Carrier Oils; Essential Oil’s BFFs

Part 1 of 3

While essential oils are picking up well-deserved, long-overdue notoriety within the marketplace and health and wellness industry, carrier oils are playing their role behind the scenes.  Though they are not as well-recognized to the general public nor sold in most retail establishments, there certainly are a large variety of carrier oils with a wide array of important benefits through either singular topical application or by blending with essential oils to receive their many health benefits.  Aromatherapy treatment generally involves usage of about 98% carrier oils and 2% essential oils.  Knowing this, it is beneficial to take a look at what carrier oils are, why they help us live a more-healthy life style, how to use them safely and effectively, and the enhanced benefits that occur when we blend them together with essential oils.

Vegetable oils that are extracted from the fatty portions of plants (including nuts, kernels and seeds) and are utilized for the purpose of carrying essential oils into your body are designated as carrier oils.  The term “carrier oils,” is used mostly in the field of aromatherapy.  In natural skin care (face creams, make-up, shampoos, etc.), vegetable oils are referred to as “base” or “fixed” oils.  However, not all carrier oils are alike.  Due to their different properties, such as viscosity, aroma, and color, and their nutrient and antioxidant content, carrier oils have various therapeutic advantages.  When purchasing carrier oils, there are many things to consider, but the main thing to remember is to adhere to the same philosophy that you use when choosing an essential oil.  Select one which delivers the therapeutic benefit that you desire.

There are four significant differences between carrier oils and essential oils.  Though both are plant-based, carrier oils are pressed from the fatty portion of the plant whereas essential oils are distilled from aromatic parts of the plant.  Second, essential oils evaporate in the air but carrier oils do not.  Additionally, essential oils have a very strong aroma.  However, carrier oils, though some may have a distinct sweet or nutty fragrance, do not have a strong aroma, unless they have turned rancid.  Essential oils rarely turn rancid though they may lose some of their therapeutic benefits through the process of oxidation, so it is vital to keep the lid on tight.

Carrier oils are a better mechanism for essential oil use in that they provide four main benefits beyond those provided by essential oils.  First, if applied “neat,” essential oils will be absorbed and utilized within one hour.  However, if a carrier oil is used with the essential oil, the oil “holds” the essential oil for a longer lasting application, not technically time-release, but similar in that benefits last longer.  Second, many essential oils are too concentrated, or potent, for a “neat” application directly on the skin, so carrier oils help soften exposure yet allow the body to enjoy the benefits delivered by both essential and carrier oils.  Another benefit to using carrier oils along with essential oils is that carrier oils moisturize the body while the essential oils are absorbed and used by the body.  Last, but definitely not least, when utilizing essential oils for a therapeutic massage, carrier oils lubricate the body for a smoother, more enjoyable experience.

Carrier oils enhance both massage and reflexology (pressure points in feet, hands, and ears) techniques.  Some widely-recognized benefits of massage therapy include: improved blood circulation, improved mobility and flexibility, reduction of stress and tension, detoxification of the body, and an elevated immune system.  Reflexology has been studied and shows to relieve pain and anxiety.  Coconut (especially fractionated), sweet almond, sunflower, jojoba and hemp seed are all superb oils to use when performing massage/reflexology therapy, especially when incorporating essential oils.

As if learning about essential and carrier oils was not already like opening a small package to find an unexpected huge surprise, once you are familiar with both types of oils, carrier and essential, life becomes even more exciting and fulfilling by formulating blends to help yourself and others become healthier and happier.  Blends are formed when essential oils are added to carrier oils and are used for specific purposes to support and assist the body in working properly.  Examples of blends include lip balm, hand cream, sugar scrubs, massage oils, hair conditioner and shampoo, sun screen, laundry detergents, soap, cleaning products, healing salves (or balms), aroma sticks, bath oils, mosquito repellant and much, much, so much more!   Stay tuned for part 2 of why carrier oils are essential oil’s best friends forever.  In my next post we will disclose different carrier oils and there benefits to different areas of the body.  Blessings to all of you and, “Happy Oiling!”



  • Diane Harris

    I am interested in essential oils to help me and my family. I am retired and do not want a career. I have been reading DR Axe blogs.

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