Essential oils have become more and more popular in the past years and people really start to see on their own skin (pun intended) the true power and benefits of nature. You hear about essential oils all the time. They are very powerful. And they can treat and prevent a lot of health issues. But what are carrier oils and why do they matter so much?
The carrier oils are the perfect non-toxic oil base that delivers all their properties to your skin and into the blood. They make a great team with essential oils and this fact alone encourages people to use them as often as they can.
Why do they matter? Well, carrier oils matter greatly in the use of essential oils. And it’s because they can help the EOs (essential oils) molecules to decompose evenly. Properly spread molecules will do their job better. And both types of oils combine very well together, acting as one united team.
Plants have incredible active ingredients that can help humans in ways we can’t even imagine. And that’s why I believe they deserve all our attention in this article. It’s important that we know what exactly are they and how are they obtained. This will open your eyes next time when you read the label of a carrier oil.
Another important aspect is to know their properties. This can help you make an informed decision when it comes to your skin’s needs.
You will also find out how to pick the right carrier oils and how to properly store them to keep them longer. This way you can save up some money too. And finally, you will read about what carrier oils are best for certain skin conditions to make your choice easier in the future.
I believe it’s a great thing to be fully informed about your favorite carrier oils, and have all the basic knowledge about them covered. Especially when you decide you want to make essential oils a part of your life.
Why Do We Need Carrier Oils?
Plants are very rich in active ingredients and because of that, producers will use up all the parts of a plant. Nothing is wasted.
Essential oils are extracted through various distillation methods, from leaves, barks, stems and flowers. Carrier oils on the other hand, will only be obtained from the plant’s fatty portions like kernels, seeds and nuts. For carriers, there are only a couple of extraction methods.
It’s because the essential oils don’t mix well with water, we need another oil to act as a support for them. A support in which they can be properly diluted and preserve their properties at the same time.
This is where the carrier oils step in. Their name comes from the fact that they’re able to safely blend and mix with the essential oil and carry all their powerful nutrients to the skin, and into the bloodstream.
Like I said before, essential oils are very powerful and concentrated plant essences. Carrier oils are very rich in fatty acids and trace elements, and they’re not as toxic as some essential oils can be. In fact, generally speaking, carriers are not toxic at all compared to essential oils. There are however, a few safety words for each, so make sure you read about those too, before using any vegetable oil.
These are all very important aspects that help the oils combine perfectly. It’s true that an essential oil can be mixed with other supportive liquids like milk or honey for the same effect. But those are good only when used in a bath or ingested, which is not recommended without medical approval.
On the skin, an oil blend will always be:
• Easy to apply.
• Easy to massage into the skin until fully absorbed.
• Easy to carry with.
• Easy to use in every circumstance.
How are Carrier Oils Extracted?
The majority of aroma therapists and oil producers agree that the best extraction methods are the cold pressed and the expeller press methods. The cold pressed method is preferred though, because it guarantees higher quality oils. This is how the two methods work:
1. The Cold Pressed Method – is considered to be the best and most used method to extract the oils from the fruits, seeds and nuts through a mechanical grinder. This grinder uses a maximum temperature of friction of 120 F degrees (49 C degrees). That way the oil extracted will have a very high nutritional value and it will be a product of high quality. With a heat higher than 120 F, the oils’ properties can be adulterated.
2. The Expeller Pressed Method – this is an extraction method that uses a temperature higher than 120 degrees F. The plant material is crushed and pressed. It is then heated and subjected to pressure. Sometimes, the oil is refined before being bottled up. This means that these refined oils will never be 100% pure.
The other extraction methods use a lot of chemicals and preservatives, and are also used at the extraction of essential oils. But the two I’ve just mentioned are among the best methods to obtain aromatherapy carrier oils.
What are the Properties of Carrier Oils?
• Carrier oils are full of good fatty acids like omega-3, 9 and 6.
• Their beneficial properties are well-known and used ever since ancient times. Carrier oils can hydrate, protect and nourish the skin very effectively.
• They’re not toxic and they don’t evaporate either, because they’re not volatile.
• They make a thin hydro-lipid film on the surface of the skin retaining the moisture and water inside, keeping it fresh and moisturized for a long time.
• They don’t usually contain any chemicals (thanks to the cold-pressed extraction method) and they’re very economical too. They also come in bigger recipients.
Some carrier oils/base oils are more popular and common and they get to be used in almost all essential oil blends. Let’s see which carrier oils are more common and how a carrier oils list (with their properties) looks like. All of them can be used as they are or for the dilution of essential oils:
AVOCADO OIL – Persea Americana
• It has a medium nutty and sweet aroma.
• It leaves a fatty feel on the skin.
• It’s very rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, E, H and K.
• It’s a very good regenerating oil.
• Suitable for mature, dry and normal types of skin.
• It can fortify the hair, make it shinier and prevent hair loss as well.
COCONUT OIL – Cocos Nucifera
• It’s a very light and easy to spread carrier oil.
• It can eliminate dead skin cells so it’s a great treatment for both the skin and hair.
• It tones and fortifies the hair and brings back its brightness as well.
• It can deeply hydrate all problem areas of the body.
• Suitable for dry, sensitive, normal and irritated skin types.
