Aromatherapy: Choosing your Carrier Oil

What are Carrier Oils?

Most essential oils for home use need to be diluted. There is a while range of products that can act as suitable 'carriers' - mediums in which to dilute the essential oils. Usually the carrier is a vegetable oil, and it's sometimes called a 'base oil'. In many shops you can now buy ready-made face and body carrier oils for massage. These might be either a single oil or a combination of oils. If you don't like the idea of oily skin, there are also many other possible 'carriers', such as lotions, creams and gels. These should be unperfumed and, ideally, specifically formulated to be used with essential oils.

Vegetable oils that have not been heat-treated or are without preservatives are liable to have a shorter shelf life than the average cooking oil. So store carrier oils in a cool, dark place, and buy only as much as you need at one time. A bottle of massage oil with the essential oil added lasts for an average of six months.

aromatherapy carrier oils

As a general rule, the higher the content of essential oil added, the longer the massage oil lasts.

Aromatherapists often blend two or more carrier oils together to get a particular effect as some of these oils have their own therapeutic value. Avocado oil, for example, is often added to face oils for dry skin. You can lengthen the shelf life of a home-made aromatherapy blend by adding the contents of a vitamin E capsule. This acts as an anti-oxidant and helps prevent the oil going rancid.

Apricot Kernel Oil

aromatherapy apricot kernel carrier oil

Description: odourless colourless to pale yellow.
Useful for: All skin types, especially elderly, inflamed and dry skin. Good for facial care because it is very light and well absorbed.
Cost: expensive

Avocado Oil

Description: Available in both refined and unrefined forms. The refined is odourless, pale to slightly greenish yellow in colour, whereas the unrefined is dark green and is best used in combination with another carrier oil The unrefined has a shorter shelf life, usually up to four months.
Useful for: Dry and dehydrated skin.
Cost: expensive.

Aromatherapy avocado carrier oil

Grapeseed Oil

aromatherapy grapeseed oil

Description: has a slight smell, pale green to greenish yellow in colour. Grapeseed oil is very versatile and easily absorbed.
Useful for: Most skin types. Avoid using on sensitive skin, eczema and psoriasis.
Cost: inexpensive

Jojoba Oil

Description: Has a slight smell, pale to golden yellow to pale orange in colour. A waxy oil, with a long shelf life.
Useful for: All skin types, including inflamed, red, dry or older skins, eczema, psoriasis and acne.
Cost: Expensive.

Aromatherapy jojoba oil

Sweet Almond Oil

aromatherapy sweet almond oil

Description: odourless, colourless to pale golden yellow.
Useful for: nourishing, softening and revitalising all skin types. Helps relieve itching, soreness, dryness, inflammation and wrinkled, dry hands. This is the best oil for children and babies.
Cost: Affordable.

Wheatgerm Oil

Description: Strong odour (unless refined) and can adversely alter the smell of any recipe, yellow to orange in colour. A very heavy oil, always used as an addition to another carrier oil, never on its own.
Useful for: Prematurely aged skin, eczema and psoriasis. Not to be used on children.
Cost: Reasonable

aromatherapy wheatgerm oil

How much oil to use

The proportion of essential oil to carrier oil depends on the whether the blend if for beauty use, for wellbeing, or for a specific health condition. As a guide, for beauty and wellbeing you use less essential oil than for acute and chronic healthcare.

  • For self-help use, beauty and wellbeing, use 3 drops of essential oil for each 10ml carrier oil
  • For first aid, and healthcare, use 3-5 drops of essential oil for each 10ml carrier oil

How to Blend

There are several ways to dilute essential oils in carrier oils. You'll find a funnel and measuring cup (available from chemists) are both helpful accessories.

  • The first method is to add the correct number of drops of essential oil to the appropriate amount of carrier oil in a bottle and shake well.
  • Method two is to put the drops of essential oil into an empty bottle. Roll the bottle between the hands to mic the essential oils well. Then add the measured quantity of carrier oil to complete the recipe.
  • For method three, you will need a small china or glass dish. This method is only suitable if you are going to use the whole amount straight away. Measure the carrier oil into the dish, then add the drops of essential oil and mix them together well to blend.