Olive Oil (Olea Europaea) and its Benefits in Soap Making, As Well As, Bath and Beauty Products

benefits of olive oils for the skin

Olive oil is a popular kitchen ingredient that is used all over the world and for many different applications. This oil is more than a simple food additive or to be used just in cookware devices and foods. Olive oil has been a staple of the beauty and wellness community for many years. 

In this post, we'll talk briefly about some of the research out there on olive oil and the benefits it may or may not have on the skin, body, and hair.

What is Olive Oil?

olive oil in cold process soap making

In order to make this natural oil, olives are taken from olive trees and pressed. The result is extracted olive oil that can be used in many different ways, from cooking, food prep, cosmetics, moisturizing lotions and creams, etc.

Now when it comes to nutritional value of consumed olive oil, you have probably heard about all of the potential or highly touted benefits, like: reduced inflammation, beneficial effect on genes linked to cancer, reducing the risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease, or diabetes), favorable effects on body weight and even helping to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

However, here, we want to put those benefits to the side and talk skincare research.

As it is related to our company, RN to Zen, we use olive oil in our soap, as it just gives a beautiful thick and moisturizing feel, as well as adds slightly to the lather of cold process soap. Some companies even make 100% olive oil soaps, called castile soaps. There are 2 variations that you will see most often in soaps and those are "pure" olive oil and olive oil "pomace", with the only real difference for soap making is slight color variations, and the latter creates a slightly harder bar.

olive oils use in cp soap making

But, remember soap makers, not all olive oils are created equal. Check out this blog post from soap making giant Brambleberry, as they not only discuss, but show examples of the unpredictability of some olive oils in soaps.

Heck you can even infuse herbs into olive oil (like chamomile) and then use it to make your batter for your soaps to get the benefits of the herbs as well incorporated into your final bar. Olive oil is just amazing for soap makers!

So, when it comes to your skin and soap-making, what should you know about the benefits of olive oil? Below we talk about what we found in research of olive oils & it's potential benefits for the skin!

Benefits of Olive Oil For Bath and Beauty Products and Soap Making:

1. Moisturizer/Rich in Skin Loving Vitamins

First off it's helpful to know what types of compounds make up olive oil and anything alike, as this can give you clues into whether it is safe for your skin, but also the benefits it may offer to your skin. Within olive oil, you will find vitamins, like A, D, K and E, according to International Olive Council. In fact more then 200 different chemical compounds have been detected in olive oils, like sterols, and phenolic compounds, which we'll discuss later.

compounds that make up olive oil

The one we'll talk about here is it's rich monounsaturated fatty acids. These types of fatty acids (that can also be found in avocados), are healthy fats and help maintain the water level in the epidermis. This in turn helps keep the skin intact and helps to retain that moisture level.

Olive oil is safe for use on most skin types, however if you are someone who is prone to acne breakouts with sensitive skin, this may not be the one for you. Olive oil is thinker then say, babassu oil, so more apt to clog pores and leave your skin more oily then you'd like.

Plant based oils (specifically those high in monounsaturated oleic acids) have also been proven to increase skin permeability. According to research from 2018, olive oil was right at the top of the list for lipid penetration into the epidermis, as compared with all other oils in the study.

2. Skin Loving Antioxidants

Olive oil is full of antioxidants. Phenolic compounds are a main antioxidant found in virgin olive oil. The main one(s) are called hydrophilic phenols and found in abundance in olive oil(s). These phenols have an even higher antioxidative properties then vitamin E, according to research.

Due to some oxidative properties, there is research that suggest topically applied olive oil may offer a protective effect and may help fight off cancer cells. Keep in mind this was an animal study, and not performed on human participants.

3. Wound Support

Multiple studies are out there including olive oil has an ingredient or part of an ointment used to help treat wounds. One of these studies looked at olive oil and a honey topical ointment in 2015, which found that the ointment could accelerate tissue repair, and facilitate debridement.

Other studies are out there on topical treatment on animal burns, like this study in 2015. A mixture of honey, beeswax and olive oil was used on canine 2nd degree burns. The results showed a decrease in wound healing time, and decrease in inflammatory reaction with use of the ointment over silver sulfadiazine.

Another animal study completed in 2016 showed improvements in cutaneous wound healing of pressure ulcers in mice.

* In contrast of the positive results it has shown in wound healing, direct application to the skin for things such as dryness, or massage (related to infants), may not have the same results. We found a few studies in which the results discussed doing just these types of applications, like this one in 2013. This research looked at both olive oil and sunflower oils on adult skin barrier, showing that the application on adult skin without a history of atopic dermatitis, actually caused a reduction in some skin integrity, and induced some mild redness.  

This is just another important reminder, always know your skin, and what works for you and what doesn't. Do your research. Oils should never be used on infants, children or pregnant women without consulting an expert. 

4. Good For Hair Health 

oil olive for the skin and hair

Olive oil is also used in many hair care products and can even be placed directly on your hair to improve its shine, body, and softness. The compounds found in olive oil make it a wonderful emollient, meaning it can add that softness, however, best when added to conditioners, it would seem.

There seems to be far less research in relation to olive oil and haircare as to application in skincare and consumption of olive oil. Some say that it can also add strength to hair because of the ability to preserve moisture, but we could not find evidence to support this claim.

Final Thoughts!

Please share you favorite soaps, creams or lotions that contain olive oil and how they may have benefited your skin or hair.

Like with all the research we find about any ingredient, we emphasize the importance of knowing your own skin and skin type. We do not perform our own research studies, nor do we personally condone studies done on animals, we simply investigate what's out there and studies that have been done in the past, whether favorable or unfavorable to it's usage, as we like to know exactly what we're putting into our soaps!


- https://www.healthline.com/health/olive-oil-benefits-face

- https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil

- https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/olive-oils-created-equally/

- https://www.sharecare.com/health/skin-and-beauty/what-monounsaturated-fats-do-skin

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/

- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26457099/

- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27091748/

- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22995032/

- https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/21/11/2085/2908770

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