When you research essential oils, you have likely noticed many references to carrier oils. So by now, you’re probably wondering what a carrier oil is, is there more than one kind and how would I use it? I’m going to cover all those questions.
What is a carrier oil?
A carrier oil is used with essential oils to dilute them as they are very potent and concentrated. Adding a carrier oil gives you more coverage using less essential oil while still getting, and actually increasing, the benefits. I know it sounds a bit odd but here’s the scoop:
- Essential oils are absorbed into your skin very quickly and they also evaporate very quickly. If you put a drop or two on your wrist it is gone, and the smell along with it, within around 20 seconds. It has been absorbed that fast.
- Carrier oils, do not evaporate as quickly as they are a fatty extract, made from the fatty part of the plants. Mixing both oils allows for slower absorption while giving you a better and longer impact.
- If you have sensitive skin, diluting the essential oil reduces the chance of causing a negative skin reaction.
Here’s an example. I use geranium oil in my evening skin routine to help my complexion and minimize the nasty little wrinkles. If I used the recommended amount of 2-3 drops, it would cover a cheek maybe but when I add 1/2 teaspoon of argan oil, I can cover my entire face. Plus get the added benefits of the argan oil (which you will read about shortly).
Is there more than one kind of carrier oil?
There are many kinds of carrier oils. I am going to give you an overview of the top 8 based on my study and research.
Long known for its many healing properties, coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral. This a great oil to use for DIY ointments and skin care products. It absorbs quickly and is a great moisturizer. Extra virgin coconut oil is butter-like to solid at room temperature but a second on your fingers and it liquifies. If you put a teaspoon in your palm and add the recommended number of drops of essential oil to it you will have a fabulous oil. Good for acne, cold sores, eczema, rough skin and dry scaly skin. Coconut can be used by itself also. It has so many health benefits it will be a post on it’s own, so stay tuned for that.
Almond oil (Sweet): Do not use if you have nut allergies.
Almond oil contains antioxidants, vitamins A, B and E. It has a very faint almond scent that is really nice if you use it alone. It is a light oil and when used on your face it can help improve your complexion, skin tone and the moisture balance of your skin. Use for cradle cap, chapped dry skin, eczema, and in your DIY skin care products. To gently clean your skin, mix Almond oil with an essential oil that contains antimicrobial properties like lavender oil.
Jojoba oil: pronounced ho-HO-ba
Jojoba is a wonderful oil to use with essential oils as it is unscented. It contains vitamin E and B, is anti-inflammatory and antifungal. It soothes the skin, unclogs pores and hair follicles (making it great to prevent razor burn), and it mimics collagen which is a structural protein of different connective tissue making it soothing to people with acne, eczema and psoriasis. Also, it has very long shelf life compared to most carrier oils.
Argan oil: my favorite for using on the face
Under its faintly sweet scent is a little powerhouse. Containing vitamins A and E, omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants, it helps soften wrinkles, has anti-aging properties and can help improve skin tone. Because it can help restore nutrients to skin cells it can be used to treats a multitude of skin issues from acne to psoriasis.
Just like the fruit is loaded with nutrients, so is Avocado oil. Teeh oil has a light scent and a greenish tint. Rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins A, D and E, this is a great moisture source for cradle cap, diaper rash, dry, chapped or damaged cuticles, feet and skin. You can use it as a makeup remover, and a conditioner for your hair and scalp. Just 2-3 drops of an essential oil of your choice combined with a half teaspoon of Avocado oil can be massaged into any area.
Don’t let the name fool you, Rosehip oil does not smell like roses. It has a light but slightly fishy, oily smell. I feel it only fair to give you a heads up.
Now to the good stuff. Rosehip oil contains Omega-E and other essential fatty acids that aid in skin cell regeneration helping improve skin texture and tone. It also has vitamin C and is high in antioxidants for anti-aging. It can be used as a natural moisturizer. This oil is known as a dry oil, meaning it is absorbed quickly into the skin and you won’t be left with an oily feeling. This makes it work best for those who have normal to dry skin.
We all know how extra-virgin olive oil smells. If it is a little much for you then mix some with another carrier oil to cut the aroma. Olive oil is high in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids. It is also an anti-inflammatory and consuming it can help your brain, mood and heart. Use it on your skin for hydration, wound healing and to help fight infections. It can help smooth your complexion and bring shine to your hair.
Apricot oil: Also called Apricot Kernal oil
If you can’t use Almond oil, this is a good substitute. It is a light yellow oil with a slight nutty scent. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and provides nutrition and support to your skin. Apricot oil helps prevent damage by free radicals with its antioxidant properties. It can be used as a moisturizer and also helps reduce the risk of infection of open sores and cuts. This is a really light oil and an excellent choice to use for children.
Although these carrier oils are very gentle and can usually be used on sensitive skin, I still recommend doing a small skin patch test to be sure you are not sensitive or allergic. Store your carrier oils in a dark glass container. Most can be stored in a dark, cool location or the refrigerator. If you notice the scent has changed over time to a strong bitter odor, buy a new one as with time carrier oils can become rancid.