Carrier Oil 101: A Proven Definitive Guide

Carrier oils are used in aromatherapy to dilute essential oils so that they can be applied topically.

They are also used in massage therapy, for preparing herbal medicines, and as a dietary supplement

Knowing the difference between carrier oil types is important if you want to use them properly or make your own recipes. 

In this blog post, I am going to cover all of the basics of carrier oils:

  • including their different uses
  • how they work with essential oils
  • and what some of my favorite carrier oils are!
Carrier Oil

What is a carrier oil?

What is a carrier oil

The term “carrier” refers to any vegetable oil derived from seeds, nuts, kernels, or other fatty parts of plants. 

It’s been used for essential oil dilution for a wide range of benefits.

Some common examples include olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil.


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5 Proven Benefits of Carrier Oils

There are a lot of benefits to carrier oils. 

Carrier oils usually contain vitamins A, D, and E as well as essential fatty acids.

Proven Benefits of Carrier Oils

#1 Carriers hydrate skin from the outside

Like I said before, it’s important for your skin to be moisturized from the outside for your skin to look good from the inside too! 

Carriers help with this by dissolving quickly into your pores so they can provide moisture immediately. 

This is great for people who have oily or combination skin because their faces produce enough natural lubrication already.

For people with dryer skins, you might want to choose an oil with less fat content if possible (such as olive or grapeseed oil). 

You can always mix multiple carriers together to achieve just the right amount of moisture.

#2 Carriers are easily absorbed

Carrier oils are also very light and thin so it’s easy to absorb into the skin. 

This is especially important for people with acne-prone or oily skins because you don’t want to clog your pores up with heavy oils! 

Also, if you have more mature skin, the right carrier will make all the difference in whether your skin ends up looking greasy or not. 

You can even use them on top of moisturizers as well as underneath! 

It won’t affect how well they absorb either – this is why I love layering my skincare products!

#3 Carriers are excellent for massages

Massages are great for promoting relaxation of course but did you know that you can also benefit from the carrier oils used? 

The right mix of carriers and essential oils will be absorbed into your skin and muscles more easily. 

This helps promote blood circulation and relieves sore, stiff muscles

If you’re looking for a good massage oil recipe, check out my blog:  Homemade Muscle Soothers.

#4 Carriers are non-toxic

Carrier oils are edible so it makes sense that they would be non-toxic. 

You might not want to eat them directly but you could certainly use them as salad dressings or marinades! 

Don’t take my word for it though – do your research to make sure the combinations you come up with are safe before using them on food. 

Also, make sure you check with your doctor before using any oils internally.

I’m not saying it’s dangerous or anything because it’s actually very safe in the small amounts you would use when cooking, but some people might have health conditions that make them more sensitive to essential oils than others.

#5 Carriers are great if you’re trying DIY skincare recipes

This one is pretty straightforward. If you’re trying out homemade skincare products like cleansers, lotions, scrubs, and masks then you’ll need a carrier oil! 

Most of the time I just mix a few drops of an EO into my favorite carrier oil for convenience sake but there are lots of other things you can do too! 

For example, You could add a teaspoon of almond oil to a half-full tub of your regular body wash to create a creamy skin cleanser. 

Alternative: You could add a spoonful of honey and two teaspoons of olive or coconut oil to an empty jar. You could use this as a face mask every other day instead of buying one at the store!

#6 Carriers enhance the benefits from essential oils

I already mentioned how carriers are great for massages but there’s more! 

They’re also pretty amazing when mixed with EOs because they help you get the most out of them. 

The right carrier can optimize your desired results like:

  • clearing up acne
  • dealing with eczema
  • soothing muscle aches and pains
  • and even promoting hair growth (by nourishing your scalp)!

Just make sure you do your research before jumping into anything and always test on a small patch of skin first.


list of best carrier oils:  Properties & Uses

#1 Apricot kernel oil

Apricot kernel oil

Gentle and easily absorbed, great for sensitive skin.  

Beneficial in massage blend because of its high vitamin A and B content which helps heal burns and soothe dryness and itchiness from eczema, dermatitis, rashes, etc. 

#2 Avocado oil:

Avocado oil

Highly moisturizing with a fatty acid composition similar to the sebum our skin produces naturally. 

It’s also packed with vitamins A, D & E which help nourish your skin while fighting free radicals that can cause wrinkles.

#3 Coconut oil:

Coconut oil

Available in both refined and virgin form, coconut oil is an excellent choice if you have acne-prone skin.

