Carrier oils serve to dilute the essential oil before applying it to your skin. They act as the base for “carrying” the essential oil that is being mixed into it. Compared to essential oils, you’d use a greater amount of the carrier oil to make sure you properly dilute the essential oil.
This method of using essential oils topically also has the benefit of combining the effects of the essential oils PLUS those of the carrier oils, promoting smoother skin, relaxing the muscles, and a lot more. There are various carrier oils to choose from and it’s important to know which ones to use for what application. Depending on how often you plan to use a carrier oil, you’ll also want to consider their shelf life.
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The Most Popular Essential Oil Carrier Oils
Below is a list of some of the best essential oil carrier oils commonly used in aromatherapy that you can use to mix in your essential oils to have exceptional effects on the body.
I’ve included information on scent and texture so you can make your best choice. I also talk about carrier oil shelf life, so you know how long these carrier oils stay good for and how quickly you should use them up. Use the carrier oil to dilute the essential oil prior to topical application. You should always dilute your essential oils prior to applying them on your skin.
If in doubt, you can also do a skin patch test for the carrier oil you’re considering. Apply the carrier oil to the inside of your forearm and wait 24 hours to see if you have a reaction. Check for redness or itching.
How to Use Carrier Oils
To make a basic essential oils blend, combine one fluid ounce (30 mL) of carrier oil with 18 drops of essential oil. This makes about a 2% dilution, which is common and regarded as safe for adults. For children and the elderly, or if you know you have sensitive skin, start with a 1% dilution: 6 drops to 1 fl oz of carrier oil. This could possibly be all you need. Always start conservative! You can always add more essential oils later for a stronger aroma if you find that everything works well with your skin.
- See also: Dilution Rates Guide for Essential Oils
One last note before we dive in – if you’re allergic to any kind of nuts, be sure to use a carrier oil that is NOT a nut derivative.
Top 12 Carrier Oils Guide
1. Sweet Almond Oil
I personally love almond oil, not only because it’s reasonably inexpensive, but it is also a very light oil, and very easily absorbed by your skin. Its is quite nutritious with lots of vitamins including A, B, D and E. Sweet Almond Oil has a high percentage of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which makes it work wonderfully for all types of skin. Apply it liberally if you suffer from itchy, dry or inflamed skin.
Almond oil is especially useful for a facial massage too, as it helps balance the moisture levels in your skin, helps to improve your complexion, and gives you that special “glow of youth”!
Almond oil has a very slight nutty smell, though not overwhelming at all. I find it quite sweet and pleasant actually. You can of course always add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to personalize your spa-at-home experience.
A quick word of warning if you’re allergic to peanuts: almond oil is often produced in the same factories as peanut oil. If you have peanut allergies, be cautious. It’s possible that you are also allergic to Brazil nut, hazelnut, almonds and walnut. Check it out with your health care practitioner first if you’re unsure.
Shelf life: Almond oil stores reasonably well. I wouldn’t go more than a year though.
Skin type: All skin types
Sweet Almond Oil was the first essential oil carrier oil I bought, and I’d recommend it any day!
2. Jojoba Oil
Sweet Almond Oil’s most natural match is Jojoba oil. If combined, the two oils have qualities that are closest to the natural oils of our own skin, making them great for all applications from massage to cosmetics.
Coming with a golden color, a lot of people also consider jojoba oil as one of their most favorite oils to use. It doesn’t really have much scent on its own.
Derived from the jojoba beans, jojoba oil can be stored for a longer period of time compared to other carrier oils. It possesses an almost indefinite shelf life. It is
easily absorbed by the skin as jojoba oil mimics collagen (the main structural protein of the various connective tissues in our skin), making it relaxing to the skin, especially for those who have hypersensitivity, eczema, psoriasis, acne or blackheads. It’s a great carrier oil choice for irritated skin of any kind.
There are a lot of ways that you can use jojoba oil. You can use it either as is, or mixed together with other carrier oils (recipes below) to dilute your essential oil of your choice and create your very own blend. 118ml of Jojoba Oil cost only around $13 on Amazon.
Shelf life: Unlimited. Jojoba keeps indefinitely.
Skin type: All skin types
3. Apricot Kernel Oil
Coming from the kernel of the apricot plant, this carrier oil is known for its pale yellow color. What makes apricot kernel oil so great is that it works well when used for aging skin. It’s also a common ingredient for many cosmetics that can have the price of up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Just one or two drops of the apricot kernel oil can exhibit its benefits, providing a great deal of benefit for dry, inflamed, sensitive and even prematurely aged skin because of its content of oleic and linoleic acid, as well as vitamin A and vitamin E.
