Liquid gold has been conquering our tables and our cosmetics since ancient times. Although banished by scientific advances, there are many experts and companies that still have faith in its potential.
The creation of olive oil dates back millennia. It is believed that the Mediterranean peoples (Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks) began cultivating olive trees and extracting the juice from olives at that time. It was in Ancient Greece, precisely, where it acquired the relevance it still has today. The winners of the Olympics were honoured with olive branches and their athletes smeared themselves with the so-called liquid gold before each competition. The reason: its moisturising, restorative and antibacterial properties.
The Egyptians also used the oil in their rituals. They used it as a cleanser, as a moisturiser and as a base for their perfumes. In the absence of dispensers like today's, they left the juice of the olive tree to macerate with water and flowers to soak up the aroma and then applied it to their skin. Today, this staple of the Mediterranean Diet continues to appear in cosmetic formulas. La Chinata, a company dedicated to olive oil production since 1932, offers in its catalogue products for face and hair care with the oil at the centre of its formulation.
Now, when confinement has pushed many to look in their cupboards to resort to home remedies in the absence of their usual treatments, we review the properties of olive oil, as well as the best way to use it and mixtures to enhance its benefits.
Make-up remover and facial cleanser
If we heed the words of renowned Angeleno facialist Ram-Prakash Khalsa (whose expertise is trusted by celebrities such as Joan Smalls), the Egyptians were not wrong to use this liquid to wash their faces. Here's how it would work: put an amount of oil about the size of a euro coin in your hands and spread it over your face in circles, like any other cleanser. Afterwards, place a damp towel on your face and let it sit before removing it. Never rub it in. Repeat the process until no traces of make-up remain.
Another option for removing coloured cosmetics is to use cotton pads. As with an oil-based make-up remover, soak them in the oil and, using light circles, cleanse the face from the forehead to the neck.
As a skin lotion
Loaded with vitamin E, triglycerides, fatty acids, and hydrocarbons such as squalene (now in vogue), it acts as a natural antioxidant. Applied to the face and body, it provides elasticity and hydration to the dermis. In fact, research by the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology at the University of Cordoba already proved in 2011 that its consumption protects against oxidative stress and vascular risk.
In addition to its consumption, these properties can also be exploited through its topical application. The team at Letizia Buzon, manufacturer of the famous Aleppo soap, provides guidelines for its direct use on its website. "To lose the fear of leaving your skin too oily, it is enough to remember that the oil penetrates very easily into the epidermis. So, if it is applied carefully and spread well, we will avoid any oily feeling on the skin".
If you want to make the most of the potential of olive oil for your skin, you can create a mask and leave it on for a longer period of time. There are many ideas to be found. The platform for the diffusion of olive oil from Jaén Esencia de Olivo proposes one based on egg and honey. "Mix the white of an egg with a few drops of olive oil and a teaspoon of honey. Apply it to clean skin and leave it on for 10 minutes".
The online retailer PromoFarma is using almonds or cucumber. "Combined with almonds, it deeply moisturises dry skin and helps fight wrinkles. You can also create a cucumber and olive oil mask, which will bring freshness and revitalise your skin. Apply the mixture and leave for a few minutes, then remove with plenty of lukewarm water".
As an exfoliant
Paloma Oliva, general manager of La Chinata, offers us a homemade recipe to use it as an exfoliant. "Mix oat flakes with olive oil and whisk until a homogeneous paste is formed. Apply it to the face with a gentle massage in circular movements and leave it on for a few minutes. It removes dead skin cells and leaves the skin soft and velvety", she says.
Mixing it with salt for the same purpose is more widespread. Letizia Buzon recommends fine salt for the face and sensitive areas of the skin, and coarse salt for the rest of the body. With sugar, ground coffee or baking soda, a softer exfoliator is obtained to remove dry skin on the lips.
To nourish the hair
According to the Hacienda Guzman website, its richness in tocopherol, monounsaturated fatty acids and essential minerals makes olive oil a powerful moisturiser for dry or damaged hair. It can be applied alone or mixed with other ingredients. Claudia di Paolo, creator of the hair spa concept in Spain, guides us through its individual use. "The more virgin, the better. We put it on the hair, important, not on the scalp because it is very dense. Applied from mid-lengths to ends it gives us the nourishment we need".
Paloma Oliva suggests a mask to take care of your hair: "Mix half an avocado with olive oil and beat it until it forms a homogeneous cream. After washing your hair, apply it to your hair and leave it on for at least half an hour. Then rinse your hair with plenty of cold water. It softens and moisturises the hair. It's a great cure for dry hair".
The study Properties of olive oil in the maintenance of skin integrity affirms its usefulness for nails, to which it strengthens and adds shine. "Applied gently to the cuticles with the fingertips, it keeps them soft and moisturised. On the other hand, brittle and dry nails also respond very well after being immersed for a few minutes in olive oil", explains Letizia Buzon.