When we discuss essential oils, it is necessary to discuss carrier oils. Essential oils are not applied directly to the skin since they are very potent. Hence, we dilute the essential oils in carrier oils and then apply essential oils on the skin.
Carrier oil acts as the medium for the essential oils and essential oil is eventually absorbed into the body. Using carrier oils, you not only get the therapeutic benefits of the essential oils but also the vitamins and benefits of the properties of the carrier oil.
Carrier oils are non-volatile vegetable oils that are extracted from either nuts or seeds or kernels or some other parts of the wide variety of plants. Carrier oils are comprised of essential fatty acids.
Carrier oils are also referred to as base oils. Carrier oils are used in personal care products such as lotions, bath oils, moisturizing creams, lip balms, etc.
Carrier oils do not evaporate like essential oils. They do not have a strong aroma. In most cases, carrier oils are refined through various processes, which result in certain desirable, and some undesirable, effects.
After processing, carrier oils usually do not have their own smell. However, some may smell nutty. Carrier oils can become rancid over a period of time and start having a bitter, strong aroma.
Your choice of carrier oil should depend on the therapeutic benefit you want. The following are some of the most popular carrier oils in aromatherapy.
Yes, it is. Coconut oil is a very popular carrier oil. It is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Coconut oil is a fat consisting of about 90% saturated fat.
Coconut oil penetrates the skin easily and is suitable for all skin types. It forms a barrier on the skin and helps in keeping the moisture.
Coconut oil is widely used for both skin and hair. Coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful microorganisms. In addition, coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in many different types of skin disorders, including psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and eczema.
There are two major processes to extract coconut oil.
Dry Process: In the dry process, the coconut meat is dried using either sunlight or kilns or fire to create copra. Then, the copra is either pressed or dissolved with solvents to produce coconut oil. Most of the time, the extracted oil is then refined, bleached and deodorized to make it suitable for consumption.
Wet Process: In the wet process, coconut milk, extracted from raw coconuts, is processed using techniques like centrifuges to extract the coconut oil. This process produces a better quality of coconut oil for skin care.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is physically non-chemically processed to remove all the long-chain fatty acids to produce fractionated coconut oil. In addition to jojoba oil, fractionated coconut oil is closet to human skin sebum.
Fractionated coconut oil absorbs into the skin quickly and has a longer shelf life. It’s cooling and moisturizing properties help to protect skin while helping it retain moisture. In addition, It has antioxidant and disinfecting properties.
Jojoba oil is extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis), a plant native to the Americas. It is entirely comprised of wax esters and has Vitamin E. It is either golden to golden-brown or clear in color depending upon whether it is refined or not.
The composition of fatty acids in jojoba oil is closest to the human skin’s sebum. This helps it in balancing oil production in human skin. It is suitable for all skin types.
Jojoba naturally deters microbes, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria on the skin. Anti-fungal properties of jojoba oil make it perfect for oil blends meant for fungal infections. Its anti-inflammatory properties may improve the symptoms of dermatitis, eczema, acne among others.
Jojoba oil is rich in antioxidants, minerals and Vitamin E and B. It deeply penetrates the skin and is easily absorbed. It provides an excellent moisturizing effect.
Jojoba oil is used in a lot of cosmetic products, such as lotions, moisturizers, hair shampoos, and conditioners. Jojoba oil is very stable with a long shelf life.
Sweet almond oil is extracted from the dried kernels of the almond tree (Prunus dulcis var. amygdalus). Sweet almond oil has been used for centuries in India and China to treat minor wounds and cuts and help soothe and soften the skin.
Sweet almond oil is a pale, straw-colored or colorless liquid with a faint odor. It gets fully absorbed but not overly fast.
Sweet almond oil contains high levels of fatty acids, proteins, zinc, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and E. Sweet almond oil can relieve itching, bringing a soothing and calming effect. It is also helpful in balancing the oil on the skin and may reduce the appearance of acne and improve cell turnover.
Sweet almond oil is a great moisturizer and helps treat conditions of the dry skins, such as eczema and psoriasis. It helps to soften and re-condition the skin. Its antioxidant properties provide natural resistance against sun damage.
Sweet almond oil is suitable for all skin types and helpful for relieving dry, itchy skin. Sweet almond oil is recommended for massage blends for inflammatory conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, injuries, and burns. Sweet almond oil has been recommended as a remedy for treating dark circles and bags under your eyes.
Apricot oil is extracted from the kernels of the apricot fruit (Prunus armeniaca). It is a thin, non-greasy, light oil and is has a light yellow/golden color. It has a faint nutty smell. It gets absorbed quickly into the skin and penetrates well.
Apricot oil comprised of fatty acids, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. Apricot oil helps to moisturize dry and sensitive skin. It helps to reduce the symptoms of mature skin such as fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes.
Since it is a non-greasy oil, it is an excellent natural conditioner and helps in nourishing and detangling hair.
Apricot oil is good for massage, moisturizing, and facial blends.
Avocado oil is extracted from the avocado fruits (Persea americana). When the cold-pressed method is used, oil is unrefined and resembles the characteristics of the fruit.
Avocado oil is comprised of fatty acids, protein, beta carotene, lecithin, and vitamins A, D, and E.
Avocado oil is useful when treating dehydrated, undernourished, sun-damaged skin as it potentially helps with regenerating the skin and softening the tissue. It helps in hydrating and moisturizing the skin. Its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties help the skin to stay smooth, strong, and elastic. It gets readily absorbed and penetrates deeply in the skin.
Avocado oil is a thick oil and it penetrates deep into the skin. Avocado oil is beneficial for mature skin. The oil is recommended for dry skins, mostly in topical conditions.
