Is olive oil good for my skin?

Various bottles of olive oil.
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Barry Wong/Photodisc/Getty Images In addition to being good on salads and pasta, olive oil can help moisturize dry skin. See more getting beautiful skin pictures.
Barry Wong/Photodisc/Getty Images

You probably know olive oil can be good for your health -- and good for your pasta -- but olive oil may also be good for your skin. This is especially true if you have extremely dry skin or are allergic to topical creams and lotions.

Olive oil is a common folk remedy for very dry skin. It's silky smooth and does not usually cause allergic reactions [source: Kranke et al]. Olive oil may also protect your skin against sun damage and cancer. In one study on mice, an application of extra-virgin olive oil after exposure to UVB light reduced the number of tumors the mice developed [source: Budiyanto et al].


If you're not worried about allergies, you may want to consider mixing olive oil with another perfume or lotion to avoid making the distinctive scent of olives your new personal cologne. Be careful when applying, though -- olive oil might be good for your skin, but it's not so good for fabrics. A way to get around the hazard to your clothing is to take a bath with a few tablespoons of olive oil added to the water -- just be careful getting out of the slippery tub, and completely clean away the oily residue afterward.

If your hands need moisturizing, cover them in olive oil and put on some gloves before bed. If it's your feet, massage some olive oil in and then put on socks to lock the moisture in and keep you from staining your sheets (and sliding around when you walk).

Next time you notice some dry skin, you might look in your kitchen cabinet for a remedy -- just be sure you have enough olive oil for your next pasta dinner.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • The Frugal Life. "Olive Oil for Skin Moisturizer." (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • Gladstone, Valerie. "Olive Oil: The All-Purpose Remedy." Wired Berries. 2/19/07. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • Johnson, Cait. "Olive Oil: Kitchen Cupboard Beauty Tips." Care 2 Healthy Living. 3/24/01. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • People's Pharmacy. "Soften Hair and Skin with Olive Oil." 8/25/07. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • Arief Budiyanto et al. "Protective effect of topically applied olive oil against photocarcinogenesis following UVB exposure of mice." Carcinogenesis, Vol. 21, No. 11, 2085-2090, November 2000
  • Kranke, B. et al. Olive oil--contact sensitizer or irritant? Contact Dermatitis. 1997 Jan;36(1):5-10.