Knowing your carrier oils is an important step in perfecting your skincare regimen. Whether you want something to use in addition to your usual skincare products (like Misumi's Clear Skin Duo Kit or Complete Clear 3-Step System).
Carrier oils allow you to use and benefit from essential oils. But how?
If you research essential oils, you will inevitably encounter a large list of side effects or precautions for their use. This is because they are extremely strong and potent. And if you have sensitive skin type and you've tried using essential oils before, you'll know what we're talking about.
Essential oils are also expensive and don't smear on the skin as well as other oils do. You may have noticed that essential oils evaporate really quickly, leaving your skin dry a few minutes after you've applied them. So, how do we fix all that? Mix them with another oil, which is exactly how we get to the term "carrier oils".
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the industry terminology, like base oil, dilution ratios, and macerated and infused oils, don't worry. We've created a complete list of carrier oils, which includes everything you need to know about them in simple and easy terms.
First things first, you might be wondering what carrier oils are. These plant-based oils are used as a base in blends, creams, and lotions or used to dilute an essential oil to provide a better consistency for massage or aromatherapy purposes.
Carrier oils are often plant-based, made from seeds and nuts including sweet almond, cold-pressed coconut, grapeseed, jojoba, and olive oil. We're sure you're very familiar with these oils and their application in the cosmetic industry, but you may have never seen them labeled as carrier oils - and you've probably never used them as a carrier oil, either!
The term "carrier" simply means that the plant-based oil 'carries' the essential oil through the skin. Essential oils evaporate as soon as they are applied, but when mixed with plant oils, the skin can absorb them much better. Not only that - carrier oils provide more benefits, while some of the notorious side-effects associated with essential oils are canceled out.
You should always dilute essential oils in plant-derived oils, not in chemical or mineral oils.
Carrier oils have their own characteristics and therapeutic benefits, which impact the skin's complexion and health. A lot of them include essential fatty acids. This makes choosing the right carrier oil just as important as choosing the right essential oil.
Most carrier oils aren't scented, which means you can mix them with all types of concentrated essential oils. You don't need to worry too much about mixing and matching, but you do need to consider a few things when you're making your blend or buying a product with a carrier oil base. Are you looking for oils to improve acne, something to soothe dry skin, or the best massage oils around?
There will be a lot of experimenting before you find the right oil for your skin! But don't worry - we'll help guide you through the endless possibilities.
Check out our list of carrier oils below.
Carrier oils are mixed with essential oils, which have a very strong and distinctive scent. Most carrier oils aren't scented, but some are. For example, argan oil is known to have a nutty aroma in its raw form. You should still consider the scent of all the substances you're planning to mix, so you don't end up with a foul-smelling oil.
Not all oils are absorbed into the skin equally. Depending on their thickness, some oils penetrate the skin easily, while others take some time. If you're using a carrier oil that absorbs quickly, then the essential oil will also absorb quickly, and the scent will be gone sooner.
Some oils work better for some skin types, while others can make a certain skin condition worse. For example, olive oil is rich in nutrients and can really help your complexion. It's especially great for moisturizing dry skin, but it's not good for oily or acne-prone skin because it can clog your pores.
Some oils have a longer shelf life than others, so when you're deciding which carrier oil to use, keep this in mind, as well as how much to intend to use for your blend. Most oils don't have any serious side effects even after going out of date, but they can lose all their properties, which means you won't reap the benefits.
High-quality products are always recommended because they maintain properties responsible for producing the benefits we're going to discuss below.
The way the oil is obtained is really important for this. Cold-pressed oils are considered the best, while macerated or infused oils are also good. A cold-pressed oil has been extracted in its natural form, which means it retains all-natural ingredients.
Avoid rancid oils, and remember that all carrier oils should be kept cool and away from strong light to delay rancidification. Sometimes refrigerating the oils helps them keep their freshness. However, some oils should not be refrigerated. (For example, avocado oil.)
Always read the information about the production process of the oil and what that means for its storage before you use it.
We'll divide the different types of carrier oils into four categories based on their features, just to give you a better idea of how differently they can be used when mixed with essential oils.
In this category, we'll include plant-based oils that are considered safe for most skin types and can be used alone, making 100% of the base.
Jojoba oil, argan oil, and almond oil are great examples. You can easily use jojoba oil with a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, and you're good to go.
Percentage-based carrier oils are thicker and greasy, and they have a lot of nutrients and benefits for overall skin health, but they might irritate the skin, clog pores, or worsen certain skin conditions if used in high concentrations and alone. Olive, avocado, neem, and evening primrose oil are good examples of percentage-based carrier oils.
Specialty oils are really rare and are mostly used for their specific therapeutic properties. They are used in lower concentrations as part of the blend's base. Rosehip oil and tamanu oil might fall into this category.
Infused oils are a combination of a carrier oil and a plant-based ingredient. A base oil, often sunflower, is placed in an airtight container with a plant inside for a certain amount of time to infuse the oil with the properties of the plant. Rosemary or chamomile oil is a great example of this type of carrier oil.
