Get In the Know About the Carrier Oils Used in Aromatherapy
Written by: Linda Ananda, the Energetic Alchemist
As previously mentioned in an earlier posting, Essential oils should be diluted before applying topically to the skin, and it makes sense that since there are a wide variety of choices available, the carrier oil you choose will ultimately depend on what your purpose is, and the skin type you have or are working with for a client. In my many years of experience with Aromatherapy, I have found it is really fun to experiment with many different carrier oils, as each has its own benefits and specific qualities. You may have a strong resonance with a carrier oil that you would have never known about!
Below are just some of the Aromatherapy carrier oils you can choose from: Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel, Avocado, Calendula, Carrot Tissue, Cocoa Butter, Coconut, Evening Primrose, Grapeseed, Jojoba, Macadamia Nut, Neem, Olive, Rose Hip, Safflower, Sesame, and Soybean.
Sweet Almond – Prunus amygdalus, P. dulcis
Sweet Almond oil is obtained from the nut of the almond tree and is native to Asia and the Mediterranean areas. It is a popular carrier oil for essential oil aromatherapy blends, due to its blending well with other oils and rapid skin penetration. It is wonderful for the skin and can even be used by itself for nourishing of all skin types. Sweet Almond oil is high in fatty acids, making it an ideal oil for damaged skin, and for mature skin.
Apricot Kernel – Armeniaca vulgaris, Prunis armeniaca
Apricot carrier oil is also wonderful for the skin, especially for those with sensitive, dry or mature skin. It helps calm the inflammation and irritation of eczema and dermatitis. It also combines well with an equal amount of St. John’s Wort Oil (Hypericum) for enhanced anti-inflammatory and cooling effects. For mature skin, an addition of 5% Borage Seed oil is recommended.
Avocado Carrier Oil – Persea americana, Persea gratissima
Avocado oil is added to carrier oils, up to 20%, as an aid to skin moisturizing. Avocado oil is excellent for treating dry skin, sun-damaged skin, and wrinkles, as it delivers superior moisturizing and nourishing elements. Avocado oil can also help with the itchiness and dryness of psoriasis and eczema. Avocado oil is rich and penetrates the skin deeply, providing essential fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E, and proteins. It should not be kept in the refrigerator, as it becomes slightly cloudy when cold. The color is a deep green (unrefined), and unlike many other carrier oils, has a characteristic aroma. Please note that avocado is not a nut oil.
Calendula Infused Oil – Calendula officinalis
This infused oil has an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and vulnerary (aiding healing of wounds) properties. Calendula oil is good for skin infections, wounds, rashes, bites and inflammations. Also used for other inflammations, e.g. hemorrhoids and rheumatism. Recommended for mixed and oily skins, it is somewhat cooling and slightly drying. Calendula oil is also excellent for use in the healing of scars and for eczema. It is rich in carotene and saponins, and is excellent for damaged skin. Calendula is very gentle and healing that it’s appropriate for babies, especially for helping to heal diaper rash.
Carrot Tissue Carrier Oil – Daucus carota L. ssp sativus, D. carota ssp carota L., D. communis
Carrot carrier oil is orange in color, as you might imagine and rich in minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and beta-carotene. It is a superior oil for mature skin, helping to rejuvenate and replenish. As it also relieves itching, carrot oil can be used for psoriasis and eczema, and is said to be helpful with scar healing and burns. Use in a 10% dilution with other base oils. Please note: This is different from Carrot Seed oil, which is an Essential oil.
Cocoa Butter – Theobroma cacao
This solid butter is pressed from the roasted seeds of the Cacao tree (Theobroma nucifera) and yields a cream colored solid with a delightful odor. Softens at body temperature and adds a rich, creamy consistency to lotions, soaps and creams. Cocoa butter is a superb moisturizer, helping to reduce skin dryness and improve skin elasticity.
Coconut, Fractionated – Cocos nucifera L
Fractionated Coconut Oil is a highly stable, odorless and colorless oil that is light, very penetrating, and with a long, almost indefinite shelf life. It is a wonderful carrier oil to use in blending of oils and feels wonderful on the skin, absorbing quickly without a greasy feel. My go to carrier oil.
Evening Primrose Oil – Centhera biennis
Pale yellow in color, Evening Primrose carrier oil is rich in GLA, vitamins and minerals. Evening Primrose oil is excellent for face and body massage blends, especially to combat dry, devitalized skin and for eczema. Keep this carrier oil refrigerated.
