Most spa sessions involve massaging your body with some essential oils to calm your mind. But did you know that you cannot use essential oils directly on your body? Every essential oil has to be diluted with another inert oil, called a carrier oil.
Carrier oils can make or break a massage session – that is how critical they are. How do you know what options are available? Or what suits you best?
Scroll down for a quick round-up of the top 11 carrier oils you should consider before taking an essential oil massage or using an oil diffuser.
What Are Carrier Oils? How Do They Work?
Carrier oils, a.k.a fixed oils or base oils, are oils with little or no scent. They are used to dilute or “carry” essential oils (scented plant extracts). Sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are some popular carrier oils.
Most of the common carrier oils are of plant origin as they have higher chemical stability and are more inert. You need to blend essential oils with such carrier oils because the former are concentrated and potent.
Carrier oils improve the physical properties of essential oil concentrates, like their droplet size, size distribution, and turbidity. In other words, carrier oils give essential oils the much-needed physical and chemical stability for a long-lasting effect and fragrance.
For your convenience, we’ve done a round-up of the top 11 carrier oils available on the market right now. Scroll down to know more about them, their benefits, and how can they enhance your aromatherapy or spa sessions.
Top 11 Carrier Oils You Need To Try Out
Table Of Contents
- Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Grape Seed Oil
- Almond Oil
- Olive Oil
- Argan Oil
- Moringa Oil
- Carrot Seed Oil
- Apricot Seed Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Sesame Seed Oil
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the go-to product for long, black, thick tresses. You can also use it on your skin as a massage oil or carrier oil in aromatherapy. Coconut oil has good penetrating power and, hence, is an excellent skin moisturizer. The topical application of coconut oil is recommended for treating eczema.
Add a few drops of lavender oil, grapeseed oil, or vetiver oil to coconut oil to get supple and soft skin and treat skin ailments and cramps (1).
2. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is known for its moisturizing properties and mild cocoa fragrance. It is widely used in cosmetics. Jojoba oil has excellent skin-repairing functions, thanks to the abundance of antioxidants.
Jojoba oil is very neutral and inert. It can be used to carry almost all essential oils and is suitable for all skin types.
In a study conducted by Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (Scotland), patients with alopecia areata (spot baldness) showed improvement in their condition upon using jojoba oil. In fact, massaging their scalp with essential oils (such as rosemary, thyme, lavender, and cedarwood) mixed with jojoba and grapeseed oil gave the best results (2).
3. Grape Seed Oil
Did you know that 8–20% of the dry weight of grape seed is oil? Grapeseed oil is rich in phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and vitamins, making it economically important to pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries.
It contains high levels of unsaturated vitamin E, ranging from 1-53 mg/100 g of oil. Vitamin E works as an antioxidant and has neuroprotective and antitumoral properties.
It also has potent anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties (3). Imagine the impact of a few drops of essential oils mixed with grape seed massage oil!
4. Almond Oil
Almond oil comes from Oleum amygdalae. It has emollient (skin softening) and sclerosant (tightening) properties. Almond oil reduces itching and breakouts. Most importantly, almond oil reduces the skin damage caused by UV rays.
Sweet almond oil has a thin and runny texture, which contributes to its moisturizing effect. Using it along with essential oils can help in treating various internal, acute, and chronic injuries or ailments (4).
5. Olive Oil
Don’t confine these bottles to your kitchen shelves. Olive oil is another great option for a carrier oil.
It is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids that soften and strengthen your skin. It also makes your skin look brighter and younger. Olive oil has high levels of triterpenes, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and lignans. This massage oil can have anti-inflammatory and accelerated wound healing effects on your skin (4).
6. Argan Oil
Popularly known as ‘Moroccan gold,’ argan oil has a large number of applications in dermatological and cosmetic formulations. It contains high levels of linoleic acid, oleic acid, tocopherols, and melatonin that exhibit significant antioxidant activities.
Argan oil has excellent moisturizing properties. You can use it as a leave-in conditioner for dry hair and as a massage oil for dry skin (6).
7. Moringa Oil
Moringa oil is a rich source of vitamins A, C, and E with strong antibacterial properties. It imparts softness and smoothness to dry skin. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects that cure insect bites, burns, and cuts.
Moringa oil fights blackheads and acne, combats the adverse effects of pollution on the skin, and maintains the natural glow of your skin. Massaging moringa oil into your scalp locks in moisture, improves hair strength, and prevents dandruff and split ends.
Moringa oil has a soothing effect on your nervous system and promotes good sleep (7).
8. Carrot Seed Oil
Wild carrot seed oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is rich in phytochemicals including pinene, thujene, camphene, myrcene, sabinene, limonene, linalool, geraniol, and terpinene.
