Olive oil has a long history of being used as a home remedy for skincare. Egyptians used it alongside beeswax as a cleanser, moisturizer, and antibacterial agent since pharaonic times. In ancient Greece, the substance was used during massage to prevent sports injuries, relieve muscle fatigue, and eliminate lactic acid buildup. In 2000, Japan was the top importer of olive oil in Asia (13,000 tons annually) because consumers there believe both the ingestion and topical application of olive oil to be good for skin and health.
There has been relatively little scientific work done on the effect of olive oil on acne and other skin conditions. However, one study noted that the abundance of squalene in oils in general shows promise for sufferers of seborrheic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis. Squalene is used as an antioxidant, moisturizer, and as a convenient vehicle to carry other substances in topical application. Another researcher reported that a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil alleviates diaper dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema by inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.
Olive oil is popular for use in massaging infants and toddlers, but scientific proof of its efficacy is mixed. One analysis of olive oil versus mineral oil found that, when used for infant massage, olive oil can be considered a safe alternative to sunflower, grapeseed and fractionated coconut oils. This stands true particularly when it is mixed with a lighter oil like sunflower, which “would have the further effect of reducing the already low levels of free fatty acids present in olive oil.” The study also notes that there appears to be much confusion surrounding mineral oil, and that further studies should be done on refined mineral oil to back up claims about its superiority to olive oil. Another trial echoes this claim, stating that olive oil lowers the risk of dermatitis for infants in all gestational stages when compared with emollient cream. However, yet another study found that topical treatment with olive oil for newborns “significantly damages the skin barrier” when compared to sunflower oil, and that it may make existing atopic dermatitis worse. The researchers conclude that they do not recommend the use of olive oil for the treatment of dry skin and infant massage.
Clinical trials have found that olive oil does not act to prevent or reduce stretch marks.
The fatty substance was found to reduce inflammation via oleuropein, which is touted for its antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic, and anti-inflammatory characteristics