A carrier oil is just that. It is an oil that “carries” other oils. It is used to dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin. A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts. If applied to the skin undiluted, essential oils, absolutes, CO2s and other concentrated aromatics can cause severe irritation, sensitization, redness or burning or other reactions in some individuals. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential and other oils prior to topical application. The term carrier oil is derived from their purpose in carrying the essential oil onto the skin. Aloe vera gel and unscented body lotion are also commonly used as "carriers." For the scope of this article, however, we will be focusing upon the use of natural vegetable oils as carriers.
Each carrier oil offers a different combination of therapeutic properties and characteristics. The choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought. Natural lotions, creams, body oils, bath oils, lip balms and other moisturizing skin care products are also made using vegetable (carrier) oils. From a simple essential oil/carrier oil blend to a more complex natural lotion, your choice of carrier oil can make a difference in the therapeutic properties, color, overall aroma and shelf life of your final product.
Carrier oils are used for several reasons. You might use a carrier oil in order to help you cover a large part of the body. For instance, if you are massaging the back, you could add a few drops of essential oil to the carrier oil in order to apply to the entire area. Carrier oils are also used as a safety precaution. Essential oils are very powerful. Carrier oils also help the oils absorb more rapidly into the skin.
Here are some of the best essential oil carrier oils that you can use to mix in your essential oils to have exceptional effects on the body. I’ve included information on scent, and texture so you can make your best choice. Use the carrier oil to dilute the essential oil prior to topical application. You should always dilute your essential oils prior to applying them on your skin.
Shop for carrier oils that have been cold pressed or cold expeller pressed. This indicates that the oil has been pressed from the fatty portions of the botanical without the use of added heat. The process can still generate heat due to the friction of the method, but cold expeller pressed oils are processed under conditions that keep the heat to a minimum. Oils that simply say expeller pressed have not been processed to maintain low heat levels. When oils are processed without cool conditions, the high temperature degree and duration of the processing method can harm the fragile nutrients in the oil.
Sweet Almond Oil
It is a very light oil, and very easily absorbed by your skin. Its is quite nutritious with lots of vitamins including A, B and E. Sweet almond oil works wonderfully for all types of skin. It is especially useful for a facial massage as it helps balance the moisture levels in your skin, helps to improve your complexion, and gives you that special “glow of youth”! Sweet almond oil has a very slight nutty smell, though not overwhelming at all. A quick word of warning if you’re allergic to peanuts: almond oil is often produced in the same factories as peanut oil. If you have peanut allergies, be cautious. It’s possible that you are also allergic to Brazil nut, hazelnut, almonds and walnut. Check it out with your health care practitioner first if you’re unsure.
Sweet Almond Oil’s most natural match is Jojoba oil. If combined, the two oils have qualities that are closest to the natural oils of our own skin, making them great for all applications from massage to cosmetics.
Coming with a golden color, a lot of people also consider jojoba oil as one of their most favorite oils to use. It doesn’t really have much scent on its own. Derived from the jojoba beans, jojoba oil possesses an indefinite shelf life and can be stored for a longer period of time when compared to other carrier oils. It is easily absorbed by the skin and the jojoba oil mimics collagen (the main structural protein of the various connective tissues in animals), making it relaxing to the skin, especially for those who have hypersensitivity, eczema, psoriasis and acne. There are a lot of ways that you can use jojoba oil, you can use it either as is or together with other carrier oils (recipes below) to dilute your essential oil of your choice.
Coming from the kernel of the apricot plant, this carrier oil is known for its pale yellow color. What makes apricot kernel oil so great is that it works well when used with the aging skin and it’s a common ingredient for many cosmetics that can have the price of up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Just one or two drops of the apricot kernel oil can exhibit its benefits, providing a great deal of benefit for dry, inflamed and even sensitive skin because of its content of oleic and linoleic acid, as well as vitamin A and vitamin E. This carrier oil is lightweight and smells faintly sweet; it can be absorbed by the skin without leaving a greasy or oily feeling after use. Apricot kernel oil can be used as is or together with other carrier oils since it still exhibits its full effects regardless of the mixture, making it a great choice for those looking for good essential oil carrier oil. But do know that the apricot kernel oil can leave stains on clothes so be careful.
Coconut oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties. There are countless health benefits to using coconut oil topically to your skin. Coconut oil comes in both refined and unrefined versions. For use in aromatherapy, you actually cannot use unrefined coconut oil since it sets like butter in the jar and can only be scooped out in chunks rather than a liquid version. Therefore, it is made available in the form of a “fractionated” carrier oil that is smooth, oily, and very useful for aromatherapy applications. It will feel very smooth to the skin, but won’t clog pores.
Most commonly used in cooking, olive oil can also be used for cosmetics as carrier oil. There are a lot of benefits that you can get by using olive oil which includes relief from ear pain and joint pain. Olive oil is one of the emergency oils that you can use if you don’t have anything else on hand. Its scent is sweet and pleasurable, though not completely neutral compared to other oils. Using a small percent together with other essential oil carrier oils lets you take advantage of the benefits that olive oil can bring, but perhaps avoid the scent if you find it otherwise overwhelming. Olive oil contains a lot of proteins, vitamins and minerals that can help the skin grow smoother and rejuvenate the hair’s lost shine and smoothness.
Argan oil is really nice to use on your face as it has restorative qualities for your skin cells. It helps with the skin elasticity, softens wrinkles and fine lines, and restores nutrient content to skin cells treating an array of skin conditions. It is very gentle, yet effective. Argan oil is derived from argan trees of Morocco, which are nutrient-rich, large, majestic trees. Argan Oil is the natural moisturizer your skin needs, and helps to naturally and noticeably soften and heal your skin. Argan oil has a sweet smell to it, and some batches of harvest can have quite a faint smell to it. It depends a little bit on the time the oil was harvested. Spring and summer harvests have a less deep smell, whereas fall and winter crops tend to smell a little deeper. Overall, to the new nose, it could be described as smelling ‘nutty’.
Another facial skin care favorite carrier oil is rosehip oil. It is rich in essential fatty acids and protects the skin by increasing cell turnover. This aids the cells in your skin to re-generate, which is why some say Rosehip oil contains anti-aging benefits.
Black Seed Oil
Known as “the healthiest oil on the planet”. It is also known as Black Cumin Seed Oil and extremely high in essential fatty acids, about 70-80%, which is comparable to Evening Primrose and Borage Oil.
Black seed contains an amazing amount of anti inflammatory, pain relieving, and antibacterial substances and antioxidants. These anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent choice for a carrier oil as it is in and of itself also a remedy for a variety of skin conditions stemming from inflammation. Smell-wise, black seed is earthy, deep and herbal, and therefore best mixed with other aromas that are also woody and strong, such as Juniper Berry, Atlas Cedar, Fir Balsam, Cypress, Sandalwood or Spruce. It is recommended to avoid black seed carrier oil in pregnancy and lactation.