Please Enable JavaScript in your Browser to Visit this Site.

top of page

Why a Carrier Oil

A Look at Carrier Oils

Essential oils are irritants on the skin. Carrier oils (lipid/fatty oils) are used in conjunction with essential oils in Aromatherapy to dilute essential oils to a safe topical level to protect the skin. Carrier oils are also ingestible and often used in cooking and food preparation. When we say dilute, to be clear, it does not dilute the actions of the oil(s). Carrier oils are non-volatile, the opposite of essential oils. They do not have the safety concerns that essential oils present.

Briefly, carrier oils are non-volatile. A volatile organic compound (VOC) is defined by the EPA as “any compound of carbon” and includes essential oils. Although few essential oils constituents have been implemented, long term exposure to moderate mixtures of terpenes entails possible health risks.

However, carrier oils are non-volatile, we use many in our cooking. Many carriers have remarkable therapeutic properties externally and internally. Not only do they keep our skin safe when using essential oils, they can also enhance the therapeutic effect of essential oils on the skin.

Should I buy Refined or Unrefined carrier oils?

Carrier oils, also known as fatty or lipid oils, can be purchased unrefined or refined. This defines the amount of processing the oil will go through. Unrefined oils are the most sought for carrier oils. There is minimal processing involved which ensures a higher quality oil rich in nutrients. Unrefined gives the true color and flavor of the oil as well as the aroma. The downfall to unrefined oils is often there less stable than refined oils. This means that your oil will go rancid more quickly. This could shorten the shelf life of the final product you make. The shelf life is based on the ingredients in your product. The ingredient with the shortest shelf life, be it essential oils or the carriers, will be the shelf life of the product.

Some oils that are unrefined carry a strong color or smell (ex.: Avocado, Neem) and overpowers other ingredients including essential oils when blended. Some don’t care for the strong aroma. Unrefined Shea butter has a very distinctive aroma that some people like and some don’t care for. It’s unique to the individual, as is essential oils.

Because of the further processing that refined oils go through, there are fewer active compounds in the oil than unrefined oils. The further processing removes and damages some therapeutic compounds. I’ve found that refined oils are often less expensive, and they have a longer shelf life.

When deciding to purchase your carrier oils, look for cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, unrefined or virgin oil. These are the least processed oils. Depending on what you plan to use your oils for will have a bearing on your decision. Unrefined is the best for therapeutically effective facial products. Unrefined oils can be used for overall body products.

When using essential oils in my products, I want the aroma of the oils to be dominant. In this case, it is best to use refined carrier oils as the aroma is less dominant.

A Quick List

1. Allanblackia floribunda Butter

The Allanblackia butter is a genus of flowering plant in the Clusiaceae family. There are five species. It has similar characteristics to Shea butter, and meets the stringent outlines set by the cosmetic industry. The heated oil extracted from the seeds is used as a liniment to treat rheumatism, rubbed into sore joints, or dabbed on wounds and rashes. The butter can be used alone or in products. Internally, it's been used in Africa to treat hypertension. Try the following blend with anti-inflammatory and analgesic essential oils known to be effective of joint and muscle pain:

Pain Relief

· One-ounce Allanblackia butter

· 6 drops of Siberian Fir Abies sibirica

· 3 drops of Juniper Berry Juniperus communis

· 2 drops of Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus

· 4 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

Blend your essential oils. Add the oils to the butter and mix well. Apply to achy joints 3-4 times a day. Store in closed glass container.

2. Almond Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis Oil

Almond oil, known as Sweet Almond, is cold pressed, subsequently refined then mixed with a soft Shea stearine. It assists with protecting the moisture of the dermis. Almond oil contains minerals and vitamins including A, B1, B2, B6 and Vitamin E. Sweet Almond is an emollient and has sclerosant properties. Based on research, it’s shown to ease itching from dry skin, smooth and rejuvenate the skin, as well as treat psoriasis and eczema. Almond is especially effective on dry, aging skin. Wonderful on burns and inflammation. I find this works best as a base oil.

Try in the following recipe with sweet almond at 40% and Black Currant oil at 60%. Or use the carrier of your choice.

Skin Healing Oil

· One-Ounce Carrier oil

· 4 drops Carrot seed oil

· 3 drops Bergamot Citrus bergamia

· 4 drops Palmarosa Cymbopogon martini var. motia

· 4 drops Cedarwood Juniperus virginiana

· 3 drops Ho Wood Cinnamomun camphora ct linalool

Directions: Blend and apply as needed.

