Aromatherapy carrier oils for skincare

We so often look only to the power of essential oils for their therapeutic effects, and in doing this we completely forget that the carrier oils we put them in can also be therapeutic in their own right!  So, whilst we normally focus more on our beautiful essential oils, we thought that this month we'd shine the spotlight on the equally wonderful carrier oils.

In particular, carrier oils or base oils have many useful properties for supporting the skin.  Whether balancing oily skin, preventing wrinkles, soothing skin conditions or helping with scars, carrier oils have their individual benefits!  So, if you’re looking to balance your skincare, why not have a little read and see how you can enhance your skin condition by choosing the best carriers to working alongside your essential oils.

What is a carrier oil?

Perhaps you’ve not even heard of a carrier oil before?  We’ll start with the basics, just in case. Carrier or base oils are 100% natural oils extracted from plants, nuts or seeds that have therapeutic properties in their own right.  Carriers are exactly what they say on the tin – they are oils that ‘carry’ essential oils into our body via the skin, as we never apply essential oils neat. The oils are absorbed nice and easily through the skin’s layers and unlike other ‘chemical-based’ products will not interfere with the skin’s own oil production.

Top 5 carrier oils for skincare

You may have heard of some carrier oils before, but do you know why we use the different ones?  We'll delve a little deeper into some of the most popular carriers to see why we love them so much, and explain what they are useful for and how they can be blended with essential oils to super-boost their properties and get our skin back in balance:

Argan Carrier Oil

Argan oil comes from the seeds of the fruit of the Argan tree, which grows in Morocco – you may have heard of it as Moroccan oil as this is now a popular ingredients in many leading haircare products. With high levels of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, antioxidants and skin-softening agents, Argan is a really great oil for nurturing and moisturising the skin and helping with fine lines and wrinkles. It is an astringent oil, which means it’s very toning, and is easily absorbed into the skin. It is also said to be anti-inflammatory, so it’s worth a go for rheumatic or muscular issues.

Use for:  Argan is a brilliant moisturiser for ageing or really dry skin.  It is great for hair masks, and it is also very soothing for skin problems such as eczema and stretch-marks – as well as being conditioning for the nails.

Blend with:  

  • Create a nourishing hair mask by mixing 10ml Argan oil with 1 drop Ylang Ylang and 1 drop Geranium and apply through hair as a deep-conditioning mask.  Leave for 20 minutes, before massaging shampoo into the hair and then washing as usual.
  • Create a deeply nourishing anti-ageing face mask by mixing 5ml Argan oil with 5ml Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 1/2 teaspoon of Kaolin clay, and 2 drops Frankincense. Apply to the face, avoiding the delicate eye area and leave for 10 minutes before wiping clean.

Jojoba Carrier Oil

Jojoba is a lovely, light carrier oil, that is naturally very moisturising, which makes it great for really dry skin.  It is one of the closest matches to our skin’s own oil, sebum, which makes it a great oil for skincare. Filled with Vitamin A, B1, B2 and B6, as well as Vitamin E, it is actually a liquid wax extracted from a south American desert plant.

Use for:  An excellent moisturiser for dry skin, Jojoba is a wonderful oil for the whole body, and particularly the face.  It is extremely hydrating and is best put to use as a moisturiser.

Blend with:  

  • For really dry skin make a gorgeous moisturising body oil with 15ml Jojoba and 2 drops each of Rose, Chamomile and Lavender.
  • Mix 5ml Jojoba with 1 drop Sweet Orange and use as a facial moisturiser after cleansing and toning.

Grapeseed Carrier Oil

We couldn’t leave out one of the most popular carrier oils; Grapeseed.  This oil is a super light oil which is really great for balancing the moisture in skin which is naturally oily.  We often think that oily skin doesn’t need moisture, but if we completely strip our skin of its natural oil, it actually starts to produce more oil!  It is therefore useful to add moisture back in – even to oily skin – and as Grapeseed is so light, it really fulfils this purpose. Overall, it’s a nice all-rounder carrier oil that can be used for almost anything.

Use for:  Integrated into a regular routine for oily skin, this oil is nice and light, aiding sebum balance.

