Carrier oils are just as important as the essential oils themselves. Essential oils need to be diluted before they can be used. Carrier products come from a variety of sources and can include coconut oil or olive oil, for example. This article will teach you how to decide which carrier oil is right for your needs!
A good carrier oil for essential oils is one that will not make the skin break out or cause the essential oils to lose their potency. Some common types are olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil.
If the carrier oil is new to your skin, it can be a good idea to do a patch test on a small area of your skin with the carrier oil before applying to an entire area. I like to do a drop or two of new carrier oil on the inside of my elbow, since it is easy to monitor for a reaction, a sensitive area, and not as noticeable to others. After applying, I monitor for a day before washing off well.
Types of Carrier Oils
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot Kernel Oil is one of the most popular carrier oils used for aromatherapy. It is not greasy and makes for perfect massage oil. This is a carrier oil that has a slightly sweet and nutty smell.
Argan oil is commonly used for hair products and anti-aging properties. It's also moisturizing & known to promote growth of the skin, making it a popular ingredient in face treatments as well.
Avocado oil contains beta carotene, fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, and E. If you have sensitive skin, this may be a better option for you than other oils.
Black Cumin Seed Oil
Black cumin seed oil is derived from the black cumin plant, a very important part of Eastern Medicine. Many cosmetic products use black cumin seed oil for its health benefits and aromatherapeutic properties. Because black cumin seed oil contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals, this one is great to use in face and body creams – especially along with your favourite sunburn remedies if you spend too much time outdoors (like I did at the Iowa State Fair this week!)
Cocoa Butter may not be an oil but it is commonly used to “carry” essential oils like one. It is used for its moisturizing properties. This makes it very effective in the colder months when your skin needs some extra help staying hydrated. Cocoa butter is prone to causing clogged pores because it has a thick consistency. It should be avoided for facial products.
Coconut oil is one of the most popular choices for carrier oils because it is moisturizing and readily available. You can use it to create a thicker beauty product than most oils because it is a solid at room temperature. Because of this, it does not make for a good massage oil on its own.
Check out this quick guide on how to use coconut oil!
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is a carrier oil that can be used to alleviate dry skin. It also has properties that can help with inflammation, which is good for the skin and can help with redness.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
This is a carrier oil that's used primarily for skincare, but it can also be used for hair care. One great thing about fractionated coconut oil is that it doesn't go rancid like other oils and can last for 2-3 years!
Grapeseed oil is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and has antioxidant properties. It is also high in vitamin E, making it a popular choice for skin products.
Grapeseed can be used for massage, however, it is known for staining sheets so I'd only use for a massage oil if I didn't have any other carrier oils on hand that worked for sensitive skin.
It is recommended that you avoid grapeseed oil
If you are on certain medications, about to have surgery, are pregnant, or are nursing, grapeseed oil isn't recommended, because there isn't enough information about its safety or what is known in indicative of potential issues.
Hazelnut oil contains tannins, fatty acids, and vitamin E that can help prevent excess oil production, minimize the size of pores, and increase hydration. It can be used for skin and hair care products.
Hemp oil is a carrier oil that has a ton of benefits! It can reduce inflammation and research shows it may help with symptoms of some skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis.
It can also be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of menopause and PMS, thanks to its gamma-linolenic acid. Basically, it helps you produce enough of a hormone you need (prostaglandin E1) to avoid some of the symptoms of PMS that are linked to low PGE1.
Jojoba oil is a carrier oil that can be used to nourish the skin and hair. It is great for hair care because it contains vitamins B, C, and E, which help nourish and strengthen hair. It has similar properties to human sebum, which makes it good for the skin too.
One of the most common carrier oils is olive oil. This can be great for both skin and hair because it has many benefits. For instance, olive oil can help with dry skin or stretch marks when used on the skin. It's also a good choice for color-treated hair when used as a mask before washing. If you're looking for an inexpensive & readily available carrier oil to use in your aromatherapy treatments, then you should consider using olive oil!
Rosehip oil is an essential carrier oil that can help with a variety of skin conditions. It is a dry oil, which means it absorbs into the skin easily – reducing the risk of clogged pores. Rosehip oil has properties that help with acne, aging, dark circles, and sun damage, so it is often used in facial products.
Safflower oil is a carrier oil that can be used for skincare, haircare, and as a moisturizer. One of the benefits to safflower oil is that it's readily available. It makes a great carrier because it has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce redness.
Sesame oil is a non-comedogenic oil, which means it won't cause your pores to clog & is good for many skin types. It nourishes hair and scalp, so it is the perfect carrier oil for hair products/conditioners using your favourite essential oils.
Warning: Do not use if you have an allergy to sesame.
Shea butter is also an excellent carrier oil for those who are looking for a moisturizer. It can help with dry skin and psoriasis, which makes it a good choice if you have certain skin conditions. Many homemade products (such as conditioner, deodorant, face creams/mask, and lip balm) use shea butter.
Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is a great carrier oil to consider if you are looking for an emollient. It has many benefits for the skin and helps to reduce inflammation in those with dermatitis or eczema.
It can be used to help reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks, reduces puffiness, and treat acne.
Sunflower oil is a popular type of carrier oil. It can be used to nourish and moisturize the skin. Use it for under-eye moisturizer, a face mask, hair serum, massage oil, or a sunburn salve.
Walnut oil is one I have no personal experience with, but research has shown it has the potential to promote healing of skin wounds. The initial study was done on rats and I haven't seen it replicated in humans yet, but if you aren't sensitive to walnut oil, I'd definitely consider using it for a scraps & scratches salve.
What Is the Best Carrier Oil To Mix With Essential Oils?
When picking the best carrier oil, it is important to know what type of effects you want. For example, if you want a moisturizing effect, then you would want to pick an oil that is specifically designed for that effect. This might be something like olive or coconut oil. On the other hand, if you are dealing with sensitive skin and you want a moisturizing effect then you should look for an oil that has been refined or is unscented as this might give you the best results.
Are you looking to make a massage oil, a salve, a face mask, or something else? Make sure your carrier oil has the right weight for your final product, is safe for your skin, and smells pleasant with your essential oils. As you experiment with recipes for essential oil products, you'll probably come across some that smell off-putting. I have a few of those that I put up with because they work so well & some that others rave about that my nose curls at.
How to Mix Carrier Oils with Essential Oils
Before using essential oils topically, it is important to dilute them with a carrier oil. How many drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil depends on the essential oil. Different oils require different levels of dilution. Please check for the recommended dilution for each oil before using.
Want to learn more about how to use essential oils safely? Robert Tisserand (founder of the Tisserand Institute) and Rodney Young wrote Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. It addresses over 400 essential oils, how to use them safely, proper dilution guidelines, and more!
Carrier oils are a great way to enhance the healing or scent qualities of your favorite essential oil. There are many carrier oils to choose from, so it is important you know what you want out of your product before choosing a specific one.
Coconut oil might be best for those with sensitive skin, grapeseed oil will likely be more affordable than others and walnut has been shown in studies to have some healing properties. No matter which carrier oils you choose, they can add an extra layer of benefits that make them worth trying!
What's your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!