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What is a carrier oil for essential oils?

While there are plenty of benefits to applying essential oils to the skin, it’s not always wise to do so straight from the bottle. Why? Essential oils are potent and, undiluted can irritate the skin. Enter carrier oils: light, gentle oils that “carry” the essential oils through your skin barrier so that you can reap the rewards – minus any repercussions.

What is a carrier oil?

You may have used carrier oils in the past and wondered to yourself but what is a carrier oil? Carrier oils are plant oils with little to no scent that, when mixed with essential oils, make them viable for use on the skin. And while, yes, they do dilute the essential oils, this isn’t a bad thing! Whether you’re rubbing your favourite blend onto your temples or indulging in an aromatic full body massage, using a carrier oil for essential oils can not only protect your skin from any potentially irritating effects of undiluted essential oil, but can also help the essential oils better absorb into your skin, making sure you get maximum benefits.

What is the difference between essential oil and carrier oil?

There is a difference between essential oil and carrier oil – and when used together, they pack a powerhouse punch of benefits. 

Essential oils can help you with all sorts of issues – from boosting relaxation and reducing stress to relieving acne and other skin conditions, easing migraines, increasing motivation, boosting digestion, soothing inflammation, and more. Carrier oil for essential oils does not interfere with the remarkable properties that make these things possible; in fact, they facilitate the body’s absorption of the essential oils so they can truly work their magic.

Carrier oils also offer a host of skin-loving properties, giving you extra bang for your buck when mixed with essential oils. Think of carrier oils as your essential oil’s kindly water-offering Uber drivers, taking them through to their destination (your skin!) and offering up free hydration for the journey.

Popular carrier oils

There are myriad of carrier oils for essential oils on the market and the one you pick will be based on several factors – your skin type, the benefits you’re after, scent (though many are neutral, some carrier oils have a mild natural fragrance), the oil’s consistency, how well it absorbs and more. Whichever you choose, be sure to always use 100% pure carrier oil to preserve its chemical profile. Here are a few popular carrier oils:

  1. Sweet almond oil is a great all-rounder with a lightweight consistency. Packed with vitamin E and oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), and with its sweet nutty fragrance, sweet almond oil absorbs quickly – though may not be suitable for people with nut allergies.
  2. Jojoba oil is a beautiful, highly nourishing base for an essential oil massage. It conditions the skin, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is very similar to the skin’s natural oils. Great for mature skin and oily skin types in particular.
  3. Grapeseed oil is light, easily found in most grocery stores, and has little to no fragrance. It’s also rich in linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and leaves skin feeling moisturised. 
  4. Coconut oil is high in nourishing essential fatty acids and polyphenols, but does have a distinct coconut fragrance and can leave skin feeling oily. Fractionated coconut oil, on the other hand, is liquid at room temp, absorbs well into the skin without leaving a greasy residue, and has no scent.

How to use carrier oils with essential oils

Using carrier oils with your favourite essential oils is easy. Once you’ve picked the carrier oil you prefer, first, do a patch test to make sure it doesn’t cause any adverse reaction. If, after 24 hours, no irritation has occurred, you’re good to go! 

Follow these dilution guidelines for mixing your essential oils into your carrier oils: 

15 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil (2.5% dilution)

20 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil (3% dilution)

30 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil (5% dilution)

60 drops essential oil per 6 teaspoons carrier oil (10% dilution)

For children, only use a 0.5 to 1 percent dilution (ie. 3 to 6 drops of essential oil per 6 teaspoons of carrier oil).

Shop Carrier Oils

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