PLEASE NOTE: I am not a qualified Aromatherapist. This post represents some research and the personal experiences of myself and others. If you are unsure about how to use any essential oil safely, please consult a qualified Aromatherapist.
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Most essential oils are too potent to be used directly on your skin and need to be diluted with a carrier Oil. In this post I’ll introduce the 14 perfect carrier oils for aromatherapy and why.
What Is A Carrier Oil For Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (related post) for massage and treatment by application of the oils on your skin.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts, and the very fact that they are such concentrated compounds means that most essential oils are much too potent to be used directly on your body.
Essential oil molecules are so small that they can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream and potentially be poisonous, or at the very least cause irritation.
Although there are a few essential oils known as ‘neat’, meaning they’re safe to applied directly onto your skin straight from the bottle, most should only be used when diluted with a carrier oil.
This is how you would enjoy a massage from a qualified aromatherapist where a blend would be created to assist with your particular requirements.
Carrier Oils Are Derived From Vegetarian Sources
These include seeds, kernels, and nuts from plants and can be safely applied to the skin. Each carrier oil has its own unique properties and benefits, perfectly complementing and blending with essential oils.
You also have full control over the concentration level, based on the essential oil you’re using by deciding on the ratio of the essential oil to the carrier oil.
A carrier oil is non-toxic and doesn’t evaporate.
Typically, carrier oils have a long shelf-life compared to essential oils, which can evaporate quickly due to the nature of the ‘plant essence’.
The best carrier oils are cold-pressed where the oil is extracted by crushing the plant as opposed to using heat which can damage the nutrients. As with any oils, keep them in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
A carrier oil will aid with the safe absorption of the essential oil and is typically unscented or lightly scented, thereby not interfering with the scent and therapeutic properties of the essential oil.
If the carrier oil has a slightly nutty scent due to its source, you will find that the scent of the essential oil you mix it with will be changed very little as a result.
However, if your carrier oil hasn’t been used for some time and has a strong smell it may be rancid so discard it. Like all natural products that don’t contain preservatives they will go bad eventually.
Always Buy Your Oils From A Trusted Source
Ensure they are organic, pure and free of additives. You want them to be labeled ‘Therapeutic Grade’. As with essential oils, try to buy the best carrier oil you can afford.
My trusted source is Edens Garden
This is a super ethical female-led and family owned and operated company.
The company was founded by Grace Martin with in 2009 with a goal to share high quality, 100% pure, vegan and cruelty-free essential oils. Every oil is ethically and sustainably sourced and is GM/MS tested. No chemicals, fragrance fillers or synthetics are used in any of their products.
Obviously there are other essential oil companies. Be aware that some are MLM’s which may not suit you. Edens garden is voted No.1 non-MLM essential oil company available…a really good reason to check them out.
Always do your own research to satisfy yourself that you have chosen the one that’s right for you. However, it would be difficult to find a better company than this. You can read Edens Garden bio here.
BTW, I am not an affiliate for this company. I recommend them because I am a super fan of their oils and love the fact that it is an all female company. I’m not a feminist…I just like to see a woman doing well with a company she started from scratch.
Selecting The Best Carrier Oil For Your Needs
There are two types of carrier oils and it’s important to consider this when deciding on an oil for skin preparations. These are Comedogenic and Non-Comedogenic.
This is the Comedogenic Rating, where 0 = non-comedogenic and will not clog your skin pores, and 1-5 on the rating scale will have an increasing risk of clogging and skin breakouts.
Generally, if you avoid a rating of higher than 2 you shouldn’t experience breakouts. But remember, we’re all different so if in doubt always patch test on a small piece of your skin first.
A recommended way to do a patch test is to add a small amount of carrier oil to a bandaid and apply it to your forearm. Leave it for 24-48 hours (trying to keep it dry if possible). Then check to see if you have any rash or redness indicating a reaction.
When choosing which carrier oil use, consider what you will be using it for. Typically the things to look for are absorption, aroma if any, and how lubricating or fluid it is.
Consider the viscosity. Do you want to make a balm or skin cream?. If so, will the density of the cream clog your skin pores, particularly on your face. Maybe you require an oil that is more free-flowing, or maybe you need it to be thicker with more greasiness.