Because its antibacterial/antifungal properties help balance the production of sebum that can result in pimples.

It’s also very moisturizing which is great for dry winter months. 

On the other hand, too much of this stuff can cause breakouts for some people so just be aware that it might not work well with your skin type! 

#4 Grapeseed oil:

Grapeseed oil

The light texture makes it perfect as a massage oil but grape seed doesn’t penetrate the skin easily.

so I wouldn’t recommend using it on its own unless you want to make a DIY face serum or something similar.

A little bit goes a long way so you won’t need much! 

#5 Jojoba oil:

Jojoba oil

Acts as an emollient (something that softens your skin) and it’s packed with antioxidants like vitamin E which makes it great for preventing premature aging.

Very similar to our skin’s natural oils which makes it ideal for all kinds of skin conditions, especially acne. 

Plus jojoba is very gentle which makes it suitable for even the most sensitive types!

#6 Olive oil:

Olive oil

Works well on dry/mature skin because of its antioxidant-rich composition but make sure you only use extra virgin olive oil like this one.

There are plenty of other carrier oils out there but I mostly recommend these because they’re easy to find in most grocery stores. 

It’d be a pain to list them all but just remember that not every carrier suits every skin type so do your research before you buy! 


How to use carrier oils?

Method #1: Coconut oil is the most popular carrier oil as it penetrates deeply into your skin and keeps it moisturized for a long time. 

It can be added to many of the beauty products you already have at home such as shampoo, conditioners, body scrubs & soaps.

It also enhances their anti-aging properties by keeping free radicals out of reach from your cells

You can use a mixture of coconut, argan & frankincense in a carrier oil as a post-shampoo hair treatment every day until you achieve the desired look.

Method #2: Rosehip seed, apricot kernel & lavender oils are great ingredients to use at home too! 

A couple of drops on your palms directly after showering will help seal moisture into your skin, reduce the appearance of stretch marks & discoloration caused by scars, and tighten up your pores.

You can also add them to body lotions or creams for a fragrant boost

Method #3: A mixture of coconut oil, argan oil & frankincense in a carrier oil can be applied all over your body to keep dry skin moisturized. 

Argan oil is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E & potassium which repairs strands of damaged hair and rejuvenates the scalp. 

It also conditions thick or curly hair to make it soft and manageable. 

Coconut oil penetrates deep into the cortex, permeates hair’s cuticle, and covers every strand with its moisture-retaining molecules. 

It also contains lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties that keep nasty bacteria away from your scalp. 

This makes it effective as an ingredient in homemade shampoos or as a hot oil treatment.

Frankincense essential oils reduce inflammation which is one of the main triggers for psoriasis flare-ups.

It also helps balance the amount of sebum (oil) that your skin produces, treats acne, and reduces scarring.

Method #4: A mixture of rosehip, apricot kernel & avocado in a carrier oil will help relieve dryness, soothe sensitive skin, and maintain a healthy pH level.

Rosehip seed oil provides vitamin A, C & E which protects against free radicals that damage your skin cells and cause fine lines & wrinkles. 

Apricot kernel oil contains vitamin A & E which helps prevent acne from forming while grape seed oil soothes itchy skin from psoriasis or

When to use a carrier oil?

Carrier oils are plant-derived, vegetable oils. 

They tend to be “neutral,” which means their aromas and flavors are not overpowering or distinct.

They do not evaporate or oxidize easily, and their fatty acid content is generally balanced (e.g., olive oil).

There are many reasons why carrier oils should be used when making your own herbal products:

First of all, it will add a nice ”flavor”. The aromas from the different carrier oils can bring out the flavor in your essential oil mixtures. 

Carrier oils help release fragrant compounds from herbs. 

Generally speaking, most carriers have a sweet/nutty/fruity scent that actually enhances most essential oil mixtures.

They add a good ”texture”. If you want to make a salve, balm, or lotion carrier oils will help give your creation a nice texture and mouthfeel. 

Some carrier oils are thicker in viscosity while others are much thinner. 

The consistency of the finished product will depend on the balance of the mixture in its finished form.

Carrier oils have, practical uses too!  There are carrier oils that can be used for cooking, skincare recipes, general health and well-being, spiritual use, etc. 

In other words, they have many applications. 

They can also help reduce costs when making your own products because even though essential oils prices vary from one supplier to another they are quite expensive.

