Most people think of olive oil as a medium for cooking, but people all along the Mediterranean have been exploring alternative uses since olive oil made its first appearance over 1,400 years ago. With a high concentration of mono-unsaturated fats, olive oil has been shown to be extremely gentle on the digestive system and can combat high cholesterol. Olive oil is unique in that the method of production determines the quality of the finished product. The first pressing, which is referred to as Extra Virgin, retains more flavor and nutrients from the olive fruit. Cold pressed is processed at room temperature, which means that the nutrients aren’t damaged, and Virgin comes from the second pressing.
Olive oil is distinctive in that it has a healthy amount of vitamin E and phenol in addition to its moisturizing properties. Vitamin E is a valuable weapon against sun damage, and phenols help restore damaged cells, both of which keep your hair protected against the elements. Olive oil on the scalp helps promote growth and prevent dandruff, and it softens the follicles to make styling easier. While it can be applied undiluted, it’s usually used as a hot oil treatment, where the oil is massaged through the hair, covered with a hot towel for at least thirty minutes, and then washed out.
A skin moisturizer should work in two areas, adding moisture and keeping moisture from escaping through the top layer, and olive oil provides both. A substance known as linoleic acid forms a barrier that keeps water in, and the saturated fats add moisture. Some people apply the oil directly to the skin, while others add a small amount to their bath water. On a deeper level, the anti-oxidants in olive oil have been shown to fight free radicals that can cause premature aging and skin cancer. Olive oil is usually blended with a carrier oil, like castor oil, before being applied to the face.
The lubricating quality of olive oil can be a surprising ally in the fight against snoring and other throat related issues. Taking a teaspoon of olive oil before you go to bed can relieve enlarged adenoids and make breathing easier. If you have a scratchy or irritated throat, swallowing a small amount of olive oil can relieve the problem, and you don’t have to worry about an increase in cholesterol.
Combining one part olive oil to one part melted beeswax makes an effective lip balm. Olive oil’s natural sun defense, chlorophyll, protects your lips against drying and chapping. You also get the moisturizing ingredient squalene, to trap in natural oils and keep your lips soft.
Olive oil is an incredible lubricant, and it stands to reason that it would make a good substitute for shaving cream. Just apply a small amount to the desired area and shave as usual. Because olive oil is a natural moisturizer, there’s no need for an aftershave, it also protects against nicks and cuts.