When I became interested in essential oils, I was confused by all the different carrier oils. Does it matter which carrier oil I use? Do I have to use another oil to dilute the essential oil? I was full of questions and set out to learn as much as I could. So, I decided to collect all the information I learned about the best carrier oils and share it with you.
Recommended Essential & Carrier Oils
What is a Carrier Oil?
A carrier oil is a plant-based oil, sometimes referred to as a vegetable oil, which is used to dilute essential oils. Many different oils can be used as carrier oils.
You can use just one carrier oil or a combination of oils to make blends with essential oils. After combining your essential oils with carrier oils, you will keep all the desired medicinal effects of the essential oils.
This video explains carrier oils.
Why Do You Need to Use a Carrier Oil?
If you are using essential oils on the skin, in most cases they will need to be combined with a carrier oil. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and if you want to use them for skin application, they need to be diluted. (1) Most essential oils can’t be used straight, or neat, on the skin, so they are diluted in a carrier oil to make them safe for use on skin.
Another problem is that essential oils evaporate and combining them with another vegetable-based oil slows down the evaporation. (2)
What Differentiates Carrier Oils?
At first, I thought oils were all the same. Does it matter what oil I use as a base? Carrier oils each have different properties which give them benefits. Some oils are light, and the skin absorbs them faster. Others are thick and stay on the skin’s surface longer. The best one to use will depend on several factors: your intended use, the person you’re using it on and personal preference.
According to Amy Rodquist-Kodet of the University of Kentucky, the safest carrier oils for applying to babies and children are jojoba, sweet almond and grapeseed oils. She also recommends testing a small amount first when using an essential oil mixture on a child or person with sensitive skin. (3)
The different carrier oils each have good qualities that can help you decide which ones are appropriate for your purposes. Thicker oils used as a base will evaporate slower.
Oils like sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil are all good because they nourish the skin, helping it retain moisture and elasticity. Avocado oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, and jojoba all have vitamin E. Vitamin E oil is one of the most widely used oils for stretch marks and scarring. (4) Vitamin E is an antioxidant that improves skin’s smoothness and moisture. Jojoba oil and coconut oil are lighter oils that easily absorb into the skin, while olive and avocado are heavier and a little goes a long way.
Qualities to Look for in a Carrier Oil
There are so many oils available that trying to pick the best carrier oils to use can be perplexing. The process of getting oil from the plant source varies. Some methods of oil extraction keep the oils free from additives, and other methods lower the oil’s quality. Look for oil that is cold-pressed. (5) The cold pressing method physically releases the oil from the fruit or plant and allows the oil to keep all of its nutritional and therapeutic benefits. Other processes can involve chemicals, heat or other refining processes that degrade the oil’s purity. Processing can cause the oil to end up losing some of its helpful attributes. Many people prefer organic oils to be certain the oils they are using are free from pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.
When choosing a carrier oil to use, avoid animal-based oils and petrochemical-based oils. (6)
8 Best Carrier Oils
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is versatile and has many uses. It can be used all over the body, face and hair. Coconut oil is full of antioxidants, and it has antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
It easily absorbs into the skin, making it an excellent, non-greasy moisturizer. One study showed that coconut oil aided wound healing and collagen turnover. (7) Another study showed that coconut oil gave skin significant hydration and moisturizing. (8)
Two forms of coconut oil can be used for carrier oil. Unrefined, or virgin coconut oil, is solid at room temperature. Whereas, fractionated coconut oil is a liquid. Fractionated coconut oil is more processed. Virgin coconut oil can be used for making moisturizing creams, mixing into homemade body scrubs, hair conditioning and many more applications. Fractionated coconut oil is great for using in massage oil or for roll-on perfumes.
One thing to consider when using coconut oil for aromatherapy blends, solid coconut oil does have a mild coconut scent, but fractionated coconut oil is unscented.
2. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is a light oil that is easily absorbed by the skin, and it doesn’t leave behind a greasy feeling after using it. This oil is unique in that it isn’t an oil but instead is a wax ester that is used as an oil. Jojoba contains a high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids. It also has a long shelf life.
One study found that jojoba was successful in helping wound healing and stimulate the synthesis of collagen. (11)
Jojoba contains vitamin E. The antioxidant, vitamin E, is very popular in skin care for reducing stretch marks and scarring, nourishing skin and keeping it supple. Jojoba oil also makes a good makeup remover.
3. Argan Oil
Argan oil is a versatile oil that is used for many things, including conditioning hair and moisturizing skin. This oil that comes from the argan tree, native to Morocco, is full of Vitamin E, fatty acids and high amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants are especially helpful for anti-aging applications and after sun exposure skin care. It long been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. (12) Argan oil does have a very slight nutty aroma that some people might find interferes with aromatherapy uses. Usually, it is a golden or yellowish color. In one study, researchers found that after four weeks of argan oil application on their face, participants had reduced greasiness and better appearance of their oily facial skin. (13)
Many people also find that Argan oil is a wonderful hair oil for conditioning hair, taming fizziness and adding shine.
4. Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet Almond oil is a good oil for relieving dry skin and helping irritated skin. It has a high amount of vitamin E. Almond oil is anti-inflammatory, and Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Greco-Persian medicine have used it for helping psoriasis and eczema. (14). It is an excellent oil for using in massage because it doesn’t absorb as quickly as some oils.
Almond oil is good for using alone, or it can be combined with other carrier oils.
Sweet Almond oil is appropriate for people of all ages and skin types. (15)
5. Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil is another carrier oil that is beneficial to the skin. It contains polyphenols, resveratrol, vitamin E and other antioxidants. (16) It has anti-inflammatory qualities. As a carrier oil, it is good for those with oily skin and is less greasy feeling that some oils.
Grapeseed oil is excellent for massage oils, bath oils and moisturizing.
6. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is a rich, heavy oil. It contains palmitoleic acid, fatty acids, vitamins A, D, and E. It is especially good for people with older skin because of all its nutrients. It should be combined with another carrier oil, like almond oil. (17) Its rich emollients are helpful for dry, inflamed skin.
Avocado oil can be used for the face, feet and anywhere on the body that needs moisturizing. It is a thicker oil, so a little goes a long way. If you have oily skin, avocado oil may be too greasy.
7. Rosehip Seed Oil
Many people value rosehip seed oil for its anti-aging properties and regenerative quality. (18) This oil comes from seeds of the wild rose bush. It is full of fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. It has many great qualities that make it great for the skin. It is especially recommended for mature and sensitive skin. However, some users may be put off by the earthy scent. When combined with certain essential oils, the scent of rosehip seed oil may not be as noticeable. This oil is golden to orange in color. Pure rosehip seed oil has a shelf life of about six months.
8. Olive Oil
Olive oil is popular for its rich moisturizing ability and nutrients, like Vitamin E, vitamin A, and polyphenols. In one study, olive oil was effective for decreasing dermatitis in infants. (19) It’s enjoyed for its antioxidant content, which is thought to slow the appearance of aging by fighting free radicals.
It has many uses: cleansing oil, mixing in body scrubs, bath oil, nail soak for softening cuticles, or as a hair oil. Since is it a heavier oil, a little goes a long way. It is a thick oil that doesn’t absorb quickly, making it good for massaging. Since olive oil tends to be greasier, it is good to combine it in a blend with another carrier oil that is lighter.
As for as aromatherapy use, olive oil does have a distinct oil that some may not want, depending on the essential oils being used and your purpose.
Choose extra virgin olive oil when shopping for oils, because it has the least amount of processing.
My Experience with Carrier Oils
I started using natural oils to make aromatherapy blends for my family and natural skincare products. I love making my own body oils, moisturizers, body scrubs and other items because I don’t like added, artificial ingredients that could irritate skin or have potential adverse effects. I like buying natural oils because I can put them to many different uses when combined with certain essential oils. Below are some of the ways I use carrier oils
Energizing in the Morning
- PREMIUM QUALITY FRACTIONATED COCONUT OIL - It is a fraction of the...
- OTHER USES: Coconut oil one of the most versatile oils. It's used as...
- SAFETY WARNING: For external use only. Rub a very small amount on the...
I like to use aromatherapy oils that have energizing properties blended with a moisturizing base oil on my skin after taking my morning shower. Since I tend to have oily skin, I like to use a light oil that is easily absorbed by my skin, so that I don’t end up feeling greasy or getting my clothes icky. My favorite is coconut oil. However, someone with dry skin might prefer the richness of olive oil.
Relaxing Aromatherapy Blends for Nighttime
- NOW Foods
A relaxing blend with lavender oil and sweet almond oil is good for bedtime, both for helping me unwind after a long day and for helping little ones calm down.
- 100% PURE - ArtNaturals Peppermint Essential Oil is 100% Pure,...
- CARRIER OIL - Used with a carrier oil its clean, refreshing scent...
- ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER - When used with a diffuser, Peppermint Oil...
According to a study, peppermint oil is helpful for relieving tension headaches when applied to the temples and forehead. I like to blend peppermint oil with fractionated coconut oil and put it in a roller applicator. This is easy to put in my purse and take with me for a natural and quick pick me up throughout the day.
Carrier Oil Precautions
- Choose cold-pressed, 100% pure oils.
- Consider buying organic oils.
- Store carrier oils in the refrigerator — exposing your oil to heat, oxygen, and light will cause it to spoil more quickly.
- Most oils will stay good for about a year. Some might go bad after six months, and others may stay good for a couple of years if stored appropriately.
- Throw your oil out if it starts smells rancid.
- When choosing a carrier oil for aromatherapy, consider whether the odor of the base oil could interfere.
I hope you found this article about the best carrier oils and their use helpful. Essential oils are an important part of my life and using them is indispensable. I love being able to share what I’ve learned with you, and I hope essential oils can have the same impact on you as I’ve felt. If you have liked this article, please share it. Also, let me know in the comments which carrier oils you like to use.