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What are Carrier Oils?
Carrier oils go hand in hand with essential oils, as they help to “carry” the essential oil to the skin, where they can both work their magic. Carrier oils are pressed from the fatty parts of the plant; i.e., its nuts or seeds. You may already have some on hand in your kitchen (olive oil, sunflower oil) but make sure to use those labelled “cold-pressed” or “unprocessed” to carry the best natural nourishment to your skin.
How Do They Work?
Common ingredients in moisturizers, lip balms, and other lotions; carrier oils are popular because they are so effective at distributing moisture and healing therapeutic benefits of other ingredients to the skin. They can also dilute the effect of essential oils which would otherwise be too potent and irritate the skin or provoke an allergic reaction. Carrier oils also help to extend the life of your essential oil by ensuring that not a drop is wasted during application. They generally have a mild, nutty aroma. If you find your carrier oil has a strong smell, chances are it has gone bad. While essential oils cannot go rancid, carrier oils definitely can. To keep your oils from going bad, it’s best to store them in tightly sealed dark glass bottles in a cool location.
To make your own blend, use about a 1-10 ratio of essential oil to carrier oil. For easy application, place the mixture in a roller-ball container. Each carrier oil has its own unique therapeutic properties; just as essential oils do. Depending on the benefits you seek when using an essential oil, consider pairing it with a carrier oil which brings specific benefits as well, in order to make an essential oil/carrier oil blend that is useful and has an aroma you enjoy. The possible combinations are endless. Here are some of the most popular choices:
Choose a high quality, organic olive oil. Extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil carries the most vitamins and nutrients to the skin. Some find olive oil too heavy for everyday use on the skin.
Coconut oil is made up of very small molecules, allowing it to effectively penetrate the skin. Clear coconut oil labeled “fractioned” is light and easy to use because it remains a liquid, unlike raw coconut oil.
Jojoba oil is a powerful conditioner often used in hair products. Try it as a hair treatment with a few drops of your favorite essential oils. It’s also a great choice for massages or skincare because it contains lots of vitamin E and is chemically very close to the natural oils present in your skin.
Wonderfully moisturizing, avocado oil is the natural choice for extremely dry skin. But because it’s so intense on its own, it’s best to combine it with a milder vegetable oil. Try it with lavender essential oil at night to fight insomnia. Avocado oil has a pleasant, sweet and nutty scent.
If you only purchase one carrier oil, almond oil is a useful and economical choice. It has a warming effect, making it well suited to combine with a warming essential oil such as cinnamon, lemongrass, or clove for a soothing massage to loosen stiff muscles and joints.