Grapeseed oil is extracted from the grape seeds. It is usually extracted from grape seeds left after the winemaking process.
It is either solvent extracted or cold-pressed. It is better to buy a cold-pressed grapeseed oil since it does not have a trace amount of solvents and is not exposed to high heat so retain properties better.
Grapeseed oil is mainly comprised of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is rich in Vitamin E. Grapeseed oil may help reduce inflammation in the skin’s middle and outer layers and moisturize the skin well.
Grapeseed oil is a lightweight and non-greasy oil that gets absorbed quickly in the skin. It is good for body oils and massage oils blends.
Hazelnut oil is extracted from hazelnuts (Vitus vinifera). It has a mild nutty aroma. It is pale yellow to golden yellow in color. It is a non-greasy kind of oil.
Hazelnut oil gets absorbed easily in the skin. It moisturizes the skin, keeps skin hydrated. Well known for its astringent properties, It is a good toner and aids in the regeneration of cells and strengthening of capillaries.
Hazelnut oil makes a good base for blends meant to treat acne and for acne-prone skins, as well as for other inflammatory skin conditions and massage blends.
Olive oil is extracted from olives (Olea europaea) using the press method. The main component of olive oil is oleic acid. It is rich in Vitamins A, D, and K, and E.
It is heavy oil and does not get easily absorbed in the skin. Olive oil is good for blends that moisturize and repair damaged hair, massages, and facial cleanser. It is preferred when used in a blend of carrier oils.
Argan oil is extracted from the fruits of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) using the cold-pressed method. It has a nutty aroma and is pale yellow to golden yellow in color.
Argan oil comprises mainly oleic acid, linoleic acid and is rich in Vitamin A and E. Argan oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help in treating inflammatory conditions and improve the elasticity of the skin.
Argan oil is helpful in the regeneration of skin cells and thus is helpful in reducing stretch marks and wrinkles.
Rosehip oil is extracted from seeds of the rose plant (rosa canina). It is mainly grown in Chile. It has an earthy nutty aroma.
It mainly comprises linoleic acid and alpha-Linolenic acid. Rosehip oil has Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and K. Rosehip oil is a rich source of antioxidants and has antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and astringent properties.
Rosehip oil is a great moisturizer and is known for its regenerative and healing properties. It even out the skin tone and has astringent properties. It is used for treating wrinkles, soothing inflamed skin, and reducing scars.
Rosehip oil is easily absorbed in the skin. The rosehip oil is good for treating severe skin conditions like dry, cracked and aging skin, as well as treating traumatized skin issues like burns, ulcers, wounds and uneven or excessive pigmentation.
It is not preferred for excessively oily skin since it may lead to acne breakouts.
Black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant. It is also known as black cumin, kalonji, black caraway, and black onion seeds oil. The oil has a peppery, earthy mild aroma.
Black seed oil mainly comprises of linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. One of the well-known components present in black seed oil is thymoquinone, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Black seed oil is useful in the healing wounds and soothing skin conditions including eczema, acne, and psoriasis. It moisturizes and hydrates the skin and nourish and support hair health.
Black seed oil gets absorbed fast into the skin. It is good for blends for massage oils, skincare, facial and hair care.
Evening primrose is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant (Oenothera biennis). The plant is native to North America. It is pale yellow to golden yellow in color.
Evening primrose oil mainly comprises of linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Evening primrose oil is helpful in case of skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and premature aging. It is also good for scalp treatments to clear up dandruff, prevent hair loss and to promote the growth of stronger, healthier hair.
It is preferred in dilution with other carrier oils, mostly for massage blends.
Flaxseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). It is also known as linseed oil. It comprises mainly of alpha-linolenic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. It is pale yellow to golden yellow in color.
Flaxseed oil is known to be helpful to reduce symptoms of skin disorders, like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It helps to moisturize the skin, reduce inflammation, inflammation, and heal minor wounds. Alpha-linolenic acid present in the oil is known to be helpful for the regeneration of cells and adds strengthening of the skin.
It is recommended for blends for inflammation, and pain relief.
Sesame oil is extracted from the sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum). It is golden yellow to brownish-yellow in color, has a strong smell and is a thick oil.
It mainly comprises of oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. It is also rich in vitamins E and B, and in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Sesame oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and emollient properties and helps in stimulating circulation and warming the body and internal organs. It is good as a moisturizer for skin and conditioner for hair and scalp.
It is better to blend it with other carrier oils to reduce the thickness and viscosity of it and is good for massage blends.
Pomegranate seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the pomegranate (Punica granatum). The oil is pale yellow to golden yellow in color. It mainly comprises of punicic acid.
Pomegranate seed oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and is helpful in cellular regeneration. It reduces the signs of aging and the appearance of fine lines. It also prevents environmental damage to the skin.
It is an effective moisturizer and it soothes and to soften the texture of the skin. It is good for anti-aging and healing blends.
The list of carrier oils is very long and we have discussed only a few popular ones here. Some of the carrier oils that we will discuss in a future post are babassu, baobab, borage seed, camellia seed, castor, hemp seed, kukui nut, palm kernel, tamanu, calendula, canola, sunflower, macadamia, safflower among others.
Carry out a skin patch test before using a new carrier oil. If you are allergic to nuts, then it is better to stay away from nutty oils.
Carrier oils go rancid over a period of time. In case you observe a strong, bitter odor from carrier oil, it means it is time to change the carrier oil since it has gone rancid.
Store carrier oils in dark glass bottles in a dark, cool place. This will ensure a better shelf life for carrier oils.
Lastly, always follow proper dilution guide when using essential oils with carrier oils.