Olive oil is something that's extremely popular at the moment, thanks to recipe books highlighting it as an excellent ingredient to cook with and dip artisan bread into.
However, don't overlook it as a skincare ingredient either, as it can offer numerous benefits for the body's largest organ. Here at Heyland & Whittle, we use olive oil as a base to create our wonderful handmade soaps and also as a key part of our Olive and Fig range of products.
Here, we'll outline why we love it so much - and why we think everyone else should too.
History of olive oil use
Olive oil is a type of fat that is produced when the fruits of the Olea europaea (olive tree) are pressed. The trees are native to the Mediterranean region, so much of the early history of olive oil derives from there.
Evidence from archaeologists suggests that the Canaanites in what became Israel were turning olives into oil as far back as 4,500 BC, while remains of the substance have been found in jugs on the Aegean Sea island of Naxos.
We know that the Ancient Egyptians used olive oil as a cleanser, moisturiser and anti-bacterial agent, while the Ancient Greeks liked to apply it as a muscle rub before they exercised to prevent strains.
Today, olive oil is a multi-million pound, multinational industry and huge quantities of it are produced and shipped to meet demand from all over the world.
Why is olive oil good for the skin?
Olive oil is packed with antioxidants and vitamins A and E, plus it contains monounsaturated fatty acids that help to eliminate the free radicals our skin is exposed to on a daily basis.
Since it's natural, it doesn't usually cause allergic reactions and is therefore great for very dry skin. However, it is equally good for oily skin too, as it isn't at all greasy and is absorbed into the skin cells rather than simply sitting on top.
What is it like to use on the skin?
A key thing to note about olive oil is that it isn't gloopy and greasy when you apply it to the skin, so don't assume that you'll look as though you have emptied the contents of the frying pan onto your body.
It's actually really light and only mildly scented, so it's the perfect ingredient to be combined with other fragrances for a real treat for the skin - that's why it's a base component of our soaps.
Other ways you can benefit from olive oil
As we've already mentioned, olive oil is hugely popular for cooking with - and for good reason too. Studies have shown that it could cut a person's risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke when compared with saturated fats and trans fats, while evidence suggests it may also stave off Alzheimer's disease and inflammation.
We're still finding out new advantages too. Just weeks ago, new research was published in the journal Circulation by the University of Illinois stating that olive oil could restore normal heart function in organs already affected by heart disease thanks to the oleate within it.
So why not try one of our soaps, embrace a Mediterranean diet and see if you can become an olive oil convert just like us?