Often thought of as secondary to essential oils, carrier oils "are the primary basis of therapeutic and cosmetic aromatherapy blends and are needed to effectively and safely use the majority of essential oils," explains certified aromatherapist Sharon Falsetto, founder of Sedona Aromatics, the Garden School, and Chief Editor of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) Journal. Bustle spoke with Falsetto to discuss the best carrier oils for essential oils, and according to her, you should choose cold-pressed, “fixed” vegetable oils for aromatherapy use, because hot-pressed vegetable oils do not contain the same therapeutic properties as those that are cold pressed.
Interestingly, it's actually the initial processing of a carrier oil that will dictate the therapeutic properties it holds in the end. "Carrier oils contain beneficial components such as linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, and omega fatty acids, all of which are great for skin care use," says Falsetto — but the best carrier oil for your skin will ultimately depend on the type of skin concern you're looking to address
Certified aromatherapist Nova Covington, CEO of Goddess Garden Organics, adds that carrier oils work as emollients to encapsulate the essential oil and carry the fragrance. "Essential oils are the oils from a botanical — these amazing plants and flowers — but they are very strong, so you have to put them into a carrier oil to dilute them."
Many carrier oils are gentle enough to be tolerated by most skin types, but individuals can react differently to the same oil. “If you’re unsure about how to use carrier oils, consult a certified aromatherapist or natural skin care specialist and they will be able to guide you in creating the most beneficial blend for you,” advises Falsetto.
To start mixing up your own essential oil-infused products, start with any of the best carrier oils — and one lotion! — featured ahead.
1. Jojoba Oil: Enhances & Prolongs Scent
Covington's favorite carrier oil for creating skin care products is cold-pressed jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis). "It's so lovely! It's beautiful, like gold. And I like it because it actually increases the scent [of the essential oils] and holds their scent for a very long time," she says. She likens it to serving almost as a preservative, while Falsetto adds that jojoba oil is often well-tolerated by people with acne-prone skin. This cold-pressed jojoba oil from Kate Blanc Cosmetics is USDA certified organic, which is always a major bonus, and comes in three sizes (2, 4, or 16 ounces), all for less than $25 on Amazon.
2. Sunflower Oil: Affordable & Lightweight
Another popular, skin-safe carrier oil, sunflower oil (helanthius annuus) is simple and light. "Sunflower is a favorite carrier oil of mine as it can be used with babies and seniors alike. It is relatively inexpensive to purchase and is generally non-greasy on the skin. It can act as a base vehicle for both infused oils and essential oil blends," Falsetto says.
She adds that "the hot-pressed sunflower oil that you see in the culinary section at the grocery store is NOT the same as a cold-pressed sunflower oil. It is pressed at high heat and will consequently lose many of its therapeutic benefits, unlike the cold-pressed version" — so be sure to read labels carefully when purchasing yours. I suggest going for this cold-pressed, USDA certified organic sunflower oil from Daana, which is also fair trade, sustainably grown, and housed in a generously sized 12-ounce bottle.
3. Evening Primrose Oil: Ideal For Sensitive Skin
Everyone's skin is unique, so it's always important to do a patch test on your inner arm before applying a carrier oil elsewhere on your skin, both the experts stress. In addition to popular carrier oils such as sunflower and jojoba oils, Falsetto likes cold-pressed evening primrose oil for people with sensitive or easily reactive skin. At $11 for a 2-ounce bottle, however, it is a slightly more expensive option.
You Could Also Try:
Don't discount lotions as an effective way to carry a few drops of your favorite skin-safe essential oils, Covington says (you can do the same with fragrance-free shaving cream, too). This Alba Botanica Very Emollient Unscented Body Lotion acts as a good base for essential oils since it's unscented, non-greasy, and easily absorbed into skin. It's also plenty moisturizing on its own, with nourishing, plant-based oils (including safflower, sesame, avocado, and jojoba), aloe leaf juice, and shea butter packed into the formula. Plus, the massive 32-ounce bottle will last you ages.
Sharon Falsetto, founder of Sedona Aromatics, the Garden School, and Chief Editor of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) Journal.
Nova Covington, CEO of Goddess Garden Organics.