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March 2013

Carrier Oils

Enhance Your Aromatherapy Blends By Selecting Suitable Carrier Oils

Carrier OilsMost of us have heard of the most readily available carrier oils like Sweet Almond Oil, Olive Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil and Sunflower Oil - plus Jojoba which is really a liquid wax. If you dig a little deeper, you'll find dozens of other carrier oils available that are wonderful for your skin and hair. Evening Primrose, Seabuckthorn Berry, Fractionated Coconut, Marula, Cranberry, Meadowfoam, Watermelon Seed and a host of other oils are available that each offers their own unique array of nutrients and beneficial components.

A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.

If applied to the skin undiluted, essential oils, absolutes, CO2s and other concentrated aromatics can cause severe irritation or reactions in some individuals. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential and other oils prior to application. They carry the essential oil onto the skin.

If the term "carrier oil" is new to you, you can learn more about them by reading AromaWeb's What Are Carrier Oils? article.

Within the field of holistic aromatherapy, greater attention is given to the importance of essential oil quality and purity. And rightly so. But, careful attention should also be given to your selection of carrier oils.

Carrier Oils vary in viscosity (thickness), how fast they penetrate the skin, color, aroma, nutritive composition and shelf life. Some carrier oils are better suited for particular types of formulations than others.

For example, Neem Oil is widely regarded as being highly anti-bacterial and anti-viral. But Neem Oil has a really harsh, strong aroma that can overpower many essential oils. Neem Oil is typically used in very specific formulations intended to help combat acne and other skin conditions (it's also a known insect repellent) where the appeal of the aroma isn't the first priority. Another example: Jojoba is a highly stable and readily available carrier that is often used for general applications. It is suitable for all skin types and tends to be a good choice for use by those that are prone to acne. But it isn't rich in essential fatty acids as some other carriers like Evening Primrose, Cranberry Seed or Borage Seed.

Carrier Oil Selection and Usage Tips:

  • Carrier oils can be blended together so that you can take advantage of the combined nutritive properties of the oils that you use. For instance, if you want to benefit from the nutritive properties of Seabuckthorn Berry Oil but don't want its vivid orange hue to tint your skin, blend a tiny percentage of Seabuckthorn Berry Oil into another carrier oil.

  • Some carrier oils are fragile and have a short shelf life. Carrier oils that are rich in essential fatty acids tend to have an especially short shelf life. Evening Primrose Oil, for instance, has a shelf life of just six months.

  • On the other hand, some carrier oils are highly stable and can be used to help extend the overall shelf life of your blends. Jojoba, Watermelon Seed Oil, Meadowfoam Oil and Fractionated Coconut Oil are examples of stable oils.

  • Most cooking oils sold in the grocery store are vegetable oils. Technically, they could be used as carrier oils, but I recommend against using them as such. Most oils sold in the grocery store are not cold pressed and offer very little nutritive benefit to the skin or hair.

  • Avoid using mineral oil or baby oil as a carrier oil. These oils can clog pores, prevent the skin from breathing naturally, prevent essential oil absorption, prevent toxins from leaving the body through the natural process of sweating.

  • Store your carrier oils away from heat and sunlight. Storing them in amber or other dark glass bottles is ideal if you're not going to use them up right away.

  • Read the What Are Carrier Oils? article on AromaWeb for much more information on how to shop for carrier oils, how to store them, plus other tips and suggestions.

Also, Read These Other Helpful Pages On AromaWeb:

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