This post may contain affiliate links.

26 May 2019

What Are Carrier Oils?

What are carrier oils?  How do you use them, what do they do, and how to choose the best one to use with essential oils or in DIY bath or beauty recipes.

If you make DIY beauty or bath and body recipes or use essential oils, then you've heard about carrier oils.  But you might be wondering, what are carrier oils?

When using essential oils topically, it's important to use a carrier oil to dilute it with.  Not all essential oils can be applied neat (without dilution), so you have to use a carrier oil to dilute the oil.

What are carrier oils? How to choose the best carrier oil for natural essential oils or DIY bath and body. This articles lists carrier oils for skin, for hair, and for body. Use carrier oils in natural remedies and get ideas for which ones to use. This article is carrier oils 101. Learn how to use carrier oils and learn what is a carrier oil.  #carrieroil #essentialoil

You can also use carrier oils in DIY recipes.  Each oil has its own properties, so you can choose the best one for the needs of your skin and hair type.  

Carrier oils are so named because they carry essential oils or other products.  They can be also be used on their own or infused with herbs to get the benefits of the herbs, too.

The most common carrier oils are olive oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil.  There are actually more than 40 carrier oils that are commonly used in DIY beauty recipes, so you have a lot of options when creating a recipe!


Essential oils are very concentrated, so they have to be applied to the skin diluted.  There are some oils that can be applied neat (without dilution), but I do not make any recommendations on this application since I'm not an aromatherapist.  I highly suggest that you consult an aromatherapist before using essential oils neat.

Applying an essential oil neat can cause irritation, a rash, or itching.  You are also at risk of skin sensitization.  When this happens, you can not use that oil again with a high risk of a skin rash from even one drop of that oil diluted in a carrier oil.  

Essential oils are volatile, so they evaporate fairly quickly.  Carrier oils don't evaporate as quickly, and they are absorbed into the skin.

Diluting an essential oil with a carrier oils prevents it from evaporating so quickly, which helps it last longer and work longer.  

What are carrier oils made of?  Carrier oils are made of fats, vitamins, and minerals.  Each oil has it's own unique composition of these ingredients, so you can choose the ones that are best for your skin or hair.

Learn more about a list of carrier oils and their benefits so you can choose the best one for your needs.

For hair care recipes, learn more about the best carrier oils for hair.


What are carrier oils?  Where do they come from? Carrier oils come from plants, usually the nuts, kernels, or seeds because this part of the plant is high in fat.  The part of the plant the oil comes from will generally determine it's properties.  


Carrier oils that are extracted from nuts are great for inflammation and dry skin.  They are often used in damaged skin because they are often natural anti-inflammatories and can speed up healing.

They are also used for face masks because they can promote skin elasticity and tightness.  They are generally good for acne-prone skin.

Nut oils include:


Carrier oils from fruits are generally dry oils.  That means that they soak into the skin quickly and don't leave your skin or hair feeling greasy after using them.

They are often gentle oils that nourish the skin.  Fruit oils are often used for massage, oil cleansing, and for sensitive skin.

Fruit oils include:


Seed carrier oils are often used for dry or red skin.  They are great for aging skin and in anti-aging recipes.  They can also be used for scars.

These carrier oils are more expensive than other carrier oils, so they are often used sparingly.  You can combine these with other carrier oils to lower the cost of your project.

Seed carrier oils include:


Now that you know what are carrier oils, it's time to choose the correct one.

When choosing a carrier oil, pay attention to how it is extracted because this affects its quality.  Cold pressed carrier oils are generally more expensive, but they retain more of the good properties of the carrier oil.


Cold pressed carrier oils are extracted without heat.  The seed or nut is placed in a press.  A machine presses down on the seed or nut with high pressure to squeeze out the oil, leaving the pulp behind.  The oil is then filtered, leaving a carrier oil.

Cold pressing often extracts less oil than using other methods, but the oil is purer and of higher quality.  These oils are often more expensive, but it's a fair trade in my opinion.


Expeller pressed carriers are extracted similar to cold pressed oils in that there is a press that squeezes out the oil.  The difference is that in expeller pressed oils, the nut or seed is heated to extract more oil.  This added heat can damage some of the nutrients in the oil, thus making an inferior product.  This is sometimes called heat processed.

