Everything You Need To Know About Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy

May 15, 2022


A profound healing modality, aromatherapy has flourished into a thriving category of herbal and integrative medicine. These aromatic plants involve working with some of nature’s most potent powers that comprise more than a limiting narrative of what a single oil can therapeutically do (i.e. peppermint is only for migraines). Diffusing essential oils isn’t the only way you can enjoy the healing benefits of aromatherapy. Topically applying them to the skin is another exceptional way to receive said benefits. But before you start experimenting, understanding the importance that carrier oils have in conjunction with essential oils is crucial. So we turned to our resident aromatherapist Alexandria Yamazaki to get all the information.

What Is A Carrier Oil?:
So what is a carrier oil? A carrier oil is a substance that can transport essential oils to your skin safely. They can be any type of lipid-rich extract that is expelled from a fruit, nut, or seed. And the best part? You probably have most of them in your kitchen as they are the rich and fatty plant oils we cook with. Essential oils, on the contrary, are made from the isolated aromatic compounds of a plant, which are fragrant but highly volatile. Meaning they are overtly concentrated but are susceptible to evaporating quickly. That’s where the carrier comes in, which helps ensure the delivery of the therapeutic properties of essential oils without damaging the skin.

Carrier oils are highly paramount in aromatherapy from a safety perspective. Since essential oils are volatile, they can irritate and sometimes damage the skin when applied neatly. It’s never advisable to apply these oils directly onto your skin and should always be diluted with a carrier oil. Another great thing about using carrier oils is that they lengthen the life of essential oils. Furthermore, there are a few things to consider when choosing a carrier oil, like odor, absorption, skin type, and shelf life.

How To Properly Use Carrier Oils:
By now you’re probably wondering how to start utilizing them. Before you get to mixing, you’ll want to remember this ratio. Simply use five to eight drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil. Because essential oils are so robust, less is always more. You don’t need to use much of them to start feeling their effects. However, if you have sensitive skin, please stick to a lower dilution range, like four to six drops per tablespoon. Never exceed 15 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil. While hundreds of plant oils could work as a carrier, below you will find a non-exhaustive list to help get you started. All of which are commonly used by aromatherapists, dermatologists, and estheticians.

Buying Tips:
Always buy therapeutic-grade carrier oils from a source or manufacturer you trust. Look for cold-pressed oils that are 100 percent pure, additive, and preservative-free. If you’re using cooking oil as a carrier, choose cold-pressed, organic varieties.

Best Carrier Oils For The Body:

1. Sweet Almond Oil
There are two different types of almond oil, sweet and bitter. Sweet almond oil is better suited for your skin and contains vitamin A, E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s highly emollient, which means it can help balance the absorption of moisture and water loss. Almond oil quickly penetrates the skin, is a powerful moisturizer and even has antifungal properties.

2. Olive Oil
Did you know you can use this everyday kitchen staple on your body? It’s rich in antioxidants that your skin will love. If you need help picking a high-quality olive oil, see our guide here.

3. Coconut Oil
While coconut oil is comedogenic for the face, you can use it on your body. If you’re not too keen on the tropical fruit smell, try using fractionated coconut oil, which is free from that scent but is still rich in vitamin E.

4. Sesame Oil
Untoasted sesame oil is a widely popular choice for a carrier oil as it’s rooted in Ayurvedic massages that date back centuries, commonly used for anyone who has a Vata dosha as it’s warming. It’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and contains several fatty acids.

Best Carrier Oils For The Face:

1. Jojoba Oil
Extracted from the seeds of the perennial shrub called the Simmondsia Chinensis is a wax ester. The wax ester structure is very similar to our skin’s natural sebum, and because of this, it helps to balance the skin’s oil production without oxidizing. Due to that, it won’t feel overly greasy to the touch and is light enough to apply to the face.

2. Argan Oil
Derived from the kernels that grow on the argan trees native to Morocco. Argan oil is traditionally used orally and topically to improve the skin’s health, hair, and nails. It contains beneficial properties and vitamins that form a powerful duo to boost skin health.

3. Rosehip Seed Oil
Coveted since ancient times, rosehip oil is brimming with skin-nourishing vitamins and essential fatty acids. It contains phenols that have been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal traits. It’s commonly used as a facial carrier oil and is suitable for all skin types, especially those who have dry or rosacea-prone skin.

4. Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is made from apricot seeds and is an emollient oil that’s high in fatty acids and vitamin E. It absorbs effortlessly into the skin and is suited for all skin types, specifically dry skin. Apricot kernel oil is known to help soothe and soften irritated, itchy skin.

The Takeaway:
Carrier oils allow you to safely apply essential oils topically to the skin. They are highly accessible as you can use hundreds of various plant oils. Whichever you choose, use a high-quality organic, cold-pressed oil if possible. Add five to eight drops, or four to six for sensitive skin, of your essential oil of choice per tablespoon of carrier. Apply to your body and face as necessary. And lastly, you should always avoid using petroleum jelly and mineral oil with essential oils.

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