Olive oil is not only delicious, it also has powerful health benefits, that range from promoting bone health to supporting heart health, all while being a hypoallergenic super moisturizer that can benefit those with healthy skin and skin conditions alike. Surprised? Olive oil can be used for so much more than drizzling pasta and salad dressing. Olive oil has many benefits for the skin, too -- even the ancient Egyptians knew that!
One way to experience these benefits is by using a natural olive oil soap. Olive oil has been used for cosmetic purposes since ancient times. In fact, olive oil was likely one of the first natural ingredient soaps made without animal fat or oil. Castile soap, as it’s originally called, may have originated in Castile Castle, Spain as early as 1567. Nowadays, it’s popular among those who appreciate natural products, and who love the silky feel and rich, fresh scent of olive oil in their personal care routine.
Here are some of the benefits of olive oil soap, a few brands we love, and how to make your own.
Olive Oil Soap Benefits For Skin
Olive oil is a natural fit for soaps for many reasons. Here are some of the benefits of washing your hands, body, or face with olive oil.
1. Olive oil soap is moisturizing.
First off: the easy one. Olive oil is moisturizing! It contains essential fatty acids that benefit dry skin, including oleic acid, palmitic acid, and linoleic acids. It’s also an emollient, which means it smooths and softens skin, giving it a moisturized feeling.
2. Olive oil soap doesn’t form too much lather.
When it comes to soap, some people are looking for that “squeaky clean” feeling. We’re conditioned to believe that all that lather means something is extra clean, right? Not so fast.
As Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in New York, told the New York Times, all this scrubbing and product-applying is making our skin worse. “It’s largely a product of our own obsession with squeaky clean and using product upon product upon product.”
Skin that feels squeaky or tight after washing is actually a sign that essential moisture has been stripped from the skin. Instead, we should opt for skincare products that have gentle, moisturizing ingredients, and a slightly acidic pH.
Why? An essential component of skin that helps it feel (and look) healthy and hydrated is the acid mantle. The acid mantle is a very thin film that covers the skin. It’s made of natural oils, amino acids, and sweat. As the New York Times explains, “damage it with too much scrubbing or neutralize it with alkaline washes and you’re on your way to barrier problems: inflammation, allergies, breakouts.”
When you have a soap that produces a foamy lather, chances are good that it’s alkaline rather than slightly acidic, as the ingredients that make it foamy have a high pH.
Rather than feeling super foamy, olive oil soap has a rich, creamy feeling that still leaves skin hands feeling clean. Especially during the cooler months, when we produce less sweat, this can help skin from getting dry and chapped by the elements.
3. Olive oil is packed with powerful antioxidants.
Olive oil contains antioxidants, which have powerful properties both inside and out.
Antioxidants prevent oxidation, which is a process that can produce free radicals. We do not want free radicals hanging around – these chemicals can damage cells and, in the worst cases, could lead to the development of cancer. As cosmetic chemist Ee Ting Ng told Byrdie, antioxidants also work to combat redness and signs of irritation on the skin.
As written in Medical News Today, antioxidant properties could possibly prevent premature aging of the skin. Additionally, some promising research suggests that applying olive oil after sun exposure could protect against skin cells that cause cancer. While soap is washed off rather than left on the skin, it’s good to know that olive oil is a skin-loving ingredient.
4. Olive oil has lots of vitamins.
The vitamins that make olive oil healthy can also deliver benefits to the skin. Olive oil contains vitamins A and D, and of course, the skin-happy vitamins E and K. According to Medical News Today, these vitamins may be beneficial for the skin. As an example, Vitamin E is regularly used to treat psoriasis and eczema and prevent scarring.
5. Olive oil acts as a makeup remover.
With its slick consistency, olive oil can be used to remove stubborn eye makeup, like eyeliner and waterproof mascara.
As aesthetic plastic surgeon Paul Lorenc explained to Byrdie, olive oil can also benefit the skin around the eye and the eyelashes. “With the added benefits of antioxidants and hydrating squalene, it moisturizes the delicate skin in the eye area, plus nourishes eyelashes the same way conditioner works on the hair,” he said.
6. Olive oil has antibacterial properties.
Rather than reaching for harsh antibacterial commercial soaps which dry out the hands, olive oil has natural antibacterial properties. In addition to helping kill unwanted bacteria, this could prevent acne by working as a natural cleanser.
While more research is needed, some studies have found olive oil to prevent acne. Of course, olive oil can also cause acne in sensitive skin types, so user beware!
Side Effects of Olive Oil Soap
While olive oil soap has many potential benefits for the skin, everyone’s skin type is different.
Some people with oily skin might find olive oil to be too strong. Olive oil is also slightly comedogenic, which means that for some people with oily skin, olive oil can clog pores.
As cosmetic chemist Ee Ting Ng told Byrdie, those with acne-prone skin might want to avoid olive oil for the face. “The fatty acids prevalent in olive oil—and all plant oils and butters in general—are the very food source for acne-causing bacteria and yeasts to grow. Thus, olive oil is not ideal for acne-prone skins.”
In general, olive oil soap will be fine for most people to use on their hands and body. However, those with acneic skin might want to avoid using olive oil soap as a face wash or makeup remover.
Regardless of your skin type, it’s always wise to do a spot check before applying a new product.
Choose a swatch of skin somewhere discreet, like under the chin or behind the ear. Wash and dry your skin, then apply the product as you normally would. If you have no reaction after 24 hours, you should be able to safely proceed.
Can You Have An Olive Oil Soap Allergy?
It is possible, though very rare for a person to have an allergy to olive oil. What are the signs of an olive oil allergy? The symptoms might include:
However, an olive oil soap isn’t only made of olive oil. An allergic reaction may be the result of another ingredient instead of olive oil. If you have any symptoms, it’s best to consult with your doctor. A doctor can administer a skin prick test to determine whether you have an allergy.
Which Olive Oil Soap Should You Buy?
There are many olive oil soaps on the market. Here are a few recommended by customers and experts.
- The Thymes Olive Leaf Luxury Bath Soap is a cruelty-free bar soap that garners rave reviews. Made with shea butter as well as olive oil, this soap is particularly nourishing. The soap is scented with lavender and patchouli. It’s also triple-milled, which means it will last longer.
- Made for use in the kitchen, this Coriander and Olive Oil Hand Soap is made with cold-pressed olive oil and olive tree extracts to hydrate, soften, and purify your hands. Refills are available, so you don’t need to worry about wasting packaging.
- The tried-and-true Olive Oil Nablus Soap Bar Al Jamal From The Holy Land is made with a recipe that dates back to the tenth century! It’s made with just three ingredients: olive oil, salt, and water and is gentle enough to use on babies.
How To Make Your Own Olive Oil Soap
There are many recipes for making your own DIY olive oil soap at home. Here’s what you’ll need, courtesy of The Spruce Crafts. This recipe uses a little bit of palm oil to add hardness, and some coconut oil for lather.
To make about 4.5 pounds of soap, you would use:
- 40 oz. olive oil
- 5 oz. palm oil
- 5 oz. coconut oil
- 16 oz. water
- 6.7 oz. lye
- Between 1.5 and 2.2 oz. of fragrance or essential oil, according to your preference
For full soap-making instructions follow this link.
What Kind Of Olive Oil Should Be Used For Olive Oil Soap?
While any olive oil will work in the recipe above, the best benefits come from extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). EVOO contains a high concentration of vitamins and antioxidants, which ensures you get the most benefits from your olive oil.
Not sure where to start? Try the Trentasette Collection Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, an organic EVOO from Italy.