What is a Carrier Oil?
If you have even only dabbled in the essential oil world, chances are that you have heard the term "carrier oil." You may have no idea what that is or what is means. You may be wondering what the best choice is. Here is a guide to help you choose the right carrier oil for you:
"Carrier Oil" Defined
A carrier oil is any vegetable-derived oil that is used when applying essential oils topically to help with absorption into the skin and prevent skin irritation. Essential oils are highly concentrated - 50-60 times more powerful than herbs. That being said, when applying an essential oil that concentrated to your skin, you may experience skin discomfort or irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
I always recommend that everyone dilute essential oils when using them topically. For those with sensitive skin and all babies and children, dilute even more! Diluting with a carrier oil doesn't decrease the effectiveness of the oil. Secondly, because I'm a penny pincher, I love that I can use a carrier oil to help spread my oils further whether it be because I'm adding a carrier oil to a roll-on bottle along with my essential oils or using 1-2 drops of essential oil along with a carrier oil to cover my entire abdomen or other large area of my body.
Note: I use a very pure and high therapeutic grade essential oil brand in which 1-2 drops of essential oil is a powerful and effective amount to see results. Because there are many different companies out there with varying qualities and potency of essential oils, you may need to use a larger amount of essential oil.
Types of Carrier Oils
Each carrier oil has its own special qualities and can add additional therapeutic benefits with its use. When purchasing a carrier oil, you want to make sure it is cold pressed or cold expeller pressed. If it isn't cold pressed, it was heated to extract the oil which damages the nutrients in the carrier oil. Certified organic is also a great thing to look for in a carrier oil. Unlike essential oils, carrier oils can become rancid, so buy oils that are fresher to allow for a longer shelf life.
Note: Avoid Mineral oil or other petroleum based oils. These are not vegetable based and can be harmful to the skin. This includes Baby Oil which is mineral oil and should never be used on a baby not to mention anyone else! See this article for more on that.
I will highlight some of the most popular kinds of carrier oils.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is by far my favorite carrier oil. Not only is this an amazing oil to have in the kitchen, it also has amazing health benefits for our skin! It is an amazing moisturizer and also helps out body fight microbes. I love the fact that it leaves my skin feeling hydrated without feeling greasy. It is the least greasy feeling carrier oil out there! Coconut oil can be found in two different forms:
1. White Solid - this is the traditional coconut oil that is typically found in stores and used in cooking. It is solid at room temperature and quickly turns to a liquid with a small amount of heat. Apply a small amount to your hand, and within seconds, you will have it in liquid form just from your body heat.
2. Clear Liquid - this is called Fractionated Coconut oil. The long chain fatty acids in the oil have been extracted so that the oil is always a liquid. This is a very convenient form for making your own roll-on bottles for easy essential oil applications. The health benefits of coconut oil are still present.
For more information on coconut oil, click on the following links:
Sweet Almond Oil: Another light oil that is a great moisturizer for the skin, almond oil also has great antioxidant benefits and has been shown to protect the skin from sun damage. For more information about almond oil, read this article.
Jojoba Oil: A plant wax that is a great skin emollient. It can help unclog hair follicles, soothe irritated skin, and help the skin fight infection. For more information about Jojoba oil, read this article.
Grapeseed Oil: A great moisturizer, but it also helps clear the skin of blemishes, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and promotes skin health. For more, read this article.
Avocado Oil: This oil has plenty of essential nutrients for ultimate skin health. It can help smooth out the skin by minimizing irritation and puffiness. It also is a great moisturizer and can help with skin blemishes. Another benefit it its ability to protect the skin from sun damage. For more information, read this article.
Olive oil is another option but can be greasy and leave grease stains in clothing, but if it's the only option on hand, it will do just fine. Another option, my least recommended option would be vegetable oil. I personally avoid this oil at all costs in foods and recipes due to the health risks it has, but if this is all you have in your home, it will work and is by far a better and safer choice than turning to mineral oils of any kind.
So what carrier oil do you want to use?