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3 Major Skin Benefits of Squalene In Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil is a staple widely used in salad dressings, sautéed dishes, stews, and more. It’s a common ingredient that can be found in kitchens and on tables around the world, and, in recent years, plant oils such as olive oil and coconut oil have made their way into the mainstream cosmetics and dermatology community. When you want to improve your skin complexion do you tend to look for products to purchase from departments and drugstores? Most people do. What you may not know, however, is you don’t need to purchase an expensive product to achieve a glowing and smooth complexion. A bottle of Olive Oil from your kitchen cabinet can help target your skin concerns.

Olive oil has been used on the skin since ancient times. Egyptians have used olive oil to make perfumes and creams. Today, olive oil has continued to be used in the beauty community for its anti-aging, hydration, and moisturizing properties.

What are the benefits of Squalene in Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

1. Greater Amount of Squalene Compared to Other Oils

The minor components found in extra virgin olive oil are highly valued because of their antioxidant availability. EVOO has a “high content of squalene, β-sitosterol content, optimum fatty acids content (the presence of oleic acid, which acts as a skin softener), and wealth of antioxidant substances, makes it particularly able to directly protect the skin” (1). Higher content of squalene can be obtained through EVOO compared to refined olive oil because during the cultivation and refinery process the minor components such as squalene are decreased (1). Did you know that compared to other plant oils and dietary fats, squalene content found in EVOO is higher at 0.7% (7 mg/g) (2)? Squalene has many substantial benefits for your skin because of the antioxidant, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties. When squalene is used in your daily skincare routine, the product can hydrate, rejuvenate, soothe, and heal wounds on your skin.

2. Squalene is an emollient

During the winter, do you notice your skin is more prone to being dry and rough? EVOO can help. It’s known to be an emollient, which works great to keep your skin moisturized. Emollients are moisturizers that come in various textures and formulas such as creams, ointments, lotions, gels, and sprays. They work well for people who have sensitive skin or eczema because the product is unscented, which decreases the risk of reactions. And though you might think that oil would leave an oily residue on your skin, but don't worry, squalene is quickly absorbed into the skin to restore flexibility and suppleness (3). Thus, emollient products help soothe, hydrate, and protect the skin’s outer barrier.

3. Squalene aids in protection against sun exposure

A study conducted on mice has shown that when you apply EVOO onto your skin after exposure to the sun can decrease the risk of developing skin cancer (4). In the study, researchers found that the treatment group who received olive oil after sun exposure resulted in a significant reduction in tumor growth compared to the control group who received no olive oil application. Squalene acts as an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress because “squalene is not particularly susceptible to peroxidation and is stable against attacks by peroxide radicals” (3). When you apply antioxidants such as EVOO to your skin, the product can slow down premature aging. An adequate amount of squalene on the outer surface of your skin can protect the skin from oxidative stressors. Oxidative stress occurs when you are exposed to UV lights such as sunlight. Imagine going for a 2-hour hike and you notice your skin is red from being exposed to sunlight. This is caused by the oxidative stress on your skin, which contributes to premature aging, cell damage, inflammation, and increases the risk for skin cancer. Thus, applying EVOO after sun exposure can be a self-treatment added to your daily routine.

How to Introduce Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your Daily Routine?

Everyone has different skin types. Some may have sensitive, dry skin while others may have oily or combination acne-prone skin. Finding a skincare routine that targets your skin concerns (dryness, acne, clogged pores, and more) may be difficult. But it’s not impossible! Olive Oil has Many Amazing Benefits, which include soothing, healing, protecting, hydrating, moisturizing, and anti-aging. Before incorporating olive oil into your daily routine, it is best to spot-check because the product may not be suitable for everyone. Apply a small amount of olive oil on your skin for 48 hours to determine if an allergic reaction may occur. To obtain maximum benefit, it’s important to use organic extra virgin olive oil because the processing methods retain the natural antioxidants and vitamins found in olive oil.

4 Ways to Include Extra Virgin Olive Oil into your Routine

  • Apply onto your skin as a treatment method after sun exposure.
  • Add 1-3 drops (dime size) to your night cream, moisturizer, or aloe vera.
  • Remove waterproof makeup such as mascara and eyeliner with EVOO. Use a cotton pad coated with EVOO to remove makeup and rinse your face with lukewarm water. You may be followed up with a gentle cleanser of your choice.
  • At-home Face Mask with extra virgin olive oil to pamper yourself.

Take-Home Message

The minor components of extra virgin olive oil have the highest squalene content compared to other oils, which provides many benefits for skin health. Olive oil undergoes nutritional losses during processing. Thus, EVOO has higher nutritional values compared to olive oil. Incorporating EVOO into your skincare routine can keep your skin moisturized, hydrated, and reduce the risk of sun-induced carcinogenesis.

Written by Joanna Chen
Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.

Image Credit: pexels.com/@primal_harmony

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which skin types should use EVOO for skincare benefits?
A: Dry, normal, and combination skin types may be best fitted to use EVOO in their skincare routine. Olive oil may cause clogged pores and acne for oily skin because olive oil is a heavy oil that does not absorb easily into the skin.

Q: Is extra virgin olive oil or olive oil better for the skin?
A: Extra virgin olive oil is better for the skin than just olive oil because it is produced without the use of heat or chemical refining, and contains the highest concentration of olive oil's beneficial compounds with no preservatives or additives that could be harmful to the body.

Q: Are there any negative side effects with using olive oil on the skin?
A: Olive oil can be used safely for most people, but some people may experience allergic reactions and/or acne and blackheads. Before using olive oil onto your skin regularly, make sure to try a patch test on a small part of your skin anywhere on your body to see if you react badly to olive oil.