The Secret Beauty Value of Olive Oil (as Known by Italian Women)

Pssst! Did you know that a potent beauty product may well be lurking in the back of one of your kitchen cupboards? The title of this blog post admittedly contained a spoiler but read on to discover the multitude of beauty benefits that olive oil has to offer…

Olive oil is renowned for its health benefits and forms a central part to the much proclaimed Mediterranean diet- I saw that for myself when I spent time living in Italy.  However, less well known is that olive oil is regarded as a key component of the beauty regimes of many Italian women.

Modern science has revealed the plethora of antioxidants within olive oil that nourish the skin and help retain its natural softness. The most potent ingredient in olive oil is Hydroxytyrsol. This super antioxidant and anti-inflammatory is rare and has been found to be effective even in small concentrations in benefitting general health and appearance.

If it’s Good Enough For Sophia Loren…

Legendary actress Sophia Loren has long vocalised her penchant for olive oil, apparently including two tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) in her daily diet but in addition to this she rubs a small amount into her skin as a moisturiser.

There is no need to shell out for overpriced beauty brands of olive oil- ordinary supermarket bottles do just fine. It is best to select one labelled as ‘extra virgin’ as the quality will be it’s highest.

EVOO Baths

Apparently Sophia Loren adds a couple of capfuls into a hot bath to nourish her skin. If it is good enough for her, it is good enough for me and after trying it I am a convert. I often run a bath with a sock full of oats hanging underneath the tap to make the water luxuriously milky, then add a dessertspoonful (which is more than sufficient) of olive oil. Contrary to what you might expect, the oil does not rise to the surface and float on the water, but is easily absorbed due to the pores opening up as a reaction to the hot bathwater.

Oil Massages

Oil massages have been practised by ancient civilisations such as the Romans and remain popular today. Olive oil is absorbed relatively quickly and it is thought that the oil may be absorbed into the bones thus helping to strengthen them. Much is known about the hazards of brittle bones in old age leading to osteoporosis, and this possible preventative measure is one worth taking. Applying EVOO to your skin, whether through massage or rubbing it in yourself in place of a body lotion, means that your skin enjoys the same anti-inflammatory effects as ibuprofen. You may notice a reduction in the redness and prominence of rosacea and acne, stretch marks and other skin conditions. It is also thought that the presence of the powerful antioxidants helps reduce the risks of melanoma (skin cancer).

For all but the driest skin types, it is usually best to emulsify the oil with water- adding the two ingredients to a spray bottle and shaking well before spraying to apply directly to the skin works perfectly. The oilier the skin, the greater the concentration of water should be. Adding a squirt of your favourite perfume or essential oil is highly recommended.

Olive Oil Exfoliating Scrub

Mix a couple of capfuls of olive oil with a fistful of sugar to exfoliate your body and slough away dead skin cells to reveal a smoother skin surface below. Wash away thoroughly with your usual shower gel.

Face Mask

Suitable for almost all skin types, use olive oil to make a nourishing face mask.

For oily skin, create an emulsion from equal parts of olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

For dry skin, combine olive oil, runny honey and possibly egg yolk as an optional extra.

Leave the mask to work its magic for ten minutes, then rinse well with cleanser and a flannel.

Strong Nail Treatment:

To strengthen your nails, add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil to a capful of EVOO. Massage well into clean nails and the cuticles.

Hair Conditioning Treatments

It was my Italian female friends who introduced me to olive oil hair treatments when they raved about how well they worked on their own tresses. They all had enviably radiant heads of hair so I duly purchased my first ever bottle of EVOO and, following their advice, combed it through the ends of my hair and left to work its magic for a few hours under a towel. I was certainly pleased with the results and would recommend the same procedure to anyone with medium to long hair. Adding a couple of drops of an essential oil of your choice makes the experience more fragrantly pleasurable- I love peppermint or rose.

Afterwards, shampoo and condition your hair as normal and you will notice how well nourished your hair will both look and feel. You can even contain your oiled hair within a shower cap and sleep on it to enable the oil to penetrate deeply while you sleep for the maximum benefit. A word of advice- unless your hair is very dry at the roots, it is best to avoid applying the oil to the first few inches of your hair as the roots naturally contain their own oils and the excess olive oil may prove difficult to remove and the oil slick look is not a very becoming one!

If you prefer a variation on the olive oil treatment with the addition of extra ingredients, try adding one or several of the following to two tablespoons of olive oil: 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of honey.

Have you tried using olive oil in any beauty treatments before? Are there any here that you plan to give a try? I would love to hear about it so please do leave an answer as a  comment.

P.S.- I have recently read a fantastic Kindle book by Jane Beckenham called ‘The Art Of Making A Home You Love’. I actually know Jane through a writer’s course we both took part in and for a while now I have enjoyed reading her regular blog posts. No surprise then that her book is similarly engaging.

I would heartily recommend it to any of you who have an interest in making your home the best it can be. Thanks to Jane’s inspiring and positive approach, I’m already feeling spurred into action into making low-cost, practical changes.

COVER Jane's book FACEBOOK SIZE

Here is the blurb for Jane’s book:

Are you living in CHAOS?

Are you frustrated your home isn’t your sanctuary?

Do you want a calm environment, one that you love, but unsure how to create it?

The Art of Making a Home You Love is a workbook that will guide you (gently) to creating your vision, planning it, and putting it into action.  It’s not about tossing everything out or buying you, but it is about decision making and analysing what you really want so that you can create a Home You Love, one that is your sanctuary and nurtures all who live there.

Here is the Amazon link to check it out – you can use the look inside feature and read the first few pages.

4 thoughts on “The Secret Beauty Value of Olive Oil (as Known by Italian Women)

  1. Great post – going to try the olive oil and lavender oil combo for my nails/cuticles. I love the smell of lavender and bought a diffuser, but the hum of it sometimes makes it hard to fall asleep. This way I can enjoy the scent AND get my nails in shape! Thank you !

    Liked by 1 person

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