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The Olive Oil Skin Care company was started after Adam Balogh and his family started researching the natural moisturising benefits of olive oil to help a family member who suffered chronic skin conditions. Y7 Lifestyle quizzed Adam on the benefits of olive oil soap.

Why use olive oil in soap?

The nourishing benefits of using olive oil as a food are well known but what is less well known is its benefit on the skin. It moisturises the skin without interfering with the natural skin function. It attracts and holds moisture close to the skin. Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and is porous. To demonstrate its porosity, rub some garlic on the soles of your feet and within minutes you will be able to taste it in your mouth. Some commercial soaps are basically detergents, a concoction of chemicals which is rubbed onto the skin. No wonder there are so many people with skin problems. Pure olive oil soap is gentle, cleanses the skin and moisturises it leaving it feeling nourished.

Pure olive oil soap also has a lower pH than most commercial soaps making it suitable for people with very sensitive or dry skins. Soap can be made from petroleum oil, animal fats or vegetable oils. The soap has different properties depending on the type of fat or oil used. Many are drying and irritate the skin. Pure olive oil soap not only gently cleans but it also moisturises, nourishes and improves resilience of the skin. It is also rare, for a number of reasons. The extra virgin olive oil is expensive, whereas other vegetable oils are cheaper but do not have the same beneficial properties. We also use a traditional cold process method to make our soap. This results in the natural glycerine and other beneficial properties being retained in the soap. Our soap is then cured over a six week period before it is available to market. The process is labour intensive but produces a very superior product.

What’s the history of making soap from olive oil?

Some refer to it as Castile, others as Marseilles, or even as French soap, yet they all mean the same thing, pure 100 per cent olive oil soap. It is the mildest and most moisturising of all soaps. It's been produced in the olive growing areas of Europe for centuries.

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Can you talk us through the steps involved in making Pure Olive Oil Soap?

I must admit, it is hard to make! Apart from the cost factor, the difficulty in making olive oil soap is why other vegetable/mineral/animal fats and detergents are used to make traditional soap. Olive oil has a personality and many idiosyncrasies of its own. It has to be treated with great care and we've spent a number of years perfecting our product. Soap is basically a molecule of oil ‘welded’ to a molecule of water. One end of the soap molecule is attracted to dirt and grease and the other is attracted to water. This is how soap works, causing dirt and grease to dissolve in water. Australian extra virgin olive oil is mixed with a lye solution to form the base of our soaps. The base is then left to saponify (also known as curing) for 8 weeks to produce a very mild and moisturising soap. Essential oils and other botanicals that have been selected based on their reputed benefit to emotional and physical wellbeing are then added after the soap has cured. The final result is an utterly refreshing soap experience!

Where do you get your olive oil from?

We only ever use Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

True or false - olive oil is too greasy for some skin types and can cause breakouts…

False. This is a common misconception. Often oily skin is a result of the body's oil glands over-producing oil as the skin has been stripped of its natural oils from the use of harsh and drying skin care products and soaps. Olive oil soap in time will restore the skin natural oils to balance.

Why is olive oil soap suitable for people with skin conditions like dermatitis?

These conditions are complex, difficult to treat and often caused by different factors. Many customers have told us that our soap has had a calming and beneficial effect on the skin, with many of these also reporting a complete resolution of their skin problems. We are always cautious and recommend trying the soap to find out if it is of benefit, keeping in mind that everyone's skin is different. Our entry into the Japanese market is one such example. The owner of Peekaboo, the most prestigious hair salon in Japan, had atopic dermatitis. He was persuaded to try one of our soap bars. He was so delighted at the results that he sent his personal thanks and stocked our soaps in his six salons.

Most people will benefit from using an olive oil soap. It can also be used on young babies however we always caution people to follow the advice of their paediatrician or community nurse. Babies should only be washed with soap infrequently and on other occasions only clean warm water is required.

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Why is important to be palm oil free?

The vast majority of soap on the market is made from palm oil. Typically the palm oil is processed in the country where it is produced and the processing strips certain properties from the oil including glycerine. This is why palm oil soaps usually state they have added glycerine. There is also a growing awareness and concern about the palm oil industry, many people are increasingly concerned about the impact on the rainforests and consider its continued growth is not sustainable in terms of the environment. Huge tracts of rainforest habitats are lost to this industry, the plight of the orangutan being a prime example. In terms of the effect on the skin palm oil soaps are more drying, certainly when compared with olive oil soap.

The Olive Oil Skin Care Company is committed to developing and manufacturing products that are not only nourishing to your skin, but are also ecologically sound. We have made the commitment to never use palm oil in our soaps and skin care products. The single greatest threat facing orangutans and the Sumatran tigers today is the rapidly expanding palm oil trade. Rainforests are being cleared at the rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for palm oil plantations. While there are millions of hectares of degraded land that could be used for plantations, many palm oil companies choose instead to use rainforest land to gain additional profits by firstly logging the timber. Palm oil companies also frequently use uncontrolled burning to clear the land, resulting in thousands of orangutans being burned to death. Those that survive have nowhere to live and nothing left to eat. We feel we bring a product of integrity to the Australian market.

In terms of scents we only use essential oils that have a benefit for the skin. (It is important to note the difference between fragrant oils which are synthetic and essential oils which are produced from plant extracts). The essential oils we use are lime, mandarin, lemon myrtle, lemon grass, lavender, rose geranium, peppermint, cedar wood, rosewood. A blend of patchouli, sweet orange and yang yang called Aphrodite, for which with humour we request proof of age for purchase.

We also make a goat's milk soap, made from a blend of fresh goat's milk and Australian extra virgin olive oil, plus a Zeolite soap, where the mineral zeolite is blended with our goats milk soap to produce a exfoliant soap with detoxifying properties.

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