Product Spotlight: Carrier Oils


When you are new to the world of essential oils, you may hear several unfamiliar words and phrases. One of these might be "carrier oils". Carrier oils are simply different types of oils used to dilute essential oils. They "carry" the essential oils to the skin, hence the name. There are several reasons that you might want to use a carrier oil.

  • Topical application of essential oils (applying them directly to your skin) may cause a sensitivity response depending on the oil and the person. To help you determine when a carrier oil is appropriate, doTERRA has classified each oil "Neat", "Sensitive", or "Dilute".
    • Neat oils generally can be applied directly to skin without causing sensitivities. 
    • Sensitive oils should be diluted on young or sensitive skin.
    • Dilute means that the oil should be diluted with a carrier oil for every single topical application.
  • Carrier oils increase the absorption of essential oils. Because the essential oil mixes with the carrier oil, its rate of evaporation will decrease so it will have more time to absorb through the skin. In addition, carrier oils may enable the chemical compounds within the essential oils to pass through the skin more efficiently than when applied neat.
  • Using a carrier oil enables you to cover a larger area with less essential oil. For example, if your back is causing you discomfort, you may want to apply Deep Blue Soothing Blend. It would require many drops to massage your entire back. If you dilute, the Deep Blue will dissolve into the carrier oil so just a few drops can be spread over your back. Your essential oils will last longer bringing you a greater return on your investment.

Carrier Oils

There are many different carrier oils out there. You should always use 100% pure oils because they will quickly dissolve the essential oil while preserving its chemical profile. Beyond that, choosing the right carrier oil will depend a lot upon the intended use of the oil and personal preference.

  • Fractionated Coconut Oil: This is one of the most commonly used carrier oils. It is perfect for diluting essential oils for topical application. One of the easiest ways to do this is to add a few drops of the desired essential oil to a roller bottle and add fractionated coconut oil to fill the rest of the bottle. Apply as desired. 

Note: Ever wonder what "fractionated means"? Many carrier oils, including coconut oil, contain long chain fatty acids that tend to oxidize and break down over time. Fractionation is a physical process (no solvents or additives are used) that separates the shorter length fatty acid chains leaving the coconut oil with a much longer shelf life than other carrier oils. It also changes the coconut oil from a thick, spreadable solid to a non-greasy, lightweight, liquid oil that is excellent for topical application. 

  • Sweet Almond Oil: A very smooth and silky oil that is often used for massages. It is also very nourishing to the skin and hair. 
  • Sesame Oil: Although it is used less frequently as a carrier oil due to its thickness and strong scent, it has excellent moisturizing and soothing properties. For massage and to soothe skin, try adding a  few drops along with your essential oils to another, more mild carrier oil.
  • Vegetable Glycerin Oil: A clear, odorless, oil that provides moisture to skin and hair. It is common in natural and homemade products like shampoos and soaps.
  • Vitamin E Oil: Another light textured oil, Vitamin E contains powerful anti-oxidants that make it a favorite for homemade skin care products.
  • Castor Oil: A thick, sometimes sticky oil that is very nourishing to hair and can be used with dry and chapped skin. Although effective as a carrier oil, it is more commonly used in DIY skin and hair care products due to its texture.
  • Cocoa Butter: Although solid and quite hard at room temperature, when melted, cocoa butter acts as a carrier oil by dissolving and dispersing the chemical compounds of essential oils. This is an excellent choice when using your essential oils to make soaps, lotions, and balms.
  • Shea Butter: Solid yet soft and spreadable at room temperature, this is another carrier oil that benefits from melting before being mixed with essential oils. Shea butter is often used in body care products like lotions, balms, and creams.

Other common carrier oils include grape seed oil, jojoba oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil, linseed oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.

Check out some of our DIY recipes that utilize carrier oils:

What are your favorite carrier oils?

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"The Appropriate Dose (Topical Application) - Carrier Oils" and "Essential Oil Topical Application: To Dilute or Not to Dilute" (doTERRA)

1 comment

  • Bruce Carlson

    Nice blog on carrier oils. A critical component to good essential oil use. Happy to post it on my new FB page.

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