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Carrier Oils & Essential Oils – Complete Guide

essential oils vs carrier oils

What Is A Carrier Oil

If you are looking to purchase a carrier oil for your essential oils it is a good idea to know a little bit about what you are looking for.

Carrier oils are derived from kernels, nuts or seeds of a plant. They have little to no aroma and will need to be used before they turn rancid. Vegetables that make good carrier oils include almond, sunflower and coconut. Also called base oils or fixed oils, they tend to be used in aromatherapy.

A word of warning comes in handy here. Not all carrier oils are vegetarian or vegan even. Some are fish or emu derivatives and these tend not to be suitable for aromatherapy.

Choosing The Best Carrier Oils

As we use carrier oils in aromatherapy then we need them to hold a few basic properties. Whether you intend to use them for nail care, hair care or massage. Quality of carrier oils is key to success.

  1. Carrier oils must have little to no aroma. Some will be gently nutty or sweet, but not to the detriment of your essential oils.
  2. You will find that certain carrier oils will absorb into your skin more easily. As they are used by massage therapists and aromatherapy it is key to encouraging circulation.
  3. A reasonable shelf life is important with carrier oils. How we store them will help immeasurably and an airtight container in a cool and dark cupboard is ideal. Certain carrier oils that solidify in room temperatures will also last a longer time than those that are liquid.
  4. Carrier oils must also be suitable for sensitive skins. When looking for the best oil, think about your own needs and any skin irritations that you know of, nut based oils are not for everyone!
  5. If you are using a particular essential oil, then you can choose a carrier oil to compliment it in aroma. For example lavender essential oil works well with avocado carrier oil.
  6. Cold pressed carrier oils are of a higher quality. There is no real quality control over oils that are not used in cooking so unless you know the producer is of a high quality there are not the same checks in place.
  7. Sustainability of carrier oil types must be assessed as well. We are all aware by now of the problems with palm production for example.
  8. Choose a carrier oil with as few added ingredients as possible. Really you will find that the more the oil has been tampered with the more chance it has of reacting with your skin. Keeping the carrier oil pure will help to reduce the impact it has on the health benefits of the essential oils.

Essential Oils Vs Carrier Oils

There are key differences between how these two products are made and work together.

Carrier oils are pressed from the seeds, nuts and kernels of a plant. Essential oils come from bark, roots, leaves, flowers and other botanicals of a plant. Essential oils are potent and undiluted can cause skin irritation, whereas carrier oils are known for their soothing, moisturizing effect.

Essential oils are known for their strong aroma and healing properties, whereas carrier oils will have a much more subtle aroma, if any and are solely used for their moisturizing properties.

Both should be cold pressed and sustainably grown, however essential oils are far more expensive due to their difficulty in extraction. Or moreover, how little you can extract per plant. This is where variation in cost comes in, 2.5ml of sandalwood would cost significantly more then 10ml of orange essential oil. It is simply that the essential oils are more abundant in orange than sandalwood.

How Does A Carrier Oil Work With Essential Oils

Essential oils are too potent to be used undiluted on the skin. Irritation could be caused, also you would only need a drop or two for them to be effective. So by mixing with a passive carrier oil, base oil or even skin lotion we can make the oils last longer and go further.

A few drops of essential oil is often enough to be used to it’s fullest potential. When mixed with the carrier oil it will go further and work into your skin in a more gentle way.

carrier oils vs essential oils

Massage Oil Vs Essential Oils

The best massage oils will have a good quality carrier oil, or blend of carrier oils and a few drops of essential oils added. Designed to be sensitive to all skin types, allow for easy absorption to your skin and with a long shelf life. For an added bonus they should also be sustainably sourced.

Massage oils need not only be used by professionals or for a full body rub. I use a little in my hands after coming in from gardening. This is the only way to relieve the tension in my hands as well as put back in some moisture and prevent cracking skin.

A good carrier oil should be able to be made up into a massage oil and be ready for adding moisture as well as stimulating circulation and relaxation.

Can You Use Essential Oils Without A Carrier

For massage therapy you must use a carrier oil to ‘water down’ the essential oils to avoid a strong reaction to skin. If you want the benefits of your chosen essential oils without using a carrier then a diffuser can help. Here is a link to the one I use, which diffuses without heat so the essential oils are not degraded.

Using a diffuser means that when I add the essential oil of choice it will give me the aroma and health benefits without any loss of integrity. This can then be on in the background to any meditation session or be used as part of my night time routine.

Any mindfulness activity can take place with the diffuser in the background and then later on the aroma will help you to click into that state of mind. Restfulness will come more easily once you start to practice meditation and yoga with a diffuser in the room and certain aromas will be linked to relaxing sequences.

What Next & Further Reading

For my money investing in a good quality carrier oil can make all the difference to how your body responds to the essential oils. A carrier oil that encourages increased circulation, allows for easy absorption to the body and one that has been sustainably sourced is ideal. Once you learn a little more about your own skin type then you can narrow down your search but carrier oils that suit all skin types are available.

I hope to have taken away some of the confusion between these two types of oils and how they work together to better help your bodies needs.

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