Coconut oil is one of the most popular carrier oils around. It contains essential fatty acids and polyphenols, as well as antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful microorganisms. Additionally, coconut oil is known for reducing inflammation on the skin, which can also lead to reducing the appearance of acne. All these characteristics make fractionated coconut oil a great carrier oil.
Remember that buying virgin coconut oil (or unrefined coconut oil) is always a better choice than refined coconut oil. Coconut oil is also highly comedogenic, meaning that it can clog pores and lead to more acne. This is why people with oily and acne-prone skin should only use it in small concentrations as a carrier oil. If you do have oily skin, make sure to wash or cleanse the face after treating it with coconut oil.
You can use coconut oil as a base or alone with a few drops of your essential oil of choice. Typically, a safe ratio is 1–3 drops of any essential oil with about half a teaspoon of fractionated coconut oil. Just rub the mixture into the area of concern. If you want to battle acne, combine it with tea tree oil, and if you want to soothe the skin, use lavender oil. It's one of the best vegetable oils around.
Jojoba oil comes from the seeds of the jojoba plant. It's odorless and golden-yellow in color. It's considered a great carrier oil because it hydrates the skin without feeling too heavy and greasy.
Jojoba oil is absorbed easily and doesn't clog the skin. It has moisturizing properties, is similar to the natural oils in the skin, and can inhibit the skin's oil production when producing excess oils. All of these things make it a good carrier oil for those who are prone to acne.
Best of all? Jojoba oil is great for all skin types. It will carry essential oils deep into the skin, without clogging the pores or causing irritation.
Combine a few drops of your favorite essential oil with half a teaspoon of jojoba oil and use the blend as a makeup remover, moisturizer, or as additional protection from sun damage (but never use it as a replacement for sunscreen). You can even soak your hands and feet in the blend for about 10 minutes to prevent cracked skin and improve skin health.
Argan oil contains omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin E, which puts it right at the top of the best carrier oils list. Think about it - you'll have seen this carrier oil around. It's not uncommon to spot argan oil in skin care products and shampoos.
This is because it's relatively light, absorbs quickly, and it doesn't make the skin greasy. Just like jojoba oil, argan oil inhibits the production of excess oil, which makes it a good carrier oil for acne-prone and oily skin.
Raw argan oil will have a nutty aroma, but that will disappear when the oil is absorbed into the skin.
The tocopherol from vitamin E promotes cell turnover, which means it can help the skin heal faster, reduce the appearance of superficial lines and wrinkles, and improve discoloration. You can also use argan oil as a moisturizer, or to relieve razor burns.
If you want to soothe the skin, one of the best combinations is argan, lavender, and chamomile oil.
To many people, rosehip oil is the ultimate carrier oil because it's very nourishing and regenerating, making it amazing for aging or dry skin. Rosehip seed oil contains linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, as well as, vitamins A and E, which is why it's such a great addition to creams and other topical treatments against eczema, stretch-marks, and anti-aging symptoms.
Rosehip oil is also great for sensitive skin because it can help you soothe inflammation or irritated skin, and improve the texture of your skin. So if you're looking for massage oils that won't irritate, try rosehip.
You can combine rosehip oil with lavender oil and a rose water toner.
(Psst... looking for an acne-fighting toner? Try Misumi's Pore Purifying Toner.)
Tamanu oil extracted from the nut of the Ati tree originally found on the islands of Fiji. This oil isn't as common as the other carrier oils when it comes to skin care, but this is because it's believed to have some powerful skin healing properties and it's used most for therapeutic purposes.
Studies have shown that tamanu oil is a promising remedy for treating infected wounds because it stimulates the skin to produce new cells and speeds up the process of regeneration. This, combined with the powerful antioxidants it contains, also makes it a suitable carrier oil for aging and dry skin, as it reduces the appearance of scars, and stretch marks.
If you're battling frequent acne breakouts, dry skin, or a nasty sunburn, you can use tamanu oil as a carrier oil along with a few drops of lavender, tea tree, and frankincense essential oil.
Your taste buds and stomach are not the only ones that love and benefit from this amazing fruit. Avocado oil is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins A, D, and E which make it a potent anti-inflammatory agent suitable for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Avocado oil is also rich in palmitoleic fatty acid, a type of acid that is naturally found in the skin's fat tissue. This allows the oil to be deeply absorbed into the skin, providing exceptional nourishment for both mature and thin skin.
Avocado oil has a high viscosity (thickness) and dries off slowly, making it an ideal massage oil. Those are just some of the reasons why this type of vegetable oil one of the best carrier oils on this list.
Olive oil is one of those ingredients that we hate and love at the same time. Extracted from the fruit of the olive tree, it's filled it's an incredible number of health benefits. It has monounsaturated fatty acids, which can develop and maintain the body's cells. Using olive oil as a carrier oil will leave your skin barrier extra smooth and soft, while the antioxidants will scavenge free radicals and protect the skin.
If you have dry skin, then you'll be happy to hear that olive oil taps moisture really well and keeps the skin hydrated.
But, unfortunately, its thickness can be a little too much for oily or acne-prone skin, which may even lead to more breakouts. This is why you need to be careful with olive oil.