Grapeseed Oil – Vitis vinifera
Grapeseed carrier oil is an excellent choice as a carrier oil, especially for those whose skin does not seem to absorb other oils quickly. Grapeseed oil is thinner than Sweet Almond oil and absorbs more quickly into the skin without feeling greasy. Grapeseed carrier oil varies in color from almost clear to a beautiful pale green.
Hazelnut Oil – Corylus avellana
Hazelnut oil is particularly good to use for oily skin as it helps to regulate sebum, the natural oily secretion of the skin. It is rich in oleic and linoleic acid. Very good for treatment of acne, dermatitis and seborrheic eczema. Hazelnut oil can be used 100% as a base oil.
Jojoba – Simmondsia sinensis
Jojoba is quite interesting, and actually not an oil at all, but a liquid wax, and can be used as a 10% addition to other oils. It’s wonderfully conditioning for the skin, scalp, hair and cuticles. This excellent oil is lightly expeller pressed from seeds and has a lovely golden color. Jojoba is high in proteins, minerals and is unique in its long shelf life. A very useful oil for inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema, and acne. Excellent for all skin types, is extremely well-absorbed into the skin and does not seem to clog pores.
Macadamia Nut Oil – Macadamia integrifolia
This carrier oil closely resembles sebum, the natural oil your skin produces. It is very rich, absorbs well, and helps protect and heal the skin. Macadamia nut oil is useful for sunburns, dry skin, mature skin, and scar healing. This lovely oil has a light nutty aroma.
Neem Oil – Azadica indica
Neem is a rather amazing oil, not as recognized as it should be considering its usefulness. With excellent moisturizing qualities, it is becoming increasingly popular in many body, hair care and pet products. Neem oil contains compounds that have both insecticidal, antiseptic and medicinal properties. It is a dark, rather sludgy green in color and has a strong, and not terribly pleasant aroma. Being both high in Vitamin E and fatty acids, Neem oil is said to be useful for treating a variety of skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and dry skin. In addition, Neem oil has a long history of use as an insect repellent and is increasingly being used to control plant pests and diseases. Neem oil has been studied and shown to be effective against mosquitos, flies, sand fleas, ticks and more. For external use only. Note that Neem oil is thick, and can solidify at low temperatures. If that happens, place container of oil in warm (not hot) water and heat gently.
Olive Oil, Extra Virgin – Olea europaea
Olive Oil is high in protein, minerals and vitamin, and is useful for hair care, cosmetic use, and for inflamed skin. Use in a 10% dilution with other base oils. It has a beautiful light green/golden color with a rich, warm aroma.
Rosehip Seed Oil – Rosa canina, R. acicularis, R. cinncmomea, R. rugosa, R. villosa, R. rubiginosa
A must-have for all mature skin remedies, Rose Hip seed oil is extremely high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, gamma linoleic acid (GLA) and vitamin C. Research done in Chile bears out its tissue regenerating properties and its usefulness in treating scars, burns, and dry and aging skin. Rosehip seed oil has superior moisturizing qualities and is said to be helpful with dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
Safflower Oil (Oleic) – Carthamus tinctorius
A carrier oil that is particularly good for sensitive skin. Safflower oil is nearly clear, does not have a greasy feeling, and it absorbs well into the skin. This is the perfect oil for babies’ sensitive skin and much better for them than that so called `Baby Oil’ a.k.a. mineral oil.
Sesame Seed Oil – Sesamum indicum
This carrier oil is excellent as an all over body moisturiser, sesame is light, odour free and spreads easily over the skin without a greasy feeling. Sesame has a natural SPF of 4. Sesame is suitable for all skin types and works well in body-care products and massage oil, where the lightweight oil easily spreads across the skin, forming a light barrier which locks in moisture without giving a greasy feeling to the skin.
Soybean Oil – Flycine max, G. soja, G. hispida
This carrier oil can be used undiluted on all skin types. Rich in lecithin and has all 22 health-giving amino acids and vitamin A and B complex.
Please Note: These characteristics and properties have been reported for these specific carrier oils. This information is not intended as medical advice. Persons with medical conditions should see an appropriate health care provider for treatment and recommendations. Always use caution when using all nut oils as some people have allergies to them, so make sure that is not an issue before you use on a client or yourself.
Written by: Linda Ananda, the Energetic Alchemist and founder of Transformational Yoga Services at www.lindaanandayoga.com