The Real Deal With Olive Oil and Acne: Does Olive Oil Cause Acne?

The Real Deal With Olive Oil and Acne

Olive oil is one of those magical ingredients that has a ton of uses. It’s found in medicines, tastes great in food, and makes your hands feel super soft when used in soap.

While there is little research tracking the relationship between olive oil and acne, anecdotal evidence is generally positive. Not only do diets high in olive oil seem to result in less acne, it’s also a popular ingredient in well-tolerated skin care products. 

So what’s the deal with olive oil and your skin? 

Is it really as great as they say it is? Find out how olive oil affects your body when you eat it with food AND how it reacts when applied directly to the skin.

Can Olive Oil Really Make You Break Out?

I know what you’re probably thinking: more oil equals more pimples.

While there is some truth to that, it isn’t always the case. Well, at least not with olive oil.

Because even amongst the oils we put in our food and on our skin, olive oil is a bit different.

Olive oil is healthy for you. It helps reduce your blood pressure and has tons of other great benefits, particularly your skin.

How’s it even healthy when it’s an oil?

To start with, olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs that can help in lowering your risk of heart disease. It’s also good in decreasing your cholesterol level.

When you have too much cholesterol, they can start depositing in your skin. These deposits are called Xanthomas and they look similar to acne.

Aside from these benefits, olive oil is also a good skin cleanser.

In fact, it has long been used in Arab countries as a cleanser and moisturizer. In South Korea and other Asian countries, it’s a popular oil used in the oil cleansing method.

The Thing About Oil Cleansing Method

The Oil Cleansing Method is a really popular skincare routine now. For people with acne-prone skin, this approach can sound a little bit unconventional.

This cleansing method uses a combination of oils to clean your face. That’s right: you clean your face with oil.

It may seem pretty contradictory to what you already know about treating pimples. But some acne sufferers have had great results using the OCM and abandoning traditional acne treatments like creams and medicines.


Can you use olive oil in the OCM?

Honestly, olive oil works wonders for some people doing the OCM. And for others, it’s one of the causes of massive breakouts.

The data on the use of olive oil in the OCM doesn’t offer much clarity and they’re pretty contradictory. Some say olive oil will unclog your pores while others say that it’s mildly comedogenic.

Truthfully, if you’re feeling unsure about olive oil, you have a lot of options to try if it’s your first time doing the OCM. You can try castor oil or hazelnut oil.

From that jumping point, you will be able to add other oils, like tea tree, jojoba, and sweet almond, to create an oil mixture that is perfect for your skin.


There are a lot of studies that can tell how good olive oil is for your health. However, when it comes to your skin, the studies aren’t pointing to a single direction only.

Some studies suggest that olive oil can trap dirt and clog your pores while other research tells that olive oil can do wonders to your skin.

But does olive oil cause acne?

The answer will depend on your skin type. If you feel your skin can tolerate the oil, be sure to patch test it on one part of your skin for a few days to see how it will affect you.

In case there are no reactions, you can start adding the oil to your skincare routine. 

Or you can try the Oil Cleansing Method.

Does olive oil cause acne

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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