What is a carrier oil, what does it do, and why should I use it?

Carrier Oils 101

Carrier oils are fatty oils and may be referred to as vegetable oils, fixed oils, or base oils.  They are different from essential oils in how they are collected. Many of them are cold pressed from seeds or nuts, not steam distilled like essential oils. Their role in the plant is to feed the new life in the seed or nut until the plant grows They are not very aromatic, do not evaporate and will go rancid over time. 

A carrier oil such as coconut oil or grapeseed oil that can be used to dilute essential oils and “carries” the essential oil in to the body. They ensure that essential oils which are applied topically are comfortable, particularly if you are wanting to use a warm or hot oil. Contrary to what some people believe dilution with a carrier oil does not dilute the effect of the essential oil, and prevents waste due to excessive application.

Vegetable shortening, butter, margarine or petroleum derivatives (petrolatum jelly) should never be used as carrier oils. Some consumers choose to avoid olive oil as a carrier oil because of its strong aroma and thick viscosity.

We use carrier oils mainly in skin care products as they provide properties such as being emollient or soothing to the skin.  Each carrier oil offers different properties and the choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit you are looking for.

Below is a great guide as to which carrier oil to use for which application.

Carrier Oils 101

Three Types of Carrier Oils

Did you know carrier oils can be drying, semi-drying or non-drying? 

Non-drying Oils – these are useful for dry skin that needs oil*:

  1. Almond Oil
  2. Castor Oil
  3. Cocoa butter   
  4. Olive Oil   
  5. Palm Oil
  6. Peanut Oil

*Dry skin that needs water needs to be hydrated with hydrosol spray.

Semi-drying Oils – these are more suitable for normal to oily skins:

  1. Sesame Oil
  2. Sunflower Oil

Drying Oils – these are more suitable for oily skins but are best used when mixed with other oils:  

  1. Linseed Oil 
  2. Hempseed Oil

Other Examples of Carrier Oils Include:

  1. Apricot Kernel
  2. Argan
  3. Avocado
  4. Borage
  5. Camellia
  6. Castor
  7. Coconut
  8. Evening Primrose
  9. Flax
  10. Grape seed
  11. Hazelnut
  12. Hemp
  13. Jojoba
  14. Kukui
  15. Macadamia nut
  16. Olive
  17. Peanut
  18. Pecan
  19. Pistachio
  20. Sesame
  21. Sunflower
  22. Sweet Almond
  23. Walnut
  24. Wheat germ

How Do I Buy Carrier Oils?

There are a few things to consider when buying carrier oils:

1.  Cold-pressed – Make sure the oils you are buying are cold-pressed and not heated.  Oils that have been heated lose their therapeutic benefit.

2.  Eating and skin care – Make sure the label says that it is for eating and skin care.

3.  Don’t buy Mineral oil.  Mineral oil is NOT a natural product and should not be used with essential oils.  It may even prevent the essential oils from being absorbed into the skin.

Young Living’s V6 Vegetable Oil

Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex is an excellent carrier oil for all applications. V-6 Enhanced Vegetable Oil Complex is used to dilute certain essential oils and can be mixed to create custom blends, formulas, and massage oils.

This oil complex nourishes the skin, has a long shelf life, doesn’t clog pores, and will not stain clothes.

Layering Oils

Some essential oils complement others. If at all possible, be sure to obtain an essential oil guide that will help you understand which oil complements which oil. For example, after a regular workout, rubbing a drop of lavender oil with some coconut oil on your legs and then following it up with PanAway essential oil blend is soothing and calming. The two oils complement each other very nicely.

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