Some carrier oils can be more expensive than others depending on the rarity of the plant, the region where it is typically found, and how extensive the extraction process may be.
There are so many uses for essential oils mixed with carrier oils. The following list will help you decide which is best for the varying uses, and include the comedogenic rating (CR)
Carrier Oils Are Natural With Unique Therapeutic Properties
All carrier oils have their own therapeutic properties (and I’m not just thinking if delicious olive oil on salad…yum!) These properties are anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, along with vitamins.
The therapeutic properties are derived from the natural nutrients and mixing your essential oils with the right carrier oils can be extremely beneficial to obtain the full benefits of what you’re trying to achieve.
While many carrier oils have similar properties, some are more suited to achieving different outcomes. So knowing what outcome you want will help you choose the right one for you, your skin type and what beauty product you are hoping to produce.
Never use chemical or mineral oils. Be aware that using cooking oils from your kitchen, or petroleum-based oils like Baby oil, mineral oil or Vaseline (YES! – petroleum-based – OMG) will definitely not be suitable for obvious reasons.
14 Of The Best Carrier Oils To Use
There are more oils to choose from, but these are some of the most commonly used and well-loved oils to try.
- Sweet Almond
- Grape Seed
- Sesame Seed
- Evening Primrose
- Hemp Seed
- Rose Hip
- Apricot Kernel
- Camellia Seed
1. Coconut Oil
CR – 4
Non-fractionated is cold-pressed from the ‘meat’ of mature coconuts. It is solid at room temperature, perfect for making lip balms, hand-creams, and hair treatments.
Unlike the fractionated version, this has a dense rich creamy texture with that wonderful coconut aroma, and retains many of the health benefits that are missing in the fractionated version of the oil.
Fractionated coconut oil is produced by heating the oil above its melting point. After allowing it to cool, the solid fraction of the oil is separated from the liquid.
Fractionated coconut oil doesn’t retain the same health benefits as non-fractionated due to the heating process.
This fractionated oil is liquid at room temperature with no aroma, making it a perfect carrier oil to blend with essential oils, therefore retaining the beautiful fragrance and benefits of the essential oil.
It won’t clog your pores which makes it wonderful for skin products, leaving your skin feeling smooth and silky. You can also make a deep nourishing hair conditioner by adding fractionated coconut oil to your washing routine.
This is a free-flowing, non-greasy oil making it fabulous for massage.
2. Olive Oil
CR – 2
As I’m sure you’re already aware, this oil has an amazing array of health benefits when included in your diet, including lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). PLUS, it helps to reduce resistance to insulin, so brilliant for Diabetics.
As a carrier oil, it’s non-greasy and great for dry skin and hair.
Always choose unrefined cold-press Extra Virgin Olive oil as no heat or chemicals have been used in the extraction process and look for a good quality brand…don’t skimp.
It can have a relatively short shelf-life compared to other carrier oils but hey, because it can be used on your food as well there’s probably little chance of it going off.
As a carrier oil, it’s non-greasy and quite thick making it a great choice for dry skin and hair. It traps moisture and helps to keep your skin hydrated.
However, for these reasons it’s not the best choice of oil for acne-prone skin and could make your condition worse.
3. Jojoba Oil
CR – 2
Jojoba oil has a long shelf-life, although technically it’s not a true oil but rather a liquid wax. However, it is excellent for skin as it has superior non-greasy absorption.
It most closely resembles the natural secretions of our skin making it one of the best carrier oils to use.
This makes it ideal to use as a natural moisturizer on the face and neck and won’t leave you looking oily or sweaty, which can happen with heavier oils. It has a slightly nutty aroma which is very pleasant.
Due to its properties, it naturally lends itself to being used on skin that is prone to acne, redness and irritation, making it a great all-round option for skincare.
4. Sweet Almond Oil
CR – 2
Almonds are considered to be the ‘King of Nuts’. They are the oldest and most widely grown of all nut crops in the world. There are two types of almond oils, Sweet and Bitter, and they come from different types of almond trees.
While bitter almonds can be toxic and are only used in medicines, sweet almonds are used for oils and are very beneficial for your skin and health in general. As with other oils, always use cold-pressed Sweet Almond oil to ensure it’s purity and quality.
