What are carrier oils and how do you choose which one to use?
Carrier oils are fatty oils and can be referred to as vegetable oils, fixed oils, or base oils.. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the “oil of” the plant from which they were extracted. We use carrier oils mainly in skin care products. They provide properties such as being emollient or soothing to the skin. We also use them to dilute or carry essential oils. Each carrier oil offers different properties and the choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit you are looking for.
Three types of Carrier Oils
Did you know carrier oils can be drying, semi-drying or non-drying?. Carrier oils often do not have a strong aroma and do not evaporate.
Non-drying Oils (useful for dry skin that needs oil*):
*Dry skin that needs water needs to be hydrated with hydrosol spray.
Semi-drying Oils (more suitable for normal to oily skins):
Drying Oils (more suitable for oily skins but are best used when mixed with other oils):
Other Examples of Carrier Oils Include:
- Apricot Kernel
- Cranberry seed
- Evening Primrose
- Grape seed
- Macadamia nut
- Marula (Sclerocarya birrea)
- Palm Kernel
- Peach Kernel
- Pomegranate Raspberry seed
- Sweet Almond
- Wheat germ
How do you buy carrier oils?
There are a few things to consider when buying carrier oils:
1. Cold-pressed. Make sure the oils you are buying are cold-pressed and not heated. Oils that have been heated lose their therapeutic benefit.
2. Eating and skin care. Make sure the label also says that it is for eating and skin care.
3. Mineral oil. Mineral oil is NOT a natural product and should not be used with essential oils. It may even prevent the essential oils from being absorbed into the skin.
How do you apply essential oils topically?
Essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil. Check out this dilution chart!
How do you buy essential oils?
I use Young Living essential oils. Learn more about why and how to buy them here.
GENERAL SAFETY INFO: Do not take any oils internally without consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner first. Most essential oils cannot be placed directly on the skin because they are too potent, and can sometimes irritate the skin. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have any medical problems, use oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Essential oils such as chamomile have been used with children, but give them only the gentlest oils and at extremely low doses. It is safest to consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using oils with children. A small area of the skin should be tested, or a very small amount ingested if using a new essential oil for the first time. For very in-depth information on oil safety issues, read “Essential Oil Safety” by Robert Tisserand.
Buckle, J. (2003). Clinical aromatherapy: Essential oils in practice, 2nd Ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
England, A. (2000). Aromatherapy and massage for mother and baby. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.