Carrier Oils 101

Why Use Carrier Oils?


When people start talking about essential oils the term “carrier oil” is bound to pop up eventually. Carrier oils are an important (and often overlooked) part of proper essential oil use. Simply put, carrier oils are oils are a vegetable, nut or seed oil that is used to dilute essential oils. They are often called “carrier oils” because they carry” the essential onto or into the body. Learning to properly use carrier oils will make using essential oils safer, easier, and more efficient.


Essential oils are highly concentrated. Each bottle of oil is created from thousands of condensed plants, and the resulting mixture is quite powerful and can potentially cause irritation to your skin if not applied properly.


That’s where carrier oils come in. Carrier oils serve two purposes: they help dilute the highly concentrated essential oils (allowing a smaller dosage to cover a wider area), and they don’t evaporate quickly (giving the skin time to absorb the oils properly). Combining essential oils with carrier oils allows for the best essential oil experience possible.


It’s important to note that water is NOT a suitable replacement for a carrier oil. Essential oils are hydrophobic, that is, they do not mix or dilute in water, they will sit undiluted on top of water. In fact, this is the very principle used in the distillation of essential oils. However, essential oils will dilute or disperse in a fat-based liquid like full-fat milk or milk-based products, or vegetable, nut or seed oils, which are otherwise known as carrier oils.


Which Carrier Oils Are Best?


There are a number of carrier oils that can be used. Most carrier oils are extracted from nuts, kernels, or seeds, and the majority of those oils are suitable to be used alongside essential oils.

For those unfamiliar with carrier oils, here are a few choices to get started:


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is by far the most popular carrier oil–and it’s no surprise why. Coconut oil has antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It has nearly no smell and a very long shelf life. Sometimes the coconut oil has been “fractionated” which means it has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation. This one change makes the oil liquid at room temperature, and extends its shelf life. For those new to using carrier oils, coconut oil is a fantastic place to start.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is commonly found in many homes making it another great, inexpensive starting point for those just learning to use carrier oils. It’s not too greasy and won’t damage the skin or hair.  In fact, it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-aging properties because it is packed with antioxidants and vitamins. It hydrates the skin by building the skin’s moisture barrier to prevent loss of moisture. When buying olive oil specifically to use with essential oils be sure to look for virgin, or unrefined olive oil–this means it hasn’t been superheated or treated with chemicals, thus preserving its healing properties and making it perfect to use alongside all natural essential oils. However, be mindful of the shorter shelf life–approximately 18 months unopened, and much less once opened. Keeping it in the fridge or cool, dark place will extend this timeline.


Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is thick and pleasant to the touch. Those looking to pamper themselves with their carrier oil need look no further than avocado oil. This oil works wonders for the skin–it’s loaded with vitamins A, D and E, and has anti-aging properties. For the ultimate luxury oil experience, try a massage with essential oils diluted in avocado oil–it’s sure to be an evening to remember!


There are dozens of other carrier oils available–argan oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, castor oil, apricot and flaxseed oil–just to name a few. The most important thing when picking a carrier oil is to pick one that works for you. Avoid any oil that causes skin irritation or allergic reaction, and have fun experimenting!


To buy essential oils that come pre-diluted with our favorite carrier oils check out Davina Wellness’ rollerball collection.

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