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One of the oldest known trees in the world, the olive is a wonderfully nutritious fatty fruit. It's golden oil is extracted by mechanical means, or a cold-pressing. A labor intensive task, it is not inexpensive. In fact, olive oil soap has been long heralded as the highest quality soap you can use.
Originally named for the region of Castile, Spain, where olive's grew abundantly, 'Castile Soap' has become a generic term used for soaps made from 100% olive oil. Olive oil itself is made up of fatty acids (fat), with a small portion of it being saturated, and a larger portion of monounsaturated fat. The saturated fat portion of olive oil is packed with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and the unsaturated fat portion is made up of a fat called oleic acid.
Oleic acid has potent moisturizing qualities that help keep skin soft and radiant. It also contains antioxidant compounds that help slow down signs of aging and may help prevent premature wrinkles and fine lines. Both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, these important fats infuse skin care products with healthy benefits. Because olive oil is made up of about 75% monounsaturated fats, it's liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, so it's not unusual to see partial solidification if you store your olive oil in the refrigerator.
For instance, soap made entirely from olive oil (a 'Castile' soap) does not produce an abundant, big bubble lather, but more of a silky, low-sudsing lather that is very conditioning and provides gentle cleansing. This is great for young children, elderly skin or anyone who prefers mild cleansing.
Full of antioxidants, olive oil is always a beneficial ingredient in body creams and scrubs. Moisturizing, protective and vitamin-packed, applying straight olive oil to your hair and skin is a great treatment, although a bit greasy. I think it's much nicer blended into high quality skin and hair-care products.
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