Carrier oils are an important part of aromatherapy. Before essential oils can be used on the skin, they must first be diluted in a “carrier”. There are several types of carriers used in aromatherapy such as lotion, alcohol, water, and vinegar. However oils are most commonly used because of their versatility. These products are known as carriers because they “carry” the essential oil to your skin.
Carrier oils improve an essential oil's ability to absorb deep into the skin and underlying blood stream.
Use of carrier oils during a massage session also makes the essential oils easier to handle. The carrier acts as a lubricant, helping your hands move freely about the body, which produces a more soothing and comfortable result. They also help lock in moisture to the skin.
Vegetable and nut oils make the most effective oil carriers. In fact, these types of oils can even be used without mixing them with essential oils. But before you open your kitchen cupboard and grab the bottle of vegetable oil you use for cooking, there are a few things you should know.
First... put that bottle back into your cupboard and use it only for cooking!
Why?? Because oils used for cooking go through a different manufacturing process than the vegetable-based carrier oils that are used in aromatherapy. These processes are harsh and they actually strip out much of the vegetable oil's useful vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids.
When shopping for aromatherapy carrier oils, look for vegetable-based oils that have been cold-pressed. This type of process is natural. It does not involve chemicals or heat above 140 degrees which ensures that the beneficial fatty acids and other nutrients are retained within the oil.
You should also, be sure to select oils that have little or no odor. This is especially important since they can effect the overall smell or scent you’re trying to achieve when mixed with the essential oils. Look for oils that are complimentary to the aromatherapy benefit you are seeking.
There are many different types of carriers suitable for aromatherapy, I’ve listed a few below along with a brief description of each:
Avocado(Persea americana) - Avacado is one of the heavier oils. It is deep green in color and very rich in texture. Avocado oil is loaded with skin nourishing nutrients. It’s deep penetrating and recommended for dry skin.
Coconut(Cocos nucifera) – Sweet smelling, light and fast absorbing, coconut oil is perfect for moisturizing and will leave the skin feeling smooth.
Grapeseed(Vitus vinifera) – This oil is virtually clear and nearly odorless. It has a light texture and scent and is mildly astringent. It has regenerative qualities and is noted to be effective for skin repair.
Hazelnut(Corylus avellana) – Hazelnut oil is light in texture with a mild nutty fragrance. It’s known for its astringent qualities and is best used for oily skin.
Jojoba(Simmondsia chinensis) – Jojoba oil is actually a polyunsaturated “liquid wax”. It’s useful for moisture control, protection and emolliency which makes it a good skin moisturizer. Unlike some other carriers, Jojoba oil doesn’t become rancid.
Macadamia(Macadamia intergrifolia) – Macadamia is a clear, lightly amber colored oil with a slightly nutty odor. This oil contains palmitoleic acid which promotes soft supple skin. Very light in texture.
Olive(Olea europaea) – Olive oil is also one of the heavier oils. It’s light green in color and has the aroma of olives which can overpower a blend.
Rosehip(Rosa rubignosa) – Virtually clear and light in texture with a mild aroma. Rosehip is high in gamma linoleic acid which gives it great skin cell regenerative properties. It’s mostly used for burns, scars, stretch marks and aging skin.
Sweet Almond(Prunus amygdalus) – Has a light sweet nutty scent. It’s virtually clear with a slightly golden color. Sweet almond oil has a light texture and is quickly absorbed into the skin.
The above oils are just a small sample of the many carrier oil options available.