Olive Oil For Acne: Is It Effective?

Like many people, including myself, you’ve probably encountered disappointment when battling acne.

The home remedy your friend highly recommended, over-the-counter topical treatment, or latest, most hyped food supplement didn’t do you any good. It ends with a deep sigh, powering up your laptop or PC and starting the search for the next treatment. And like me, you have stumbled upon numerous articles and reviews about olive oil and the effect it has on the human skin. It’s time to go through some of the claims regarding olive oil, see what it’s all about.

We suggest you hold off using olive oil(just on your skin, you should put it on your food) until you finish reading this article.

The History Behind It

Olive Oil For Acne: Is It Effective?

Olive oil has been around for more than 4 millennia. An integral part of Mediterranean cuisine, it was also used as a skincare and hair remedy, and as part of religious rituals. From massage oil and ointment for wounds to skin moisturizer and hair oil, it was part of many treatments.

But we live in the age of information, we require scientific evidence. With all the information and claims on the internet, getting to the truth can be hard. We cannot determine the usefulness of a product from the experience of a few individuals. Scientific research is needed to know for sure if something is good or bad for us – and let’s see what’s the scientific verdict for using olive oil for acne.

General Facts And Benefits

Olive Oil For Acne: Is It Effective?

Remember, these are potential benefits you can have from adding olive oil to your diet. It does not apply to the use if olive oil as a topical treatment.

  • High levels of oleic acid

In fact, oleic acid makes for more than 50% of the oil’s constituents. Oleic acid has been associated with lowering blood pressure. Regular intake of olive oil has been shown to help with regulation of systolic(maximum) and diastolic(minimum) pressure in patients suffering from hypertension.

  • A higher proportion of monosaturated fats

Research has shown that if you replace saturated with monosaturated fats, you can lower the chance of coronary heart disease. Monosaturated fats are one of the factors that can help lower the levels of LDL(low-density lipoprotein), also known as ‘bad cholesterol’. Unlike saturated and trans fats, monosaturated fats can have a positive effect on your health if ingested in moderate amounts.

  • Rich in antioxidants

A very good source of antioxidants, which can help you prevent chronic diseases. Certain components of olive oil, like vitamin E, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, are known to be helpful in preventing some diseases and aging. These are crucial in fighting free radicals and in preventing the formation of cancer. One of the phenolic compounds called oleuropein is known to have a crucial role in the production of nitric acid in the body, which has anti-bacterial properties and also has a strong vasodilatory effect (it lowers blood pressure).

  • Strong anti-inflammatory characteristics

Chronic inflammation is thought to be the leading driver behind numerous diseases, and olive oil is considered to help with many of them. Rich with another antioxidant called hydroxytyrosol, the oil is known to be a strong anti-inflammatory food. It can help reduce blood clotting, prevent thrombosis, embolism, and stroke.

  • Benefits on the immune system

Besides being rich in nutrients which can help in inhibiting and killing bacteria, olive oil is also rich with nutrients that can improve the general function of the immune system, helping reduce the chance of autoimmune diseases.

Research And Claims

Olive Oil For Acne: Is It Effective?

Beauty bloggers are divided on the question of olive oil use for acne. Some say home remedies involving olive oil are the best thing they have done for their skin. Others say that not only has it not cured their acne, but it’s made them worse. As tempting as it sounds to use olive oil on your face, researchers and doctors don’t recommend the use of olive oil to treat acne and acne scars. Let’s compare some of the claims to what actual research says:

  • It can treat acne

This is the most common claim made by beauty bloggers, saying that using olive oil as a cleanser can help you treat acne. Unfortunately, this claim cannot be farther from the truth. Studies on this subject have shown that not only is olive oil useless, but it can also make your acne worse.

Lathering your face with oils isn’t totally a bad idea. But it’s important to know which ones can help you, and which can’t. Olive oil can’t help. What’s more, there’s a great chance that it will clog your pores and cause even more acne.

  • Prevents acne

Treating acne is something you do when they break out. Preventing them requires everyday treatment. Most people resort to methods like cleansing and moisturizing, using less makeup and over-the-counter medicaments. A lot of beauty bloggers say that you can use it to prevent acne, pointing to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil. It’s true that olive oil is rich in these. But there is no proof that the skin absorbs any of them.

  • Olive oil can improve general skin function

A claim made by many, explaining that sometimes our skin gets too irritated and dry from external factors like air pollution and makeup, and that olive oil can help it regain its softness and elasticity. Once again, there is no conclusive evidence that this can be achieved with olive oil. In fact, many have reported that their skin got even more irritated and dry.  And it’s no wonder – olive oil is heavy, and as such, it can easily damage the skin barrier. Research has revealed that oleic acid (olive oil is composed of somewhere from 50 to 80% of it) can reduce skin barrier function. Furthermore, it’s known to feed acne-causing bacteria like P.Acnes.

  • It’s a great sunscreen option

The fact that olive oil was used as sunscreen or hair oil by many Mediterranean women in history doesn’t make it good. Yes, some oils can provide protection from UV rays and others may help you get a tan, but olive oil is not one of them. It doesn’t have a significantly high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) whatsoever. Studies have shown that the SPF of olive oil is not nearly high enough to provide protection from the sun, with values averaging less than 10 units on the SPF scale(over-the-counter sunscreens are all above 30). Other oils like raspberry and other oils have been known to protect, but not to an extent that will encourage you to put it on your skin and be carefree.

That’s it? But what about all those people with positive stories?

Olive Oil For Acne: Is It Effective?


It might or might not be true olive oil helped them, but those stories cannot be taken into account as scientific evidence. It’s always better to stick to scientifically proven and tested products. Remember that different skin types require different treatments. If you didn’t have any luck with over-the-counter products, it might be best for you to start on prescription medicaments in order to treat your acne outbreak – as for home remedies, there are better out there, like aloe or tea tree oil. In any case, there are a lot of factors as to what might be causing your acne, so do yourself a service and schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.


Olive Oil For Acne: Is It Effective?

It’s better to stick to proven treatments and try home remedies only after you have consulted a dermatologist. Your acne could be caused by other conditions that you might have, but might not be aware of. Hormonal imbalance, a sensitivity to certain foods or your general lifestyle could contribute to an acne outbreak. We recommend that you first see a dermatologist. See what type of skin you have and listen to the recommendations. Then try and set exercise, diet and cleansing regimes which will help you have a healthy lifestyle. Only after that has failed, go and ask your dermatologist about your options. He might suggest home remedies, or he might prescribe you some common antibiotics like isotretinoin or tetracycline. Stick to them while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, give them time to work their magic, and there is a good chance there’s an acne free future in store for you.