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How to Protect Your Skin from Sunlight with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A bright sunny day may sound like the perfect time to go out to the beach or have a picnic at the park. But, wait for a second, did you apply sunscreen? Protecting your skin before heading outside for a long duration is universally recommended by dermatologists. We know too much sunlight is bad for our skin –– the ultraviolet rays can penetrate layers of our skin, often resulting in cancer.

But there may be a natural remedy that aids in skin protection. Extra virgin olive oil is found to be a promising photoprotective agent, meaning it acts as a really good shield to protect our skin from sun damage (1). 

How does the sun damage your skin? 

First of all, let’s review the process of sun damage.  It causes sunburns, wrinkles, and skin cancer. When you’re outside, your skin is constantly exposed to UV radiation from the sun. This UV radiation can easily penetrate deep into the layers of your skin, creating free radicals and causing skin cells to deteriorate. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that UV radiation is carcinogenic to humans because the UV rays are a very powerful source of energy. As exposure increases, the skin begins to lose its elasticity, which leads to premature aging. Common signs of sun damage are wrinkles and dry, coarse skin (2). 

How does extra virgin olive oil keep our skin healthy and free of sun damage? 

The antioxidative properties found in olive oil are found to protect your skin from the sun. It’s done by scavenging free radicals produced by UV radiation that damage skin cells, causes wrinkles, and tumor growth. 

A study that evaluated skin wrinkling in sun-exposed areas and dietary intake has shown that Swedish elderly individuals who consumed more vegetables, olive oil, monounsaturated acids, legumes, and fewer milk products exhibit a lower amount of wrinkles in sun-exposed skin. In fact, this study suggests that diets high in monounsaturated fats can resist oxidative damage the best (3). Extra virgin olive oil is composed of mostly monounsaturated fats. 

Another study done on mice can also confirm that olive oil can reduce the onset of skin cancers. Olive oil was applied topically on mice after they were exposed to UVB radiation. Results showed that topical use of olive oil after sun exposure effectively delays the onset of skin cancer lesions and formation The researcher stated that the effects of olive oil can potentially work the same for human skin too (4). 

Here are ways you can use extra virgin olive oil to protect from sun damage 

Topical uses of extra virgin olive oil is a well-known ingredient found in over-the-counter skincare. However, you can easily massage a few drops of Olivaio's olive oil onto your skin as a moisturizer after a long day in the sun.

Although it’s often all fun and games in the sun, your skin needs to replenish with nutrients that can help inhibit its damage. If you plan to head out into the sun, make sure to incorporate EVOO into your diet along with foods rich in other antioxidants to keep you safe. 

Check out these amazing recipes to increase your extra virgin olive oil consumption! 

Lemon Chicken

Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake

Written by Nitchamon Chuajedton
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.