If you just started learning about essential oils you probably have a lot of questions. I know I did. After the basics of essential oil usage and how to store essential oils and use them safely, I really wanted to know about carrier oils and why I needed to use them with essential oils!
What are Carrier Oils?
Carrier oils are vegetable oils that are usually pressed from the seeds or kernels. They’re the fatty portion of a plant. In this way, they’re very different than essential oils which aren’t really oils at all, but volatile liquid compounds. Carrier oils are probably exactly what you think of when you think of vegetable oils like coconut oil and grapeseed oil.
When Should I Use Carrier Oils?
You’ll use carrier oils to make the application of essential oils more comfortable, more effective, or both. Here’s what I mean.
Some oils are too strong to be applied directly to your skin. So you need a carrier oil to dilute the essential oil to a ratio that is better for your skin. These essential oils are also referred to as “hot” oils when they require dilution. It is recommended to use a patch test procedure prior to first use of an new oil on your skin.
To perform a patch test:
- Apply 1-2 drops of the essential oil to a patch of skin such as the forearm.
- Observe that area of skin over the course of 1-2 hours for any noticeable reaction; usually reactions occur within 5-10 minutes.
- If you experience a hot or burning sensation or if you develop a rash, add carrier oil to the affected area as often as needed.
Examples of “hot” oils include cinnamon bark, clove, lemongrass, peppermint, oregano, thyme, and Thieves blend.
Can Carrier Oils Help My Essential Oils to Work Better?
Carrier oils can be used when topically applying any essential oil. Using a carrier oil can help keep the essential oil on your skin longer. I’ve noticed that when I use an essential oil directly on my skin with no carrier oil that it evaporates rather quickly and the aroma leaves sooner than I’d like. However, when I dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil the aroma lasts longer as more of the oil is absorbed into my skin and is protected by the carrier oil from evaporating too quickly.
Which Carrier Oils are Best?
Everyone has their favorite carrier oils. Make sure to pick one that fits your individual needs and is cold-pressed (using NO chemical solvents to extract the oils).
Here are the 6 carrier oils that we’ve found to be the best for use with essential oils:
Almond oil is great for dry skin. It brings with it loads of vitamins including Vitamin E which rocks for moisturizing and nourishing skin for a healthy glow. Almond oil is amazing for dry or itchy skin since it packs amazing soothing qualities. As an added bonus, almond oil is a deep conditioner for dry hair. A few of our recipes that include almond oil are:
Another deep moisturizer is avocado oil. It’s packed full of vitamins A, D, and E which delivers huge antioxidant benefits for your skin. Avocado oil is amazing for very dry and cracked feet, chapped skin, and dry or damaged hair. Recipe ideas include:
Coconut Oil ~ Virgin & Fractionated
We use two types of coconut oil for our carrier oils – virgin coconut oil and fractionated coconut oil. The virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature. We use it in our kitchen for cooking but also in recipes for rubs and foot scrubs. Fractionated coconut oil is liquid and super for full body massages. Fractionated coconut oil has no odor and so it’s a favorite for diluting oils for rollerball perfume recipes. I also use it if I use essential oils internally in a vegetable capsule. Coconut oil can be found in these recipes:
Grapeseed oil goes on silky and smooth. It absorbs quickly into the skin. Because it has a slight wine smell, I like it for diluting very strong smelling oils like Thieves and basil. Make sure to find a variety that is cold pressed. Most grapeseed oils I’ve seen in my health food store were actually processed with solvents. Always read labels!
- Excellent in rollerball blends as it goes on smooth and absorbs quickly!
Jojoba oil is one of my all-time favorites. It’s great for use on oily skin. It’s easily absorbed into your hair and skin and doesn’t leave a greasy feeling. I really love this oil in summer because it’s lighter in feel than some of the other carrier oils available. Use jojoba oil in these recipes:
- 4 Body Wash Recipes
- Foaming Face Wash for Sensitive Skin
- Overnight Deep Conditioning & Spray On Conditioner
Young Living’s V-6 Oil
V-6 Enhanced Vegetable Oil Complex is a product of Young Living. It carries a long shelf-life and nourishes your skin without clogging pores. V-6 is a great carrier oil for night time massage since it won’t stain your clothes or sheets. V-6 is a combination of fractionated coconut oil, sesame seed oil, grape seed oil, sweet almond oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower seed oil, and olive oil. Log into your YL dashboard to order or sign up for Young Living to get a 24% wholesale discount on all their amazing products.
Are There Any Carrier Oils Not Recommended?
Many people think of trying olive oil as a carrier oil since they probably already have it in their pantry. You can definitely use olive oil, but it’s not a preferred carrier oil because it’s just so thick and can carry a strong smell. Butter, margarine, shortening, and petroleum products (like mineral oil, baby oil, and petroleum jelly) are NOT suitable as carrier oils.
Let us know if you have a favorite carrier oil that didn’t make the list. We’d love the chance to try it out and know what you enjoy about it!
New to essential oils? Learn more about how we use them and why you should use them as well.
More essential oil tips & tricks:
- 5 Ways to Replace Chemicals in Your Cleaners
- 10 Must-Have Essential Oils
- 7 Ways to Reuse Essential Oils Bottles
- Best Essential Oil Diffusers under $20
- How to Attach and Remove Roller Fitments
- How to Replace Extracts with Essential Oils