3. Aloe Vera

(See article Aloe Vera and Uses)

4. Apricot Prunus armeniaca Kernel Oil

Apricot kernel oil is cold pressed from the seeds of apricots. This carrier oil is a favorite of massage therapists, due to its fast absorption rate and many therapeutic properties. Its therapeutic properties include gentleness on inflamed, aging or sensitive skin.

When taken internally, it can help reduce cholesterol levels and help lower hypertension.

Apricot kernel has a suppressive action on 5alpha-Androst-16-en-3-one generated by microbial metabolism. What does this mean? Androsterone was the first human sex pheromone to be identified by researchers. It is found in many mammals, and in humans it is primarily found in sweat and can lead to unpleasant odors, especially in women. Apricot kernel was identified as one of the carriers to suppress androsterone. With this discovery, it would be an excellent addition to women’s deodorant products or used alone. Apricot kernel can also be used alone or in facial blends. Helichrysum and Frankincense essential oils are cicatrisant (skin healers) and work perfect in a facial serum. Try using Apricot as a base oil at 10-50%. This blends nicely with Grape seed oil.

Try the following to soothe your skin. Blend and apply on clean, dry skin.

· One-ounce Apricot Kernel CP (Cold pressed) oil

· 10 drops Helichrysum Italicum (Corsica)

· 5 drops Frankincense Boswellia sacra

*See “additional resources” below for research on the effects of Amygdaline, a component of Apricot Kernel & transplanted tumors in mice. *

4. Argan Prunis amygdalus var. dulcis Oil

Argan oil is cold pressed from the pits or kernels found in the fruit of a tree endemic to the calcareous semidesert Sous valley of southwestern Morocco. The oil produced is a beautiful light golden yellow. This is a wonderful, fast-absorbing carrier oil with many therapeutic benefits. Argan has shown the following therapeutic properties: Anti-inflammatory, barrier repair, relieves itchy dry skin, reduce tiny veins, wound healing and possibly effective on skin cancer. Argan is rich in protein and contain glucosides as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and vitamin E.

It has similar qualities to Sweet Almond in that it is great on all skin types, especially those prone to eczema or those with sensitive skin. I’ve used it successfully with Bergamot citrus bergamia essential oil in skin irritant formulas. It goes well with Cedarwood Juniperus virginiana essential oil for itchy, dry scalp.

Aside from topical, the benefits of ingesting Argan oil are quite remarkable. In a controlled clinical study, ingesting Argan oil showed the effectiveness on knee Osteoarthritis symptoms.

*Note: Unrefined carrier oils have a stronger aroma than refined carrier oils. *

5. Arnica Arnica Montana Oil

Arnica is an herbal tincture and is often applied externally on unbroken skin to treat sore muscles and joints as well as bruising, sprains and strains. Try making a salve for arthritic conditions. Arnica is a rubefacient meaning that it does it’s work by bringing more blood to the injured area causing a slight irritation. This is a normal reaction and part of the increasing healing process. However, Arnica has a high adverse reaction, especially with sensitive skin and is best used as a base oil. You can prepare it yourself or purchase Arnica oil.

This is my favorite way of using Arnica.

Arnica Salve with Plai

· 1/2 cup dried arnica (or purchase Arnica)

· 1 cup oil (olive oil works great)

· 1 oz. Beeswax

· 60 drops Plai Zingiber cassumunar

· 40 drops Balsam Fir Abies balsamea

· 10 drops Hemlock Tsuga canadensis

· 10 Norway Pine Pinus resinosa

· 10 Engleman Spruce Picea engelmanii


If you choose to make your own infused arnica, follow the infusing arnica steps.

Prepare an arnica infused oil. This involves covering the arnica with oil and allowing it to infuse. This can take 30 minutes to 6 weeks depending on the method you choose.

Once you have your arnica infused oil, place the 1 cup of arnica oil into a small saucepan and add 1 oz. of beeswax. Heat over low until the beeswax is melted. Stir to fully incorporate. Remove from heat and add essential oils.

Transfer your salve to a container of your choosing; mason jars work great. Allow salve to cool before covering with a lid.

To Use:

Apply arnica salve to the affected area and massage into the skin. Remember arnica should not be used on open skin.