Sweet almond oil contains Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Zinc and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Each has a different function such as:
- Vitamin E provides the oil with antioxidant properties.
- Vitamin A can stimulate the production of new skin cells.
- Zinc aids in healing scars
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids can help prevent aging.
This oil is very commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for treating skin conditions. This is because it is light and unlikely to clog skin pores making it perfect for dry or sensitive skin.
It is also considered to be essential for good brain and nervous system function.
5. Grape Seed Oil
CR – 1
Grape Seed oil is a by-product of the wine making industry and as such there is some controversy surrounding its use for skin care. Usually one of the extraction processes involves chemical solvents like Hexane. This is classified as a neurotoxin.
You can obtain Grape Seed oil specifically for the skincare and carrier oil market BUT, you need to ensure that it is cold-pressed, or expeller-pressed as neither of these methods include chemicals.
This oil has a light, thin consistency, and lends well to being used as a massage oil or a carrier oil. Because of its non-greasy nature, it’s widely used in cosmetics products and sunscreens.
It’s mildly astringent making it good for acne-prone or oily skin and is excellent used as a hair moisturizer because it won’t leave it greasy.
Some studies being conducted in Japan seem to indicate that it may stimulate hair growth and prevent thinning due to the oils high nutrient-rich properties.
6. Sesame Seed Oil
CR – 0
Unrefined sesame oil is one of the best oils for use on and in your body. Its rich nutty flavor enhances salads, and has become one of the most popular cooking oils.
However, beyond the mono and polyunsaturated fats, it also contains some very beneficial properties making it wonderful for use on your skin.
It is antimicrobial meaning it kills harmful microbes and prevents their growth. It is an antioxidant which helps fight free-radicals which can harm the skin’s cellular structure.
Plus it is anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and inflammation. It also contains Vitamin E which will help to protect your skin cells from environmental damage.
These properties make it an ideal oil for use on acne, rashes and infections. Blend it with an essential oil containing anti- bacterial properties such as Tea Tree oil for good results.
7. Evening Primrose Oil
This is an oil that is widely recognized for it’s ability to assist with hormonal-related acne, bloating and breast pain. This can occur at anytime in a woman’s life, such as puberty, PMT, and peri-menopause.
Note: it is not recommended to use Evening Primrose oil if you are pregnant, without consulting your physician or a qualified aromatherapist.
Evening Primrose Oil is high in Essential Fatty Acids and is safe to be taken orally in capsule form.
It also contains anti-inflammatory properties. When used as a carrier oil, it is perfect for dry patches of skin, eczema and psoriasis.
Combined with an essential oil such as tea tree oil to produce an anti-bacterial treatment for blemishes, mild acne and some skin rashes and bruising.
Evening Primrose oil is also traditionally used to treat hemorrhoids, digestive problems and sore throats.
8. Avocado Oil
CR – 3
Due to this oil’s luxurious nature, it is fantastic for mature skin that has thinned with age as it contains palmitoleic acid which is a type of fatty acid found just under human skin, meaning it is easily absorbed.
It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is very stable for treating skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
It can help to purify and reduce pore size and is often recommended for skin problems such as eczema.
As well as making an excellent carrier oil, avocado oil is one of the products like olive and castor oil where ingesting it is super good for you. Avocado oil can be used for beautiful salad dressings, and obviously the pulp of the fruit is an all-time fave.
9. Hempseed Oil
CR – 0
This is a much-maligned plant, but in actual fact, it has much to offer in the way of health benefits.
Its non-greasy nature makes it perfect for massage. It has excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can be very beneficial in assisting with anti-aging and skin regeneration.
When mixed with essential oils that have analgesic properties such as Peppermint or Lavender, it can make a good choice to treat joint and muscle pain.
10. Rose Hip Oil
CR – 1
Rose Hip oil has been used for centuries dating back to Hippocrates. It has strong moisturizing properties and is wonderful for dry or aging skin, making it a fabulous choice for us midlife ladies.
Known for its ability to penetrate deep into the skin it’s considered to be a great anti-aging oil by boosting the production of collagen and helping the skin retain moisture.
This carrier oil is also beneficial for fighting some difficult skin problems, and is considered good for reducing scar tissue, in particular acne scarring. Also, many people use it to reduce the visibility of stretch marks.
