The web­site for Perricone MD explains why olive oil has become a pop­u­lar ingre­di­ent, and sell­ing point, in skin­care and cos­met­ics.

Once rel­e­gat­ing it to the occa­sional soap in a gift shop, the American beauty indus­try has begun inno­vat­ing more with olive oil and olive-based ingre­di­ents in their prod­ucts, both for the fruit’s many touted ben­e­fits as well as to pro­vide an alter­na­tive for increas­ingly chem­i­cal-aware con­sumers.

An early leader in olive oil beauty prod­uct devel­op­ment is Japanese firm DHC, which lists olive oil as the inspi­ra­tion for its entire line. DHC’s web­site details the rea­son­ing behind choos­ing olive oil as its muse:

“Rich in vit­a­mins and antiox­i­dants, [olive oil] is a highly effec­tive com­po­nent in neu­tral­iz­ing dam­ag­ing free rad­i­cals. Olive oil also helps bal­ance your skin’s mois­ture. With its unique abil­ity to mix with water, our olive oil helps mois­tur­ize with­out clog­ging pores.”

DHC’s line began with a sim­ple “Olive Virgin Oil” mois­tur­izer, devel­oped from organic “flor de aceite olive oil,” fur­ther puri­fy­ing it by remov­ing any par­tic­u­lates that could clog pores, accord­ing to the com­pany. The result was a prod­uct that is still a strong seller today. Launched in the US in 1997, the brand has expanded to include hair care, cos­met­ics and unique prod­ucts like anti-aging gel mois­ture strips con­tain­ing olive leaf extract.

DHC is not alone. Hundreds of cleansers and mois­tur­iz­ers now con­tain olive oil, includ­ing prod­ucts from Murad, Origins and Juice Beauty. Perricone MD also uses olive polyphe­nols in its Hypoallergenic Firming Eye Cream. “Extremely rare, and effec­tive in even small con­cen­tra­tions,” the Perricone web­site explains, “this super antiox­i­dant, anti-inflam­ma­tory has been proven to be effec­tive in improv­ing gen­eral health and appear­ance.” Olive oil is avail­able in masks as well, such as Missha Pure Source Olive Sheet Mask, a sin­gle-use mois­tur­iz­ing cloth.

In hair care, olive oil is used for mois­ture, shine, and pro­tec­tion from heat or frizz. Giovanni intro­duced 2chic Ultra-Moist Touch-up Hair Towelettes for on-the-go frizz con­trol and repair of dry or dam­aged hair.

Kiehl’s has an entire “Olive Fruit Oil” line, also tar­geted to nour­ish and repair hair. Olive oil has even reached prod­ucts for main­stream brands such as L’Oréal’s Ever Sleek Precious Oil Treatment, as well as heat pro­tec­tant and shine serums from big and small brands alike.

Most inno­v­a­tive to some would be olive oil in the makeup aisle. A nat­ural lip balm, it’s no sur­prise to find olive oil used in balms from Burt’s Bees and even Nivea. More unique are prod­ucts such as Episilk’s olive oil plump­ing lip balm and vibrant shades of lip gloss from Armour and Dermovia with olive oil as a key ingre­di­ent. Tarte’s “Lights, Camera Lashes” mas­cara also con­tains “hydro­genated stearyl olive esters” in some lesser amount than some­thing called cyclopen­tasilox­ane.

Why include olive oil in cos­met­ics? Leslie Hoffman of DHC explains that olive oil can help keep makeup from look­ing flat or dry. She also notes that for their brand, any­thing touch­ing the skin should have a skin­care ben­e­fit. “It’s doing some­thing pos­i­tive for your skin as well as help­ing you look good cos­met­i­cally.”

Even nail care has seen an olive infu­sion. Sally Hansen, the top-sell­ing US nail care brand, has launched a nail growth treat­ment using green tea and olive leaf.

The expan­sion of olive oil use in beauty prod­ucts has led to some con­fu­sion with label­ing ter­mi­nol­ogy as “olive fruit oil” is often listed instead of the more famil­iar “olive oil.” This dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is not just to sound more expen­sive. “Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil” as seen on cos­met­ics labels is the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients) name and is the same as olive oil.

Of course, olive oil has been used to mois­tur­ize, cleanse and pro­tect for thou­sands of years. With its time-tested results and health­ful prop­er­ties, the olive is appear­ing as a sell­ing point on more cos­met­ics and skin­care labels than ever before.



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