This is why carrot seed oil is a skin expert. It works best on aged and dry skin, dermatitis, eczema, rashes, weeping sores, and carbuncles. The active phytochemicals soothe inflammation, psoriasis, scarring scars, and wounds (8).
Carrot seed oil’s safety profile has been assessed on keratinocytes (hair-producing skin cells), alveolar epithelial cells (in the lungs), macrophages, and hepatocytes (in the liver). Overall, the oil demonstrated a safety profile at concentrations below 0.64 μL/mL (9).
9. Apricot Seed Oil
Apricot seed oil has moisturizing, nourishing, and revitalizing properties and is particularly helpful for dehydrated, delicate, mature, and sensitive skin. It suits infants too!
This finely textured oil spreads easily despite being rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid. It has high amounts of tocopherols (almost 70 mg/100 g) that are precursors of vitamin E (10).
Apricot seeds are used to cure skin diseases across cultures. Using their oil as a carrier or massage oil, coupled with other essential oils, can heal both your body and mind.
10. Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil has several positive effects on the skin because of its abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content. It alleviates skin problems such as dryness, wrinkles, spots, fine lines, and breakouts.
Studies are now being conducted to find out if hemp seed oil can be used to treat symptoms of atopic dermatitis and UVB rays-induced skin injury.
11. Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed oil is widely used in body care products and as a massage oil. It is suitable for all skin types.
It is a lightweight oil that spreads across the skin easily, forming a barrier that locks in moisture without creating a greasy feeling on your skin.
If you are allergic to nuts, do not use sesame oil! Use coconut or argan oil instead.
That was our round-up of the most common and well-studied carrier oils.
Now that you know the benefits of various carrier oils, there must be some questions floating around in your head. Like, how can you blend a carrier oil and an essential oil? In what proportion should you mix them to get the desired results? Find out the answers to these questions in the next section!
How To Blend Carrier Oils With Essential Oils?
The chart below will tell you how much of carrier oil you need to mix with an essential oil to get a particular potency.
The row heading tells you the potency or how strong the resultant oil blend will be when you mix the essential oil drops with the carrier oil. Try out a couple of them!
Wasn’t that a lot of fun? It took me back to the days I spent at the chemistry lab in my school!
Jokes apart, I’m sure you must have wondered about the safety and risks associated with these carrier oils. Read on to find out the answers to your concerns.
A Word Of Caution
- Most carrier oils are of plant origin. If you are allergic to nuts, flowers, pollen, or plant extracts, refrain from using carrier oil-based massage therapy.
- Pregnant women should avoid inhaling carrier oils and using them on the skin until they complete their first trimester. Consult your doctor to understand how these oils affect your baby.
- Children below 3 months or premature babies should be kept away from such oils because they have very sensitive skin and low immunity.
- Some carrier oils are chemically extracted from their sources. Beware of adulteration. Choose cold-pressed oils over synthetic variants.
- If you experience itching, nausea, headache, or related symptoms after using these oils or infusions made with these carrier oils, consult a doctor.
- Store the oils as per manufacturer instructions. Do not use beyond the expiry date as some oils can form carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) on long-term storage.
- Do not ingest carrier oils or their preparations without medical consent and supervision.
Summing It Up…
Aromatherapy and the wonderful concept of olfactory healing are gaining importance and popularity.
But, as enthusiasts, we should do our bit of research before choosing aromatherapy for wellness. Knowing how it works and how it should work is also equally important.
If you are offered an essential oil massage, do not accept it unless you are sure that they’re being diluted with carrier oils.
Carrier oils are a crucial part of massage and aromatherapy. So, pick the oil that suits you best from our top 11 and enjoy a safe and healthy healing session.
Please share your experiences, suggestions, feedback, and comments about carrier oils and aromatherapy in the comments section below.
- “Penetration enhancing effects of selected…” Drug development and Industrial pharmacy, US National Library of Medicine
- “Randomized trial of aromatherapy…” Archives of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine
- “Grape Seed Oil Compounds: Biological and …” Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, US National Library of Medicine
- “Anti-inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects…” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine
- “Design, characterization, and clinical evaluation of …” International Journal of Nanomedicine, US National Library of Medicine
- “Argan oil as an Effective Nutri-Therapeutic Agent…” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine
- “Promising features of Moringa oleifera oil…” Lipids In Health And Disease, US National Library of Medicine
- “Commercial Essential Oils As Potential Antimicrobials…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
- “New Claims for Wild Carrot (Daucus carota…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
- “Oil Content, Fatty Acid Composition and…” Antioxidants, US National Library of Medicine
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