Olive Oil: The ultimate skin cleanser

Some time ago, I reported the discovery that olive oil can be used in place of expensive facial cleanser. Not only does it clean one’s face without leaving an oily film or making the user smell like salad dressing, for me it relieved an itchy spot that defied all the training and genius of two Mayo Clinic dermatologists. Five months later, here’s an update.

 

Since last November, I’ve been cleaning my face once or, more usually, twice a day by massaging in a little of Costco’s extra-virgin olive oil, laying a warm washcloth over my face to gently “steam” the skin, and then wiping the oil off well with the warm cloth. Then I apply a little Cetaphil as a conditioning cream. Before starting this beauty regimen, I had always washed my face with a mild soap such as Ivory and conditioned with Cetaphil or a similar drugstore-style moisturizer.

Lately I’ve noticed that my complexion is a lot more supple, soft, and healthy-looking that it used to be. Apparently regular, long-term use of olive oil to clean and condition your skin works to good effect. Over the past few years, I’ve watched my cheeks turn into something that looked like an old, dried-out leather purse, no doubt the result of spending all my life in the subtropics and growing up in an era when a deep tan was admired as a sign of good health. Although my skin is certainly not wrinkle-free now—nor, at my age, should it be—those fine networks of sun damage are almost unnoticeable, and I can go out in public makeup-free without frightening small children.

Now, here’s the weird part: despite all the stress I’ve been under, my appearance has not gone to Hell. Normally, chronic insomnia makes me look like the Wrath of God. But…

The night after I was told our office would be closed and my entire staff canned, I did not sleep at all. Not one wink. Didn’t go to bed until 4:30; lay awake until 5:30; got up and went back to work. Since then, most nights I’ve had about three or four hours of sleep. Last night and the night before, after my financial advisor demonstrated that my savings will come fairly close to supporting me despite the devastation of the Bush economy, were the first decent nights’ sleep I’ve had since March 26, when this episode started—over two weeks ago.

Even during the worst of this period, my face has looked hydrated, reasonably fresh, and well toned. No dark circles lurked under the eyes, and the color looked pretty normal, not the fish-belly gray one would expect. Don’t know what the explanation for this really is. All I know is the only thing I’m doing differently from what I’ve done during other high-stress periods is using olive oil on my face.

Yeah, I know: anecdotal evidence! Worse yet, post hoc, ergo propter hoc! But something’s working. In the absence of any other change, the olive oil treatment is a likely cause.

Adventures in Olive Oil

Olive Oil: The Ultimate Hair Conditioner
Olive Oil: The Miracle Skin Cleanser

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kjg April 11, 2009 at 5:59 am

It’s true. I’ve noticed first the rose color in your cheeks. And then, because I know you are using olive oil, I take a closer look, and I see that your skin is vibrant. I think I’ll look back at the olive oil post, get out my Costco product, and see what it can do for me. I’ve been using Mary Kay for about 20 years, but the cost always brings a shudder. I’ve never worn much makeup, but if I didn’t need any–as you don’t!–then I’d be even that much happier.

beloml April 13, 2009 at 11:29 am

Ivory soap is NOT gentle! It’s one of the harshest you can buy!

Andrew September 18, 2009 at 3:25 am

I agree, Olive Oil is GREAT for the skin! I too have had the same successful results with it :)

But the devastation of the Bush economy? WTF is wrong with you?

Moron.

At least you were right about Olive Oil, just leave your uninformed drone comments at home.

funny September 18, 2009 at 4:12 am

@ Andrew: LOL! Isn’t name-calling productive? Doesn’t it do wonderful things for us and our country! And doesn’t it say a lot about what kind of human beings we are…

shawn April 21, 2010 at 8:44 am

Good article. But ‘Bush economy’? Just can’t stop blaming a single person. Just when you sounded like a bright person, you went and switched into ignorant mode. I will keep reading…until I see more comments like that. Why turn an otherwise intelligent article into something petty and uninformed? It was completely irrelevant to the topic, also. But I guess that is the nature of bitter, screaching liberals. Whoever screams the loudest is right, huh?

funny April 21, 2010 at 8:48 am

“Whoever screams the loudest is right, huh?” And who started that? Rush Limbaugh wasn’t screaming liberal stuff. It might help to develop enough of a sense of humor to recognize schtick…but in all fairness you haven’t been reading the site for a while to realize that’s what it is.