You can ”customize” carrier oils depending on what you want to use them for. 

If you like the light color of grapeseed oil (which is actually clear) but its aroma doesn’t appeal to you then you can mix it with hemp seed oil.

Which has a nice nutty flavor and dark greenish color and still maintains the properties of both carriers in your finished product.

It’s sort of like mixing essential oils, play around and see what YOU like best.

If essential oils were used alone their very strong and concentrated aromas would often be too much for most people to handle even at low dosages, so using carrier oils makes sure that your homemade products appeal aesthetically as well as aromatically!


How to choose a carrier oil?

There are several factors that you should take into consideration when choosing a carrier oil. The most important ones are:

– it’s intended use (cosmetic or medicinal)

– skin sensitivity of the person using it

– the benefits desired by the user

Here is an example of how to choose your carrier oil:

  • If you want to make lotions for dry skin – almond, grapeseed, jojoba, avocado are fine choices since they are easily absorbed by the skin. 
  • If you plan on making lotions or oils for hair growth – castor oil is perfect since it increases hair growth rate due to its high content of ricinoleic acid (an omega fatty acid). 
  • It also penetrates deeply and helps in treating dandruff.
  • If you are using carrier oils with children, be sure to buy 100% pure, cold-pressed oils that have been filtered so there are no residues. 
  • For elderly people who might have sensitive skin prone to allergies – use only the most gentle, light, and easily absorbed oils like apricot kernel oil or sweet almond oil. .

How to store carrier oils?

Carrier oils should be stored in dark-colored bottles or stainless steel containers that are kept away from heat and sunlight. 

Refrigeration is also preferred for some oils that get rancid easily like avocado, olive, and sesame oil.

Other tips include:

Tip #1: Store carrier oils out of the reach of children

Tip #2: Keep them tightly sealed

Tip #3: Always check to make sure the cap is tightly closed

Tip #4: Avoid taking oils internally

Tip #5: Do not use an old carrier oil

Tip #6: Wait at least 24 hours before using a new carrier oil since they do take time to mix with other ingredients in your formulations.

Tip #7:Never add water to your blend because it will cause spoilage

Tip #8: If you notice any cloudiness – there’s probably an adulteration so do not use it.

Guide On Carrier Oil Shelf life

Do not store the oil in areas that are exposed to sunlight and away from heat.

The shelf life of carrier oils will depend on the fruit it is extracted from, but at room temperature (15°C-25°C) it should last between 1 and 3 years.

However, they can spoil within a few days if they get rancid or contaminated with bacteria and fungi.

The shelf life of carrier oils varies greatly, but as a rule, you should use them within a year or two.

Why it’s shelf life is low?

This is due to the fact that carrier oils contain fatty acids which will oxidize & go rancid after time even if kept in a dark place. 

This oxidation can cause skin irritations and infections, especially when used topically on the skin. 

If your oil smells like chemicals, alcohol, or rotten food then it’s expired and should be thrown away immediately. 

How to Extend its shelf lie?

To extend their shelf life make sure they are stored in an airtight container & dark glass bottles, away from heat and light, and always store at room temperature.

Never buy topically applied carrier oils from the grocery store because they could be old and already oxidized. 

The best way to purchase them is from a nutraceutical supplier or a reputable company that sells only pure & natural essential oils, not mixed with fragrance oil.

Check your carrier oil or household oil for rancidity before you start any EO recipes to prevent skin irritations and infections. 

How to check if carrier oils went bad?

To check if an oil has gone bad, put 1/2 tsp of it on a paper towel and wait about 15 minutes.

If it’s still clear then the oil should be safe to use but if it turns color(dark) or smells like chemicals or rotten food then throw it away immediately


Difference between Essential Oils & Carrier Oil

Carrier oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fatty portions of a plant, usually the seeds, kernels, or nuts. 

It can also be derived from other plants such as avocados. 

The term “carrier” comes from the idea that these oils carry essential oils onto the skin, which makes them more readily absorbed and distributed throughout the body more quickly than they would be otherwise. 

These carrier oils are used in massage to add lubrication and allow hands to glide more easily across the skin while applying pressure during a massage session. 

They are sometimes called fixed oils because they don’t evaporate as lighter oils do. 

Some common cold-pressed carrier oils are grape seed, coconut, avocado, jojoba, almond, sesame, and olive.

Because essential oils are very concentrated plant extracts they can cause damage to the skin if applied directly without being diluted in a carrier oil or any other type of vegetable oil. 

