In a previous post, I talked about the difference between carrier oils (base) and essential oils and how important it is to use them the right way.
Due to a large number of carrier oils out there, it can frequently be confusing to figure out which one is the best for you. You can't simply base your decision with how the oil smells or which plant it was derived from (Oh, this oil came from my favorite flower! I'll just use this.).
For both essential oils and carrier oils, it is crucial first to know your skin. Is your skin oily, dry, normal, or a combination? Are you sensitive, easily clogged, or acne-prone? Finding the answers to these can take some time. But as you regularly take care of your skin and observe how it reacts, you'll learn soon enough what your skin's likes and dislikes.
After knowing your skin type and condition, you must now acquaint yourself with existing carrier oils and the qualities they possess. Knowing both of these will make it easier to choose which oil will work best for you.
I can't help you with the first part. Only you and your dermatologist can know your skin thoroughly. But I can definitely help you with the second part. So, for today, let me tell you all about carrier oils and how to choose them for your essential oils. Plus, we'll talk about the most nourishing carrier oils out there!
What Are Carrier Oils?
If you've read my post about diluting essential oils (EO), you know how vital carrier oils are. Carrier oils are crucial in using essential oils topically. Using these oils is one of the easiest ways of diluting essential oils.
These oils are also known as vegetable oils or base oils. They are derived from various plant materials such as kernels, seeds, petals, or nuts.
Not to be confused with food-grade vegetable oils – the term is used as such to differentiate these oils from non-plant-based sources of oils such as fish, animal fats, and petrochemicals (e.g., mineral oil). These non-plant-based oils are best to be avoided when choosing carrier oils.
Carrier oils generally help EOs spread more evenly onto the skin. The absorption of the EO will depend on how thin or thick the carrier oil is; while diluting the EO in a carrier oil prevents it from evaporating quickly.
Kinds of Carrier Oils
There are various types of carrier oils, and they can be categorized as such:
specialist carrier oils - only used at specific percentages in conjunction with other carrier oils (rosehip oil; sea buckthorn oil);
macerated/infused carrier oils - produced by traditional methods involving infusing the plant material in suitable vegetable oil over an extended period (e.g. calendula oil; monoi oil); and,
butter - commonly used to create balms and incorporated into carrier oils, though a few kinds of butter can also be used on their own for specific applications (e.g. cocoa butter; shea butter).
Choosing a Carrier Oil
There are many things to consider in choosing carrier oils. Below are the main things you must keep an eye out for:
No Heat Method of Production
The quality and performance of carrier oils depend highly on the method of production. Most oils are easily damaged when exposed to heat. Because of this, carrier oils must always be cold-pressed. An exception to the cold-pressed rule is maceration-produced oils.
100% Pure and Organic
Carrier oils are best to be used unadulterated. Mixing other elements to the oil can potentially ruin its natural composition and hinder you from harnessing its nourishing qualities. Another thing to note is opting for organically produced carrier oils. Since we are after the natural properties of these oils, choosing for organic oils will be best for our purpose.
Although the term therapeutic grade is a marketing stunt, it is still a good way of identifying oils that are made to be used for cosmetic purposes. Especially with carrier oils, we need to be careful in choosing the oils we use. Looking for this label will help us avoid picking up food-grade oils.
Based on what you are trying to accomplish, base oils don't function and feel the same way.
Some oils are heavier, and some are lighter. Olive oil, for example, is a heavy carrier oil. It's thicker, more syrupy, and sits more heavily on the skin. A lighter oil will be something like argan oil, which feels more runny and flowy.
Heavy or light, each carrier oil is exclusive in its own way, and one isn't better than another. Heavier oils work better in products like-overnight masks, massage oil blends, and nighttime moisturizers. Lighter products will be an excellent fit for your morning routine (e.g., daytime under-eye serum).
Another item to keep in mind regarding density is your skin type. If you are on the drier side, heavier oils will benefit you more; while oily skin will prefer lighter oils. Heavy oils are more likely to clog pores and cause breakouts -- so acne-prone skin must be extra careful with these oils.
