What can olive oil do for dry skin? The ancient Greeks knew of its benefits as a cleanser and moisturizer, often using the light oil in lieu of soap in their baths. Greek gymnasts also used olive oil liberally during their athletic games, both for practical and aesthetic reasons; if you can still recall ancient history, the Greeks played in the nude. Images of those hunks in the movie “300” immediately come to mind, don’t they?
Seriously, olive oil is one of the best natural treatments you can use for dry skin. It is a light and mildly antibacterial oil, very much like the oil produced by our sebaceous glands. If you think your moisturizer isn’t doing too well of a job in treating your dry skin, give olive oil a try; you might be pleasantly surprised at how such a simple oil can do so much for you.
Olive oil is rich in polyphenols: antioxidants that check the spread of free radicals, or damaging substances caused by sun exposure, pollution, smoking, and alcohol. It doesn’t contain irritants such as perfumes or dyes, and it doesn’t take much to use; just apply an amount directly to dry skin, wrinkles, and stretch marks. Apply liberally on particularly troublesome spots. Got dry skin on your hands? Apply a generous amount of olive oil on your hands at night before going to bed. Wear a pair of cotton gloves, and go to sleep. You’ll be amazed at how much better your hands will look in the morning.
Here’s another one if you have dry skin on different parts of your body, or simply if you’re just a bath person: Add several tablespoons of olive oil into a tubful of lukewarm (not hot) water. Add another few drops of your favorite essence. Then step in and soak in the relaxing mixture for fifteen to twenty minutes. Try to resist the temptation to sit in the tub all day, as prolonged bathing can dry your skin. And of course, don’t forget to just pat or blot your skin dry after bathing.
With a little tweaking, you can even come up with your own homemade dry skin treatments based on olive oil. Here are a few examples you might want to try:
Face mask for dry skin on face: Add a few drops of olive oil to clay mud or mashed avocado, then apply the paste to your face. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then rinse off.
Olive oil-based dry skin moisturizer: Add about 1.5 ounces of glycerin, beeswax, or any other edible food thickener to one pint of olive oil. Heat until melted. Add more thickener if desired, then heat again until preferred thickness is achieved. Use as you would with any over-the-counter moisturizers.
Keep in mind that when buying olive oil, look for the extra-virgin variants. Extra-virgin olive oil is oil taken from the first pressing of the olives, and is the purest form of oil you can find. Stay away from other variants, as these have already been chemically processed and may not be ideal for dry skin treatment.
Many olive oil users add a few drops of other oils to their olive oil to improve the scent, lengthen the shelf life, or both. It is often safe to do so as long as the secondary oil is organic. Lavender is one of the most popular “flavoring” for olive oil, owing to its stress-relieving scent and a measure of its own skin-healthy benefits. Jasmine is another. Rosemary and Thyme can also be used, but may only be suitable if your skin type is generally oily.
Vitamin E can improve olive oil’s shelf life somewhat. The best way to do this is to squeeze the oil from two 400-IU capsules into a half cup of olive oil. Make sure your hands are clean before doing this! Vitamin E is known to be an antioxidant, and can keep olive oil from going rancid for a time by acting as a preservative. Also, refrigerating olive oil extends its life a little. You can pour a small amount into a small glass or receptacle and let it warm to room temperature if you don’t like using it cold.
On your next visit to the drugstore, keep an eye out for other olive oil products. There are lots! Lip balms, bath oils, soaps, hand lotions, and massage oils are only naming a few. Don’t be afraid to study or ask your health care provider about the benefits of olive oil. Its uses go far beyond just treating dry skin.