If you've ever run out of your face oil and idly wondered whether or not the olive oil in your kitchen pantry would work in a pinch, you're not alone. While we wouldn't recommend putting olive oil directly onto your skin like the ancient Greeks did, this beloved plant ingredient does have a host of beauty benefits for your skin and hair. It's rich in antioxidants and skin-friendly lipids that can help address skin concerns like dryness or rough-feeling skin. You can also use it to help improve the look and feel of your hair.
Ahead, we'll break down the specific beauty benefits of this Mediterranean staple. You'll learn a bit about the history of olive oil, the skin-friendly compounds it contains, and how olive oil benefits your skin and hair. We'll also provide recommendations on the best Kiehl's products with olive oil in their formulas. Read on for your in-depth guide to using olive oil in your beauty routine.
Olive Oil: The Basics
Olive oil is a rich, edible oil derived from the Olea europaea (olive) tree. Though experts aren't certain, most researchers believe that cultivation likely began in the Mediterranean basin, where olives and their byproducts have shaped regional cuisines, traditions, and cultures for more than 6,000 years.I
While olive oil is best known for its use in cooking, it also has a long history of use in cosmetics. In ancient Greece, olive oil was known as 'liquid gold' and was used to make body care products, including massage oils, protective salves, and soaps.
Nourishing Olive Fruit Oil Conditioner
Unsurprisingly, olive oil remains a popular cosmetic ingredient to this day. You'll find this powerful plant oil in several of Kiehl's formulations, including our best-selling Nourishing Olive Fruit Oil Shampoo and Nourishing Olive Fruit Oil Conditioner. Olive oil, which is known for its moisturizing properties, is a natural addition to these formulas. The duo helps nourish dry, damaged strands to restore your hair's healthy appearance. Our creamy shampoo gently cleanses your hair while the conditioner detangles and improves manageability for softer, shinier strands over time.
5 Olive Oil Benefits For Skin And Hair
There's a reason olive oil has remained a popular beauty ingredient for thousands of years—it works. Below, you'll learn five ways in which olive oil benefits your skin and hair.
Olive Oil Benefit #1:
It's a Powerful Emollient Ingredient
There are three main types of moisturizers: Humectants, which draw moisture from the air into the skin; occlusives, which physically trap water within the skin; and emollients, which fill in the spaces between dead skin cells to give the skin a more uniform texture. Olive oil falls in the latter category, although some research indicates that it also has mild occlusive effects. Vegetable oils (like olive oil) are known to penetrate the top layers of skin. And when used topically, studies show that olive oil can help soften the skin and improve its texture.
Creme de Corps
As such, you'll often find olive oil in moisturizers formulated for dry skin, like our cult-classic Creme de Corps body lotion. This rich moisturizer, launched in the 1980s, contains a nourishing blend of plant-based ingredients, including cocoa butter, beta-carotene, and olive fruit oil. The latter acts as an emollient and the non-greasy formula moisturizes dry skin and helps improve skin texture. It's suitable for all skin types and can be applied daily (ideally after showering) for softer, smoother-feeling skin.
For sensitive skin (including delicate baby skin), reach for Mom & Baby Nurturing Baby Oil. This ultra-mild massage oil gently nourishes and softens the skin without a heavy or greasy feel. The unique body oil is dermatologist and pediatrician-tested and suitable for daily use on both mom and baby's skin. We recommend massaging the lightweight oil onto your baby's damp skin after a bath for a soft, comfortable feel.
Olive Oil Benefit #2:
Olive Oil Can Help Maintain Skin Hydration
Though olive oil's exact composition varies depending on the olive quality and the refining method used, most olive oils are rich in essential fatty acids, including oleic acid, linoleic acid, and stearic acid. These fatty acids are key compounds in the skin's natural moisture barrier and are closely involved in maintaining skin hydration. Studies have shown that using olive oil topically may help hydrate the skin and improve the look and feel of dryness.III
If you have dry skin on your face, look for a moisturizer formulated with olive oil, like Creme d'Elegance Repairateur. This rich face cream with olive oil and cocoa butter deeply moisturizes even the driest skin. It absorbs quickly without leaving behind an oily residue and results in skin that feels noticeably softer. Apply a small amount as the last step in your morning skincare routine or smooth on a thin layer before bed for smoother, more supple-feeling skin.
On your body, including dry hands or heels, we recommend applying Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion, which contains olive oil, aloe vera, and soothing oatmeal. This Kiehl's body care classic was first formulated in the 1960s and has remained a fan-favorite ever since. Our best-selling formula is available in three luxurious aromas (lavender, coriander, and grapefruit) and absorbs quickly with a silky, lightweight texture. Apply it to damp skin after showering for skin that feels soft and smooth.
Olive Oil Benefit #3:
Pure Olive Oil Is Rich In Antioxidants
Extra-virgin olive oil—that is, unrefined olive oil—is rich in antioxidant compounds, including vitamins, polyphenols, and flavonoids. When used topically, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species. These damaging compounds form after exposure to a stressor, like pollution, and accumulate over time. Ultimately, free radicals can damage the skin and result in visible concerns like fine lines and wrinkles. By neutralizing free radicals, olive oil may help to limit some of these early signs of aging.
Olive Oil Benefit #4:
Olive Oil Is Known For Its Strengthening Properties
Olive oil can be a useful addition to any haircare routine, but it's particularly beneficial for those with brittle strands. Studies have shown that hair treated with olive oil is less susceptible to damage than untreated hair.V Olive oil also helps improve hair's resilience, making it stronger and easier to detangle without breakage.
Of course, we don't recommend raiding your pantry to strengthen your damaged strands. Instead, look for haircare products formulated with olive oil, such as Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Mask. This nourishing mask with olive oil and avocado oil deeply moisturizes and strengthens hair that's been weakened by chemical processing or heat styling. With consistent use, it also helps prevent further damage and restore the hair's healthy appearance. Use this rich olive oil hair mask once per week or as needed for stronger, shinier strands.
Olive Oil Benefit #5:
It's a Useful Styling Aid
Hair products containing olive oil may help smooth the hair cuticle, a.k.a. the hair's outermost layer. This helps tame the look of roughness and gives your hair a shiny, healthy look.
Get a soft, glossy finish no matter your hair type with Creme With Silk Groom. This non-greasy styling aid with jojoba oil and olive oil moisturizes and conditions hair for an optimal styling experience. It also adds shine and boosts your mane's manageability for a silky result. Comb a small amount of our top-rated styling cream through damp strands and dry them as usual for lustrous hair.
Men can also reap the benefits of olive oil for hair with Grooming Solutions Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil. Our best-selling beard oil with 99.8% naturally-derived ingredients helps tame coarse facial hair and nourishes the skin underneath.* The lightweight formula absorbs easily and leaves behind a subtle, earthy aroma. It's suitable for all skin types and can be used on facial hair daily for a smooth, non-greasy finish.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.