July 16, 2015
Carrier oils are such an important tool when it comes to using essential oils topically, in aromatherapy, in DIY projects, for skin and hair care, and for a whole plethora of holistic purposes.
Commonly known as “base” or “fixed” oils, carrier oils are fatty oils that come from vegetables, nuts, or seeds, and they are meant to “carry” essential oils into the body through topical application. Some of our favorite examples of carrier oils are Almond Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Apricot Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, and Black Cumin Oil.
People commonly choose to use carrier oils as a way to dilute essential oils for topical application. Don’t worry, though. Carrier oils do not lessen the therapeutic benefits of the essential oils; instead, they spread essential oils farther on the skin and actually help your body absorb the essential oils faster, which means better therapeutic effects.
Because essential oils are incredibly potent and concentrated, it’s very important to use a carrier oil to protect the skin when you topically apply any essential oils. Applying essential oils ‘neat’, or without a carrier oil, can potentially cause skin irritation, redness, burning, or even sensitization.
Carrier oils are full of all the good stuff, such as antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are so beneficial when it comes to nourishing, moisturizing, and protecting the skin that, when applied daily, they even promote skin cell regeneration and preserve skin elasticity.
What are EFAs?
All carrier oils are made of EFAs. EFAs are essential fatty acids. Your body requires and naturally uses essential fatty acids to stay healthy and to protect your skin on a regular basis. The three main fatty acids are saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated fatty acids cause carrier oils to have a thicker, heavier consistency. These EFAs are great for providing deep moisture and promoting the bodies natural healing process.
Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids are thinner in consistency and offer a silkier texture that makes them perfect for skin serums. Carrier oils with these EFAs offer wonderful skin-cleansing and age-defying properties.
Key Reasons For Using Carrier Oils With Essential Oils
Essential oils are so concentrated and potent that they are intended to be diluted. Contrary to popular belief, using an undiluted essential oil does not necessarily mean that you will receive better results. Carrier oils prevent essential oils from evaporating while on the skin, which maximizes absorption time and allows for the aroma of the essential oil to last longer on the skin. Unless you use an undiluted essential oil under the supervision of a trained professional, you should always use a carrier oil. With proper dilution rates, you will still receive the maximum benefits from your essential oils. Diluting your essential oils for topical application will also help them last longer, and you will get more applications out of a single bottle.
This carrier oils is always the go-to for anyone and is the perfect all-around/all-purpose carrier oil. This oil is heat-pressed and has an indefinite shelf life. Many people love Fractionated Coconut Oil because it absorbs well into the skin, has no scent, and doesn’t stain. This oil is great for massage therapists, and for creating essential oil blends. FCO is high in capric and caprylic saturated essential fatty acids, making it a great option for protecting the skin from the elements without leaving behind a greasy or oily residue.
Pronounced ho-ho-ba, this carrier oil is actually a liquid wax that is extracted by cold-pressing the seeds from the Jojoba desert shrub. Jojoba has a very stable shelf life, like FCO, and doesn’t oxidize or go rancid. This carrier oil is rich in vitamins E and B, and in eicosenoic acid (omega-9), which is a monounsaturated fatty acid. These components are great in retaining moisture, reducing redness or puffiness, and supporting the skin’s natural healing process. Jojoba oil is highly penetrating and closely resembles human sebum. While it’s great for moisturizing the skin, this carrier oil can also combat excessively oily skin so it is perfect to use in any skin and hair care recipes.
Also known as a Sweet Almond Oil, this carrier oil is cold-pressed and has a stable shelf life of 1-2 years. This carrier oil contains very high levels of linoleic (omega-6) essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, oleic (omega-9) essential monounsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins D and E. These fatty acids are known to help retain moisture, reduce redness or puffiness, and nourish and protect the skin from the elements without leaving a heavy or greasy residue. Almond Oil is a wonderful, nourishing oil that is perfect for all skin types, but it is especially great for softening dry skin. It makes a good base for custom face and body care products.
This carrier oil is cold-pressed from the kernel of the apricot pit, and it has a stable shelf life of 1-2 years. Apricot is similar to Almond oil, but it has a much lighter consistency and quickly absorbs into the skin. Apricot carrier oil is high in oleic (omega-9) monounsaturated fatty acid and vitamin E. These components make Apricot oil excellent for facial skin care. In fact, it is best used to assist in combating excess oil and protecting your skin from moisture loss.
This carrier oil is not like others. Instead of being extracted from a nut or seed, this oil is cold-pressed from the skin of the fruit of the avocado tree. This causes the oil to have a slightly green or yellow tint and a slightly thicker consistency. Avocado oil has a stable shelf life of 1-2 years and is slower to absorb due to its thicker consistency. This carrier oil is high in oleic (omega-9) and palmitic essential monounsaturated fatty acids, linoleic (omega-6) essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, and E. These components make the carrier oil particularly good for extremely dry, weathered, and mature skin. It is a lifesaver if you are trying to fade stretch marks or combat dry hair.
This carrier oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of grapes and has a shorter shelf life of 9-12 months. Grapeseed is very light in texture and quick to absorb, making it quite suitable for oily or combination skin. It is also known to be a mild astringent with cleansing properties. This carrier oil is rich in linoleic (omega-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E. These components offer moisture restoration and support the body’s natural healing process without leaving a greasy or heavy residue on the skin.
Black Cumin (Nigella sativa)
This carrier oil is cold-pressed of from the seeds of the Fennel Flower, and it has a stable shelf life of 2 years. Black Cumin has a medium consistency that absorbs quickly but does leave a slight oily sheen on the skin. Rich in linoleic (omega-6) essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and oleic (omega-9) essential monounsaturated fatty acids, this carrier oil is wonderful for supporting the body’s and skin’s natural healing process. It helps retain hydration as it strengthens and protects the skin while also combating puffy or red skin.
Dilution is key when applying essential oils topically. For adults, we recommend starting out with a 2% dilution rate. This means combining 3 drops of an essential oil to 1 teaspoon of your choice of carrier oil. You can add your mixture to an empty glass bottle or container, or apply the diluted oil directly to the skin.
The most common areas for topical application include the back of the neck, behind the ears, the wrists, the bottom of the feet, or on targeted areas like the face, neck, or scalp for skin and hair care.
You should always exercise extra caution when using oils on the elderly and children under the age of 12 because their skin tends to be more sensitive.
Now that you know how important and beneficial carrier oils are, it’s time to look further into dilution for topical application.