APRICOT KERNEL OIL – Prunus Armeniaca
• It can be absorbed in a moderate way, leaving a slight oily film on the skin but without feeling greasy.
• It can soften the skin.
• Rich in minerals and vitamin A.
• Suitable for mature, tired, sensitive, delicate, normal and oily skin types.
SWEET ALMOND OIL – Prunus Amygdalus var. Dulcis
• Very rich in vitamins E and A.
• It tones, nourishes and fortifies the skin.
• Very good for the hair too, making it stronger and brighter.
• Suitable for dry, normal, irritated and sensible skin types.
• NOT Suitable for people who are allergic to nuts.
GRAPESEED OIL – Vitis Vinifera
• An extremely beneficial carrier oil suitable for all skin types, especially for the oily and acne/scar prone skin types.
• It’s absorbed really fast into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling.
• It contains powerful antioxidants.
• It can go rancid very fast if not stored in a cool place and a dark colored bottle.
• It can also fortify and regenerate dry and dull hair.
JOJOBA OIL – Simmondsia Chinensis
• Anti-aging, nourishing, moisturizing and softening base/carrier oil.
• Most suitable for mature skin, but it’s great for dry, normal and irritated skin types as well.
• It’s actually a wax and it may feel so on the skin, but it’s generally well-absorbed.
• It can successfully fight the sebum of the scalp, preventing the dandruff too.
• It’s a precious oil so its price is very high as well.
Even though they’re not carrier or vegetable oils, the fish and the emu oils are also used as base oils.
For instance, the emu oil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and it can regenerate the skin with its high concentration of oleic acid. The oleic acid is better at penetrating the skin than other vegetable oils.
It doesn’t clog the pores and it can penetrate more layers of skin at once. It’s useful in treating burns and scrapes, diaper irritations, sunburn and stretch marks among others.
How Do We Choose Our Carrier Oils?
This may seem a hard and time consuming thing to do if you’re not sure what you need to look for. But before buying carrier oils I have a few helpful advices so you can make sure you’ve bought the right products:
• First of all you need to identify what you’re going to use it for. Ex.: hair, nails, body, anti-wrinkles etc.
• Make sure you read the label first and look for the expiring date. If you buy the carrier oil from a food store, make sure the bottle is not dusty. That would clearly indicate it’s been there for a very long time for various reasons.
• Choose only oils that contain one single ingredient. Try to avoid buying already made blends, as you can easily do that on your own at home with just two simple ingredients.
• Look for the oils that have been cold-pressed and contain vitamin E, because the latter ingredient will help the oil preserve a lot better for a longer period of time.
• Make sure they’re organic carrier oils. That they have an appropriate aroma (those that smell too much of what they are is a sign of chemicals added to enhance the smell) and viscosity.
• The shelf-life of a carrier oil should never exceed 1 year! That’s why it would be best if you’d buy small quantities, as much as you know you’ll be using throughout a year because they will go rancid after that time. Especially if there’s a lot of cap space left. Too much oxygen will damage the oil in a short time.
How Do We Store Our Carrier Oils to Make Use of Them for As Long As Possible?
• Store your carrier oils in the coolest place around your home or in the fridge if they don’t turn solid under certain temperatures (ex.: coconut oil).
• Keep them in dark colored bottles.
• Pour the quantity left from the bigger bottle into a smaller one, to avoid a fast rancidity because of too much oxygen inside.
• Check for funny smells and texture. If you notice even the slightest change then it’s time you stopped using the carrier oil.
Your skin’s needs may be different. They might be influenced by seasons, hormonal changes and other health issues. You must know your skin very well first if you want to find the best carrier oil for it. Below, I made a simple summary on what types of carrier oils can help with certain skin conditions:
• To hydrate, repair and heal the dry skin – You’ll need: Wheat Germ Oil, Argan Oil, Sunflower Oil (unrefined) and/or Avocado Oil.
• To stop the free radicals and prevent premature aging – You’ll need: Rosehip Oil, Carrot Macerate Oil, Wheat Germ Oil and/or Argan Oil.
• To tone down the scars – You’ll need: Rosehip Oil.
• To improve skin’s elasticity – You’ll need: Jojoba Oil.
• To soothe the fragile skin – You’ll need: Sweet Almond Oil.
• Act as photo protector – You’ll need: Sesame Oil.
• To help the skin regenerate – You’ll need: Macadamia Oil, Rosehip Oil and/or Wheat Germ Oil.
• To balance oil secretions (oily or combination skin types) – You’ll need: Grapeseed and/or Hazelnut Oils.
• To nourish and brighten hair and nails – You’ll need: Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil and/or Pumpkin Seed Oil.
You’ve read and understood now what a carrier oil is, what are the properties of the most common carrier oils and how to easily choose the one to satisfy your skin’s needs.
But you’ve also found out how to properly store and care for them to keep them a longer time and make use of their benefits. And I believe you’re more than ready to go shopping now. Don’t forget to have fun!
In my opinion, there’s nothing more pleasant than to buy these goodies that will nourish and make my skin look so beautiful and full of life.
Do you have a favorite carrier oil? Did it meet all your expectations? I would love to hear more about your experience with these wonderful carrier oils in the comments below.