Olive oil for acne. A natural home remedy to keep your skin looking great.


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The benefits of olive oil for treating acne

Excess skin oil may lead to acne, but that doesn't mean that all oils are bad. Learn how olive oil promotes healthy skin inside and out.


Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, and has long been valued for its health and beauty benefits. Those benefits include everything from reducing the risk of heart disease to preventing ulcers and repairing scars. Olive oil can have a powerful effect in promoting healthy skin, hair and nails.


For acne sufferers with oily skin, the idea of adding more oil to your face may sound hard to swallow, but like tea tree oil, there's more to this natural remedy than meets the eye.


How olive oil can improve your skin from the inside


If you've read our acne diet guide, you already know that high-fat foods are not the best thing for your skin, but not all fats are equal. Olive oil happens to be one of the best natural sources of monounsaturated fats, which help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while raising your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Unlike saturated fats or trans fats (which are potentially harmful and linked to obesity), the monounsaturated fat in olive oil is actually good for you and helps regulate insulin levels, reducing oily skin and preventing acne. It's also rich in several antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, which makes it ideal for protecting your skin if you spend a lot of time out under to the sun.


Applying olive oil topically to combat acne


The topical use of olive oil goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and it's still just as effective for promoting beautiful skin today. Plus it's cheap and easy - always a plus for home remedies.


Don't let its oiliness fool you. When applied to your face, olive oil actually breaks down sebum and helps draw out those pesky clumps of sediment clogging your pores. It also makes for a potent moisturizer as one of the top natural sources of squalene, keeping your skin cells smooth and supple. The presence of chlorophyll promotes faster tissue repair and aids in healing from minor scars, and of course those antioxidants like vitamins A and E don't hurt either.


Extra virgin, unfiltered olive oil is best


Olive oil comes in several varieties, and some are better than others. The best grade is "extra virgin, first cold pressed". This describes oil that has gone through the least processing. The fruit of the olive is pressed at a low temperature (exact temperatures vary, but it is never heated) and preserves as much of the nutrient content as possible. Standard "virgin" and "cold pressed" varieties aren't bad either, but are typically from warmer regions, contain more fatty acids, and simply don't meet the same standard of taste. Lower grades include "pure" or "light" olive oil, both of which undergo processing which dilutes their nutritional value (and flavor). Others are "made from refined oils", introducing additional chemicals into the mix that you don't want.


In addition, olive oil may be available as either "filtered" or "unfiltered". As long as it's extra virgin, this doesn't make a huge difference, but the unfiltered variety, which contains more sediment, also contains more nutrients. It tends to have a slightly stronger flavor as well, which I much prefer (it's great with fresh bread and cheese!).


While usually inexpensive, premium brands can get more pricey, and you may have to go to a local Italian food shop to find them. If you like good olive oil, it's totally worth it, as the real stuff is worlds better than what you'll get at Walmart. Just make sure to store it smart, which means resisting the temptation to display that fancy bottle on the windowsill. Like most any oil, olive oil is sensitive to heat, sunlight and air. It doesn't take much to make it go rancid, so keep your bottle sealed and stored in a cool, dark place.


Using olive oil in acne home remedies


For optimal health benefits, many medical professionals recommend getting 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day. You can drizzle it over one of those salads you're supposed to be eating (see our vegetables for acne guide), take it straight, mix it to make a sauce or dressing, or add it to any number of dishes. Olive oil can also be used for cooking, but while it may be healthier than cooking with butter, it's not exactly the best cooking oil. This is due to its fairly high heat sensitivity. Too much heat causes those monounsaturated fats to turn into harmful trans fats. Alternatives such as coconut or peanut oil are better able to withstand high temperatures without denaturing.


As for topical applications, olive oil's benefits are evidenced by how many new skin care products now include it as an ingredient. While it no doubt mixes well, this natural remedy is effective even all on its own. Massage a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil onto your face and let it set for about 15 minutes before rinsing off. The oil will break down sebum and work to gently dislodge stubborn whiteheads and blackheads without harming your skin.


You can also mix it with a plethora or other ingredients for added effect, some of the most popular being:


With Honey - As described in our honey article, this combination makes for a great moisturizing facial mask with strong antibacterial and antioxidant properties.


With Lemon Juice - The citric acid will work to exfoliate dead skin cells while the olive oil unclogs your pores and keeps your skin from becoming over-dry.


With Baking Soda - If you're looking for a scrub, this one is easier on your skin than traditional baking soda and water combinations. Just mix to a paste and gently massage.


Of course these are just a few simple examples. Olive oil is gentle enough that you don't have to fear getting creative unless you have a rare allergic reaction to it. Used both internally and externally, it can be a great way to naturally combat acne and help prevent future breakouts.


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