Take of white wax four ounces, oyl of roses omphacine [oil from unripened olives] a pound; melt in a double vessel, then powr it out into another, by degrees putting in cold water, and often powring it out of one vessel into another, stirring it till it be white ; last of all wash it in rose water, adding a little rose water and rose vineger.

-- Galen's cold cream, Nicholas Culpeper (1650), London Dispensatory

Homer's Liquid Gold

Olives are a domesticated plant species, like wheat or corn. The wild ancestor of the edible olive is believed to have originated in Syria, and, due to its need for specific growing conditions, ancient use of olives and olive oil was contained to the Near East. Records of cultivation stretch back at least 5000 years in ancient civilizations including Egypt, Greece and Rome.

“Olive culture” in these geographies was all-encompassing, with the olive having a rich symbolic and mythical life, as well as practically being used as food, fuel, medicine and in cosmetics. It was favored equally by Cleopatra for supposed moisturizing and anti-aging properties, and by Greek athletes and soldiers for ritual purification and the belief it could relieve injuries.

For cosmetic purposes, olive oil was used as a moisturizing base in perfumes, body oils, ointments and healing concoctions in both Egyptian and Greek traditions, and was believed to sooth and restore in Greece and protect from signs of aging in Egypt.

Olive Bush

Olive Bush with Growing Olives

Cosmetic Benefits

Olive oil remains a hugely popular ingredient to this day for several reasons. It is an occlusive agent, meaning it creates a physical barrier that slows water loss from skin. Occlusive agents are most effective when used on moistened skin, such as as after a bath, where they trap this moisture against the skin, maintaining the softened, plumped and smoothed properties of fully hydrated skin.

Olive oil is also a natural source of squalene, itself a rockstar ingredient in cutting-edge skin care. Squalene is a lipid (fat) that is a component of skin. It is an emollient, meaning it softens and mosturizes and natural antioxidant, meaning it protects from free-radical damage. Applying squalene to skin can help support your skin's natural structure and health. It has been used historically to treat wounds and skin problems, and is likely one of the key reasons olive oil itself was used for these same purposes. With consistent use, squalene has been known to reduce wrinkles, eliminate scars, reverse UV damage, lighten freckles, and erase skin pigmentation.

While squalene can be derived from a number of sources, not all of these are ethical or sustainable. Olive is one of the key ethical sources of squalene, whether left in the oil or extracted.

Olive oil also demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties and active oxygen scavenging effects, leading to its topical use in the treatment of various types of skin damage such as contact dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, thermal and radiation burns and aging.

Finally, olive oil is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K, which have each been separately indicated for healthy skin.

Liquid Gold

Homer's Liquid Gold

Why We Use Olive Oil

Today, olive oil appears in preparations for virtually every skin, cosmetic and hair indication throughout both natural and mass market industries for one simple reason: it’s still highly effective. At Lacewing & Kettle, we use olive oil for the same reason. Rather than simply adding it to existing formulas however, we build our products around the natural strengths of our ingredients, ensuring that the benefits that made them famous speak for themselves.