Apricot Kernel carrier oil is lightweight and smells faintly sweet; it can be absorbed by the skin without leaving a greasy or oily feeling after use. Apricot kernel oil can be used as-is, or together with other carrier oils since it still exhibits its full effects regardless of the mixture. Apricot Kernel oil is also recommended for facial application
Apricot kernel oil can leave stains on clothes so be careful. And you can get it for as little as around $8!
Shelf life: 6-12 months. Best when kept in the refrigerator.
Skin type: For dry and aging skin
4. Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties. There are countless health benefits to using coconut oil topically to your skin. Coconut oil comes in both refined and unrefined versions. For use in aromatherapy, you actually cannot use unrefined coconut oil since it sets like butter in the jar and can only be scooped out in chunks rather than a liquid version. Therefore, it is made available in the form of a “fractionated” carrier oil that is smooth, clear as water, with a light oily texture and very useful for aromatherapy applications.
Fractionated coconut oil will feel very smooth to the skin, but won’t clog pores. Coconut oil seems to be among the slightly more expensive carrier oils, a bottle of 118 ml is about $14 on Amazon. However, what’s great about the Plant Therapy brand of carrier oils, is that this one here comes with a handy pump for the oil bottle, which makes use and application so much easier!
Shelf life: Indefinite
Skin types: All skin types
5. Olive Oil as An Essential Oil Carrier Oil
Most commonly used in cooking, olive oil can also be used for cosmetics as carrier oil. Olive oil is packed with benefits including aiding
occasional ear discomfort, joint pain, support of rheumatic conditions, or hair care applications. Olive oil is one of the emergency oils that you can use if you don’t have anything else on hand. Its scent is sweet and pleasurable, though not completely neutral compared to other oils.
Using a small amount of olive oil together with other essential oil carrier oils lets you take advantage of the additional benefits that olive oil can bring, but perhaps avoid the scent if you find it otherwise overwhelming. Olive oil contains a lot of proteins, vitamins and minerals that can help the skin grow smoother and rejuvenate the hair’s lost shine and smoothness. However, it is a heavy and pretty greasy oil, so I would use it sparingly.
Shelf life: Can last up to 3-4 years, but best in small quantities used up within 6 months.
Skin types: All skin types
6. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil, similar to olive oil, can also be used in cooking or salad dressings. It also has quite a distinctive aroma that may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
If you’re thinking to use it as a carrier oil, know that is comes in two variations: A cold-pressed, unrefined version that’s deep green in color and the preferred choice for aromatherapy (and cooking); and also a refined version that’s more pale yellow, and used more commonly in the cosmetics industry.
Avocado oil is quite thick and heavy, though not overly greasy. Use avocado oil if you’re treating dry skin or wrinkles. It contains a high amount of vitamins and is a good source of fatty acids, which helps it get absorbed into the skin easily.
Avocado oil is great to use in a carrier oil blend as it does have strong skin soothing properties, but on its own I just think the scent is too overwhelming.
Shelf life: 1 year.
Skin types: For dry, sensitive, and mature skin
7. Argan Oil
Argan oil is really nice to use on your face as it has restorative qualities for your skin cells. It helps with the skin elasticity, softens wrinkles and fine lines, and restores nutrient content to skin cells treating an array of skin conditions. It is very gentle, yet effective.
Argan oil is derived from argan trees of Morocco, which are nutrient-rich, large, majestic trees. Argan Oil is the natural moisturizer your skin needs, and helps to naturally and noticeably soften and heal your skin.
Argan oil has a sweet smell to it, and some batches of harvest can have quite a faint smell to it. It depends a little bit on the time the oil was harvested. Spring and summer harvests have a less deep smell, whereas fall and winter crops tend to smell a little more full-bodied.
Overall, to the new nose, it could be described as smelling ‘nutty’. Do not use it if you have nut allergies.
Shelf life: Around 2+ years
Skin types: For dry, sensitive, and mature skin
8. Rosehip (Seed) Oil
Another facial skin care favorite carrier oil is rosehip oil – also known as rosehip seed oil. It is rich in Vitamin C and essential fatty acids, and protects the skin by increasing cell turnover. This aids the cells in your skin to re-generate, which is why some say rosehip oil contains anti-aging benefits. It is excellent for facial wrinkles, tissue regeneration, UV damage, burns or scars.
The anti-aging benefits of rosehip oil come due to its chemical structure. Rosehip oil contains many polyunsaturated fatty acids, and when absorbed through the skin, these fatty acids convert to prostaglandins, which are involved in cellular membrane and tissue regeneration.
