Whether you an experienced essential oils user or just starting out, you’ve likely heard the term “carrier oil” or have seen it in essential oil reference materials. Carrier oils are processed from the nuts, seeds or kernels (sometimes called “meat”) of a plant. When used with essential oils, carrier oils have two main uses: to help “carry” the essential oil on your skin; and to dilute particularly strong essential oils before applying it topically on the skin.
Carry” in this case means that the carrier oil allows the essential oil to exist on your skin for a longer period of time prolonging its aromatic benefits. Dilution is typically needed for those oils that can be skin irritants such as cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, or black pepper oil, for example. If you’ve ever accidently rubbed your eyes after handling cinnamon or peppermint essential oil (I have!), let’s just say this is typically a one-time unforgettable event! In fact, until you are familiar with which essential oils are safe to use “neat” (i.e. without carrier oil), I recommend diluting all essential oils with a carrier oil before applying topically. This is especially true when applying essential oils on babies and children.
Don’t worry! Diluting your essential oil with carrier oil make the essential oil less effective. In fact, carrier oils add their own powerful skincare benefits. Let’s examine three popular carrier oils and their benefits. No matter which carrier oil you choose to use with your essential oil, be confident that it will be an effective partner in assisting your goal to have skin that doesn’t just look healthy but actually is healthy!
Coconut oil: Extracted from the kernel (sometimes called the “meat”) of the coconut, coconut oil has naturally anti-bacterial properties and is rich in fatty acids. The kind I use for my skin is “fractionated” coconut oil. Fractionated coconut oil is regular coconut oil (think of the solid kind in your grocery store) with some of its fatty acids (i.e. long-chain fatty acids) removed. This results in coconut oil that remains in its liquid state, is easily absorbed into the skin and doesn’t clog pores. Although its long-chain fatty acids are separated out, its medium-chain fatty acids remain. And these medium-chain fatty acids not only have deep moisturizing properties but they also have antioxidant and disinfectant abilities.
Jojoba Oil: Extracted from the seed of the Jojoba plant, this oil is not only moisturizing but acts as a protective barrier on your skin helping to lock that moisture in. In addition to moisturizing your skin, Jojoba oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. In fact, jojoba oil has shown that it is effective against certain bacteria and fungi that can cause salmonella, E. coli infection and Candida. This powerful oil also serves as an antioxidant helping your skin fight oxidative stress stemming from environmental toxins such as pollutants.
Avocado Oil: This oil is actually pressed from the pulp of avocados and is rich in fatty acids, vitamin E and contains other nutrients such as potassium that nourishes and moisturizes the skin. Avocado oil is thought to support the skin in treating psoriasis, eczema and may accelerate skin wound healing. Along with containing antioxidant properties, Avocado oil acts as an anti-inflammatory helping to soothe the skin.
Shea butter: Most commonly used in its solid form, Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree. Shea butter contains fatty acids and a high amount of Vitamin A and E and also makes for a great conduit for essential oils. The fatty acids allows for the restoration of lipids resulting in deep moisture of the skin and a rebalancing of the natural oils in your skin. Its high Vitamin A and E content supports its antioxidant properties and its anti-inflammatory properties help to calm the skin. Shea butter is also known to fight skin infections from fungi that cause skin issues such as ringworm and athlete’s foot.
See! Carrier oils aren’t just a way to deliver essential oils to your skin. And they aren’t just a mechanism to dilute essential oils. In their own right, carrier oils are powerful. They deliver deep moisture to your skin, help to reduce skin inflammation, protect your skin against pollutants, help fight bad bacteria on your skin and they have many other benefits that support the overall health of your skin from the inside out!
For specific guidance on diluting essential oils, I recommend that you check out the site: https://www.oilynotebook.com/dilution-calculator/
Always patch test the carrier oil on a small section of your skin before use, especially if you have severe nut allergies.