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Everything You Need to Know About Carrier Oils

Sally Wong |

Essential oils are growing in popularity nationwide. As more research is done to uncover the natural healing and therapeutic properties of different essential oils, there is more interest in learning to use them properly to do everything from clean the home to ease allergy symptoms and promote better sleep.

Carrier oils can play an essential role in prolonging the useful life of any essential oil. In this article, learn everything you need to know to begin using carrier oils along with your favorite essential oils.

Carrier Oils Defined

The term “carrier oil” refers to a neutral, vegetable-based oil that has a long shelf life and performs well when diluted with other substances and used in a variety of applications.

Essential oils are volatile oils by nature. The term “volatile” means it turns into vapor quickly and dissolves without leaving a stain, which gives it the nickname “ethereal oil.”

Unlike essential oils, carrier oils are non-volatile. A non-volatile oil will not quickly evaporate as temperatures warm and will not quickly evaporate.

For this reason, essential oils and carrier oils pair well together. The latter ensures the former lasts longer and works better than it could on its own.

It is also important to note that even though they are both vegetable-derived, neither margarine nor vegetable shortening is not a good carrier oil. Also, animal-based oils like butter and lard do not make for good carrier oils.

All About the Best Carrier Oils

There are many different types of carrier oils available today to pair with your favorite essential oils.

Here is a partial list of some of the most popular carrier oils along with some notes about the main properties of each.

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil has a very lightweight consistency and a short shelf life compared with other carrier oils. This makes it a popular choice for manual therapy and massage therapy, since it leaves only a very thin film and is highly moisturizing.

Major property: High linoleic acid content. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is not only prized for cooking, but is also a sought-after addition for conditioners and lotions. It is solid yet lightweight in room temperature conditions and emits a strong coconut aroma. It can last for a long time without any special storage method and is deeply moisturizing.

Solid-state coconut oil leaves behind a relatively thick oily-feeling layer after being applied to the skin or hair (so if this isn’t desired, using fractionated coconut oil instead can be a good alternative).

Major property: High levels of essential fatty acids.

Fractionated coconut oil

Fractionated coconut oil is a version of coconut oil that is liquid instead of solid when stored at room temperature and it has a long storage shelf life. However, unlike its solid cousin, it doesn’t smell like coconut. And it leaves little trace of itself after being applied to the skin or hair.

Major property: High levels of essential fatty acids.

Olive oil

Like coconut oil, olive oil is highly prized by chefs for its flavor and versatility in cooking. Olive oil is steadily becoming more popular for personal health and beauty uses as well, including as a carrier oil for pairing with essential oils. When applied to the skin or hair, it leaves a somewhat thick residue.

Olive oil has its own distinct aroma, which may overpower or compete with more subtle essential oils but is perfect for pairings with stronger smelling essential oils.

Major property: Olive oil contains high levels of oleic acid, an essential fatty acid.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil has long been a popular addition to sunscreens, suntan oils, lotions and hair care products. It has an aroma some describe as “nutty” that can enhance the aroma of certain essential oils. Its consistency is medium and yet after being applied to the skin and hair, it feels light as air. This is because jojoba oil’s construction is similar to that of the skin’s own natural oils.

It also has a long storage shelf life, making it an economical choice for a carrier oil.

Shea butter

Like jojoba oil, shea butter is another popular component in sunscreens, skin care products and hair care products. It has a similar aroma to jojoba oil as well, and is solid at room temperature like coconut oil. However, unlike coconut oil, it doesn’t feel oily so much as waxy after being applied to the skin and hair.

Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is also solid at room temperature like shea butter and coconut oil. But it can be a great carrier oil when melted and added to a mixture that includes at least one other carrier oil and one or more essential oils.

It has a lovely, slightly chocolatey aroma that people just love.

Sweet almond oil

Sweet almond oil is yet another oil that has an aroma often described as one part sweet and one part nutty. Here, because it is made from almonds, it should not be used as a carrier oil for anyone with nut allergies.

It leaves just the merest trace of itself after being applied to skin and hair and is richly moisturizing.

Major property: Sweet almond oil has high concentrations of Vitamin E and oleic acid.

How to Use Carrier Oils

Here are some Lip Balm DIY recipes you can use for blending essential and carrier oils together.

20 Percent Dilution

– 1 drop essential oil/blend

– 4 drops carrier oil

10 Percent Dilution

– 1 drop essential oil/blend

– 5 drops carrier oil

About The Author

Sally Wong was born in China. She first learned about manual and massage therapy and the therapeutic properties of oils from her mother and grandmother. Today she lives and works in Vancouver, Canada, where she passes on her knowledge and expertise to a growing list of loyal clients. You can find her blogging about essential oils on her personal blog.

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