Olive Oil for Acne Treatment: Harnessing Nature’s Best

Can you really use olive oil for acne?

For some people, acne ends when adolescence ends but for some, acne continues to be a problem well into adulthood. For those who suffer from acne, no matter what age they are, it is an unsightly and embarrassing problem.

Many people go from product to product, trying to find something that works but many are surprised to find that there is an all-natural solution to their acne problem; olive oil.

Skincare companies want us to believe that the only cure for acne involves stripping our skin of its natural oils, which only worsens the problem. Consumers are taught that to get rid of acne, it must be dried up, and only by using products designed to “zap” away the acne by using harsh drying agents in face wash, toners, moisturizers, and even targeted acne drying products.

The Causes of Acne

Our skin continually sheds dead skin cells, when our pores become clogged, the dead skin cells remain and allow dirt to be trapped in the pore as well; bacteria will be trapped and the skin becomes inflamed and then either a whitehead or a blackhead will form. Some of the causes for the formation of acne are:

  • Hormones – Hormones can contribute to acne, which is why teenagers are prone to acne breakouts and women can break out when they menstruate, when they are pregnant and when menopause hits.
  • Medication – Certain medications can cause acne. Oral contraceptives, lithium, steroids, and phenobarbital are all associated with being a factor in causing acne.
  • Hygiene – If you fail to keep up a proper regime of hygiene then that will contribute to acne. When you do not keep your face clean, you will contribute to the buildup of acne-causing bacteria.
  • Poor Diet – refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, and trans-fats are not healthy foods for our bodies or our skin – avoid these foods to help clear up your skin.

Understanding Oils: Not All Are Created Equal

It's easy to paint all oils with the same brush, especially given the negative press that some dietary fats receive. However, when it comes to skincare, it's crucial to distinguish between the oils we consume and those we apply topically.

Not all oils are created equal, and their impact on our skin can vary dramatically.

Unhealthy dietary fats, like trans-fats found in many processed foods, can be detrimental to our overall health and exacerbate skin conditions. Consuming these in large quantities might lead to a host of health issues, one of which is compromised skin health.

On the flip side, certain topical oils offer a plethora of benefits for the skin. This is where extra virgin olive oil enters the spotlight. This oil, when used judiciously, can be a game-changer for many skin concerns, including acne.

Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil provides the skin with nourishment, aiding in repair and rejuvenation.

It's not just about moisturizing the skin; it's about offering it a balanced, natural treatment that aligns with the skin's own chemistry.

How Olive Oil Can Help

Olive oil has been a staple in Mediterranean diets and skincare regimens for centuries, and its benefits extend far beyond the kitchen. When it comes to acne, here's what this golden elixir brings to the table:

Properties of Olive Oil

Anti-aging: Packed with antioxidants, olive oil fights the signs of aging, keeping skin supple and youthful.

Antibacterial: This property aids in keeping acne-causing bacteria at bay, reducing the likelihood of breakouts.

Anti-inflammatory: Olive oil helps in reducing skin inflammation, making it beneficial for red and swollen acne.

Anti-fungal: Another layer of protection, ensuring a broad spectrum of skin issues are kept in check.

Nutritional Content

Extra virgin olive oil is a nutritional powerhouse. It's fortified with:

Vitamins: Specifically, Vitamins D, E, and K, each playing a role in skin health, from healing to moisture retention.

Beta-carotenes: Once absorbed, our bodies convert these into Vitamin A, an essential vitamin for skin regeneration and health.

Regulating Skin’s Oil Production

It might seem counterintuitive to apply oil to an already oily face. However, using olive oil can balance the skin's natural sebum production. When the skin is stripped of its natural oils, it overcompensates by producing more oil, leading to more breakouts. Olive oil ensures the skin remains moisturized, signaling it to produce just the right amount of oil.

The Power of Polyphenols

Polyphenols in olive oil act as potent antioxidants. They combat free radicals – harmful molecules that damage our skin cells. These free radicals can accelerate aging and exacerbate acne. The presence of polyphenols not only neutralizes these threats but also aids in skin hydration.


