5 Carrier Oils for Essential Oils
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about essential oil uses and benefits lately. And in the descriptions of how essential oils can be used topically to fight infections and improve the health of your skin, it’s commonly recommended that you combine an essential oil with a carrier oil before applying it to your body. So your next question may be “what can I use as a carrier oil for essential oils?”
You actually have quite a few carrier oils to choose from, and you can make your pick based on your skin type, and your skin, hair and health concerns. Carrier oils allow you to use essential oils safely and effectively, but they also come with a ton of their own health benefits.
Most carrier oils are loaded with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and skin-healing vitamins. So if you’re still confused about what carrier oil to use as part of your essential oils routine, read through this list of carrier oils and their specific uses and benefits.
What Is a Carrier Oil?
Carrier oils are used in combination with essential oils in order to dilute them and alter their absorption rate. Essential oils are extremely potent, so you only need a very small amount to take advantage of their many benefits. Carrier oils allow you to cover a larger surface area of your body with essential oils, without needing to use too much. So when you use a carrier oil, you are reducing the chances of causing any adverse skin reactions and following the guidelines of essential oil safety.
Here’s an example of how carrier oils are used in combination with essential oils. If you want to use tea tree oil on your face to fight acne and improve your complexion, applying the recommended topical dose, which is about 1–3 drops, wouldn’t cover your chin, forehead, nose and neck. By combining 1–3 drops of tea tree oil with about half a teaspoon of any carrier oil, you can now apply the mixture to every area of concern on your face, and you didn’t need to add too much tea tree. Make sense?
Using carrier oils is especially important when you are applying essential oils to areas of sensitive skin, using them on children, or when you’re looking to cover a large area of your body with essential oils. I love combining carrier oils and essential oils to create body moisturizers, massage and sports rubs, facial cleansers and even skin toners. Usually, I combine 1–3 drops of essential oils with about half a teaspoon of carrier oil. You want to use at least equal parts carrier oil and essential oil. (1)
Another important role of carrier oils is to prevent easy evaporation of essential oils. This is important because essential oils are made of very small particles that are absorbed into the skin quickly and easily. Ever notice that just a few minutes after applying lavender or peppermint oil to your skin and you barely smell it anymore? That’s because it’s been absorbed. But because carrier oils are made from the fatty portions of a plant and don’t evaporate as quickly, adding them to essential oils will help to slow down the absorption rate, allowing for a larger and longer impact. (2)
Top 5 Carrier Oils for Essential Oils
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil serves as an effective carrier oil because it has a low molecular weight, allowing it to penetrate your skin on a deeper level. It also contains saturated fats that help the skin to stay moisturized, while helping to provide a smooth and even skin tone. In addition to this, coconut oil has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, so it’s the perfect carrier oil for relieving skin conditions like acne, eczema and cold sores.
A randomized double-blind controlled trial sought to determine the efficacy of virgin coconut oil in treating mild to moderate xerosis, a medical term that’s used to describe dry, rough, itchy and scaly skin. Thirty-four patients were randomized to apply either coconut oil or mineral oil on their legs twice a day for two weeks. Researchers found that coconut oil and mineral oil had comparable effects, and both were able to improve symptoms of xerosis without causing adverse reactions. (3)
As a carrier oil, coconut oil uses for skin are numerous. Combine 1–3 drops of any essential oil that’s safe for topical use with about half a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub the mixture into the area of concern. If you are using an essential oil internally, combine 1–2 drops with a half-teaspoon of coconut oil before ingestion.
2. Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is commonly used as a carrier oil because it contains antioxidants and helps to keep your skin nice and soft. Historically, it was used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Almond oil is light and easily absorbed into your skin, so when it’s combined with antimicrobial essential oils, like tea tree or lavender, it can help to gently cleanse your skin by getting into your pores and follicles. That’s why I use it in my DIY shower gel recipe with orange essential oil. Almond oil also has emollient properties, so it may be able to improve your complexion and skin tone. Almond oil is also one of the best carrier oils to use in your reed diffuser because it’s light and will help to spread the scent of the essential oils you choose. (4)
3. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is an excellent carrier oil because it’s odorless and serves as an emollient, helping to soothe your skin and unclog pores and hair follicles. But beyond acting as a carrier oil, jojoba oil has many of its own benefits for your hair and skin.
Jojoba oil is actually a plant wax, not an oil, and it can be used to moisturize, protect and cleanse your skin, prevent razor burn, and promote the health of your hair. In fact, I use jojoba oil in my DIY moisturizer for oily skin because it helps to balance oil production in the skin, so it won’t leave you feeling greasy. Plus, jojoba oil contains vitamin E and B vitamins, which help to treat sunburns and wounds, it has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and it contains three fatty acids. (5)
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in healthy fatty acids, anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Not only does consuming real extra virgin olive oil benefit your heart, brain and mood, but it can also be used as a carrier oil to help hydrate your skin, speed up wound healing and even help to fight infections.
Research suggests that olive oil may serve as a promising treatment for skin-related conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and atopic dermatitis. It helps to improve these skin issues by reducing inflammation and fighting the growth of bacteria.
5. Avocado Oil
Like so many carrier oils, avocado oil benefits your health when it’s consumed and used on your skin. It’s very moisturizing, so works best for people with dry, rough skin. Avocado oil helps to improve skin texture, remove makeup and hydrate your hair. Plus, research conducted on rats suggests that avocado oil may help to reduce inflammation and increase collagen production, making it a useful tool for treating skin wounds.