The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “European olive”, is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae. The tree produces silvery green leaves that are oblong, measuring 4 to 10 centimeters long and 1 to 3 centimeters wide. The primary active compounds in olive leaf extract are oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, as well as polyphenols and flavonoids, including luteolin, rutin, caffeic acid, catechin and apigenin. Olive polyphenols are much more concentrated in the leaves compared with olive fruit or olive oil.
Olive leaf extract is used in skin care products because the phenolic compounds found in the olive leaf have strong free-radical scavenging capacity. In fact, the compounds rutin, luteolin, and catechin exert antioxidant effects almost 2.5 times higher than those of vitamins C and E. Antioxidants help to protect the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Lastly, the oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol found in olive leaf extract demonstrate anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.