-reviewed studies to back this up, many have found that their skin improves when they gently rub a few drops of olive oil onto stretch marks on a daily basis.

How to Add Olive Oil to Your Skincare Routine

Woman applying skincare oil to her routine

If you want to start using olive oil on your skin, you have two main options:

Skincare Products Containing Pure Olive Oil

The easiest way to use olive oil on your skin is by using products that have been formulated with the ingredient. You’ll find it in everything from cleansers to serums to moisturizers, with different formulas to suit all skin types. Whichever you choose, remember that consistency is key. To maximize the benefits of olive oil, you’ll need to use your chosen products on a regular basis.

Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil Directly on Your Skin

If you’d like to add the pure form of olive oil to your skincare routine, this is easily done. Go for a cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. This will be the least-processed, which is important because the excessive heat that the oil is exposed to when being processed destroys some of its important skin-boosting compounds.

Ideally, use olive oil at the last stage of your skincare routine. Simply apply a thin layer of the oil to your skin and gently massage it in. Alternatively, mix a couple of drops in with your regular moisturizer before applying this to your face.

When using pure olive oil, less is more, especially if you don’t want to end up with a greasy face.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Since olive oil is a natural ingredient, you would think that it comes without any side effects. However, this isn’t strictly true. As mentioned, excess oil on the skin can lead to clogged pores, meaning that those with acne need to be careful when using the ingredient.

If you have sensitive skin, then olive oil could cause irritation. Always perform a patch test before using the ingredient on your face for the first time.


Girl in a bathroom

Is it OK to put olive oil on your face?

Yes, olive oil is safe to use on your face, so long as you don’t have acne or sensitive skin.

Why is olive oil bad for your skin?

Olive oil can be bad for acne-prone skin due to how it can sometimes clog up the pores.

Does olive oil darken the skin?

No, olive oil doesn’t darken the skin. It doesn’t lighten the skin either.


Olive oil has the potential to help the skin in a number of different ways. Whether you’re dealing with breakouts, fine lines, inflammation, or dryness, olive oil can help. The key to gaining the most from this ingredient is understanding how to use it in a way that will fully benefit your skin. Those with oily complexions would do best with an olive oil cleanser, while those with dry skin types can safely use it as an effective moisturizer. So long as you use it correctly, this is an ingredient that could deeply improve your complexion.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921746/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21443487/

Avatar for Alina Jumabhoy
About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.