Spreading Clean Beauty

Oleic acid: when tradition and science meet for outstanding cosmetic benefits

As a key component of olive oil, oleic acid has been around for millennia as part of traditional beauty and cosmetic knowledge. Today, however, it stands at the center of significant consumer trends in which a powerful blend between a preference for natural ingredients and science-backed claims collide.

Olive oil is, in fact, having a remarkable revival in the context of current preferences for plant-based oils for cosmetic purposes. This includes other options such as avocado oil, sunflower oil or Moroccan oil. While many variations and combinations of fatty acids exist, the general concept refers to substances in which fatty acids represent the main component. 

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This interest for plant-based oils combines with current preferences for cosmetic ingredients that are: 

  • Natural. All data and stats point towards growing preferences for natural ingredients. 
  • Easily recognizable. This, in turn, translates into beauty and cosmetic products incorporating food-related products 
  • Certified. Hence the interest in organic and natural certifications in cosmetics

A chemical explanation of olive oil and the benefits of oleic acid

As we’ve mentioned above, oleic acid as part of olive oil has been present in traditional cosmetic cultures for millennia. In fact, many cultures have developed their own range of applications around olive oil, with skin protection and beautification being its global benefits. As such, its use in skin moisturizing, toning and calming, wound healing, dry skin care, treatment of burns, psoriasis and eczema has been widely recognized, as well as a hair care ingredient and facial cleanser.

Its many applications and benefits are astounding considering the wide availability of this ingredient, which derives from the fruit (olive) of the Olea europaea L., commonly known as olive tree. Believed to have originated in the Middle East, it is a typical sight in the Mediterranean area and has become a symbol for the Mediterranean diet.

A look at the chemical composition of fresh olives provides a hint of where this fruit’s many benefits for health originate. Fresh olives are 40-45% water content, 10-20% carbohydrates content, lipids (mainly unsaturated fatty acids), vitamin E and polyphenols in a smaller proportion. Oleic acid is its most important amongst this fruit’s lipids, making up between 55 to 83% of its composition. It also contains saturated fatty acids (8-14%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (4-20%). 

On the other hand, olive oil, a derivative product from fresh olives, presents a high percentage of saturated fatty acids (8-16%), monounsaturated fatty acids , polyunsaturated fatty acids (4-25%), and other beneficial constituents such as vitamin A and E and mineral salts.

Benefits of oleic acid

  • Antioxidant activity: oleic acid is rich in tocopherols, which are molecules known to act as effective antioxidant agents. As such, they are able to protect cellular membranes in oils and lipids and prevent oxidation processes in cellular organelles. Vitamin E, which is present in oleic acid, represents a very important component for skin health and, when applied topically, has an impact both in the stratum corneum of skin and in its deepest layers . From there, it’s able to reduce liperoxide formation and protecting the cell from the damaging effects of free radicals released by liperoxides.
  • Restoring the skin’s barrier function: oleic acid is also a particularly powerful emollient agent, effectively helping in the prevention of water loss through the epidermis. This is done through the prevention of the lack of essential fatty acids, which in turn generates a positive impact in dry and wrinkled skin and facilitates skin healing.
  • Photoprotective activity: oleic acid is also an important agent in preventing skin damage caused by free radicals generated by UV radiation. 
  • Hair care: the essential fatty acids present in olive oil and oleic acid are crucial agents in balancing hair metabolism and related issues, including hair depigmentation, dermatitis and baldness. Topical application of oleic acid has been shown to revert some of these processes. 
  • Antimicrobial and antibacterial activity. This action has been mainly researched on the respiratory and intestinal tract. The antiprotozoal and antiviral activity of oleic acid has also been explored.

Incorporate oleic acid to your cosmetic product

Provital’s commitment to bring high-quality natural extracts and natural ingredients has materialized in our Mediterranean Oil ECO

Acting as a gateway to access the well-known benefits of this familiar natural ingredient for consumers, it’s a valuable addition to cosmetic catalogs as: 

  • Antioxidant
  • Antiaging
  • Hair coloration protection
  • Restoration of the barrier function of skin
  • Moisturizing
  • Photoprotective
  • Hair photoprotection
  • Hair loss prevention 
  • Hair conditioner

Composed of an extract of olive oil, it is COSMOS certified to align with consumers’ preferences for natural and certified ingredients that can be incorporated into the growingly popular oily forms of cosmetic formulas.

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