Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Preserving Style: Olive Oil

Photo Credit: [source]

When it comes to taking care of my body, I had always wanted to find the simplest and most intelligent way of grooming myself.I was interested in following a regimen that would produce results that left me feeling fresh, and clean, without feeling like I've globed on a plethora of different beauty products. Just like many teens, I experienced a certain bout with acne. I literally spent so much money on acne creams, and cleansers, astringents, toners, even going as far as obtaining a prescription from my physician. I detest acne! Now as I said before in my first "Preserving Style" post, in my fashion, what I have found is that outer beauty begins with the health of your skin, and that natural, holistic ways of taking care of oneself is the safest way to go about life. 

After a few years of realizing that I was obsessing too much about my acne problem, I decided to do research on how ancient civilizations kept there skin clear and healthy,after all, they did not have all the products and luxuries that we have now in our technologically dependent society. I figured that being that we are creatures of nature, if we use natural products to take care of ourselves (as nature intended), I should be able to not only keep from stressing, and throwing money down the drain, but I could also benefit my body in ways that synthetic products cannot, especially in regards to longevity.  

Thinking back on my childhood, my mother had always taught me that olive oil was one of the most healthy oils we use for cooking, and she would even go as far as to apply hot olive oil to our scalps for extra moisture. When I would tell my friends of my mothers beauty techniques, they would think it was so strange to apply olive oil to your body instead of just a cooking component, so I researched the origins of the olive oil and found that olives and olive oil has quite a lineage.

The Greek goddess,
What I found is that natives to the Grecian island Crete have been cultivating the olive tree since 3500BC during the early Minoan period using it as a main staple plant for their economic growth [source]. Athens, the capital of Greece, received its name from the goddess, Athena, but an interesting story tells of how the city got their name...

"How the city of Athens got its name is also a curious story. Apparently, both Poseidon (the sea god) and Athena competed to win the favor of the Greeks. So, each of them gave a gift to the city people, who would then decide which was the best one (the most useful). Poseidon thrust his trident into the ground and a spring gushed forth. Although the spring created a port in the city which would enable trade, the water of the spring was salty and not fit to drink. Athena, on the other hand, gave the city an Olive tree. The tree could be used for wood, the fruit for food and oil. The Greeks preferred the gift of the Olive tree, and hence the city was named 'Athens' after Athena the goddess of wisdom." [source]

When I think about Athena, I think of how critical it is to seek wisdom, for wisdom is an awesome aspect to anyone's style. "Happy is the man who finds wisdom and gains understanding," says Proverbs 3:13, which can be interpreted just as its written. All of the questions that we ask ourselves about our lives (who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going) can be answered when we seek wisdom, and act in accordance to our understandings of the truth. Athena's appearance is always described as having gray eyes which were shining. She would always be accompanied by an owl. An owl is a symbol of wisdom and is a bird that has the capability of seeing in the dark. Often, Athena is also accompanied by the Goddess of Victory, Nike. Athena is always depicted wearing armor and a helmet [source].

Athena is an interesting goddess, because she was wise enough to consider the olive tree as her gift to the people of Greece. In my fashion, this is the best example of how it is better to be wise than to be strong. Her wisdom gained her eternal glory in the eyes of the Grecians, and because of her wisdom we will always think of, Athena, when we think of the city of Athens, and this is truly how one lives on forever. In my fashion, to have that type of influence over people where people will always remember you for exemplifying a grand quality of yourself to the most excellent standards is the best gift you can bring to this Earth.

The olive tree
(Olea Europea)
Now, in my quest to find simple and natural grooming techniques, I did some research on the synthetic products that we use in our daily lives now (i.e. lotions, perfumes, creams). One of the most interesting facts that I came upon was that in all actuality there is no LEGAL definition for "natural"; therefore, there are no guidelines surrounding what can or cannot be inside "natural cosmetics". Even though now-a-days people have realized that natural is the best way to live, most products still contain preservatives, coloring agents, and other chemicals [source]. Understanding this, and reading on about other (controversial ingredients) , I have concluded that since I am a creature of "nature", I will use nature to take care of myself. Now even though the FDA has mentioned that disabling effects from synthetic fragrances are a low risk, I try to refrain from using chemical products, and I read the labels of my products to make sure I am not using carcinogenic products, which has been the main debate between using synthetic fragrances and natural substances [source].

Read more about the internal benefits of Olive Oil HERE

The reason why I bring up the subject of Olive Oil is because it is an excellent source for skin care. Athena was wise to the fact that there are so many uses for olive oil, and as a fellow devotee to Olive Oil use, I can tell you that my skin is much easier to manage. Read below and check out the extra links to learn about the uses for Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the best type of olive oil) and how you can be as wise as the Grecians, and as beautiful as nature intended.

Beauty Uses for Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Chapped Lips. Put a dab of EVOO on your lips for instant, natural chapped lip relief. And, because it’s edible and doesn’t contain mineral oil like most chap sticks, it’s much safer.

Cleanser/ Make Up Remover. Olive oil is a gentle, yet highly effective make-up remover and cleanser. It’s also an incredible moisturizer. This is why our Olive Oil Cleanser is extremely effective in removing dirt, makeup and grime, and also leaves your skin soft and hydrated.

Shaving. Slather some olive oil on your legs for a great shaving cream alternative. Your legs will be so soft and moisturized that you can skip the body lotion after your shower.

Hair Mask. Heat up two tablespoons of EVOO and apply to dry hair – leave on for 20 minutes or overnight and rinse thoroughly with cool water – your hair will look and feel like silk (I do this every two weeks).

Fingernail/Cuticle Treatment. To help build strong fingernails and soften cuticles, soak your nails each night in a mixture of 3 parts lukewarm olive oil to 1 part freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Put on cloth gloves and let the oil penetrate overnight. Your nails will gradually become more resistant to breaking and chipping.

Post Sun Treatment. Studies on mice showed that application of olive oil onto the skin immediately following exposure to UVB rays has a preventive effect on the formation of tumors and skin cancer. So apply some olive oil to your skin after sun exposure for protection from damage.
Also, be aware that heat, light and air can affect both the taste and health-promoting nutrients in EVOO. Store your olive oil in a dark, room-temperature cupboard, or even in the refrigerator. The fats and healthy phytonutrients in olive oil can slowly degrade over time so it’s best to use it within six months to a year once opened.

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