Blend with:  

  • Mix 5ml Grapeseed oil with 1 drop Lemon and use as a weekly face mask after cleansing and toning. Leave on for 10 minutes then remove any excess oil with a warm, damp flannel before finishing with your moisturising lotion (5ml of moisturiser with 1 drop Lemon is great for oily skin).

Avocado Carrier Oil

Avocado is a great carrier oil.  A really rich and nourishing oil, it is very moisturising for the skin.  It is extracted from the flesh of the avocado and in its unrefined state (the most beneficial) it has a dark green colour with a strong aroma. This highly nutritious oil is packed full of antioxidants, essential fatty acids and a range of vitamins that are wonderful for moisturising, repairing and regenerating dry, damaged, sunburned, chapped or scarred skin. It is also good for boosting the skin’s natural elasticity, combating signs of ageing and soothing itchy, sensitive skin. Unrefined Avocado oil is so potent, it is recommended to be blended with a lighter oil, such as Sweet Almond oil!

Use for:  If you have damaged or even really sensitive skin, try mixing unrefined Avocado oil into your blend to help create some balance!

Blend with:  

  • For sensitive or damaged skin on the body, mix 5ml Avocado oil with 10ml Sweet Almond oil, 3 drops Chamomile, 2 drops Lavender and 1 drop Rose, and apply to the affected area until it is healed.
  • For sensitive skin on the face, blend 1ml Avocado oil with 14ml Apricot Kernel oil and 2 drops Chamomile, and apply to the face after cleansing and toning.

Coconut Carrier Oil

Coconut has become one of the most popular oils in recent times, because of its lightness and multitude of uses.  It is a really interesting carrier as in its purest, cold-pressed form it is solid until melted. Fractionated coconut oil is further refined to be unscented and liquid at room temperature, making it easier to work with.  Filled with many vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6 and E), it is a really close match to the natural substance of our sub-cutaneous fat, which makes it really great for many different skin issues, especially repairing and protecting the skin!

Use for:  A great all-rounder, coconut oil is wonderful for any purpose, though is particularly good for mending minor broken skin and conditioning the skin due to its natural compatibility with our skin's own structure.

Blend with: 

  • Use as an everyday moisturiser for the body, blending 15ml Coconut oil with 3 drops Rose, 2 drops Sweet Orange and 1 drop Ylang Ylang.
  • For mending minor broken skin, apply Coconut carrier oil neat to the affected area until healed.

More unusual carrier oils

There are so many wonderful carrier options out there that we just couldn’t leave you with only 5, so here are 3 more unusual oils that you might not have heard – in particular, carriers which can really help with damaged skin. 

  • Blackcurrant Seed oil – rich in Omegas 3 and 6, this oil is great for moisturising and boosting the skin’s natural elasticity. It is great for sensitive, dry, damaged and itchy skin and can also be good for repairing damage from acne. To moisturise the face mix 10ml Moisturising Lotion with 5ml Blackcurrant Seed oil and 2 drops each of Geranium, Frankincense and Lemon.
  • Red Carrot oil – often referred to as ‘liquid gold’, this bright red oil is full of antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamins A, E and pro-vitamin A, which makes it extremely conditioning and hydrating for environmentally damaged and ageing skin.  Mix 10ml Red Carrot oil with 5ml Jojoba, 3 drops Frankincense and 3 drops Rose and use as a hydrating, regenerative mask.
  • Neem oil – from the seed kernels of a fast-growing evergreen tree native to India, this oil is a powerful medicinal oil, particularly used in Ayurveda.  High in antioxidants, Vitamin E, emollients and fatty acids, it also has anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for wounds, fragile skin, dry, ulcerated or inflamed skin and fungal infections.  Try 10ml Neem oil, 5ml Avocado oil, 3 drops Tea Tree and 3 drops Patchouli for delicate skin.

Having covered some of the most useful and most popular carrier oils in this article, you’ll hopefully now see how our choice of carrier oil can really impact on and benefit our skin. There are so many to choose from though, so we recommend you do your research to find the best carrier oils for YOUR skin.

Check out all of the oils on our website and maybe try a few to see which ones work best!

Nicole Barton
Consultant Aromatherapist

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