The label of a expeller pressed oil will sometimes have RDB on it.  This stands for Refined, Deodorlized, and Bleached.  Refining, deodorizing, and bleaching can help extend the shelf life of the oil and remove some of the color, so these are often used to make makeup or commercial products where a longer shelf life is desirable.


When a nut or seed is extracted using a solvent, it is soaked in a solvent.  The solvent could be methanol, ethanol, or petroleum ether.  This breaks the cell wall, releasing the oil into the solvent.  Then the solvent is filtered out, leaving behind the carrier oil.  

It's nearly impossible to filter out all of the solvent, so it's usually left behind.

The method is generally less expensive because it gives a higher yield.  Personally, I will not buy these carrier oils.  


The sun, light, and heat can shorten the shelf life of carrier oils.  It's recommended that you store them away from the light in a cool location.  

I store mine in bin in my bedroom closet.  I go through mine fairly quickly, so I very rarely lose an oil because it went rancid.

Carrier oils do a shelf life.  There are too many to list here, but be sure to label your oils with the month and year that you got them and when they expire.

If your carrier oils smell off, discard them and do not use them.  

With time, the fats and oils in the carrier oil can go rancid.  Rancidity means that some or all of the fats have oxidized.  

Beauty products are all about anti-oxidants, so you can see how this oxidation would be a bad thing for your skin!  

You can store your carrier oils in the fridge to keep them fresh.  But don't store avocado oil in the fridge.  

Carrier oils can get cloudy when they are cold, but that won't affect how they work.


I've been using carrier oils in DIY bath and body recipes and not for essential oils since the early 2000s.  I went to a local store that had just started selling soap and candle making supplies, including carrier oils.  

Honestly, at that time, I just wanted to walk in and buy my oils off and not pay for shipping.  I had no idea what a good carrier oil was or how to identify it.

I've since moved an hour away from the store, so I didn't go there for years.  Amazon was a thing, so I bought some carrier oils from other companies.  

That small store was now selling their line, Crafty Bubbles, in stores like Pat Catan's and Hobby Lobby, so I made the trip to the store a few years ago to stock up on oils.  

The quality of their oils are second to none.  I've had some carrier oils that were pale and almost watery where the Crafty Bubbles one is dark and thick.  

I can't say for certain that other brands dilute their oils or use inferior products, but I can say that Crafty Bubbles is a higher quality product. 

They do not have a website to order from, but some oils are available on Amazon.  Otherwise, you can call them or email them to order.

I don't work with them, and I don't make a commission from sales (except for those from Amazon).  I'm just letting you know what I like, what I use, and why I prefer that brand.


With so many options for carrier oils, how do you choose the best one?

Generally, any carrier oil can be substituted for another one in a DIY recipe.  You'll want to choose a carrier oil that fits your skin or hair care needs.

My favorite all purpose carrier oil is sweet almond oil.  It has some moisturizing properties, and it works great in roller bottles and in DIY recipes.  It's fairly inexpensive, too.

If I'm looking to a specific skin care need, I also look at the benefits of each carrier oil.  You can learn more about the benefits of more than 40 oils in my book Carrier Oils.

There are over 40 carrier oils, so it's not practical to own all of them.  I use them a lot making DIY beauty recipes, and I have had to toss some because they got too old to use.

The oils that I use the most are:

If I could only pick three oils, I'd pick sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, and argan oil.  

Now that you know what are carrier oils, you can choose the best one for your needs.

What are carrier oils? How to choose the best carrier oil for natural essential oils or DIY bath and body. This articles lists carrier oils for skin, for hair, and for body. Use carrier oils in natural remedies and get ideas for which ones to use. This article is carrier oils 101. Learn how to use carrier oils and learn what is a carrier oil.  #carrieroil #essentialoil

What are carrier oils? How to choose the best carrier oil for natural essential oils or DIY bath and body. This articles lists carrier oils for skin, for hair, and for body. Use carrier oils in natural remedies and get ideas for which ones to use. This article is carrier oils 101. Learn how to use carrier oils and learn what is a carrier oil.  #carrieroil #essentialoil

Newsletter Signup
Cari Dunn
Cari Dunn

Cari lives on a small farm in Ohio with her husband, three kids, two dogs, two cats, five goats, several chickens, and homing pigeons. She loves Gilmore Girls, coffee, and her kids. Not in that order.