Since the beginning of Comme Avant, we have always done our best to offer products that are safe and environmentally friendly. You just need to find the right ingredient in our grandma’s recipes and spice it up to offer a range of products that can be used by the whole family. For us, this miracle ingredient was olive oil. It is this particular ingredient that led us to our first-ever product, our olive oil soap. In this article, we are going to answer all your questions about olive oil, a key ingredient in our cosmetics.
Olive oil is a must-have when it comes to cooking, but what is its story?
The olive tree, a symbol of peace and wisdom, has been grown since ancient times and allowed the creation of “green gold”: a very beneficial oil for our health. Olive oil was also used for many other purposes. Not only can it be heated in small terracotta lamps to create light, but it also is a true remedy to heal some injuries and illnesses. And that’s not it! It is also renowned in the cosmetic field for its many virtues. When a product contains olive oil, this ingredient nourishes the upper layers of your skin.
How are olives picked?
The olive harvest, also known as “olivaison”, is carried out from September to October for green olives, and from November to December for black ones. It is important to point out that green and black olives aren’t two different varieties. Green olives will ripen and change colour as the months go by, changing from green to red purplish, then dark purple to black (this phenomenon is called “veraison”). Table olives are harvested before the veraison and those destined to be transformed into olive oil just after the colour has changed. It is best to pick the olives during the day to avoid them from oxidizing too fast. This also avoids disturbing fauna sleeping in the trees.
The olivaison techniques vary according to the size of the farm, some small producers hand harvest olives while others use sophisticated tools. For small quantities, olives are hand-picked with a manual comb or with pole pickers. This requires working force and patience: you need to master the techniques and take your time. In bigger olive farms, the harvest is done with electric tools such as vibrating combs, thermal olive shakers, or trunk vibro-shakers.
What is the manufacturing process?
Once picked, cleaned, and the leaves removed, the olives are crushed whole (the stone helps to preserve the future oil). During this step, the temperature needs to be under 27°C to respect what is known as “the cold pressing process”. This allows us to keep all the oil’s virtues. A paste is then obtained, and once it has been kneaded to make it homogeneous, it is pressed to extract the oil.
The handmade methods consist of pressing so-called “scourtins” (press cloths or coconut fibers bags). Today, mechanical presses allow extracting big quantities of oil in no time. After this step, the oil needs to be separated from the water in the olives. As oil has a lower density than water, it ends up floating above the water making the separation between these two liquids possible. Today, the use of centrifuges to separate oil and water helps to gain precious time.
Is the origin of the oil important?
Of course! Depending on where they come from, olives aren’t harvested the same way. Some olive growers give importance to respecting the earth. This entails refusing to use phytosanitary products (such as pesticides and other inputs). We have therefore chosen an organic-certified olive oil, free from GMOs, also certified by COSMOS. By the way, our olive oil supplier harvests mechanically and during the day.
We would have been delighted to work with local producers. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to deliver all year round us with the amount of oil we needed. Of course, we knew from the start we wanted to use organic-certified olive oil to be in line with our values, however the volatility of prices was also a factor we needed to take into account. The prices can sometimes double over the year and from one year to the next. This is why we decided to work with a Spanish producer that supplies us with a food-grade first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, organic certified and approved by Cosmecert in France (European label COSMOS). The stable price of this high-quality oil allows us to guarantee a regular price for our products.
What about olive oil in cosmetics and our products precisely?
You have probably heard all about olive oil and its properties for your skin, but are the actual benefits? The answer: antioxidants! More specifically, vitamins A, C, and D that soften, tone, and revive the skin. Vitamin E and K also help to fight against the skin from aging and drying. This “treasure oil” can also be found in our moisturising cream bar, ideal for the whole family to nourish and moisturise the face, body, and much more.
These reasons led us to use this oil in our first ever product. Our soap, with a fatty compound, only made with organic olive oil, helps to gently moisturising your skin.
The vitamin input encourages damaged, dried, and healing skin to repair. Our soap can be used daily by the whole family, to clean your face, your body (children and even babies too, but careful, it can sting your eyes!). Olive oil can also be found in our soap flakes which can be used to take care of your home (floor, furniture, kitchen, bathroom).
As our soap is made in Marseille and contains olive oil, it is often mistaken with “savon de Marseille”. The main difference is that Marseille soap is made through a hot process and the glycerin is removed. As for our soap, it is a Castile soap made in Marseille. We chose to keep the glycerin for an optimal skin moisturization. Please note that glycerin, added in many soaps, is of animal origin (this goes against our values as our products are vegan and cruelty-free). Sometimes, to replace glycerin, big firms add synthetic or oil-based glycerin. Unlike “savon de Marseille”, we use a cold saponification process which allows keeping all the olive oil’s properties.
You now understand why we have chosen this ingredient. The olive oil we use allows us to offer safe and fully biodegradable products. It is for its many virtues that olive oil is a precious ingredient we love. 🙂