By Mary N. DiZazzo

Olive Oil: A Culinary Necessity; A Beauty Treat

Ciao bella,

Homer called it "liquid gold." In ancient Greece athletes ritually rubbed it all over their bodies and would also bath with the oil, using a special scraper called a strigil to remove the excess.

According to Italian folk traditions sun, stone, drought, silence, and solitude are the five necessary ingredients for creating an ideal habitat for the olive tree. The leafy branches were a symbol of abundance, glory, and peace and were used to crown the victorious in friendly games and in bloody wars. The oil of its fruit anointed the noblest of heads throughout history.

To the peoples of the Mediterranean, olive oil has been more than mere food --it carries medicinal and magical properties, a golden liquid of fascination and wonder. It's a fountain of great wealth and power.

For centuries Mediterranean beauties have relied on the liquid gold to help maintain good health, a fresh dewy complexion, and lustrous hair. Carrying many heath benefits such as vitamin E and antioxidants, olive oil is still used in beauty treatments today.

Always use the purest olive oil since you'll be using so little. Here are a few beauty recipes.

Lips. To sooth dry chapped lips, dab on a little olive oil.

Skin. Massage a few drops of olive oil into skin wherever you need softening and moisturizing.

Bath. Add several tablespoons of olive oil to your fav scented essential oil or toilette water to nourish and sooth your skin. (I love the aromatherapy benefit.)

Hair treatment. Massage a few tablespoons of olive oil into your hair and scalp; cover hair with a plastic cap and leave on for 30 minutes and then shampoo as usual. (My mom did this a regular basis and she was a hairdresser.) This treatment helps repair split ends, rids dandruff, and makes your hair shiny, silky, and lustrous.

Buona giornata and God bless the United States of America!

Have you missed any of Mary's columns in the Post-Gazette? Read prior weeks' "All That Zazz" columns on her website She is a third-generation cosmetologist and owner of Mary for Nails, etc. natural nailcare salon in Andover, and a Massachusetts distributor of Kosmea brand rose hip oil products. She may be contacted at (978) 470-8183. She also sees select clients by appointment in Boston at (617) 742-6881.