“Carrier oil” is a phrase commonly tossed about in the world of essential oils. Carrier oils are an important part of essential oil use, so it is important to understand proper application of them. Primarily, they make a dynamic duo with essential oils applied directly to your skin.
Topical Application of Essential Oils
To understand the importance of carrier oils, it is helpful to first understand why you would want topical application.
The fat soluble properties within essential oils can be absorbed from our skin into our bodies. Usually within ten minutes we can start feeling the beneficial effects of the oil. The effects last for several hours, so you can reapply every 4 to 6 hours as needed.
Some people prefer this method (as compared to inhaling or ingesting the oil) for its calming massage-like method. Common areas to apply the oil include your forehead, neck, chest, abdomen, and the bottom of your feet.
Because the essential oils are so potent, directly applying them to your skin can cause irritation and sensitivity. Fortunately, this can easily be avoided by using a carrier oil.
Using Carrier Oils
Carrier oils help in a few ways for better topical application.
- First, they help prevent sensitivity and irritation by diluting the oil. You will still enjoy the many benefits of the oil, just with happier skin.
- Second, they can help moisturize your skin. This helps dry areas of skin absorb the oil easier.
- Third, they can help decrease the evaporation pace of the essential oil. This helps get more of the essential oil into your system.
Carrier oils usually do not carry their own strong scent, so you can pair them with the oil without worrying about an unsettling smell.
The Necessity of Carrier Oils
There are a few different categories of essential oils. Two of which really need carrier oil dilution.
The first is dilute. These should always be diluted with a carrier oil. These oils tend to be more potent and pose more of a risk to your skin (if used without dilution). Essential oils falling into this category include clove, oregano, and thyme.
The second category is sensitive. Here, it is not as imperative to use a carrier oil unless you have sensitive skin. These oils pose a moderate risk of skin irritation (if used without dilution). Essential oils falling into this category include peppermint and eucalyptus.
While other essential oils may not fall into one of these two categories, using a carrier oil is part of safe and responsibly essential oil application. We recommend always using one, even if the essential oil claims it does not need one. There is no need to risk skin irritation and you can help the absorption of the essential oil. It’s a win-win situation!
Choosing a Carrier OIl
The best carrier oils are 100% pure vegetable oils. These oils easily combine with the essential oil without interfering with their chemical makeup.
These oils come in two forms: a solid form and a liquid form. You can purchase the solid form, but it will take more work. You will need to melt the oil before using it. Usually, this involves placing the oil in a bowl and placing that bowl in a larger bowl of boiling water. You must wait for the oil to melt and then clean up the bowls afterwards.
It is much easier to simply buy already liquid oils (often called fractured oils).
Avoid using carrier oil alternatives, like vegetable shortening, baby oil, or petroleum jelly. They are not meant to be carrier oils.
Types of Carrier Oils
There are many different types of carrier oils out there. You can choose based on your budget, how much you will use the oil for other uses, or just your preference.
Coconut oil is a fantastic oil with many uses. I use it as a deep hair conditioner, shaving cream, lotion, and makeup remover. If you are looking for a multi-purpose oil, this is a great choice.
- Is aroma free
- Comes with a long shelf life
- Absorbs well without clogging pores
- Can feel a bit thick and greasy at first when applied to your skin, but this fades as it gets absorbed
- Offers antioxidants, which can help make you less disease prone
The default coconut oil product comes in a solid form. You can purchase fractured coconut oil to get it in a liquid form. Either works, but you will need to melt the solid version before using it.
This oil is often used in massages because it is light and leaves skin shiny.
- Moisturizes your skin
- Comes with a short shelf life
- Offers an ever so slight wine scent, which usually meshes well with the aroma of essential oils
- Offers a smooth application
- Absorbed quickly
Most of us have olive oil laying around our kitchen anyway, but it also doubles as a carrier oil.
- Has a thick consistency
- Has a slight scent, but it usually melds well with the fragrance of the essential oil
- Will not clog your pores
When looking for an olive oil, make sure it is pure olive oil. Some low cost brands will mix olive oil with other cheaper (and less healthy) vegetable oils to cut down costs.
Jojoba oil is very similar to the naturally occurring oils in our skin.
- Does not feel greasy when applied onto the skin
- Easily and quickly absorbed into the skin (often the best out of the carriers)
- Offers a medium consistency
- Offers a long shelf life (some say even indefinite)
- Gives off a slight nutty scent, which usually mixes well with the scent of essential oils
Jojoba oil is great for those with sensitive skin or skin issues (like acne) because it is so similar to our natural skin oils.
Almond oil is great if you tend to suffer from drier skin. The many nutrients in almond oil help nourish and moisturize your skin easily.
- Offers a medium consistency
- Gives off a slight sweet scent, which usually combines well with the scent of essential oils
- Gets absorbed quickly
Almond oil tends to be a cheaper option, so if you are on a budget this makes a good choice. If you have a peanut allergy, however, be very cautious. Sometimes almond oil is made in the same factories as peanut oil.
How to Apply the Essential Oil Mixture
A good proportion to use is about 2% dilution. If you are making a batch to use many times, you can aim for 12 drops of essential oil within one fluid ounce of carrier oil. If you are focusing on a one time use, you can aim for two drops of essential oil within one teaspoon of carrier oil.
The essential oil is pretty potent, so you usually only need a few drops of it to get the great benefits. You can mix the two oils together in a small bowl.
Once you mix together the oils, you are ready to apply them. Massaging the target area first can help to increase your blood circulation, which helps the oil get absorbed better.
Directly rub the oil into your skin for a soothing massage. Another option is to make a body butter for a do it yourself pampering spa day. You can also make a compress by soaking a towel in water, adding the essential oils, then placing it onto the target area.
Play around with different application techniques to see which you like best. However you apply, be sure to always use a carrier oil. Remember that the oils may stick around on your hands after you touch them, so be sure to wash them thoroughly after use.
Finding Essential Oils
Essential oils are sold at a variety of place. Most grocery stores, pharmacies, and natural stores offer at least a small selection of essential oil products. Shopping online of course will give you a wider selection (and sometimes better prices).
Essential oils are a powerful natural tool, helping in everything from soothing a sore throat to helping with allergies to naturally cleaning your home. You can also visit our Pinterest board for a collection of do it yourself recipes and tricks to try.
Essential oils are just one of the many avenues for natural positive prepping.