alyssa June 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Wow. Does it really matter what this person’s political views are? You seriously couldn’t just read about the freaken olive oil & not care that she has different views than you? Things like this always happen in the most random coment threads. 1 question: Why are so many people so dumb?

funny June 29, 2010 at 6:02 pm

@ alyssa: Excuse me? Who was attacked here by someone who couldn’t tolerate whose political views?

poppy July 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Alyssa was just supporting you. Don’t attack her. Just dismiss those others as internet trolls and dismiss they’re attacks and delete their comments.
The article itself was very helpful. Thanks. I’m gonna try it out as soon as I can get my hands on some evoo :)

poppy July 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

oops, typo: their*

funny July 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm

@ poppy and Alyssa: Sorry. I get tetchy in the wee hours of the morning. 8-o

Jenny February 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Thank you so much for this tip! Usually around the time I get my period, I get really nasty oily skin and bad acne. I’ve tried several different acne products and they all seem to dry out my skin and make it feel itchy and make me want to touch my skin a lot and make things worse. I’ve used olive oil on my face for the last couple weeks and my skin looks amazing and feels very soothed. I haven’t used any conditioning cream. The tone of my skin is great. My skin has a nice glow to it, but not an oily shine. My pores have been looking cleaner and less noticeable. Olive oil rocks! Thanks for helping me with my college student budget!

choche March 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm

FIRST OFF. can you keep your negative comments about Bush off your post? You sound like a whiney two year old. Its not Bush’s fault entirely that this economy is in a mess. So shut your mouth. And SECONDLY Olive oil does work. I refuse to use anything else on my face. So your right about that. Good work.

funny March 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

@ choche: No, I will not keep my opinions off any of my posts. This is my blog and I can say anything I please, particularly when it comes to commenting on the right wing. You sound like the sort of person you describe yourself as in your e-mail address: a teenaged mean girl. Get some manners, and get a life, my dear.

Good for you for having figured out about the value of olive oil on your face.

judy April 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I’ve been using olive oil for a while now and it cleans nicely. i use it on my hands and feet as well and also rub some in my hair and leave overnight. The only thing i wonder is, since i am an oily girl, i can’t seem to find a moisturizer that controls my oil. I take a tad bit of the olive oil and rub on lightly but i don’t like the greasy feeling it leaves (as a moisturizer). I’ve tried SO many and the oil just comes thru within a couple hours. Its very disturbing. My makeup looks great for a couple hours but then–here comes the oil again. Any ideas?

funny April 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Sure.

First, washing your face with olive oil should moisturize it plenty. So after you’ve wiped the olive oil off with a warm washcloth, don’t apply any other cream or oil. That “tight” feeling (as in augh! I should’ve slathered on some moisturizer!) can be remedied with some dilute white vinegar. Water the vinegar down about 50-50 (more water than that is OK) and, after washing your face, apply with a cotton ball. Obviously, don’t get this in your eyes.

Then look at powder-style “mineral” makeups. These may (or may not) hold up longer than liquid makeups.

Alternatively, take a look at Max Factor’s pancake make-up. Yeah…I know. But when I was a young thing with a face given to breaking out, I used this stuff all the time. It has two advantages: a) you apply it with water (dampen a sponge and gently apply it all over your face); and b) it COVERS. Zits? What zits?

Here’s a link: Max Factor Pan-Cake Makeup 125 True Beige

If you go this route, be prepared to spend a few dollars experimenting to find the right shade. As I recall, you needed to get a slightly darker color than what you think is your skin tone. You really do have to dork around with it a bit to find the color that matches your complexion…and ***IMPORTANT! It does need to match your skin tone closely. Otherwise, you either look like an amateur geisha or a stage actress.

This is a young woman’s makeup. But it’s a very effective makeup.

judy April 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm

You are so funny !! haha–

I went back to using Olive Oil to cleanse…. and I do feel a little “tight” afterwards which seems weird given I am SO oily!! I tried the vinegar thing. I have heard of that before as well but never tried it. I heard to use apple cider vinegar. Anyway, i used regular vinegar mixed half with water. I smelled like a salad for a couple hours but was at home so who cares!! haha…. Its not too bad and doesn’t control the oil totally but it seems, it works better than high end moisturizers that cost a mint !!!

