The Herb Stop Blog
What is a Carrier Oil? 11 Different Carrier Oils + How to Use Them
If you’ve used essential oils previously, you may be familiar with the idea that essential oils should always be diluted in carrier oils. But why is this?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about carrier oils, how to choose between carrier oils and the different products you can make with a carrier oil and your favorite essential oils.
What is a Carrier Oil?
As the name suggests, carrier oils “carry” product to your skin. By adding essential oils to a carrier oil, you create a beautiful blend that dilutes the essential oil.
We must dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin because they are strong and can irritate the skin. We also recommend always performing a patch test on your skin with a carrier oil and essential oils before applying it to your face, scalp, or body.
Many carrier oils are lightly scented or unscented, so they don’t affect the essential oil’s aroma and properties.
Common carrier oils include:
- Jojoba oil (one of our favorites when we create roll-on blends)
- Coconut oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Olive oil
- Argan oil
- Rosehip oil
- Grape seed oil
- Black seed oil
- Avocado oil
- Sunflower oil
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Carrier Oil
With so many carrier oils, you may wonder what carrier oils are best for you and your needs. Here are some of the top factors to consider when selecting a carrier oil:
- Aroma: Certain carrier oils have a distinct scent, such as rosehip oil which has a nutty, earthy smell. Or coconut, which has a powerful coconut scent. Consider how the aromas will blend together when you’re adding essential oils to a carrier oil.
- Shelf life: Think about what carrier oils last longer, especially if you’re creating a large batch of a custom fragrance or skincare product because these might take longer to go through.
- Your skin type: Certain carrier oils may irritate your skin depending on your skin type, sensitivity, or skin conditions like acne. Always complete a patch test before applying to a large area of your skin!
- Absorption: Some carrier oils are more easily absorbed than others, which is essential when creating custom skincare or hair care products. On the other hand, if you’re making a fragrance, you’ll want a carrier oil that doesn’t absorb quickly but lingers on the skin.
What Carrier Oils Are Best for Different Uses?
Rosehip oil is rich in vitamins A and C, which may have skincare benefits such as fighting signs of aging or treating sun damage. This oil should make up no more than 20% of a formula and should be refrigerated.
As a result, this is a popular carrier oil for massage oils, moisturizers, and any dry skin remedies.
Jojoba oil has almost no scent but may have a slightly soft, nutty aroma and is more of a liquid wax than an oil. We love using Jojoba oil in our essential oil blends because it's ultra-hydrating and absorbs easily into the skin.
Use jojoba oil to create aromatherapy blends, facial moisturizers, and bath and massage oils.
Sweet Almond Oil
This lightweight nutty carrier oil is an ideal choice if you favor quick absorption. We like sweet almond oil as a moisturizer for the skin and have seen it used in massage oils, soaps, and bath oils. However, we don’t recommend using sweet almond oil as a carrier oil for aromatherapy creations because its scent may alter your essential oils’ aroma. This oil also becomes rancid quickly and should be stored in the fridge.
Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular choice for individuals with irritated skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Try black seed oil when making skincare, body care, or massage products. This oil should make up no more than 10% of a formula and should be refrigerated.
Olive oil is a popular carrier because many already have it in their kitchens. We recommend using extra-virgin olive oil if possible.
You can use olive oil for aromatherapy, but remember that it may mask some essential oils’ aroma, so we recommend creating a small batch first to ensure you like the smell.
Otherwise, olive oil is a natural cleansing and moisturizing ingredient. It’s ideal for making facial cleansers, hair care, homemade soaps, and massage products. This oil leaves a beautiful dewy glow on the skin.
Coconut oil is another excellent carrier oil you may already have at home. We strongly recommend unrefined coconut oil. Although unrefined coconut oil has a stronger scent, it hasn’t been bleached or deodorized, which ruins the integrity of its use as a carrier oil.
Unrefined coconut oil is perfect for skin care and massage oils because of its skin-nourishing properties, including polyphenols and fatty acids.
If you prefer a liquid coconut oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil or MCT oil is a great substitute and remains liquid at room temperature.
Like rosehip oil, argan oil is rich in vitamins, like vitamins A and E. It’s perfect for creating moisturizing products like general skin care, massage oils, or hair masks.
Argan oil is a popular choice to soothe dry skin, skin inflammation, or a dry scalp.
Sunflower oil is a good choice for aromatherapy because it has a neutral scent. It is also said to perform like a skin barrier, protecting and softening irritated skin.
Apricot Kernel Oil
This emollient oil is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids. It absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving a lightly sweet, nutty smell behind. Try using apricot kernel oil as a carrier for hair care products, massage, or bath oils.
Grape Seed Oil
This lightweight oil is ideal for skin care and aromatherapy as it has a neutral scent that won’t interfere with the essential oils you add. Grape seed oil is an excellent choice for oily skin because it absorbs quickly and won’t leave you feeling as oily after application.
This oil is hypoallergenic and makes a terrific choice for individuals with nut allergies.
Avocado oil is a rich, thick oil made from avocado fruit. It has a nutty aroma, making it less ideal for aromatherapy. However, many enjoy using avocado oil as a carrier when making DIY treatments for dry skin.
However, we want to pass on a word of caution for anyone with acne because avocado oil is thick and may increase sebum production. This oil should make up no more than 20% of a formula.
We hope this article deepens your understanding of why carrier oils are so important when working with essential oils and different types of carrier oils you should try based on your preferences.
Herbalist Natalie & Herbalist Leilah