Ingredient Spotlight: Olive Oil in the Personal Care Industry

A liquid oil derived from Olives, Olive Oil is first and foremost a food ingredient. From Mediterranean origins, Olive trees have been growing in the region for nearly 10,000 years. It is only in more modern times that Olive Oil has been harvested for use in the personal care and cosmetics industries.

What exactly is Olive Oil?

Olive Oil is mainly made up of fatty acids. The fatty acids in Olive Oil traicylglycerols are around 70% Oleic Acid, 10% Linoleic Acid, 10% Palmitic Acid, 5% Stearic Acid and 5% Linolenic Acid. It is also a source of Vitamins E & K. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the least processed and most natural of all Olive Oils available, where olives have simply been pressed to extract the oil. Refined Olive Oil has likely been heat processed to remove the odour, colour and flavour found in the naturally occurring oil. This is usually used in cooking, and also the cosmetics and personal care industry.

What are the benefits of using Olive Oil

In Mediterranean countries, Olives and Olive Oil are among the most widely consumed produce. This gives a comparison against other countries that don’t consume as much Olive Oil, proving an important aspect to a lot of the scientific research looking at the specific health benefits of Olive Oil.


Olive Oil possesses moisturising properties and is said to be great for the hair and skin. Using Olive Oil in soap means that the soap will not strip away all the natural oils found on your skin, and will not clog pores. This allows the skin to sweat and shed cells, without causing irritation. Olive Oil is also hypoallergenic, so it is less likely to cause any skin problems or dryness after use, helping your skin retain moisture for longer.

Image Credit: The Body Shop


A phenolic compound found in Olive Oil called Oleocanthal largely contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties. This compound is not found in any other vegetable oils and is found to have similar properties as ibuprofen. Chronic inflammation can have a negative effect on health and are linked with issues such as cancer, cardiovascular and arthritis. The anti-inflammatory phenolic compound unique to Olive Oil can reduce the effect of the natural inflammatory response of the body, thus helping to reduce the risk of the associated health problems (Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 2011). Research suggests that individuals consuming a Mediterranean diet (consisting of a high consumption of Olive Oil) were less at risk of developing coronary problems. Low levels of obesity are also found in these Mediterranean countries, and consumption of Olive Oil seems to promote good health and higher mortality rates (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007). It is well established that the pathophysiology of common disease states such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and neurodegenerative disease are associated with chronic inflammation [52–55]. Phenolic compounds derived from EVOO have been reported to have significant anti-inflammatory capacity.

Stephenson Personal Care

Given that Olive Oil is an ideal oil to use in the saponification process, and the wealth of health benefits that this ingredient brings to the table, it is no surprise that we have formulated some of our products using Olive Oil. Castile Soap, originating in the Castile region in Spain, traditionally uses Olive Oil as the oil used in the saponification stage of soap making. Our Liquid 101N soap is our take on this and it uses an organic Olive Oil and Coconut Oil blend, giving this liquid soap base a rich and nourishing lather. Our Crystal OV Melt & Pour base is made using Olive Oil at the 20% level. The Olive Oil in this formulation, alongside a high glycerine content, makes this a very moisture-rich soap base.


Current Opinion in Biotechnology (2011): Antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phenolicactivities in extra virgin olive oil European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007): Anti-inflammatory effect of virgin olive oil in stable coronary disease patients: a randomized, crossover, controlled trial (2017): 11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil

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