I tried the “pancake” makeup about 2 yrs ago and it was awful !! I use Palladio powder foundation. You use it wet or dry–it works good !!

Thank you for your help…….so far………..so good !!!!!!!!!!!!

judy April 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

oh and also—-tonight after work, i rubbed the olive oil all over my face. Beforehand, I got a pan of water going on the stove, boiling. After I put oil on my face, I poured the boiling water in a big bowl and steamed my face for about 5 minutes. As kind of a “deep cleaning” (or…deep steaming) !! It feels good and gets down inside!!! :)

Intelligent Person June 20, 2011 at 12:29 am

This worked and Bush was awful. Leave it to Repubbies to get personally offended by the truth. Thanks!

Useful Genius. September 5, 2011 at 11:26 am

I too found that olive oil helped me through this nightmare that is Obama. Watching the George Soros socialist puppet show is not easy and I find that Olive oil helps me relax and get some sleep even during this fiasco of a presidency. No golden teleprompter can convey depth and true brilliance. It’s sad to watch affirmative action fail on such a grand stage.

funny September 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

@ Useful: LOL! Do you drink it to ease the upset stomach or rub it on your noggin to relieve the headache? :-D

choche September 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Somebody your age should act a bit more grown up. To me it seems that you are the one with no life, if you can wrongly accuse one man of causing this country to go into economical turmoil. If you are going to write a blog keep your dumb comments about Bush to yourself . It was a blog about olive oil being good as a cleanser, not an article to bash Bush. We didn’t come here for your political views hun. Doesn’t sound like you need to be writing anymore blogs if you cant stay on the topic!!! And btw I have a life and just cause I have an opinion doesn’t mean I don’t. :)

funny September 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

See, the problem we’ve got here, choche, is that when you don’t agree with someone and you tell that person to just shut up, you cut off discourse. That’s not what grown-ups do. Grown-ups engage in conversation, not yell shut up. Take a course in freshman comp; if your instructor knows how to teach, he or she will help you learn how to cross the threshold into adulthood.

Brenda September 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

Hi. I’ve been reading your blog and the comments about the olive oil. I wear makeup most days and even if I don’t use any foundation (because I’m not leaving the house) I still put on eyeliner and mascara. I was wondering if you use the olive oil to remove the eye makeup too? I’ve been reading about using different oils to cleanse with and did purchase some virgin coconut oil to give it a try. But I got the oil in my eyes even though they were closed and made a mess on my contacts! Maybe I didn’t close my eyes as tight as I thought I did or should I NOT use it for that? Also, I’m not a young girl, but I always try to look as good as I can. I’ve used just about every product out there and am really used to cleansing, scrubbing, toning, firming, retinoling (?lol) moisturizing, de-aging, all in an effort to decrease lines and wrinkles (thankfully I don’t have many even at my age and look 10 years younger than I am) and to get rid of those unsightly clogged pores! When I look at my face close up, all I see are those pores. I use every product out there that says “Will not clog pores”. But I still have em!! Nothing really works, except those little retinol pads that remove spots and make my face a little more even toned. Anyway, I just went upstairs and washed and steamed my face using my coconut oil. I had to pry my hand off the moisturizer jar to keep from using it. I miss it already. I’ve been on a mission to use up everything I purchased in the last year just because it was expensive and hate to toss it. I think I may stick with the coconut oil thing for a few days, then try olive oil to see if anything good happens. OH OH..thought of another question….do you mix the EVOO with castor oil? Every article I’ve read about oil cleansing includes a mixture of both. Just wondering…..

funny September 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

Absolutely I do try to keep olive oil and anything else oily away from my eyes. Once in the eyes was enough; mercifully I didn’t have contact lenses in at the time. Keeping your eyes closed doesn’t help much: the oil oozes its way in by capillary action. It took a whole day for the stuff to work its way out, during which the world looked like a motion picture taken through a camera lens that had been “softened” with a skiff of Vaseline. I will use it to remove raccoon eyes when mascara runs, but I don’t let the stuff get very close to my eyes and have a tissue or cotton ball in one hand while I dab the oil on with the other — wipe it off instantly!

