Generally when a customer comes to us with a skin issue, it is often from trying to make their own skin care at some point. Either the skin care they have made was a mix of ingredients in their pantry that sounded nice, or they found a recipe on a blog or tried to replicate a formula from a skin care products ingredient list.
DIY-ing skin care can be just as dangerous and DIY-ing medical treatment because skin care can be poisonous if made improperly. Ingredients from DIY-ing skin care can cause health issues ranging from acne to cancer if done the wrong way.
One ingredient that is used the most in DIY skin care is olive oil. I believe a lot of people use olive oil in their DIY skin care concoctions because it is a healthy oil when ingested. However, what is safe to eat isnt necessarily safe to put on your skin. It is safe to eat cayenne pepper, but putting cayenne pepper on your skin will cause an array of skin issues from inflammation to skin lesions and permanent scarring.
It is also important to consider that, unlike the stomach, the skin does not digest and metabolize what we apply to it. The skin is a different organ than the stomach, and therefore its care requires a different practice.
Specifically, the stomach is a highly acidic environment that is capable of breaking down Carolina hot peppers, to hot tea to heavy metals, your skin is less resilient and highly sensitive. If you were to apply spicy peppers or tea to your skin it would likely cause irreversible damage.
For olive oil, the reason why it is not safe to apply to your skin is the same reason as it is not safe to apply spicy foods: olive oil is highly inflammatory.
All oils have a fatty acid composition, sometimes referred to as a fatty acid profile. The fatty acid profile can contain several fatty acids from oleic, linoleic, linolenic, palmitic to palmitoleic, to name a few. Oleic acid being the most inflammatory of the fatty acids and the one responsible for skin inflammation when topically applied.
Most oils have some oleic acid in them, usually with a composition containing 50% oleic or fewer. However, olive oil is particularly high in oleic acid. Although the exact fatty acid composition will vary with the species of olive used, olive oil contains between 70%-90% oleic acid, making it among the most inflammatory oils, if not the most that I have seen.
Scientific research has shown that topically applying olive oil to the skin can hinder wound healing, as seen in studies where olive oil was used instead of medical treatment. For instance, a study found that mothers who applied olive oil to their children’s skin injuries saw the wounds not healing properly and even worsening. Applying olive oil to wounds saw prolonged healing time compared to controls, an increase in skin lesions and permanent scarring.
The cause of skin damage is the inflammatory fatty acids from olive oil slowly break down the stratum corneum of the skin. When the SC is broken down, it can cause a disruption of the skin’s function leading to excessive oiliness, and pathogenic infection. The visible results can range from acne to redenss to scarring.
For skin care, I can go by my own personal experience: customers who had olive oil in their skin care were more likely to suffer from acne, skin redness, excessive oiliness or skin brittleness, and also complained of increased aging effects.
When I was first formulating OUMERE, I was working with hundreds of oils to see what would work best for Serum Bioluminelle and Oil Dissolution Theory. I tried using olive oil and balancing out its inflammatory profile with anti-inflammatory oils and I was not able to make it work in a safe way, so I never used it in my products. It just does not appear to be a usable oil for skin care, so I do not recommend its use.
Badiu, Diana, and Rajkumar Rajendram. “Effect of olive oil on the skin.” Olives and olive oil in health and disease prevention (2021): 401-413.
Danby, S.G., AlEnezi, T., Sultan, A., Lavender, T., Chittock, J., Brown, K. and Cork, M.J., 2013. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatric dermatology, 30(1), pp.42-50.
Oğraş, Ş. Ş., Kaban, G., & Kaya, M. (2016). The effects of geographic region, cultivar and harvest year on fatty acid composition of olive oil. Journal of Oleo Science, 65(11), 889-895.
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