Carrier oils and essential oils are made from plants. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and “carry” them to your skin. That’s because essential oils are potent and can cause irritation when applied directly to your skin.
Most carrier oils are unscented or lightly scented and don’t interfere with an essential oil’s therapeutic properties. They may be used alone or with other oils to nourish your skin. There are many carrier oils available. Here’s how to choose them wisely.
How to Choose Your Carrier Oil
- Odor: A few carrier oils have a distinct odor. When added to an essential oil, it may alter the aroma.
- Absorption: Your skin can absorb some carrier oils better than others.
- Skin type: Depending on your skin type, some oils may irritate skin or worsen a skin condition such as acne.
- Shelf life: Some carrier oils can be stored for longer periods than others without going bad.
You should only buy therapeutic–grade carrier oils from a manufacturer you trust. Look for oils that are:
- 100% percent pure,
1. Apricot kernel oil
Apricot kernel oil is made from apricot seeds, also known as kernels. It’s an emollient oil high in fatty acids and vitamin E. It absorbs easily into the skin and has a slightly sweet, nutty scent. You can buy edible apricot kernel oil, or apricot kernel oil for cosmetic use only.
Uses: Apricot kernel oil is thought to help soften and calm irritated, itchy skin. Use it as a carrier oil to make massage oils, bath oil, and hair care preparations.
2. Argan oil
Argan oil is made from kernels found inside the fruit of argan trees, which are native to Morocco. The oil is edible and is traditionally used to nourish the body inside and out. It has a nutty aroma and is rich in vitamins A and E, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Uses: Argan oil can help treat dry skin and hair, wrinkles, and skin inflammation. This makes it a terrific carrier oil for general skin care and massage oils.
3. Avocado oil
Avocado oil is a heavy, thick, edible oil made from avocado fruit. It has a nutty aroma. Avocado oil is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid thought to help dry, damaged skin.
Uses: This can be a good carrier oil for dry skin remedies and body creams — unless you’re dealing with acne. Avocado oil may increase sebum production, so if your skin is acne-prone, check with your dermatologist before use.
4. Black seed oil
Black seed oil is made from the Nigella sativa plant. Although it’s lesser known than other carrier oils, it’s rich with unsaturated and saturated fatty acids. It’s also thought to have anti-inflammatory abilities.
Uses: Black seed oil is often used as a folk remedy to soothe skin conditions including eczema, acne, and psoriasis. With this in mind, it’s a great choice for facial care, massage oils, and general skin care.
5. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an edible oil made from the meat of mature coconuts. It’s available in refined or unrefined varieties. Unrefined coconut oil comes from fresh coconut meat. It’s not processed with chemicals and retains its coconut aroma and flavor.
Refined coconut oil comes from dried coconut meat, also called copra. It’s bleached and deodorized to remove contaminants, as well as the distinct coconut aroma and flavor. Refined coconut isn’t all-natural and isn’t recommended for use as a carrier oil.
Uses: Coconut oil contains skin-nourishing fatty acids and polyphenols, which make it a great carrier oil for massage oils and skin care preparations.
6. Grape seed oil
Grape seed oil comes from grape seeds. It’s a byproduct of the winemaking process. It’s rich in vitamin E, a nutrient thought to heal the skin and reduce wrinkles, although scientific research is inconsistent.
Uses: Grape seed oil is lightweight, easily absorbed by the skin, and has a neutral scent. It’s a good carrier oil to use with essential oils to make body oils and massage oils.
7. Jojoba oil
Jojoba oil comes from the seeds of the jojoba plant. It has a delicate, nutty aroma. Technically, jojoba isn’t an oil, but a wax with powerful moisturizing properties. It’s thought to closely mimic sebum, the skin’s natural oil. Using jojoba oil may help reduce the skin’s oil production in acne-prone people by making the skin think it’s produced enough oil.
Uses: Jojoba oil absorbs easily in the skin and doesn’t clog pores. This makes it a good carrier oil option for massage oils, facial moisturizers, and bath oils.
8. Olive oil
Olive oil comes from pressed olives. It’s best known as a healthy, edible oil with a fruity aroma, but it’s also used in aromatherapy as a carrier oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is the preferred variety for aromatherapy and skin care preparations. Olive oil’s scent may interfere with the scent of some essential oils.
Uses: It’s packed with fatty acids and plant sterols, which make it great for cleansing and moisturizing dry skin. Use olive oil as a carrier oil for massage, facial cleansers, hair care, and homemade soaps.
9. Rosehip oil
Rosehips are the seeds of the Rosa rubiginosa bush or the Rosa moschata bush. The flowers of both bushes look different from traditional roses. When these flowers die and drop their petals, the rosehip is left behind. Rosehip oil is pressed from rosehips. Rosehip oil doesn’t smell like a rose, though. It has a nutty, earthy scent.
Uses: Rosehip oil is high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is a natural retinoid that helps fight aging, and both vitamins can help reverse the effects of the sun on your skin. Use it as a carrier oil for dry skin remedies, massage oils, and moisturizers.
10. Sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is an edible oil extracted from sunflower seeds. It has a neutral odor. The oil is said to act as a skin barrier against toxins and germs that cause infection, making it a great choice for irritated skin.
Uses: It’s thought to help soften skin, moisturize skin, and soothe irritation, so add this carrier oil to your massage oils or use for general skin care.
11. Sweet almond oil
Sweet almond oil has a strong, nutty aroma. It’s an edible oil made from the kernels of sweet almonds. The oil is lightweight and absorbs easily, and is a great moisturizer for dry skin. It’s also used in general aromatherapy, but its strong scent may mask an essential oil’s aroma.
Uses: Sweet almond oil is one of the most popular carrier oils for skin care. It’s great in massage oils, bath oils, and soaps.
Carrier oils make it possible to use essential oils safely. They also help nourish and moisturize your skin. Not all oils make good carrier oils, though. You should avoid using things like butter, petroleum jelly, and mineral oil. Whatever oil you choose, avoid using it on your lips, eyes, or other sensitive areas after it’s been mixed with an essential oil. However, you can safely apply carrier oil alone to these areas.
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