Why Olive Oil is Such a Great Natural Skin Care Oil

When it comes to natural plant oils, keep in mind that the oils that most closely resemble your skin’s natural oil (sebum) are the ones that will produce the best results for your skin and your overall health. They also tend to be more stable, with a considerably longer shelf life than most other oils.

Sebum, your body’s natural oil, is secreted by your oil glands (sebaceous glands), which are typically located at the root of every hair as well as other places throughout the body. This oil is very important to skin health. It softens and lubricates the skin and hair and prevents the skin from drying and cracking. It also has anti-microbial properties that protect the skin from infection and damage.

Many factors (living in dry or windy climates or higher altitudes, for example) can lead to excessively dry skin, where the sebum you secrete is simply not enough to do the job and additional moisturizers are needed. By the same token, overactive sebaceous glands that lead to excessively oily (and acne-prone) skin can sometimes be a sign of an oil deficiency in the body. As counter-intuitive as that may sound, if your body isn’t getting enough Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) from food or supplementation, it can respond by over-producing and secreting sebum to counteract the potential harm or damage to your skin that can come from this deficiency.

All fats and oils (including sebum) are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two ways of classifying these fatty acids. The first is based on saturated fat vs. unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). The other is a system of classification based on molecular size or the length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. If I can get technical here for a minute . . . fatty acids often consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. So oils can have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), or long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Sebum contains medium chain fatty acids, in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), so oils that consist of MCFAs are those that most closely resemble sebum.

The two plant-based culinary oils that are richest in antioxidants and most closely resemble your sebum are Virgin Coconut and EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), which is what makes them such excellent skincare ingredients, and the main ones to look for in high quality natural lotions, creams and cleansers.