Carrier oils provide multiple benefits in essential oil use. Not only does a carrier oil help to dilute potent essential oils to help protect against skin irritation, but it also helps to extend the use of the essential oil, manage the absorption rate, and cover a larger area of skin or another surface.
What do Carrier Oils Do?
Carrier oils are oils that are combined with essential oils to help dilute the essential oil’s potency and alter the absorption rate, enabling safer topical use. They can also allow you to apply an essential oil to a larger area by providing a larger amount of an easy-to-spread base. Finally, carrier oils are beneficial in helping to slow the rate of evaporation, extending the positive impacts of the oil.
What are the Most Common Carrier Oils?
The most common carrier oils are plant-based fatty oils.
Coconut oil is not only a great moisturizer, but it is also an effective carrier oil for essential oils. Because it is a relatively light oil, coconut oil absorbs easily into skin or hair. It is also a good carrier oil choice for individuals with sensitive skin. As a carrier oil, coconut oil is a great way to dilute your essential oils while providing additional moisturizing properties.
Coconut Oil as a Carrier Oil is Best Used for:
- Skin moisturizer. The chemical makeup of coconut oil helps it to absorb well—and deeply—into the skin. This means it is particularly moisturizing.
- Body scrub. Combine your essential oils with fractionated coconut oil and Epsom salt for a natural body scrub.
- Topical application. Coconut oil can also be simply combined to dilute the chosen essential oils for safer application to desired areas.
- Hair care. Combine fractionated coconut oil with your favorite essential oils for a natural hair conditioner.
Tip: Look for fractionated coconut oil. Many coconut oils remain solid at room temperature, which makes them difficult to use as a carrier oil for essential oils. Fractionated coconut oil has removed the long-chain fatty acids that cause the oil to solidify, helping it stay liquid even at cooler temperatures, while keeping the important moisturizing properties.
Almond oil is well known for being high in vitamins A, D, and E. This makes it an excellent choice for skin health. It may also be helpful in easing symptoms for some skin conditions.
Almond Oil as a Carrier Oil is Best Used for:
- Combining with other carrier oils. Almond oil can help lighten heavier carrier oils, helping them absorb more easily.
- Bath oil. Almond oil is a great choice as a carrier oil for essential oil-based bath oils. This helps to increase moisturizing properties while maximizing the benefits of the essential oils.
- Skin moisturizers. Because it is easily absorbed and moisturizing, almond oil can make a great carrier oil for natural essential oil-based lotions, lotion bars, balms or moisturizing scrubs.
- Topical application. Because it has a subtle scent and doesn’t leave a greasy residue, almond oil is a great choice as a carrier oil for basic topical essential oil application, for example – massage oils.
Avocado is a nutrient-rich carrier oil that has very little scent, which makes it a great addition to essential oil blends. It is dense in nutrients, containing Vitamins A, B, D, and E as well as beta carotenes. However, avocado oil is also thicker and heavier than many other carrier oils, making it a better choice to supplement other carrier oils than to stand alone.
Avocado Oil as a Carrier Oil is Best Used for:
- Skin moisturizer. Because it is so high in nutrients, avocado oil is a great addition to an essential oil-based skin moisturizer.
- Hair moisturizer. Avocado oil is thicker and heavier than most carrier oils, which means you won’t want it as the base of your essential oil-based hair moisturizer. However, it is great for use in conjunction with another carrier oil to smooth and nourish hair.
Tip: Because avocado oil can be thick and heavy, it is often paired with lighter carrier oils to enrich skin nutrients and moisturizing properties.
Argan oil is made from pressing the kernels of a Moroccan argan tree. Argan oil is rich in vitamins A, E and monounsaturated fatty acids. It is known for both its moisturizing and healing properties. As a carrier oil, it is helpful as a skin moisturizer and in providing nutrients to aging or damaged skin and hair.
Argan Oil as a Carrier Oil is Best Used for:
- Skin moisturizer. Because of its fatty acids and vitamin E, argan oil is a great choice as a carrier for essential oil-based skin moisturizers. It is also typically a good choice for people with sensitive skin.
- Anti-aging. Argan oil is rich in nutrients which may make it a good choice for natural essential oil anti-aging skin products.
- Hair moisturizer. Argan oil is becoming immensely popular in the cosmetics industry as an effective hair moisturizer.
Although jojoba is technically not an oil, it is sometimes considered the “perfect” carrier for essential oils. This is because it moisturizes without clogging pores, helps to extend the life of your essential oils’ scents, and is non-allergenic – which makes it ideal for individuals with sensitive skin. Also, because jojoba is not actually an oil, it won’t stain clothes or fabrics like many other carrier oils will.
Jojoba as a Carrier is Best Used for:
- Topical rollerball. Use Jojoba in a rollerball to topically apply essential oils at the proper dilution. This will extend the essence of the essential oil, helping you receive its benefits longer.
- Skin moisturizer. While jojoba is moisturizing, it also doesn’t clog pores, making it a great addition to an essential oil-based skin moisturizer.
- Bath oil. Jojoba also works well as a carrier for essential oils being used as bath oils. This helps to increase the longevity of the essential oils’ scent while providing moisturizing benefits.
Olive oil is high in oleic acid, which can be beneficial for dry skin. It is also high in antioxidants and phenols which can help soothe skin. When deciding whether to use olive oil for your carrier oil, keep in mind that its scent may sometimes interfere with the smell of your essential oil. It can also sometimes leave an oily residue on the skin.
Olive Oil as a Carrier Oil is Best Used for:
- Massage oil. Because olive oil is thicker than many other carrier oils, it can be a great choice as a massage oil.
- Homemade soaps. Olive oil has cleansing properties which can make it a great addition to essential oil-based natural soaps.
- Hair moisturizer. Because olive oil is full of nutrients and moisturizing fats, it can be a great choice as a carrier oil for essential oil hair moisturizers.