The Difference Between Essential Oils And Carrier Oils

The difference is like apple and oranges. They're both fruits (oils) but taste completely different—and the oils have different effects on the skin.

So before you buy your first set of essential oils, you MUST be able to confidently tell the difference between them. And you can do that in the next two minutes.

Let’s look at essential oils and carrier oils individually.

Essential oils are HIGHLY concentrated. They're the pure essence of seeds, flowers, leaves, roots, and other parts of plants...and they are typically extracted through steam distillation.

No news there... You already knew that, right? Yes, that's right! come on, don't be shy! Give it up top! ✋ *clap*

Essential oils will mostly be sold in raw form, typically in a tinted glass bottle. You'll find EO's in a ton of skin care products, cosmetics, soaps, lotions, shampoos, bath salts, candles etc...

Like I mentioned, they're highly concentrated. That means you shouldn't use them directly on the skin without first diluting them. Don't worry about that yet, we'll cover that in one of the other lessons.

For now, just know that it means mixing the essential oil with a carrier oil so it's safe to use on your body.

Carrier oils are also known as vegetable oils, base oils or fixed oils. They're usually made from plants, derived from the fatty parts of them. (seeds, kernels, nuts). 

However, not all carrier oils are vegetable oils.

And they shouldn't be confused with food-grade vegetable oils – the term is used to differentiate carrier 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. 

But hey... Why are they called carrier oils?

Do they carry anything?

Yes, in fact they "carry" the essential oils into the skin. Safely. Yay!

They do this by reducing the EO’s potency and at the same time help the EO's more evenly unto your skin. The absorption however will depend on how thin or thick the carrier oil is.

Although dilution is one of carrier oil's primary use, they also offer their own unique characteristics and therapeutic benefits. For example, rosehip seed oil has anti-aging benefits, while jojoba oil is a great natural moisturizer.

The differences?

Now that you know what carrier and essential oils are, let's look at the differences.

Below are the specifics in which these two oils differ:

  • Essential oils are thin, often runny oils with intense aromas; carrier oils are heavier in comparison and have a much more subdued aroma, if any.
  • Carrier oils are rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K; these vitamins cannot be found in essential oils because EO's do not contain water or fats that are necessary for holding vitamins.
  • In application, you can use carrier oils safely on your skin as they are; if you don't dilute essential oils, they can irritate your skin or cause chemical burns. You can safely apply carrier oil alone to your lips, eyes, and other sensitive areas; you cannot do the same with essential oil.
  • In their means of extraction, steam distillation is the most widely accepted process for the production of essential oils on a large scale; various methods are accepted in extracting carrier oils. These methods include super-critical extraction, cold-press, and solvent extraction.


As you see, there's a huge difference between the oils. The two are not interchangeable and shouldn't be confused with one another. 

And just another thing real quick. We all have unique skin types. We're not all the same and we don't have the same needs. Some have oily skin, others dry. 

Luckily for us, some oils work best on oily skin and others on dry, matured or acne-prone skin. Still A LOT to learn but don't worry I gotcha!

When it comes to EO's education, I'm your trusted side-kick. 

As for now, this concludes our third lesson. Tomorrow you'll learn about diluting. And I've got another freebie for you. I know you like that 💋

​See you tomorrow. Same place. Same time!

Your Gal,

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