Dry and Wet Oils
Even though a product is heavy or light, it does not necessarily indicate how wet or dry it is. You can have a weighty oil that is quite dry (like rosehip oil) and or one that is wet (like castor oil).
Wet oil stays on the skin and gives it a little bit more glow, while a dry oil absorbs quite fast. So if you have skin on the oilier side, using dry oils will ensure that your skin absorbs the goodness of the oil. Dry oils will also less likely make you feel oilier afterward.
However, this doesn't mean people with oily skin cannot use wet oils. If you make a DIY oil blend meant to be washed off, go ahead and use wet base oils.
You can also mix equal parts of both wet and dry carrier oils for a different effect.
5 Best Carrier Oils For Essential Oils
Now that you are more acquainted with carrier oils, it is time to discover the five best carrier oils for essential oils. There are so many carrier oils available in the market. But if you are just starting in blending your oils, this list will be beneficial in your decision-making. As you further your progress in making oil blends, you can check out my other posts about other carrier oils you can consider for blends.
1. Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is an edible oil made from the seeds/nuts of sweet almonds and produced in many countries. It has a strong, nutty aroma, which may mask an essential oil's fragrance. The oil appears a pale yellow.
Light and absorbs quickly, sweet almond oil makes a great fit in products for both dry and oily skin types. In DIY blends, up to 100% of the oil can be used for application to the face and body.
Sweet almond oil nourishes the skin with its following components: vitamins E and K, omegas 9 and 6 fatty acids.
2. Argan Oil
Argan oil is made from the kernels found inside the fruits of the argan tree. Argan trees are native to Morocco where most argan oils are produced.
The oil has a nutty aroma and is traditionally used to nourish the body inside and out. 100% of the oil can be used on the body and face, which all skin types will find beneficial. Argan oil's ability to improve skin elasticity also makes it an excellent oil for mature and prematurely aging skin.
Thi oil is also rich in vitamins A and E, which means it has fantastic anti-aging properties and helps fight sun damage.
3. Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of the wine-making process, which makes it available for production in many countries. Cold-pressing grape seeds produce the oil.
This oil is rather light and dry and rich in vitamin E and omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. Because of these, all skin-types are sure to benefit from this oil -- especially those with oily and acne-prone skin.
It is easily absorbed by the skin and has a neutral scent. It makes a great carrier oil as it doesn't interfere with the essential oils' aroma.
4. Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is made from apricot seeds, also known as kernels, and is produced in several countries. It has a slightly sweet, nutty scent and appears a pale yellow to yellow.
Being rather light and dry, it absorbs quickly into the skin. It's an emollient oil high in fatty acids, which means that it is excellent for moisturizing, softening and calming the skin. This quality also means that this oil is best for dry, sensitive, and inflamed skin.
5. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is made from the flesh of the avocado fruit. It is typically produced in the United States, Italy, and South Africa. It is a dense and thick oil with a nutty aroma. The oil appears light to rich dark green when unrefined and yellow when refined.
Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E; and, omegas 6, 9, and 3 fatty acids. The monounsaturated fatty acids in this oil are essential when treating dry and damaged skin. It is a heavy and wet oil -- a perfect remedy for dry or sensitive skin.
Mature and prematurely aged skin will also benefit from the anti-aging properties of avocado oil.
Remember, in our battle for healthy and youthful skin, quality trumps quantity. It doesn't matter how many weapons you have -- one or two will do as long as they are lethal. On that note, up your skin care arsenal with these five most popular carrier oils.
This list is not exhaustive but a good place to start. Once you gain enough experience and knowledge about various types of oils, you can branch out to other carrier oils. However, be sure to always observe your skin. Treat your skin like a friend you must communicate with often. Then, you will know what is best for your skin.
I hope the post was helpful and gave you some clarity about choosing carrier oils.
Do you use oils? Share your wisdom in the comments below.
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