How To Choose A Carrier Oil {For Essential Oils}

Essential oils are everywhere.

In the field of aromatherapy, essential oils are used for things like relieving anxiety, helping to soothe an upset stomach, aiding in memory recall, and even for helping the skin to heal faster. They are a useful part of the natural medicine cabinet, for sure.

While using essential oils, there are two very basic ways to apply them. “Neat” refers to the oil being placed directly on the skin, and “Diluted” refers to the oil being mixed in a base oil first. This base oil is what will be referred to as a “carrier” oil, since it carries the oil.

There are VERY few times when an oil should be placed “neat” on the skin. Doing so can cause more harm than good, as there are oils that can burn the skin in full concentration.

This can also lead to sensitizing the skin to the oil, and in some rare cases, can cause a future allergic reaction for the person.

Once that happens, that person is no longer able to use the oil without a reaction. This can happen no matter how “pure” or “therapeutic” the “grade” of oil is.

Bottles of essential aromatic oils and fresh flowers

The most common way to get the benefits of the essential oil when using inhalation therapy is by diffusing the oil, or by adding it to a necklace, or other jewelry. The benefits are realized without a drop of oil coming into direct contact with the skin.

When using essential oils on the skin for applications such as a compress, massage oil, or even in a relaxing bath, using a carrier oil is the ONLY way to ensure safety.

As a general rule for healthy adults, a good dilution is 1-3% of the total oil. That means for every 100 drops of a carrier oil, only 1-3 drops of essential oil are used.  For children, the dilution rate is even lower.

To make the math easier, we are going to use 1 teaspoon=64 drops. So, if you want a 1% solution, you will use 1 1/2 teaspoons of carrier oil for every drop of essential oil. 

Knowing how to choose a carrier oil is important.

Each oil has different properties, and is useful for many different applications. Some are nut based, so those who can’t have nuts will need to avoid them. Some are more inexpensive than others. Here are some carrier oils to choose from that will help you with your essential oil applications:

Apricot Kernel Oil-made from the pressed kernels of apricots and used interchangeably with sweet almond oil.  This is a light oil that has a slightly nutty scent. It is often found in cosmetics and natural body care.

Avocado Oil-a light green oil that leaves no greasy residue on the skin. Avocado oil is thick and creamy. It is commonly used in soap making or luxury body care and can also be used as a high temp cooking oil, as it can withstand heats of over 400° without breaking down.

Coconut Oil-perfect for massage oils, this thick oil is solid at a room temperature of 76° . Although solid, it easily melts with body temperature, and is quickly absorbed by the skin. It can also be used as a cooking oil, and is common to many kitchens.

Grapeseed Oil-processed from the seeds of grapes, this thin oil is often used in culinary as well as cosmetic applications. This oil has no odor, and is light in color.

Jojoba Oil-one of the thickest oils used in body care and aromatherapy, this oil also is considered to be anti-inflammatory. This property makes it a great carrier oil to mix with skin salves that are meant to soothe broken, burned, or rough skin.

Olive Oil-often found in kitchens as a cooking or salad dressing base, this oil coats the skin well and is quickly absorbed. Because of it’s strong scent, it is best used at a fraction of the total carrier oil.

Rice Bran Oil-extracted from rice during the milling process, this clear oil has no scent of it’s own and is quickly absorbed by the skin. Also used in culinary applications, rice bran oil is becoming common in natural care products.

While this is by no means the complete list of all carrier oils available, these are some of the most common and easily affordable oils on the market.

You can find most of these oils in your local grocery or health food store, or even online. (each one is linked to where I purchase it)

Which carrier oil would you use most often?

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