Updated: May 23
What are carrier oils?
Carrier oils, also known as base oils or vegetable oils, are plant-derived oils that are commonly used to dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin. They are called "carrier" oils because they serve as a vehicle to carry essential oils and help disperse them over a larger area of the skin.
Carrier oils are typically derived from the fatty portions of plants, such as seeds, nuts, or kernels. They are different from essential oils, which are highly concentrated plant extracts obtained through processes like distillation or cold-pressing.
Carrier oils are used in various skincare, haircare, and massage applications. They have their own unique properties and benefits for the skin and hair, and they provide a medium for essential oils to be applied topically in a safe and diluted manner.
Carrier oil types and benefits
There are so many oils to choose from. Choosing the right carrier oil depends on what kind of products you're creating for different skin issues.
V-6 - V-6 oil is a blend of several vegetable oils, including fractionated coconut oil, sesame seed oil, grape seed oil, sweet almond oil, wheat germ oil, and sunflower seed oil. It is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, which help nourish and moisturize the skin and hair.
Coconut - Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, including medium-chain fatty acids. It is a great moisturizer for both hair and skin, as it helps retain moisture and provides a protective barrier. It can also help strengthen hair and promote hair growth. Coconut oil can be very greasy depending on your hair's porosity.
Jojoba - Jojoba oil is similar in composition to the natural oils produced by the skin. It may also reduce excess oil production in people who have acne. It contains vitamins such as B, C and E, minerals like copper and zinc, and fatty acids, which make it an excellent moisturizer. Jojoba oil can regulate oil production, making it suitable for both oily and dry skin. It can also promote hair growth and strengthen the hair follicles.
Apricot - Apricot oil is rich in vitamins A and E, as well as essential fatty acids. It is easily absorbed into the skin, providing hydration and nourishment. Apricot oil can improve the skin's elasticity, reduce inflammation, and promote a smooth and radiant complexion. Apricot oil is also high in omega-3s that help nourish the scalp and reduces hair loss.
Sweet Almond - Sweet almond oil is high in vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidants. It deeply moisturizes the skin, soothes irritation, and helps improve skin tone and texture. It can also strengthen and nourish the hair, making it appear shiny and healthy.
Olive - Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and E, and fatty acids. It has moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial for dry and sensitive skin. Olive oil can also add shine, softness, and manageability to hair. It's great for infusing herbs and perfect for making soaps and massage oils.
Argan - Argan oil is abundant in vitamin A and E, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It deeply moisturizes the skin, reduces inflammation, and promotes a youthful appearance. When used on the hair, argan oil can tame frizz, add shine, and help repair damaged hair. It's also great for skin inflammation, rashes and insect bites. It is rich in antioxidants, so it can protect the skin from sun and environmental damage and help keep the skin nice and firm. Argan also protects the hair from heat and every day exposure to the environment. It's hydrating and can reduce breakage and split ends.
Rosehip - Rosehip oil is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as essential fatty acids. It can hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, reduce the appearance of scars and wrinkles, protect and possibly reverse sun damage, reduce the appearance of scars and discoloration, and promote an even skin tone. Rosehip oil is also beneficial for dry and damaged hair, helping to restore its moisture and shine.
Grapeseed - Grapeseed oil is astringent, making it the perfect oil for oil cleansers and people who have acne or oily skin. It's antimicrobial and leaves the skin with a natural glow. Grapeseed oil is lightweight and easily absorbed by the skin. It contains antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-6 fatty acids, which help protect against free radicals and nourish the skin. Grapeseed oil can also strengthen the hair, promote hair growth, and reduce dandruff.
Neem - Neem oil is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamin E. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin. Neem oil can also help combat dandruff and promote a healthy scalp. It is also known to promote hair growth and lessen gray hairs.
Sunflower - Sunflower oil is high in vitamin E, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It helps retain moisture, soothes the skin, and provides a protective barrier. Sunflower oil can also strengthen the hair, prevent breakage, and add shine.
Black seed - Black seed oil, also known as black cumin seed oil, contains antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial for acne-prone and irritated skin. Black seed oil can also promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Moringa - Moringa has a long shelf life (from the date that is was cold pressed) of up to 5 years because of its resistance to oxidation. Moringa oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and essential fatty acids. It helps moisturize and nourish the skin, fight signs of aging, and improve skin elasticity. Moringa oil can also strengthen the hair, reduce split ends, and add shine.
Castor - Castor oil is high in ricinoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It moisturizes the skin, promotes wound healing, and can help reduce acne. When applied to the hair, castor oil can nourish the scalp, strengthen the hair follicles, and stimulate hair growth. It's also antiviral and antifungal.