Rosehip has a somewhat particular scent so I advise you to try a smaller sized bottle to start. It also has quite a short shelf life so use it up quickly before it goes rancid.
Shelf life: 6 months, then it’ll start smelling rancid or ‘off’.
Skin types: For mature skin
9. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil is a fantastic choice for a carrier as it contains up to 23% palmitoleic acid, which is rarely found at such high levels in any other vegetable oils. Palmitoleic acid is a common constituend of the human tissue, particularly the skin of infants, children and teenagers, which has a natural youth, glow and elasticity to it. Naturally, these youth-like properties are desireable in any skin care, but particularly when treating aged or dry skin.
Given the high content of essential fatty acids, macadamia nut oil has restructuring properties, strengthening the skin’s lipidic barrier and thus improving skin moisturization.
If you’re considering Macadamia nut oil as an essential oil carrier oil, make sure you buy a cold-pressed variety. All carrier oils should be cold pressed for aromatherapy purposes. You can keep Macadamia nut oil in the fridge to extend its shelf life. If you have nut allergies, you unfortunately have to stay away from macadamia nut carrier oil, too.
Shelf life: 2 years in the pantry, 2-3 years if kept in the fridge.
Skin types: All skin types
10. Evening Primrose Oil
Used externally, Evening Primrose is healing to eczema, prematurely aging skin, dry or sxaly skin, dandruff, and small scrapes or burising. Evening Primrose helps
minimize wrinkles, dark circles around eyes and tired looking eyes. Its rejuvenating properties improve
firmness and skin elasticity.
Evening Primrose carrier oil is a pale yellow to golden yellow liquid that is typically cold pressed from plant seeds and also refined to remove some of the stronger scent notes. After application, the skin will have a pretty oily feel to it, so it is best blended into another carrier oil such as Sweet Almond Oil.
It’s recommended to keep cold pressed carrier oils in
a dark, cool place to maintain freshness and achieve maximum shelf life. If you keep your Evening Primrose oil refrigerated, bring it up to room temperature before
using, otherwise it’ll be pretty uncomfortable during massage.
Shelf life: 2 years
Skin types: For irritated skin
11. Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame Seed oil is very stable, and is best used on those with dry or damaged skin. It contains Vitamin E, minerals, proetins, lecithin, and amino acids. It is an almost clear, maye pale yellow liquid that doesn’t smell like much of anything, and is widely used in natural cosmetics as an moisturizing component.
It has some inherent heaviness to it though, so use Sesame Seed Carrier Oil in combination with Evening Primrose or Rosehip Seed oil. This combination can help relieve eczema, psoriasis, rheumatism, arthritis, and will nourish and soften all skin types.
Sesame oil is rich in essential fatty acids and helps to maintain integrity of skin tissue while restructuring and moisturizing the skin. Its potent antioxidants are beneficial for reversing skin aging, increasing skin glow, and strengthening, conditioning and moistirizing skin and hair.
Warning: If you have and kind of nut allergies, do not use sesame seed carrier oil.
Shelf life: 2 years
Skin types: All skin types
12. Black Seed Oil
Known as “the healthiest oil on the planet”, black seed virgin carrier oil is one my newer discoveries in carrier oils. It is also known as Black Cumin Seed Oil and extremely high in essential fatty acids, about 70-80%, which is comparable to Evening Primrose Oil.
Black seed contains an amazing amount of anti inflammatory, pain relieving, and antibacterial substances and antioxidants. These anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent choice for a carrier oil as it is in and of itself also a remedy for a variety of skin conditions stemming from inflammation. This particular type of black seed oil by Jade Bloom is a non – GMO oil, which is nice. It is extracted through a cold press process, it’s virgin and unrefined. The Jade Bloom brand guarantees a pharmaceutical grade and 100% pure oil attained through selective sourcing.
Smell-wise, black seed is earthy, deep and herbal, and therefore best mixed with other aromas that are also woody and strong, such as Juniper Berry, Atlas Cedar, Fir Balsam, Cypress, Sandalwood or Spruce.
It is recommended to avoid black seed carrier oil in pregnancy and lactation.
Shelf life: Approximately 2 years.
Skin types: All skin types
Carrier Oil Blends
If you’re hesistant (or overwhelmed) about choosing just one carrier oil, I can happily recommend a few carrier oil blends to you. From Plant Therapy, you can get the “Clear Complex”, “DermiSoothe”, and “Near Perfection” carrier oil blends – all of which are mixed for a blend that’s good for various types of skin. In overview:
Clear Complex Carrier Oil Blend
The Clear Complex carrier oil blend contains Grapeseed Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Vitamin E Oil. If you have a good nose, you can definitely pick out the slight hemp seed oil smell. It’s very well balanced though and together, these amazing oils create a smooth scent. As a power pack, they will help your oily skin become healthier and blemish free!
