People have been using the healing power of plants for centuries now. And today, we continue to do so. A great way to experience the many physical and mental health benefits of plants is aromatherapy – using essential oils.
Whether you’re experienced or new in the aromatic world of essential oils, you’ve probably read a lot about using them. If you have, you have certainly come across the term ‘carrier oils’. There seems to be a lot of information about different essential oil benefits and their uses, but not as much regarding carrier oils. They’re usually overlooked because they aren’t as therapeutic as essential oils, but they can play a vital role in their topical application.
If you’re serious about diving into the endless world of DIY aromatherapy world, you must learn about the importance of different carrier oils for aromatherapy and their uses. Taking a closer look at the carriers will clarify why they deserve a place on the shelf of anyone who uses and loves essential oils. What are carrier oils, and how can you choose the best one for your essential oil collection?
What Are Carrier Oils?
Similar to essential oils, carrier oils are vegetable oils derived from plants. One thing that makes them different from essential oils is how they’re extracted. Instead of being distilled like most essential oils, they’re derived from the fatty portion of plants like kernels, seeds and nuts. They have little to no smell. Some are entirely odourless, while others have a very faint, nutty aroma.
Also known as base or fixed oils, carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and carry them to your skin, making topical application safe for anyone. Unlike essential oils that evaporate quickly, aromatherapy carrier oils are heavier and stable, which results in them fully absorbing into the skin.
What are the best carrier oils for essential oils? The best carrier oils for aromatherapy are sweet almond, coconut and jojoba oil. People also use the apricot kernel, avocado, grapeseed, argan and olive oils. There are also carrier oil blends available. With the right DIY recipe, you can create your own blend.
Why Should You Use Carrier Oils?
Many people are afraid that using carrier oils will lessen the therapeutic benefits of the essential oils. The truth is completely the opposite: they enhance the essential oils’ effects, spreading them deeper into the skin and allowing increased absorption. And because they don’t evaporate rapidly, they maximise the time of the essential oils on the skin, leading to better absorption.
Essential oils are potent and highly concentrated. They’re also volatile, making them too strong when applied undiluted to the skin. This can cause skin irritation, redness, burning sensations and sensitivities. That’s why protecting your skin when you topically apply any essential oil is necessary. The best way to ensure safe aromatherapy practice is to dilute the essential oils in carrier oils. As carrier oils don’t evaporate or have a strong smell, they’re the perfect companion to any essential oil, especially strong ones. This also allows you to control the concentration before applying.
Additional Therapeutic Effects
Carrier oils are made of essential fatty acids or EFAs. Our body requires such acids to stay healthy. It also naturally uses essential fatty acids to protect our skin regularly. EFAs cause the thicker, heavier consistency of the carrier oils. They deeply moisturise our skin and promote the body’s healing process naturally. Some also have skin-cleansing and age-defying properties. Besides the fatty acids, carrier oils are full of antioxidants and vitamins, which provide additional skin benefits. This means that when we apply them daily, we nourish, moisturise, and protect the skin, promoting cell regeneration and preserving skin elasticity.
Comparing Different Carrier Essential Oils
Fractioned Coconut Oil
Made from the meat of mature coconuts, you can find refined and unrefined versions of coconut oil. The refined version isn’t all-natural, and therefore it’s not suitable for topical use.
On the other hand, fractioned coconut oil is high in saturated essential fatty acids. Unlike its unfractionated counterpart, it’s heat-pressed and has a longer shelf life. Fractioned coconut oil absorbs well into the skin, has no scent, and doesn’t stain. That’s why so many people love this version of coconut oil: it protects the skin without leaving a greasy residue. It’s the perfect all-purpose carrier oil, great for massage therapists and for creating essential oil blends.
Made from the seeds of the jojoba desert shrub, the jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-ba) oil isn’t technically an oil but a liquid wax. Its powerful moisturising properties come as a result of its richness in vitamins E and D and in eicosenoic acid (omega-9). It’s known to reduce redness and support the skin’s natural process, as well.
Jojoba oil mimics sebum, the skin’s natural oil. It has a medium consistency, which absorbs into the skin easily without clogging the pores. This may help reduce the skin’s oil production, combatting excessively oily skin. This makes it a good option for massage oils, facial moisturisers, and bath oils. The jojoba carrier oil is perfect to use in any skin and hair care recipes, including those for acne-prone skin.
Sweet Almond Oil
Being one of the most popular carrier oils, sweet almond oil is cold-pressed and made from the kernels of sweet almonds. It has very high levels of omega-6 and omega-9 acids. It’s also rich in vitamin D and E. It helps nourish any skin type, as it’s lightweight and absorbs easily, leaving a slight hint of shine on the skin. Since it acts as a barrier against elements, it’s especially soothing for dry and irritated skin.
Sweet Almond carrier oil is rich in vitamin E and can help soothe dry and irritated skin. It acts as a barrier against elements and is a great natural skin moisturiser. Use Sweet Almond Carrier Oil to apply essential oils to the body without the risk of irritating the skin.
Almond oil makes a good base for face and body care products, such as massage, bath oils and soaps. It’s also used in general aromatherapy. It’s worth noticing that it has a strong, nutty aroma that might mask an essential oil’s aroma or at least make it smell differently.