Evening Primrose - Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation and maintain healthy skin. It can moisturize dry skin, improve skin elasticity, and alleviate symptoms of conditions like eczema. Evening primrose oil can also help nourish the hair and reduce scalp inflammation.
Flaxseed - Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It can help soothe sensitive or irritated skin, reduce redness, and promote a healthy complexion. Flaxseed oil may also contribute to shiny and healthy hair.
Avocado - Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats, vitamins A, D, and E, and antioxidants. It deeply moisturizes the skin, soothes inflammation, and can improve skin texture. Avocado oil can also penetrate the hair shaft, moisturize the scalp, and enhance hair strength and shine.
Marula - Marula oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and essential fatty acids. It moisturizes and repairs the skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promotes a youthful complexion. Marula oil can also strengthen the hair, prevent breakage, and add shine. Marula is great for making lotions, salves, and lip balms. It's good for dry brittle hair and reduces frizz.
Passionfruit Seed - Passionfruit seed oil is abundant in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and essential fatty acids. It helps hydrate and protect the skin from environmental damage, improving overall skin health. Passionfruit seed oil can also nourish the hair, reduce frizz, prevent split ends, and add luster.
Macadamia - Macadamia oil is high in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and vitamins. It deeply moisturizes and softens the skin, promotes cell regeneration, and improves skin elasticity. It contains palmitic acid which is natural found in our skin's sebum which tends to decrease as we get older. Macadamia oil can also nourish and protect the hair, reducing frizz and adding shine. Macadamia oil absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn't leave much residue.
Amla - Amla oil is derived from the Indian gooseberry (amla) fruit, which is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals like iron and calcium. Amla oil strengthens the hair follicles, promotes hair growth, and prevents premature graying. It nourishes the scalp, reduces dandruff, and adds shine and luster to the hair. Amla oil can also help in maintaining the natural color and texture of the hair.
Bhringraj - Bhringraj oil is made from the leaves of the bhringraj plant (Eclipta prostrata), which contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids. Bhringraj oil is known for its hair revitalizing properties. It promotes hair growth, strengthens the hair follicles, and helps prevent hair loss. It also nourishes the scalp, reduces scalp irritation, and improves the overall health and thickness of the hair.
Brahmi Oil - Brahmi oil is derived from the leaves of the brahmi plant (Bacopa monnieri), which is rich in alkaloids, flavonoids, and antioxidants. Brahmi oil nourishes the scalp, strengthens the hair roots, and promotes hair growth. It helps prevent split ends, reduces hair breakage, and enhances the overall health and texture of the hair. Brahmi oil can also calm the mind and provide a cooling effect when massaged onto the scalp.
How to use carrier oils with essential oils.
When using carrier oils with essential oils, it's important to properly dilute the essential oils to ensure safe and effective use. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, it is recommended to use between 2%-10% essential oil for body oils. For facial products for sensitive skin, use 0.5%-1% essential oil and 1%-2.5% for non-sensitive skin.
Here's a general guideline on how to use carrier oils with essential oils:
Choose a Carrier Oil: Select a carrier oil that suits your needs and skin type.
Determine Dilution Ratio: Essential oils are highly concentrated, and it's crucial to dilute them before applying them to the skin. The dilution ratio depends on factors such as the essential oil's potency and the intended use. As a general guideline, for most adults, a 1% to 2% dilution is often suitable for topical applications. This means adding 1 to 2 drops of essential oil per teaspoon (5 mL) of carrier oil.
Mix Thoroughly: In a small bowl or container, combine the desired amount of carrier oil with the appropriate number of drops of essential oil(s). Mix them thoroughly to ensure proper dispersion.
Conduct Patch Test: Before using the mixture on a larger area of your skin, it's recommended to perform a patch test. Apply a small amount of the diluted mixture on a small patch of skin (e.g., inside of the wrist or behind the ear) and observe for any adverse reactions or sensitivities over the next 24 hours. If any irritation occurs, discontinue use.
Apply and Massage: Once you have performed a patch test and confirmed no adverse reactions, you can apply the diluted mixture to the desired area. Gently massage the oil blend into the skin in circular motions or apply it to the hair, depending on your intended use.
Remember to always follow the recommended dilution ratios and safety guidelines specific to each essential oil, as some oils may require lower dilutions or have specific precautions. Additionally, it's advisable to consult a certified aromatherapist or reference reputable sources for specific information regarding essential oils and their safe usage.