When I think of a classic Hollywood beauty, I think of Marilyn Monroe. But in 1960s Europe, all eyes were on Italian bombshell Sophia Loren.
Actress Sophia Loren looks as stunning today at age 84 as she did when she started her career.
And at 84 years old, Sophia looks as stunning today as she did almost 60 years ago when she won the Oscar for Best Actress. In fact, she was once voted the World’s Most Naturally Beautiful Woman — beating out much younger women like Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Maybe the secret to her flawless complexion is in her genes… Or that she’s led a happy life.
But according to the actress herself, the secret to her ageless skin is extra virgin olive oil.
I’ve written to you before about the obvious heart and brain benefits of this healthy omega-3 fat. And the actress includes it as a healthy part of her everyday diet.
But to protect her flawless complexion, Loren says she not only bathes in olive oil, but moisturizes her face with it before bed.
And the research backs up her claim.
Studies show that fatty acids in extra virgin olive oil can protect your skin from the signs of photoaging and sun damage.1
Another new study found that olive oil can penetrate the skin more effectively than other oils. This allows it to reach deep into the epidermis to deliver moisture.2
The reason olive oil works so well on your skin is due to its rich nutrients, including:
- Vitamin E – to reduce wrinkles by maintaining skin elasticity through collagen production. This vitamin also helps heal scars by stopping free radicals.
- Vitamin K – for eliminating dark circles under the eyes.
- Vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant that regenerates skin and improves elasticity.
- Phenols – to reduce skin inflammation and protect against the environmental pollution that leads to age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.3
But olive oil has a skin benefit that most other oils don’t. It’s a great source of squalene.
This is the same natural moisturizer that your sebaceous glands secrete. And it makes up a major part of the natural oils in your skin. The highest levels are in areas with the most sebaceous glands. Like the T-zone of your face — your forehead, nose and chin.
Squalene lubricates your skin’s surface and heals chapped or cracked skin and eczema. It forms a protective barrier to your skin’s surface. That locks in moisture and prevents your skin from losing water. It also helps revitalize damaged hair, dry scalp and brittle nails.
In fact, a brand-new study from the University of Jaén in Spain found that the squalene in olive oil stimulates your skin’s immune system cells to repair and regenerate skin tissue and heal wounds.4
Squalene also has powerful antioxidants. They accumulate in your skin protecting it from the sun’s UV radiation. They also absorb free radicals and deactivate them. That helps prevent skin damage like age spots, fine lines and wrinkles that give away your age.5
You produce lots of squalene when you’re young. But your levels start to decline around your mid-20s. Not long after that you may begin to notice dry, dull skin — the first signs of aging.
When it comes to skin repair, you can add a couple capfuls of olive oil to your bath water, like Sophia Loren does. But I recommend applying it directly to your face. In fact, I use a skin-repairing formula on patients who come to the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine for a facial.
Make Your Own Skin-Regenerating Olive Oil Lotion
You can make a similar moisturizing lotion at home. Here’s one of my favorite recipes:
- 1/2 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 10-20 drops essential oils for fragrance (optional)
- Heat shea butter in a double boiler over medium-low heat.
- Once it has melted, stir in the olive oil.
- Add essential oils and stir to combine.
- Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool until it is about half-way solidified — about one hour. Place in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The lotion will last up to six months.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Latreille J, et al. “Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids intake and risk of skin photoaging.” PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44490.
2. Malachi O. “Effects of topical and dietary use of shea butter on animals.” Am J Life Sci. 2014;2(5):303-307.
3. Kohno Y, et al. “Kinetic study of quenching reaction of singlet oxygen and scavenging reaction of free radical by squalene in n-butanol.”Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995;1256(1):52-56.
4. Sánchez-Quesada C, et al. “Squalene stimulates a key innate immune cell to foster wound healing and tissue repair.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018; 2018: 9473094.
5. Kohno Y, et al. “Kinetic study of quenching reaction of singlet oxygen and scavenging reaction of free radical by squalene in n-butanol.”Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995;1256(1):52-56.