What are Carrier Oils and How Are They Used?

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If you are using essential oils you have probably heard the term carrier oil. If you are not familiar with the term and using essential oils then it is definitely one you need to get acquainted with — especially if using essential oils with kids.

The world of essential oils can be overwhelming and exciting. There are so many fun things to try out and so much information available!

I advise people to take it slow and steady as they are learning. Get a good grasp on one aspect before moving on to the next.

Learning about carrier oils is important in the early stages of your oily journey.

Essential Oils 101: What is a Carrier Oil?

What is a Carrier Oil?

A carrier oil is simply a fatty oil usually derived from the seeds, nuts or kernels of a plant. They tend to be referred to as vegetable oils, base oils, or fixed oils. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and carry them onto your skin. Dilution with a carrier oil does not dilute the effect of the essential oil, and is a great way to prevent waste due to excessive application.

There are many essential oils that should be diluted before using. While there are those that can be used undiluted (called neat), diluting helps spread the essential oil over a larger part of the skin. When it comes to using an essential oil on your child, it is always a good idea to use a carrier oil with the essential oil. We recommend Young Living oils and they have dilution recommendations on the back of each bottle.

Essential Oils 101: What is a Carrier Oil?

Different carrier oils offer different therapeutic properties and are suitable for different skin types and products. They can be used by themselves (or in conjunction with another oil) as a moisturizer or to treat problem areas. When they are used with essential oils, they effectively “carry” the other ingredients into the skin and body and stop the essential oils from evaporating or being absorbed too quickly.

Carrier oils are also great if you get an essential oil in a sensitive part of your body. You do not want to use water as water and oil do not mix. Rubbing a carrier oil into the sensitive area will help relieve the discomfort.

Difference Between Carrier Oils and Essential Oils:

Essential oils are distilled from the leaves, bark, roots and other parts of a plant. They are very concentrated and are volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly.

Carrier oils are cold pressed from the fatty parts of the plant. They do not evaporate quickly and do not tend to have a strong aroma.

Petroleum based oils should not be used as carrier oils (ex: petroleum jelly, butter, vegetable shortening, etc). Also mineral oil is not a natural product and should be avoided for use with essential oils.

Choosing a Carrier Oil:

When it comes to choosing a carrier oil you want to make sure you are using the highest quality you can find. If possible you should be purchasing cold-pressed, pure, unrefined oil with no additives. Cold pressed oils have not been heated and therefore retain their innate beneficial properties. Unrefined oils usually retain their richness and strength.The price tag is not always an indicator of quality so make sure to read the labels and research your carrier oil brands before purchase!

Essential Oils 101: What is a Carrier Oil?

Since there are so many different carrier oils out there to choose from we have put together a list of some of the most popular carrier oils out there based on what skin type they tend to work best with.

Just remember that the key to success is experimenting with your oils and ingredients until you find what works best for you, your skin, and your product.

Personally my favorite carrier oil to use is Coconut Oil because it is does not clog pores and is a fractionated carrier oil (meaning it does not go rancid).

Non-Drying Oils (Great for Dry Skin):

Semi-Drying Oils (Great for Normal to Oily Skin):

Drying Oils (Best for Oily Skin):

How to Dilute:

Young Living essential oil bottles have dilution recommendations on the bottle labels. There is also a lot of information in the Essential Oil Pocket Reference. If you are unsure of what ratio to use for a carrier oil the safe rule of thumb (when it comes to kids) is 1:30. Remember that using a carrier oil does not dilute the potency of the essential oil, it simple slows down the absorption rate.

I often find myself referring to the conversion chart below when creating topical products:

Essential Oils 101: What is a Carrier Oil?


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