6. Avocado Persea Americana Oil

Avocado oil is an edible oil pressed from the fruit of the Persea Americana. Avocado oil is cold pressed from the flesh of avocados. Avocado oil contains minerals and vitamins A, B1, B2, B5 (Pantothenic acid), D, and E. Avocado also contains protein, lecithin and fatty acids and is high in gamma linoleic acid. Avocado has shown wound healing properties and possible anti-inflammatory properties. Avocado is a skin penetrator through the upper layers of skin. It smooths dry, damaged skin, eases eczema and improves elasticity of the skin. It works well as a 10% additive to other carrier oils. As noted above, Avocado oil is one of the oils with a stronger aroma. Although not unpleasant, it will dominate the aroma of your essential oils. Despite this, the therapeutic effect of the following blend is smoothing and healing to the skin. Avocado works well with other carrier oils.

Dry Skin Relief

· One-Ounce Avocado oil

· 4 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum

· 4 drops Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile

· 4 Patchouli Pogostemom cabin

Directions: After cleansing and drying skin, apply as needed.

7. Babassu Orbygnia speciosa Oil

This tree is native to Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. Babassu oil, also sometimes called babassu wax, is a creamy white solid when kept cool and turns into a pale-yellow liquid at 76 degrees F./24 degrees C.

Babassu acts as an emollient and anti-microbial agent. It is obtained by cold-pressing the Babassu nuts. It contains lauric acid which offers anti-microbial actions. When it in contact with the body, it melts immediately. It provides a shiny, soft and smooth feeling to the skin. Moreover, the melting process is accompanied by a slight cooling effect, which feels fresh on the skin.

Babassu is high in linolenic acids and is best used as an additive with other carriers. It’s often used in cosmetics and skin-care products. Using Babassu with Jojoba will help protect and heal the skin. The addition of essential oils that are also known for their antimicrobial properties will help to accelerate the healing actions of the Babassu oil.

· 1/4 -Ounce Babassu oil

· ¾ -Ounce Jojoba oil

· 4 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia

· 5 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

Blend. Use on clean dry skin to heal dry itchy skin.

8. Baobab Adansonia digitata L., Malvaceae seed Oil

Baobab oil is cold pressed from the seed of the baobab tree. Baobab is highly penetrating, deeply nourishing and softens dry, damaged skin. It is known to restore and re-moisturizes the epidermis. It’s great for hair, absorbing quickly.

Baobab improves the skin’s elasticity and is a cell re-generator. It helps to relieves eczema and psoriasis. It’s has anti-inflammatory properties and relieves discomfort from burns and regenerates the epithelial tissue quickly. It’s a stable oil and goes well with other carrier oil s in formulas. Baobab works as an antioxidant.

9. Borage Borago officinalis seed Oil

Borage, also known as a starflower, is an annual herb in the flowering plant family Boraginaceae. The oil is derived from the seeds of the plant. Borage oil contains high levels of the ω-6 series essential fatty acids that play an important part in the function and structure of the skin.

It’s high content of linolenic and linoleic acids is the highest source for GLA’s (gamma linoleic acid). It’s often taken internally to decrease cholesterol levels in the blood as well as assist with coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Borage is a great addition during “that time” of the month, assisting with symptoms of PMS as well as menopausal symptoms.

Topically, Borage has great regenerating properties which makes it quite effective on premature and damaged skin, psoriasis, and eczema. A study was done on 37 patients with infantile seborrheic dermatitis. The linoleic acid in borage oil contributed to its therapeutic actions against ISD. It was shown to normalize the skins barrier functionality. A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was performed to test clinical effects of undershirts coated with borage oil on children with Atopic Dermatitis (AD). In the group treated with borage oil, improvement showed with no side effects. Borage is best used as a 10% additive in your products.

Eczema Oil Treatment

· 1 teaspoon borage oil

· 1-ounce jojoba oil

· 2 drops Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum

· 6 drops Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile

· 4 drops Geranium Pelargonium roseum x asperum

· 8 drops Lavender Lavendula angustifolia


Since "one shoe" does not fit all, using the same carrier oils, here is another great blend that has helped many.

· Above carrier oils

· 3 drops Oregano Origanum compactum

· 6 drops Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile

· 3 drops Neroli Citrus aurantium var. amara

· 9 drops Sandalwood Santalum album