The qualities of olive oil have never been limited to the kitchen. Traditionally, olive oil was used throughout the Mediterranean area for medical and cosmetic purposes. Rafi Hadar, head consultant at Dr. Payot Cosmetics Israel, says that olive oil is rich in vitamins A, E, D and K and that the cosmetic industry utilizes it in many products. Yearit Nahum, manager and consultant of Pevonia BotanicaIsrael, says those vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the skin. “When you use a product that is based on olive oil, the skin immediately becomes softer and healthier.”
In addition to using products that contain olive oil, experts say one can easily prepare simple beauty masks from olive oil at home.
Varda Shahaf of Lancaster Cosmetics Israel, suggests mixing olive oil with salt for a quick and excellent homemade body peeling mask. Shahaf offers a few more ideas: Use oil to make a foot peeling mask: Mix 1⁄2 cup of pure olive oil with 2 Tbsp. coarse salt and massage feet for 2 to 3 minutes and wash. For a hand peeling, mix 1⁄2 cup of pure olive oil with 2 Tbsp. sugar, massage 1 to 2 minutes and wash. For the hair and scalp, mix 3⁄4 cup of virgin olive oil with 1⁄2 cup of dry wine, 1 cup of yogurt, rub into the scalp and leave for 10 minutes. Comb with a fine-tooth comb and shampoo as usual. It is also great for treating dandruff.
Hadar offers his tips for homemade uses of the oil: “Simply rubbing the body with olive oil once a week will give a natural healthy glow to your skin.” For the face, he suggests massaging it with olive oil once or twice a week. He says that rubbing olive oil on the feet and enveloping them in plastic wrap for an hour will soften the skin and treat dryness. For dry hair, he says to rub it with olive oil, moving from the scalp outward. But, he warns, “Do not use it if you dye your hair blonde, as it may result in changing the color to green.”
Judith Blawatt of La Prairie Cosmetics Israel offers a few more tips for homemade facials using olive oil: Make a mask by using a few drops of olive oil and lemon. Massage the face and leave it for a few minutes. Wash off with water. For a gentle peeling, mix oil with sugar and rub gently for a few seconds.
But do not use it if you suffer from acne or have sensitive skin.
And remember: This year’s olive oil-producing season is at its end, and the freshest virgin oil is available now. Enjoy it.