Olive oil (and, I imagine, probably coconut oil) works to remove foundation, powder, lipstick, and the like. Soap and water or a commercial mascara remover is best of the gunk around your eyes. I occasionally use a moisturizer after cleaning the face with olive oil — if you rinse off with a hot washcloth, the overall effect is about the same as washing with soap. So sometimes a moisturizer is good.

I’ve never tried castor oil. Too lazy to track all that stuff down. Mostly for DIY projects I just use what’s in the house.

Christine February 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

So if you are wearing makeup (foundation and all) do you try to remove that with something else first or do you just use the olive oil to remove it?

funny February 4, 2012 at 11:14 am

@ Christine: Yes, I do wear makeup. Olive oil works wonderfully as a make-up remover.

Erin March 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm

people are allowed to speak their mind so how can someone tell someone else to keep something they want to say out of their posts?? for crying out loud this was supposed to be comments about what olive oil has done for their skin..

Amy May 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Loved your post and I can’t wait to try cleansing my face with evoo tonight! I read on other websites that you need castor oil blend. I’m delighted that you don’t use that; since I appear to be fresh out of castor oil. (People still use castor oil? Really?) I also had a good laugh over all the politics!

funny May 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm

@ Amy: I’ve never tried castor oil (for any purpose :roll:). Stumbled across the effect of olive oil as a facial cleanser by serendipity. It seems to work well and doesn’t leave one’s face feeling greasy. That may be true of other oils, since apparently people use a variety of oils that are available in health-food & grocery stores.

Ching May 20, 2012 at 7:02 am

Haha I love your post! Just to share, I’ve been using evoo for a few weeks as my cleanser, and I love it. It cured this flaky rash above my eye that I’ve had for months and couldn’t get rid off with other creams and cleansers. I learned online that gently rubbing outwards under the eyes with evoo on the tips of the fingers help soften the wrinkles, and it worked for me! I also mix a bit of coconut oil/evoo into my shampoo and body wash (i have very very dry skin and hair and everything hahaha). I seemed to have gotten a bit tanned on my face too, without going out much.. It might be the evoo cleanser? o_O

Diana May 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I love Olive Oil! I use it every day as a face wash even around my eyes. I haven’t had any problems with that. It takes off makeup better than anything I’ve ever used.
I also use it on my entire body. Since I’ve become pregnant I get a rash for any soap or lotion. I also got severe dry skin. The olive oil cured that and now I rub it on my tummy twice a day to help prevent stretch marks.
My skin has never been so clear and happy:) I’m so glad to read your blog and know that others out there are using this too!

funny May 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

@ Diana– Wow! It would be interesting to know if it actually works to prevent stretch marks. That would be an AWESOME discovery!

Mike October 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I feckin’ love olive oil, I usually leave it on my face overnight and it just makes it so moisturized. Also, the comments here are hilarious, people are so touchy about things, jesus.

Liz January 3, 2013 at 10:24 am

I’ve recently started using olive oil as a cleanser, although I usually wash it off after massaging for maybe 5 minutes. I’ve tried leaving it on overnight, and I have been absolutely amazed that my very oily, very acne-prone skin does not break out from it. I love it, and I am thinking of using it as my regular cleanser (at least in the evening) during the winter.

I agree, though, that Ivory soap is HARSH. It’s touted as gentle because it’s “99.44% pure” or whatever it is they say. But pure what? It’s all we used to use at my house when I was a kid, but it burned like crazy if it got in the eyes, which I don’t think is a good sign of a gentle cleanser. It also made me break out as a teenager and always left a soap film on my skin and in my sink and shower. (I’m speaking of the bar soap… perhaps there is a liquid with a different formula.) I’ve been tempted to try it as an adult because it’s “old school” and if it’s been around this long there must be something to it, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do so yet. Cetaphil and another gentle cleanser from Johnson and Johnson are truly gentle and truly feel like water in my eyes, which I take as a good sign.

funny January 3, 2013 at 10:41 am

@ Liz: “pure what”: good question! :-)

It’s entirely true that Ivory does hurt your eyes, as does any bar soap.

Have you ever tried glycerin soaps? I had a friend who was allergic to ordinary bar soaps but used glycerin all the time.

funnyaboutmoney1 April 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm

@ Belomi: Ivory never seemed to do much harm to me. It sure is easier on the skin than Neutrogena! In later years I used Dove, because I could get it pretty cheaply.

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