Olive oil is an emollient — a moisturising agent able to reduce water loss and cover the skin with a protective film, and it can also penetrate deeply into the skin.
For many years, olive oil has been used to care for dry skin. It was believed that the application of pure oil would soften and nourish dry thinning skin, make it more resilient and elastic, restore its protective properties.
However latest research has demonstrated that olive oil should not be used as a primary skin care solution, for its effect would be quite the contrary of what you’d expect. Olive oil contains quite a lot of oleic acid which can gradually dissolve the lipid layer of the epidermis thus weakening the skin’s barrier function. The skin then loses its own natural ability to retain water, dries up and becomes thin.
If the skin is healthy to begin with, applying olive oil for a relatively short period of time (up to 9 months) does not normally cause any side effects. But even then one should be careful.
Olive oil, like all vegetable oils, works best in the composition of cosmetic solutions. Good quality cold pressed olive oil can have a soothing and anti-inflammatory effect because it contains a molecule with non-steroid anti-inflammatory properties.
Olive oil is considered one of the best basic ones to create ether oils compositions: it is hypoallergenic and neutral enough to preserve the qualities of other plant oils and extracts.
So if you wish to limit yourself to natural oils only for skin care, a safer way to go would be to concoct a customised mix according to the desired effect and your skin concerns. For this, however, you’d need to read up on fatty acids, their contents in the skin, signs of deficiency and oil compositions.
Frankly speaking, getting a good quality day cream is not only easier than that, but also probably better for your skin. A good face cream created by modern cosmetic standards combines the functions of emollient, soothing agent and film-forming material retaining water on the skin surface, and does not dissolve the skin’s own lipids.