Olive oil is used for the formulation of facial masks, anti-aging moisturizers, body scrubs, bath oils, soap, feet softeners, makeup removers, shampoos, anti-dandruff products, and in many other cosmetics, pharmaceutical, culinary and industrial purposes. Olive oil has plenty of health benefits for both the body and skin. The ancient civilizations were very conscious and appreciative of them. A good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E & K it is also rich in iron and contains a lot of antioxidants. It is regarded as a good every day diet nutrient containing a lot of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. It helps with the lowering of blood cholesterol, preventing oxidative stress, decreases both systolic and diastolic blood-pressure, helps reducing the levels of obesity, slows down the aging of the heart, prevents rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, it is beneficial for patients suffering from diabetes and was proven to prevent skin cancer and protect from breast cancer and it is currently being researched as an anti-cancer drug.
The olive is native to the Mediterranean basin originating in Asia Minor (modern day Greece). Early Neolithic people discovered and started collecting wild olives over 10.000 years ago (7000 BC). Archeological findings of mortar stones and presses in modern day Israel dating back to around 5000 BC prove that people in that time were already extracting and using olive oil, but it wasn’t purposely cultivated until around 4000 BC when the early Minoan civilization of the Greek island of Crete domesticated the olive tree and started an ongoing tradition of growing olives and producing olive oil which is still much alive and popular in Crete nowadays. From Crete, the tradition has spread throughout all the Mediterranean and was brought to the new world in 16th century AD by the European colonists. But olive oil does not just bring benefits obtained by consuming it in fact there are many favorable effects obtained from applying olive oil to the human skin and hair. People were aware of them since antiquity and olive oil was used throughout history not only for cooking and fuelling lamps but also for cosmetics, body care and massage oil. A tradition that was passed on from the Greeks to the Babylonians, Egyptians and was than adopted by the Roman civilization that spread olive oil all around ancient Europe. In 325AD there were more than 2300 olive oil distributers just in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. It played a big role in the body care culture of the Romans that used it for bathing, applying it all over the skin and hair to keep them moist, soft and healthy looking. The French incorporated olive oil into soap making and on October 5th 1688 in Marseille (Europe’s soap making capital) the French king Louis XIV (the Sun King) issued The Edict of Colbert prohibiting the use of animal fats and stating that soap must contain a minimum 72% olive oil to assure its quality or it cannot be called Savon de Marseille. Eventually the knowledge about olive oil was spread worldwide and today it is still very popular for soap makers around the globe.
Olive oil is obtained from olives (the fruit of Olea Europaea) either by cold pressing or by solvent extraction. There are different grades ranging from extra-virgin, virgin, pure, pomace, lampante and various refined versions of olive oil. The first two are edible and fit for consumption while lampante olive oil is used to fuel oil-burning lamps and it is not suitable as food. Pure olive oil is known to be a blend of extra virgin oil and refined virgin oil, so it is still edible but it’s not recommend ingesting refined oils. The oil has an appealing odor and its color can be anywhere in the spectrum from golden orange to dark green, depending on the olives used for extraction (green olives yield greener oil, while black olives produce more orange colored oil). Today there are an estimated 800 million olive trees growing around the world, 95% of them growing in the Mediterranean and more than 45% of the olive oil today is being produced in Spain.
Skin & Body Care
Olive oil prevails as one of the most commonly used oils in natural and handmade cosmetics due to its abundant all-around beneficial properties and the fact that it can be used on all parts of the body from head to toes. The ability to penetrate deep into the skin is useful because of the oils skin cells regenerating and rejuvenating properties which soften the skin tissue, exfoliate dead skin cells and by improving the skins elasticity help to reduce scars and stretch marks. As mentioned above, olive oil has many antioxidants which when absorbed into the skin help preventing the creation of harmful free radicals, help preventing the formation of tumors and skin cancer and protect the skin from dangerous UV rays.
It is an exceptionally mild emollient and deep moisturizer that improves hair elasticity, keeps hair moisturized, soft and at the same time provides them with, dandruff control, deep hair conditioning and protection against a dry scalp.