  1. Lin, T. K., Zhong, L., & Santiago, J. L. (2016). Olive Oil and Skin Health. Cosmetics, 3(3), 21.   
  2. Cicerale, S., Lucas, L. J., & Keast, R. S. (2015). Phenolic Compounds in Olive Oil: Antioxidant, Health and Organoleptic Activities according to Their Chemical Structure. Antioxidants, 4(3), 563-593.
  3. Danby, S. G., AlEnezi, T., Sultan, A., Lavender, T., Chittock, J., Brown, K., & Cork, M. J. (2013). Effect of Olive and Sunflower Seed Oil on the Adult Skin Barrier: Implications for Neonatal Skin Care. Pediatric Dermatology, 30(1), 42-50.

DIY: Olive Oil-Based Acne Scrub

In an era where natural skincare is gaining momentum, creating DIY solutions using household ingredients can be both effective and satisfying. One such remedy is the olive oil-based acne scrub, which combines the potency of olive oil with the exfoliating power of sea salt.

Why Natural Over Store-Bought?

Natural scrubs, like the one we're about to delve into, are devoid of artificial fragrances, preservatives, and harsh chemicals commonly found in store-bought versions.

This means a reduced risk of skin irritations, allergic reactions, and long-term skin damage. Moreover, the simplicity and transparency of ingredients give you more control over what you apply to your skin.


  • Finely ground sea salt: Acts as a natural exfoliant, helping in unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells.
  • High-quality extra virgin olive oil: Nourishes and moisturizes the skin while acting as a base for the scrub.

Preparation and Application


Step 1 - Mixing

Combine 1 cup of finely ground sea salt with ¼ cup of high-quality extra virgin olive oil in a bowl until you achieve a consistent paste. 


Step 2 - Storing 

Transfer the mixture into a glass jar with a secure lid, such as a small jelly jar or mason jar. This ensures the scrub stays fresh and is ready for multiple uses.


Step 3 - Application

Start by cleansing your face with your usual product. With damp skin, take a small amount of the scrub and gently massage it onto your face using circular motions.


Step 4 - Rest

Let the scrub sit on your skin for about 3-5 minutes.


Step 5 - Rinse

Wash off the scrub using warm water. While your face remains damp, you can optionally apply a thin layer of olive oil, rubbing it in until absorbed.

Cautionary Notes

  • Patch-test: Before using any new product or DIY solution, it's essential to do a patch test. Apply a small amount of the scrub to a discrete area of your skin (like the inside of your wrist) and wait for 24 hours to ensure there's no adverse reaction.

  • Washcloth Warmth: If following up with a hot washcloth, ensure it's comfortably warm, not scalding. Excessive heat can cause skin irritation or burns.

Daily Acne Management with Olive Oil

While the idea of applying oil to acne-prone skin might initially seem counterproductive, when done right, it can be a holistic approach to managing and preventing breakouts. Olive oil, with its myriad of skin benefits, stands out as an excellent candidate for this regimen.



Step 1 - Preparation

Begin with a clean slate. Gently cleanse your face to remove any impurities or makeup.


Step 2 - Application 

Measure out about one tablespoon of high-quality extra virgin olive oil into a small bowl. Using your fingertips, tenderly massage the olive oil onto your face, focusing more on acne-prone areas.


Step 3 - Steaming

Soak a clean washcloth in hot water (ensure it's at a comfortable temperature). Wring out the excess water and place the cloth over your face, allowing the warmth to open up pores and let the oil penetrate deeper. Keep it until the cloth cools.


Step 4 - Removal

Re-soak the washcloth in hot water, wring it out, and gently wipe away the olive oil from your skin.


Step 5 - Finishing Touch

With your skin still slightly damp, apply a small amount of olive oil, massaging it gently until absorbed. This leaves your skin moisturized without feeling greasy.

Preventive and Curative Aspects

Prevention: Regularly using olive oil helps in balancing the skin's natural sebum production, ensuring it neither dries out nor becomes overly oily. This balance significantly reduces the chances of new acne formation.

Curation: Olive oil's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties work to soothe existing acne, reduce redness, and prevent bacterial spread.

Incorporating olive oil into your daily skincare routine not only addresses the current acne situation but also provides a long-term, natural solution for healthier skin.

Choosing the Right Olive Oil

Just as with any natural remedy, the efficacy of olive oil in skincare largely depends on its quality. It's essential to discern between the vast array of olive oil brands and types on the market to ensure you're getting the best product for your skin.