It's a great percentage-based carrier oil, and you can mix it in with other oils of lower concentrations to still reap all the benefits.
Make sure you don't buy low-quality products, as these are more refined and may have been mixed with other oils during the manufacturing process. Always search for cold-pressed, unrefined, extra virgin olive oil.
Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of the winemaking process, but that doesn't make it less effective as a carrier oil. It's rich in fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, which makes it really useful for acne-prone skin. It can help the skin control sebum production, promote collagen creation, and calm inflammation.
Suffering from adult acne? Try grapeseed oil as a carrier oil.
Grapeseed oil is also super light and absorbs well in the skin, making it one of the best carrier oils if your skin is oily.
Apricot kernel oil is high in vitamin E, and omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, which makes it an excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent. It's really light and gentle on the skin, with similar properties as sweet almond oil.
Apricot kernel oil has many uses, which is why you'll find it in many body and face lotions, creams, balms, and ointments. It also makes for one of the best massage oils around. It will make your skin ultra-soft and won't leave any greasy residue.
Just like many carrier oils, evening primrose oil is high in essential fatty acids and works wonderfully well as an anti-inflammatory agent. It's commonly used to treat skin irritations and other mild skin conditions. If you combine evening primrose oil with an essential oil that has antimicrobial properties, such as tea tree oil, you can use it to treat acne, blemishes, and rashes.
If you use evening primrose oil as a supplement, you'll get yet another highly desirable benefit - you can relieve PMS symptoms. Yep, that's right. If you suffer from hormonal acne, evening primrose oil can help you on the outside as well as the inside.
Sweet almond oil is rich in antioxidants, which is why it's commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Almond oil is really light and easily absorbed into the skin, which helps keep the scent longer on the skin. If you combine it with essential oils that have antimicrobial properties, like tea tree oil, you can even help cleanse the skin and clear pores.
Using sweet almond oil will even improve your complexion and skin tone.
Castor oil is obtained from the castor bean plant. It's an ancient remedy that's been used to treat various health issues before modern medicine took over. The benefits of using castor oil in your skincare regimen include increased blood cells and the elimination of bacteria, viruses, fungus, and even cancer cells.
All these characteristics make castor oil great for healing skin infections, fungal infections, and sunburns. Just make sure you buy a high-quality cold-pressed castor oil to be sure it contains all the above-mentioned benefits.
Black seed oil is made from the Nigella sativa plant and it's not as well-known as the other carrier oils mentioned on this list. However, it can be a powerful carrier oil because of its rich content of fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
People often use it because they believe it helps treat eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
Neem oil contains over a hundred biologically active compounds, including nimbidin and nimbin compounds, omega-6 fatty acids, and azadirachtin.
What do all these words mean? Well, they make neem oil a potent remedy for many skin conditions and infections.
It's even a natural insect repellent! So, next time you're out in nature and want to save yourself from nasty and painful insect bites, apply a DIY body lotion with neem oil as a carrier oil, and an essential oil of your choice, so you can smell good too!
Hemp seed oil is obtained from the Cannabis Sativa plant, which possesses some powerful abilities.
It's rich in linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, which give it potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp seed oil can also help your skin with skin cell regeneration and prevent premature aging.
Additionally, the hemp seed oil is a natural analgesic (pain reliever). If you're suffering from muscle or joint pain, combine this carrier oil with a peppermint or lavender essential oil to help you get rid of the pain.
If you have oily skin, you don't have to worry - hemp seed oil is non-greasy and you can use it on your whole body.
There's no better feeling than massaging yourself with a scented body oil made by combining essential oils with one or more carrier oils.
Now you've chosen your ingredients, you might be wondering how to actually make the blend and what amount to add from each substance.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy gives these guidelines:
If you're using the blend on a child or a person with extremely sensitive skin, aim for 3-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier.
If you're using the blend for an adult, you can vary the strength of the dilution from 2,5% (15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier) to 10% (60 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier).
It's best to start with lower concentrations of essential oils and gradually increase the strength if you feel that your skin has adjusted.
To prevent an allergic reaction or irritation, every time you try out a new blend, or you've changed your concentration ratio, perform a patch test on a small area of the skin before applying it to a large surface.
Carrier oils are crucial when it comes to using essential oils safely and effectively. They dilute concentrated essential oils and improve their absorption, which is known to be very strong and potent on the skin when applied directly. This is why you must dilute essential oils before use.
To save yourself from a bad skin irritation and reap a few more benefits, you should invest in a good-quality carrier oil.
Before deciding on what carrier oil to use, consider its scent, absorption rate, manufacturing process, shelf life, and your own skin type.
We hope that our list of carrier oils and their benefits will give you all the information you need to make the best decision. Whether you're looking to create homemade body oils, face oils, massage oils, or bath oils, choosing the right carrier oil shouldn't be difficult.
Use these oils carefully, but don't be afraid to experiment and mix things up. With time, you'll gain confidence, learn what your skin wants, and become an expert in creating your own magic blends for flawless skin.