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Carrier Oils 101: The Partner to Essential Oils

May 10, 2021 4 min read

Carrier Oils 101: The Partner to Essential Oils

Carrier oils are natural oils that can be used to dilute essential oils because they are gentle on the skin. Essential oils can be irritating, so diluting with a carrier oil is necessary to protect your skin. Carrier oils can be pressed from seeds, nuts, kernels, or vegetables, usually have little to no scent, and can last a longer time than more essential oils. Because carrier oils are lightweight, they absorb easily into the skin and help essential oils to absorb easily as well.

Carrier oils are typically rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids. Because of these properties, the oils can help to reveal smooth, shiny hair and younger-looking skin. Vitamins are known to reduce lines and wrinkles, even the skin tone, and reduce inflammation. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, is known to help with anti-aging and to improve the appearance of scarring and damaged tissue. Fatty acids are known to hydrate, nourish, and soften the skin and hair.

Aromatherapy uses carrier oils to dilute essential oils for topical use, protecting your skin and helping the essential oils to absorb evenly and effectively. However, it’s important to note that carrier oils do not have to be used with essential oils. Many people also use carrier oils on their hair to soften and add shine or in their skincare routine to smooth wrinkles and soften the skin.

Types of Carrier Oils

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil has the same high amount of antioxidants and Vitamin E as regular coconut oil, but it is “fractionated” or broken down into a liquid consistency. This makes an oil that is easily absorbed into the skin and has a light, non-greasy texture.

  • Best for Aromatherapy

Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil is often considered the “multivitamin” of the skin because it is rich in vitamins A, C, and E that help to reduce signs of aging. It also contains fatty acids that help to hydrate and improve the appearance of burns, scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks.

  • Best for Blemish Prone Skincare
  • Best for Stretch Marks

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is a great lightweight oil that is easily absorbed into the skin. It can help to cleanse the pores and reduce the appearance of blemishes. It has a light nutty scent but blends well with most essential oils. Sweet almond oil should not be used by those with nut allergies.

  • Best for Skincare

Argan Oil

Argan oil is a revitalizing oil that is commonly referred to as nature’s “liquid gold.” It’s a nutrient-rich oil full of omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It’s often used to moisturize dry hair and split ends but can also be used to smooth the skin and shine nails.

  • Best for Haircare

Castor Oil

Castor oil is often used in natural hair care routines to hydrate and smooth the hair. It can also be used on the eyelashes and eyebrows to promote strong, luscious hair. It contains fatty acids and vitamins that nourish the hair and skin.

  • Best for Haircare

Black Castor Oil

Black castor oil is a form of castor oil that uses roasted castor beans to create a stronger nutty scent and a higher pH level that is preferred in haircare and skincare. It’s a lightweight oil that will hydrate frizzy, curly, or coarse hair without weighing it down.

  • Best for Haircare

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is a popular carrier oil for the hair and skin because it deeply moisturizes and leaves a beautiful, but not overwhelming shine. This oil works well with oily skin to hydrate without being greasy since it resembles our body’s natural sebum oils.

  • Best for Combination and Oily Skincare

Grapeseed Oil

With a light, sweet scent, grapeseed oil is a great carrier oil for sensitive skin. It contains vitamin E and fatty acids that are known to help fight free radicals and to reduce signs of aging. It is a light, easily absorbed oil that isn’t greasy and good for all skin and hair types.

  • Best for Sensitive Skin

Olive Oil

Olive oil is typically more of a “last resort” carrier oil. It’s heavier and more greasy than other natural carrier oils. It has a heavier scent than the others, so it’s not great to use with delicately scented essential oils such as geranium or ylang ylang.

  • Best as a Last Resort

How to Dilute Essential Oils Using Carrier Oils

To use essential oils on the skin, it’s recommended that you dilute them with a natural carrier oil. Essential oil can be harsh and abrasive, so the carrier oils help to protect your skin so that you can get the benefits of the essential oils without worrying about irritation.

There are three recommended dilutions that you can use with essential oils:

A 1% dilution is used for children, elders, chronically ill people, and pregnant women.

  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil: 1 drop essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon carrier oil: 3 drops essential oil
  • 1 fluid ounce carrier oil: 6 drops essential oil

A 2% dilutionis typical for everyday adult use.

  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil: 2 drop essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon carrier oil: 6 drops essential oil
  • 1 fluid ounce carrier oil: 12 drops essential oil

A 3% dilution is used for specific illnesses or for acute injury and should only be used for short periods of time.

  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil: 3 drop essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon carrier oil: 9 drops essential oil
  • 1 fluid ounce carrier oil: 18 drops essential oil

Sensitive Skin & Essential Oils

Certain oils are more likely to cause irritation then others. If you have sensitive skin, consider performing a patch test with these oils first by placing a dime-sized diluted amount near the elbow and checking for irritation, burning, or rashes after 24-48 hours.

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Oregano

Carrier oils are an important part of aromatherapy to use essential oils effectively, but they can also be used on the skin and hair. They’ve been used for centuries for holistic therapy and beauty care. There are many types of carrier oils but picking your favorite doesn’t have to be hard! They all have their own special properties and benefits.