To prevent sensitivities to essential oils when used for aromatherapy diluting them in carrier oil is imperative because it allows the therapeutic properties of these plants to be spread over larger areas of the body with less risk of causing irritation. 

Studies have shown that undiluted essential oils applied directly on human tissue or cells for at least 24 hours can result in cell death or reduced activity. 

This is why it’s recommended by aromatherapists everywhere that these oils be mixed into carrier oils before being applied topically. 

Carrier oils are also used to dilute essential oils so they can be diffused via an essential oil diffuser or worn on the body as a perfume.

How to dilute carrier oils ?

If you choose to add carrier oils to your essential oil recipes it’s important that they are diluted in a different solution other than the one your essential oil is mixed with or else you might end up with  skin irritation or a serious infection. 

Diluting carrier oils before applying them topically will also help prevent adverse skin reactions. Here are some simple steps for diluting carrier oils:

  • Mix 2 tbsp. of pure coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, grapeseed, apricot kernel, or olive oil with 1 drop of lavender, tea tree, or peppermint (optional).
  • Mix 2 tbsp. of any kind of natural cold-pressed vegetable oil (coconut, avocado) with 1 tsp. of organic honey and 2 drops of grapefruit.
  • Mix 2 tbsp. of any kind of natural cold-pressed vegetable oil (coconut, avocado) with 1 tsp. aloe vera gel and 2 drops of patchouli essential oil.
  • Mix 3 tbsp. pure coconut oil and 1 tsp. Argan oil with 15 drops of lavender essential oil and 5 drops of orange essential oil for a relaxing massage to help you fall asleep faster at night or to relieve stress.
  • For baby skin mix 4 oz sweet almond carrier oil, 2 oz apricot kernel carrier oil, 8 oz grapeseed carrier oil, 28 fl oz distilled water & 12 – 15 drops of chamomile essential oils.

Carrier Oil and Essential Oil Ratio

The most common carrier oil to essential oil ratio you will find is 10 drops of essential oil per every 5 ml , or 20 drops of essential oils per every 2 oz. of carrier oil. 

Other popular ratios are 8 drops per every 10 ml or 4 drops per tablespoon. 

This ratio can be increased if your skin can handle it but try not to exceed 30% for beginners because this could irritate the skin. 

The best way is to start with a low concentration and increase gradually as needed. 

You can always add more later on if you feel that there aren’t enough therapeutic properties present in the mix

How much carrier oil do I use? 

This will depend on how many ounces of mixture you are. 

If you choose to mix a 2 oz. jar of carrier oil with 8 to 10 drops of essential oil and you use 3 tbsp.

This will equal 24-30 grams or about 1/3rd of a cup. 

If you choose to use 1 tsp. for every 5 ml., then your mixture would contain 4 grams per 16 teaspoons.

  • One teaspoon = 5 ml = 300 drops = 60 g (weight)
  • 3 tablespoons = 15 ml = 450 drops = 100 g (weight)
  • 8 ounces(dry measure) = 235 ml = 900 drops
  • 12 ounces(liquid measure) – 355 ml – 1285 drops
  • 5 fluid ounces – 150 ml – 750 drops
  • 8 fluid ounces – 250 ml – 1000 drops
  • 15 fluid ounces- 500 ml – 1750 drops
  • 30 fluid ounces- 1 liter – 3400 drops

Most Asked Questions

Which carrier oil is best for face & body?

You can use any natural cold-pressed vegetable oil (coconut, jojoba, grapeseed, argan, olive ) but each carrier oil has different benefits for the skin. 

Coconut is very popular among massage therapists because of its long shelf life. It penetrates deep into the skin & retains moisture which makes your skin smooth & supple. 

Jojoba oil is an excellent moisturizer that gives you all-day hydration without leaving you greasy or oily. 

It’s also gentle enough to be used by everyone including babies. 

Grapeseed oil is lightweight and absorbs quickly so it won’t leave behind a greasy residue – making it perfect as a daily facial moisturizer. 

Argan oil repairs dry damaged skin reduces acne scarring and shrinks enlarged pores.

 It also nourishes damaged hair and makes it look smoother & silkier. 

Olive oil contains antioxidants responsible for cell renewal, as well as vitamins A & E which aid in maintaining smooth skin. 

Avocado oil is considered a fantastic natural moisturizer that’s good for all skin types including those with sensitive skin.

