Contributor Chloe Pantai at www.theinsider.com
Growing up in a Greek-Cypriot family that makes a lot of food, olive oil has always been a focal point in the kitchen.
But olive oil isn’t just good for cooking with. My family uses it about as liberally as the family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” uses Windex — and they sing its praises as a hair and beauty product, a massage oil, and even a leather polish.
I asked my relatives, friends, and coworkers for all the wonderful ways they use olive oil that most people have no idea about.
Here are 15 things you can do with a bottle of olive oil:
1. Hair mask: Apply a quarter-sized amount of olive oil to your hair with your fingers and cover your hair with a shower cap (Saran Wrap also works). Leave it in for up to an hour and rinse it out in the shower before you wash your hair. It’s my go-to moisturizing hair mask.
2. Shaving cream substitute: As a cheaper alternative to shaving cream, put olive oil on your legs before shaving. It’ll protect you from razor burn and your legs will feel super smooth after.
3. Body scrub: Save money on exfoliators by making your own scrub with olive oil and sugar. Mix the two, then apply the concoction in circular motions over areas like your knees and elbows to buff away dead skin in the shower, or to heal chapped lips.
4. Moisturizer: While I haven’t used olive oil as a moisturizer, many people say it’s a miracle worker on dry skin — especially on knees, elbows, and hands. Some people use it to repair cracked heels, and wrap their feet in socks after applying the oil to seal in moisture. One friend told me she even puts it on her eyebrows.
5. Makeup remover: Many of my friends rave about using olive oil as a natural makeup remover. It’s much cheaper than wipes, better for your skin, and I’m told it’s especially good for removing eye makeup.
6. Makeup brush cleaner: Some beauty experts say mixing extra virgin olive oil with antibacterial dish soap is the best way to wash makeup brushes. The brush gets a thorough clean, while the oil keeps it soft.
7. Cuticle softener: Before your next manicure, soften your cuticles with a few drops of olive oil. Rub it into the cuticles before pushing them down and trimming. Just be sure to wash off excess oil before you apply nail polish.
8. Baby care: My mom reminded me that my great-grandmother mixed olive oil with mastic gum to give baby massages to me and my cousins. The oil also works as a natural remedy for diaper rash and cradle cap.
9. Ear cleaner: Putting a couple of drops of olive oil in the ear can safely remove earwax. The American Hearing Research Foundation suggests leaving the oil in the ear for a few minutes before resting your ear on a towel to get wax out.
10. Wood/leather/stainless steel polish: Olive oil can be an essential cleaning product. Dab a small amount onto a cloth to polish leather, stainless steel, and wood. I use the oil to clean my favorite pair of leather ankle boots, and keep my wooden chopping boards glossy. Some bloggers say they use it to shine stainless steel pans and even the kitchen sink.
11. Pet care: Pet owners add a little bit of oil to their cat and dog food to help keep their pets’ fur healthy. In cats, it can also act as a natural lubricant for hairballs.
12. Sticker remover: Rub olive oil over stubborn price stickers and labels on glass jars, and they’ll slide right off. My husband showed me this trick, and it’s been a game-changer ever since.
13. Spoon cleaner: When cooking with gloopy ingredients like honey, it can be impossible to get everything off the spoon. Dip the spoon in olive oil first and ingredients will slip off, according to Food Renegade.
14. Lower cholesterol: Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that can lower low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol, making it a healthier substitute for cooking with and using as a salad dressing.
15. Butter replacement: As a healthy fat, olive oil can be used as an alternative to butter. It can replace butter in most baking recipes, and works well in chocolate brownies. Many people also use it on bread — as a dipping oil with balsamic vinegar, or even to make toast.