Attributes of Effective Olive Oil

  1. Extra Virgin: Always choose extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for skincare. It's the purest form of olive oil, obtained from the first pressing of olives, ensuring all the beneficial compounds remain intact.
  2. Cold-Pressed: This indicates that the oil has been extracted without using heat, which can degrade its quality and lessen its beneficial properties.
  3. Dark Bottle: Quality olive oil is usually stored in dark bottles to protect it from light, which can deteriorate the oil over time.

Tips for Identifying High-Quality Olive Oil

  1. Smell and Taste: High-quality EVOO has a distinct fresh olive aroma and a slightly peppery or bitter taste. If it smells stale or lacks taste, it might be compromised.
  2. Certifications: Check for certifications on the label from established olive oil associations or governing bodies. This can indicate adherence to specific quality standards.
  3. Harvest Date: Unlike wine, olive oil doesn't get better with age. Always check the harvest date on the bottle. Fresh is best—preferably less than two years old.


While many brands produce quality olive oil, some renowned ones include:

  • California Olive Ranch: Known for its consistent quality and fresh taste.
  • Lucini Italia: Offers organic, estate-grown olive oil.
  • Cobram Estate: An award-winning Australian brand.
  • Pago Baldios San Carlos: A premium choice from Spain with a rich fruity taste.

However, it's essential to note that the best olive oil for you might vary based on personal preferences and regional availability. Always conduct thorough research and perhaps taste-test a few brands before deciding.

Addressing Concerns

While olive oil boasts an array of skin benefits, it's also essential to approach its usage with a discerning eye. Every individual's skin is unique, and what works for one might not always work for another.

Risks or Potential Drawbacks

  1. Comedogenic Scale: On the comedogenic scale (which measures the likelihood of an ingredient to clog pores), olive oil is placed at a moderate rating. This means that for some people, especially those with larger pores or prone to clogged pores, olive oil might exacerbate the situation.
  2. Reactions: Olive oil is natural, but that doesn't mean it's immune from causing reactions. Some individuals might experience breakouts, rashes, or skin irritations.
  3. Grade and Quality: Not all olive oils are created equal. Using a low-quality or adulterated olive oil can negate benefits and introduce unwanted compounds to the skin.

Addressing Oily Skin Concerns

  1. Olive Oil as a Balancer: Though it may seem counterintuitive, applying oil can help balance sebum production. However, those with already very oily skin should approach with caution and perhaps start with a patch test or use sparingly.
  2. Blend with Other Oils: If you have very oily skin, consider blending olive oil with other non-comedogenic oils like hemp seed oil or safflower oil.

Known Sensitivities

Patch Test:  Before fully integrating olive oil into your skincare routine, always conduct a patch test. Apply a small amount behind the ear or the inner wrist, and wait for 24-48 hours to observe any reactions.

  1. Consult a Dermatologist: If you're dealing with persistent acne, significant skin concerns, or known sensitivities, it's best to consult with a dermatologist before introducing new products or regimens.

In conclusion, while many have found solace in olive oil's natural benefits, it's essential to listen to your skin and adjust accordingly. If you find that olive oil isn't a suitable match for your skin, there's no harm in exploring other natural alternatives.


Olive oil, a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, is more than just a delightful accompaniment to our dishes. Its virtues extend beyond the kitchen, offering potential solutions for those grappling with acne. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties, olive oil presents a promising avenue for skin rejuvenation and acne management. From its abilities to balance our skin's natural oil production to its nutrient-rich profile that supports healthy skin, it's no wonder that many are turning to this liquid gold as a part of their skincare regime.

However, as with all remedies, it's crucial to remember that each individual's skin is distinct. What works wonders for one might not for another. Hence, it's always wise to approach with an open yet cautious mindset. Conduct patch tests, seek professional advice if needed, and most importantly, listen to your skin.

In a world that often leans heavily on synthetic treatments and quick fixes, taking a moment to consider natural alternatives can be enlightening. Olive oil, with its deep-rooted history and modern-day testimonials, bridges the ancient world's wisdom with today's needs.

So, whether you're exploring conventional treatments or natural remedies, or even a mix of both, olive oil might just be the all-natural companion your skin has been yearning for. Dive into the world of natural skincare and discover the benefits firsthand.

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