Which carrier oil is best for acne? 

There is no carrier oil that’s best for acne.

You can get rid of acne by following a simple skincare routine containing the right cleanser, moisturizer, and exfoliating scrub. 

It may take some time before you start seeing results but it will help if you use a soothing mask with calamine powder to reduce redness and inflammation. 

To fight bacteria, make a mixture using four drops of tea tree essential oil, two tablespoons of honey, and two tablespoons of milk. 

Apply this on affected areas twice daily for 1-2 weeks until the breakout subsides. 

If your acne becomes inflamed after cleansing, add three drops of lavender essential oils to your regular moisturizer or 1 tbsp raw honey mixed with 2 tsp coconut oil then apply to problem areas. 

If your acne is dry, you can mix three drops of lavender essential oils with one tablespoon jojoba oil and apply two-three times daily to moisturize your skin.

Which carrier oil is best for hair?

Carrier oils help nourish your hair and scalp by sealing in moisture. 

The difference between a good conditioner & an average conditioner is the ingredients – carrier oil isn’t a “filler” it actually helps make a great conditioner even better. 

Here are some of the most popular carrier oils for hair:

Coconut oil penetrates deep into the cortex, permeates hair’s cuticle, and covers every strand with its moisture-retaining molecules. 

It also contains lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties that keep nasty bacteria away from your scalp. This makes it effective as an ingredient in homemade shampoos or as a hot oil treatment

Olive oil moisturizes dry brittle hair without weighing down your curls. It also contains antioxidants that slow down the aging process of your scalp which can cause hair loss

Jojoba oil is packed with vitamin E & iron, which are both vital for healthy hair growth. 

This makes it a great ingredient in DIY deep conditioners or shampoos because it strengthens both the roots and shafts of your hair. 

Using jojoba oil regularly will help you get rid of dandruff, itchiness, dry scalp, & irritated spots on your head

Avocado oil hydrates dry scalp and hair by replenishing essential fatty acids, proteins, and vitamins A, B1, B2, D & E. Also rich in potassium and lecithin

Which carrier oil is best for oily skin?

A mixture of tea tree, lavender & ylang ylang in a carrier oil will help balance oily skin. 

It also reduces surface sebum (oil) production which balances out your skin’s natural oil production. 

Tea tree essential oil is used topically to clear up acne, prevent blackheads & whiteheads, fight germ infections and reduce inflammation

Lavender essential oils help control the overproduction of sebum (oil) that triggers excess oil secretion, clogged pores, and acne. 

Lavender can be diluted with water or carrier oil then applied directly on the skin

Ylang ylang essential oils help normalize your skin’s sebaceous gland activity by removing excess dirt & debris trapped at the root level. 

It can also suppress the secretion of excess sebum (oil) to control breakouts

A mixture of rosehip, apricot kernel, grapeseed & lavender in a carrier oil can be applied on oily skin twice daily for one-two week until your breakout clears up. 

Rosehip seed oil is packed with essential fatty acids which help nourish and moisturize dry, flaky skin. 

Apricot kernel oil contains vitamin A & E which helps prevent acne from forming while grape seed oil soothes itchy skin from psoriasis or eczema. 

Lavender essential oils help reduce inflammation caused by acne while balancing the production of sebum (oil) on oily skin

Which carrier oil is best for dry skin?

A mixture of rosehip, apricot kernel, grapeseed & frankincense in a carrier oil will help relieve the symptoms of dry skin and eczema.

 It also boosts collagen production to help your skin plump up and look more radiant. 

Rosehip seed oil provides vitamin A, C & E which protects against free radicals that damage your skin cells and cause fine lines & wrinkles. 

Apricot kernel oil contains vitamin A & E which helps prevent acne from forming while grape seed oil soothes itchy skin from psoriasis or eczema

Frankincense essential oils reduce inflammation which is one of the main triggers for psoriasis flare-ups. It also helps balance the amount of sebum (oil) that your skin produces, treats acne, and reduces scarring

A mixture of coconut oil, argan oil & frankincense in a carrier oil can be applied all over your body to keep dry skin moisturized. 

As we mentioned above, carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils in the case when you need to use them in a larger quantity. 

In SHORT: The best carrier oils are those which can penetrate deep into your skin and retain the essential oils in the pores and in the upper layers of the skin for a longer period of time, therefore keeping you safe and protected. 

We hope this article has helped you learn more about carrier oils and the benefits they include for your health.