Extra-virgin olive oil and its diverse uses
By Natalie Serafini, Opinions Editor
My mama told me when I was young that beauty is skin deep. To a normal, logical child, that would mean that beauty is ephemeral; it would mean that it’s more important to be a good person than it is to be attractive. I—intelligent little whipper snapper of a 10-year-old that I was—assumed it meant that if you have beautiful skin, you will be beautiful. My perusal of ravishing celebrities confirmed this hypothesis: Tyra Banks was radiant; Angelina Jolie didn’t have a spot of acne; and Catherine Zeta-Jones showed neither signs of aging nor ugliness.
From then on, my efforts were directed at developing delightful dermis. I’ve been washing my face and moisturizing since I was a preteen. It took me a while to get on the sunscreen bandwagon, but I now slather myself in it like an anxious albino, and even the slightest touch of a ray has me clutching at my bottle of Banana Boat. Yet all this effort was proving fruitless. My face continued to be oily and not so much with the glowing, and while I don’t have wrinkles (yet), my face certainly hasn’t been as unmarred as a clear blue sky.
While scrolling through Pinterest a few months ago, I found what has been a much more effective—both in function and cost—alternative to the many face washes and moisturizers I’ve used in the past. As far as I can tell, the answer is extra-virgin olive oil.
The reason oily skin often gets worse from overly abrasive washing is that you’re stripping the skin of natural oils. This loss gets the sebaceous glands going into overdrive because they think not enough oil is being produced. Rather than pushing your face to be as slick as possible, oil is a gentle, natural moisturizer that will encourage balanced skin and won’t put the sebaceous glands into hysterics.
Skin tends to be a bit on the acidic side, which helps to ward off bacteria. It’s important—just as it is to maintain a reasonable amount of oil on your face—to maintain a balance in your skin’s pH level: a good amount of acidity in your face wash will help your skin to stay slightly acidic, keeping it and you healthy. Where some face washes might mess up your equilibrium with too much acidity or basicity, extra-virgin olive oil is suited to help skin stay at the right level.
Extra-virgin olive oil is also a much cheaper alternative to expensive facial lotions. It’s important—even as young as many of us attending college are—to keep your skin moisturized. It’ll help your complexion now, and will hopefully prevent harsh wrinkles in the future. But take it from someone who’s been moisturizing consistently since the age of 11: all those bottles add up. Olive oil dissolves makeup with ease, and works effectively as a face wash and moisturizer. Your wallet will thank you for accomplishing these three tasks with one cheap option.
While trying my damnedest to be hot stuff, I also try to avoid hurting the planet/environment/animals in the process. I’ve found some stores and products that advocate these principles, but often at a high cost. Olive oil accomplishes many of the same things for much less money. It isn’t traditionally intended for use on human skin, so it isn’t tested on animals. It’s a natural product, so no chemicals taint its golden sheen. Extra-virgin olive oil is often imported from far away countries, meaning that it isn’t the most environmentally-friendly option in that regard; still, because it’s a reasonable option in other ways—and because I swear my pores have shrunk as a result of using it—I’m willing to disregard this.
Extra-virgin olive oil isn’t abrasive, expensive, or harmful to the skin and planet. I’m generally pretty disbelieving of “miracle” solve-alls—trendy, explosive new fads that burst onto the market, quickly proving their lack of substance and stamina—but as far as I can tell, extra-virgin olive oil delivers.
Other things extra-virgin olive oil does:
– acts as a fantastic hair oil treatment, soothing dry scalps and damaged ends.
– moisturizes the hell out of your gams after you’ve shaved, or works wonders as a replacement for shaving cream.
– helps to keep mustaches, beards, and goatees extra-luscious.
– mixes well in equal parts with balsamic vinegar, making for a great bread dip or salad dressing. You might not want to mix the oil you use to coat your gams and hair with the oil you eat though.