Extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants and has very high nutritional value. It is rich in omega-3 acids and is one of the healthiest and most beneficial natural oils for anti-aging and skin protection.
It’s wide range of compelling uses even include prevention of radiodermatitis–an acquired skin disease from overexposure of UV rays commonly seen in patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Is olive oil comedogenic?
Olive oil is an undiluted vegetable oil that, in its pure form, is moderately comedogenic (Grade: 2).
It’s comedogenic side effect however, is reduced when diluted down to 25% concentrations and mixed with mineral oil (which is a non-comedogenic oil with a rating of <2 so it will never clog pores.)
Mineral oil has had a bad reputation but claims that it is unsafe is false false false! Cosmetics-grade and pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil are considered the safest and most hypoallergenic moisturizing ingredients ever found.
All of this misinformation comes from sources discrediting mineral oil because it is a byproduct of petroleum and has a wide range of household uses. The same can be said for Vaseline‘s petroleum jelly, but just because that it has a ton of practical uses around the house does not take away the fact that it is a cheap and very, very effective skin product. It is also one of the main ingredients for Crème de la Mer, one of the most popular and most expensive moisturizers in the market (a whopping $310 per tub).
In the same vein, mineral oil used in skincare is highly purified and far removed from its raw form. It is USP-NF (US Pharmacopoeia-National Formulary) or BP (British Pharmacopoeia) grade; which means it is acceptable for food, drug, or medicinal use. It was first introduced in the 1800’s and the fact that it is still widely used today is testament to its safety and efficacy. (I realize I’ve gone off on a tangent about mineral oil but misconceptions are very frustrating!)
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There are different grades of olive oils in the market:
- organic extra virgin olive oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- virgin olive oil
- refined olive oil
When using it on your skin or for consumption, make sure to always use the highest quality organic extra virgin olive oil to reap all the benefits.
The mineral oil blend can leave a greasy feeling on your skin, however (think Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Oil, which is basically mineral oil with a tinge of fragrance). If you dislike this feeling on your skin, you can opt for other non-comedogenic alternatives below.
What are Other Alternatives to Olive Oil?
If you have acne-prone skin and are looking for cleansing oils or organic moisturizers; you can use the least comedogenic natural oils in the market as an alternative.
All the oils below have a comedogenic rating of 0, so you can use them in their pure form (the links below will lead you to the Amazon website).
- Argan oil – high in vitamin E and extremely moisturizing
- Sunflower oil – light in consistency, rich in vitamins that can help improve skin health
- Hemp seed oil – a pure organic oil that is good for absorbing vitamin D
- Safflower oil – highly hydrating to the skin and popularly used as a carrier oil
Comedogenic Oils You Should Avoid:
Natural oils you might want to avoid if you have acne-prone skin are:
- coconut butter (4)
- peach kernel oil (5)
- cocoa butter (4)
- sesame oil (3)
- linseed oil or flex oil
- palm oil
- soybean oil (3)
- grapeseed oil
- almond oil
- corn oil (3)
- cotton seed oil
In skincare and cosmetics, it’s not necessarily the presence of a particular type of ingredient that makes one product more comedogenic than the other–it’s the amount of concentration and the mixture of it with other ingredients that are most important.
Cosmetic Ingredients You Should Avoid:
With whopping grades of 4-5 (in a scale of 0-5), other ingredients that are highly comedogenic and should watch out for are:
- Cetyl acetate (4) – also a skin irritant
- Acetylated lanolin alcohol – sheepskin oil that is very popular in cosmetics
- Oleic acid – an unsaturated fatty acid used in moisturizers
- Oleyl alcohol (4) – found in fish oils and used in detergents and softeners
- Oleyl palmitate – used in cosmetics as an emollient and thickening agent
- Isopropyl isostearate (5) – used in beauty products as a skin conditioning agent and humectant (ie. preserve skin moisture)
- Isopropyl myristate (5) – a synthetic oil that is unique as it helps reduce the feeling of greasy skin on some products with high content of oils
- Myristyl myristate (5)
- Lanolic acid or vitamin F – mostly found in skin nourishing products as it has a long list of skin benefits
Plewig, G. and Kligman, A. (1975). Acne: Morphogenesis and Treatment. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Lees, M. (2013). Clearing Concepts: A Guide to Acne Treatment. Milady Pub Corp.
Lees, M. (2012). Skin Care: Beyond The Basics. Clifton Park, NY: Cenage Learning/Milady.
Dermascope.com. (2016). Vitamin F (Linoleic Acid).
Kligman AM, Mills OH, Jr.. “Acne Cosmetica“. Arch Dermatol. 1972;106(6):843-850. doi:10.1001/archderm.1972.01620150029011
Science.gov. (2016). radiodermatitis: Topics by Science.gov.
Viola, P. and Viola, M. (2009). Virgin olive oil as a fundamental nutritional component and skin protector. Clinics in Dermatology, 27(2), pp.159-165.
Rawlings, A. and Lombard, K. (2012). A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 34(6), pp.511-518.
Reader’s Digest. (2016). Petroleum Jelly Uses: 26 Cool Home, Health & Beauty Ideas | Reader’s Digest.