Use this blend as your daily moisturizer for oily skin. Even oily skin needs moisturizing after daily exposure to the elements. Apply carrier oil (and any other essential oils you wish to add), directly to a clean face 1-2 times a day. Here are some amazing essential oils for skin care.
DermiSoothe Carrier Oil Blend
DermiSoothe works amazing on reddened, rough skin. The five carrier oils in this blend are combined to help soothe your skin, and smooth out the parts of your skin that are blemished.
For example, if you ended up with too much sun, windburn, winter chapped skin, or skin that is rough or red due to dietary intolerance, this carrier oil blend is for you! Apply topically on the affected areas as needed throughout the day. DermiSoothe Contains: Almond Oil, Apricot Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, and Vitamin E Oil.
Near Perfection Carrier Oil Blend
The Near Perfection carrier oil blend helps reduce the appearance of skin imperfections and marks. Its revitalizing blend of 5 carrier oils include Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Tamanu Oil, and Vitamin E Oil. Tamanu oil is amazing on its own, whose oil is pressed from the dried kernel of the fruit of the tamanu tree. It does have a somewhat strong earthy, nutty scent, but it’s definitely something I love that about this carrier oil!
For achieving best results, use this blend two times daily on the affected areas. For 3-5 minutes, massage it on the areas that need it, gently, but thoroughly. You may need some patience here with yourself and your skin, as improvements may need weeks before they become visually noticeable.
This blend comes in three sizes for your convenience: 2 oz @ $11.95, 4 oz @ $14.95, and 16 oz @ $32.95. Once you’ve found your favorite(s), just order the big bottles like I do!
The Best Carrier Oils For Facial Use
When it comes to caring for the skin on your face, more rules apply than on other parts of your body. You really have to take into account if you have very sensitive skin, or sensitive areas of your skin. Some people have specific needs for the so-called “T-Zone” on your face, which includes forehead, nose and chin.
Argan oil and rosehip oil both work great for use on your face!
Not Sure Which Carrier Oil You’ll Like?
I get like this all the time. I learn about all the options and then I think “well, now how do I know which one I’ll like?” I suggest you start with the Sweet Almond Oil. It’s very neutral, soft, and I find it very soothing.
Make Your Own Carrier Oil Blend
I love using essential oils in my diffuser, but it is often overlooked that you can also apply essential oils topically. With all topical applications of essential oil, you should always dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil as to avoid possibly burning your skin. This is especially true if you already know you have sensitive skin! So carrier oils are forgotten or overlooked. Essential oils do have their benefits but combining them with carrier oils just stacks their benefits. Choose any of these carrier oils and see how wonderful the effects become!
In essence, you probably want a carrier oil that is almost scent-free so that when you mix it with your chosen essential oil, all you smell will be the essential oil. On the other hand, you might like to go for the added health and beauty benefits of the carrier oil itself in your application, so your oil of choice may vary a bit.
It’s best for you to try the different carriers and decide for yourself which one(s) you like to work with.
Carrier Oil Mixing Recipes
If you’re wondering what the best ratios are of carrier oils to make the most commonly liked combinations, here’s some help for you:
1. Almond Oil and Jojoba Oil Mix
Combining these two oils is a match made in heaven – they have been used together for years. When combined, an almond oil – jojoba oil mix has qualities nearest to your own natural skin oils, making the mix suitable for most skin types. Use this combo for massages, moisturizers, or cleansing creams. The typical ratio to use is 3/4 parts almond oil and 1/4 part jojoba oil. If you’re measuring by teaspoons for example, that would make 3 tsp almond, 1 tsp jojoba. If you’re mixing larger quantities, scale as needed. Then, add essential oils.
2. Use Pre-Made Carrier Oil Blends
A quick and easy option is to buy a pre-made carrier oil blend that is balanced to achieve certain things. Plant Therapy carries some really nice carrier oil blends that I can definitely recommend. They all have a balanced aroma and aren’t too strong on any scent note. They come in handy containers with a squirt lid – or if you get the larger bottle size (16 oz. and up), it includes a hand pump for easy dispersion of the oil.
We use our carrier oil blends in this house daily. I even had some pre-mixed bottles of massage oil made up with the carrier oil blends. I love them!
Plant Therapy Carrier Oils Compared
The following products are the top 4 listed choices of carrier oils (in my list above). They are all 16 oz. size and available for Amazon Prime shoppers. Have a look at the easy comparison and price check:
What do you think? Do you like to use carrier oils? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for reading, sharing, and participating in our discussion.