Some people swear this is the case and it’s certainly worth trying but there isn’t much scientific evidence to back this up. Probably won’t hurt to try though.
Irrespective of studies, the prove is usually in the usage and if it’s been successful, I doubt the lack of scientific evidence will bother you.
Rose Hip oil contains many more essential fatty acids than other oils making it perfect for skincare. Because it contains vitamins E and C, it can help to reduce redness and ease irritated skin conditions.
A word of caution: Some people have an allergic reaction to Rose Hip oil so it’s a good idea to do a small patch test first. Also, the scent is strong and heady, which may cause some headaches or even hay fever for some people.
11. Apricot Kernel Oil
CR – 2
Apricot oil is cold-pressed from the kernels producing a lovely, free-flowing and nourishing carrier oil that closely resembles the natural sebum produced by skin.
Its lightweight and rapid absorption makes it perfect for use in cosmetics, helping your skin to feel radiant and moisturized without any greasiness or residue.
These properties make it especially suitable for use under the eyes which is too delicate an area for most oils to be applied to.
It can be used as a wonderfully nourishing hair moisturizer, either by itself, or blended with essential oils to enjoy the added benefits and aromas of the essential oil.
12. Castor Oil
CR – 1
Castor oil has a very long history and has been used extensively for remedies dating back to before modern medicine.
I used to think it was an old wives tale about the benefits of ingesting castor oil when my grandmother insisted it would ease constipation! (Anyone remember those nose-holding doses we were given?) and I doubt she would ever consider it to be a perfect carrier oil for aromatherapy back then.
Over the years, this has been proven to be a mild laxative and can be taken regularly with some Apple Cider vinegar, particularly as you age and your digestive system doesn’t function as well as it used to.
It is also believed to assist the function of the lymphatic system and it contains natural antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
It is a natural healing agent, helping with dry, irritated skin, reducing the appearance of scars and promote the healing of burns. Plus, it can also be used topically for treatment of sunburn, fungal infections and to treat Athlete’s Foot.
Other used include promoting hair and nail growth, reducing dandruff, improving circulation, boosting your immune system and helping to restore hormone balance in women.
This is an all-round fantastic carrier oil when used with or without an essential oil. Some old-wives tales can be taken seriously!
13. Argan Oil
CR – 0
Ladies…I’m sure this oil is probably already known to you as a wonderful hair treatment for giving that lustrous shine. The best oil is usually sourced from Morocco.
It’s incredibly rich in antioxidants and linoleic fatty acids it is especially beneficial for healing damage to your skin and hair caused by the sun.
Use this carrier oil liberally as a hair treatment following extensive time in chlorinated pools or the salty ocean.
This oil is easily absorbed by your skin and won’t clog pores, so it’s an excellent choice for acne-prone or oily skin types.
Argan oil also contains Vitamin E which aids in the rejuvenation of skin cells, which helps skin heal faster, therefore it may reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This can also help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and aid in the growth of hair and healthy nails. Argan oil is an all-round great carrier oil to mix with your choice of essential oil.
14. Camellia Seed Oil
CR – 1
This is a luxurious oil derived from the seeds of Camellia fruits. It is suitable for just about all skin types and was used for centuries in Asia and considered to be the secret behind the beauty of women from East Asia, namely China and Japan.
With strong emollient and antioxidant properties, this carrier oil is suitable for a wide range of cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Naturally hydrating, this oil strengthens the skin contributing to a youthful, smooth finish and promotes healthy hair and nails.
The feel of this beautiful oil is velvety and silky, sinking into your skin to rejuvenate it without leaving any oily finish.
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, this oil was used to treat burn wounds and considered to have accelerate healing and skin regeneration.
There are many oils that can be used as a carrier for essential oils and hopefully this post has helped you understanding why and how to use them.
These 14 carrier oils are very widely used and recommended, but there are others. Have some fun discovering which ones you like, together with the amazing essential oils that you can blend them with.
Gaining knowledge about this the age-old therapy is something that will benefit your life in many ways…particularly as you age. Not the least of which will be indulging in a wonderful aromatherapy massage as often as you can.
Remember, you deserve less stress, more relaxation and more self-care!
As always, I would love to hear you comments. Why not drop me a line below.