The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, and most importantly – olive oil – has long been hailed as one of the world’s healthiest diets. In fact, scientific studies point to evidence that the Mediterranean diet works to support the health of the brain and heart, as well as reducing the risk of serious health conditions.1
But did you know that olive oil also has a myriad of beauty uses? Cooking with olive oil – and working it into your beauty routine – can help keep your skin and hair looking healthy and young.
Ready to reap the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle? Here’s a round up of some ways to put this pantry staple to work.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
First, you should know a little about olive oil and why it’s such a healthy addition to your diet and beauty regimen. Most of the benefits are thanks to the following nutrients:
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Besides boosting hair and skin health, omega-3 fatty acids also help support the health of the heart, brain, joints, and eyes.2
A type of antioxidant, polyphenols work to combat and neutralize the effects of free radicals.3 Free radicals
are harmful molecules in the body that are generated after exposure to sources such as air pollution, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, and UV rays. These harmful molecules have unpaired electrons.
Now, to refresh your memory – electrons like to be paired. And when they’re not, they scavenge the body, looking to steal other electrons to pair with. This results in a condition in the body called “oxidative stress.” And oxidative stress? It can lead to serious health problems.
It can also lead to the visible signs of aging.4,5 But antioxidants, including polyphenols, work to counteract this process.
So a diet and skincare regimen rich in antioxidants can help keep you looking young and feeling healthy.
With strong antioxidant properties, vitamin E helps maintain the health of the eyes, joints, heart, and brain.6
Now, when it comes to shopping for this wonder oil, choose bottles labeled “extra virgin olive oil” – as opposed to just “olive oil.” Although it’s a bit pricier, extra virgin olive oil is the best choice. Because it hasn’t been processed and filtered, extra-virgin olive oil contains fewer chemicals and more antioxidants – so you truly are getting bang for your buck.7
Here’s why you should embrace extra-virgin olive oil:
1. Slows Wrinkle Formation
A furrowed brow, laugh lines, crows feet – wrinkles are the single most telltale sign of age. And a lot of those wrinkles? They’re the result of free radicals and time spent in the sun.8
So, to keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay, get plenty of free radical-fighting antioxidants in your diet.
2. Hydrates Dry Skin
It’s probably not surprising that olive oil is great for moisturizing dry skin.9 So, if you’re looking for a little extra hydration for your hands or feet, try this overnight dry skin treatment:
- Exfoliate: As you age, skin cell turnover slows down. This can result in rough, dry skin. Use an exfoliant to slough off these dead skin cells before moisturizing.
- Massage olive oil into your hands and feet.
- Cover with cotton gloves and socks … and then – sweet dreams!
3. Relieves Irritation
Some people are more prone to redness and itchiness than others. If that’s you, olive oil may be able to help. Vitamin E – which olive oil has in spades – is known to help soothe irritated skin.10
4. Removes Makeup
Swiping a bit of olive oil on your face may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of olive oil – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it!
Think back to science class for a moment, and remember that when it comes to substances, like attracts like. Now, many cosmetics are made up of oily ingredients – which is why it’s hard for water alone to remove makeup when you’re washing your face at the end of the day. Here’s where olive oil comes in. The oily texture attracts the oily cosmetic ingredients, lifting them up and away from the face.
Simply dab a little olive oil onto a cotton swab and swipe over your face before using your nightly cleanser.
5. Softens Cuticles
This is a great folk remedy for dry, brittle nails: Try rubbing a little olive oil into your nail beds for extra moisture and softness.
6. Boosts Hair Growth
Free radicals are thought to be one factor that contributes to hair loss. And studies have shown that supplementing with antioxidants may actually help encourage hair growth.11 So, if you’re struggling with thinning hair, try getting a little more antioxidant-rich olive oil into your diet.
7. Shaving Oil For Legs
You forgot to pick up shaving cream at the store, and you’re just dying to wear that new sundress. But don’t bother running back out – especially if you’re pressed for time. Just slather on a little olive oil! It’ll give you a close, protected shave.
Bonus? Your legs will be extra soft and moisturized.
8. Protects Against Sun Damage
Omega-3 fatty acids are a sunscreen you can eat. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can work to protect the skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.12
Of course, be sure to take other sun protective measures. Wear a hat, stay in the shade, and apply lots of sunscreen.
9. Deep Hair Conditioner
Hair coloring, heat-styling, and products can all wreak havoc on the hair. Your tresses may become dry, brittle, and, well, lifeless. But a little olive oil can go a long way to soften and moisturize the hair.
Here’s a simple hair-reviving treatment to try:
- Heat up a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on the stove until just warm.
- Massage into your hair from the mid-lengths to the ends.
- Cover with a shower cap and let the oil absorb for 30 minutes.
- Rinse out, and follow up with shampoo and conditioner.
Another benefit of olive oil for hair? It may help prevent future hair damage from straightening and bleaching!13
10. Moisturizes Dry Scalp
A dry scalp can result in dead skin cells flaking off – dandruff. If you’re dealing with this, try this moisturizing olive oil treatment for the scalp:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 drops tea tree oil
Combine ingredients, then massage gently into the scalp. Let the oil absorb for 30 minutes. Rinse out, and follow up with shampoo and conditioner.
11. Keeps Hair Looking Young
Free radicals don’t just age the skin – they age the hair as well. Free radical damage can result in hair that’s dry, brittle, and graying.14
So, to keep hair looking luscious and youthful, get plenty of antioxidants.
12. Helps You Get Your Beauty Sleep
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring chemical in the body that helps regulate the waking-sleeping cycle. But this chemical also occurs in several food sources – including olive oil.15
Want to look (and feel) refreshed in the morning? Have some olive oil with dinner to encourage a good night’s sleep.
13. Boosts Mood
Scientific studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may help promote emotional wellness and help fend off feelings of stress.16
And the truth is: when you feel good – you look good.
14. Minimizes Acne Breakouts
There’s nothing like a zit on your face to make you feel self-conscious. And unfortunately, you can keep breaking out long after your teen years. If that’s you, start getting more olive oil into your diet. Scientific studies have shown that supplementing your diet with omega-3 fatty acids can help minimize breakouts and decrease the appearance of acne.17
Beauty … The Mediterranean Way
Maybe you don’t live in Capri … but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap some of the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Try using some olive oil in your cooking and beauty routines. You won’t just feel healthy – you’ll look healthy, too!