What Is a Carrier Oil?

A carrier oil is derived from the seed, kernel or nut of a plant. Coconut, olive, and safflower oil are all examples of carriers used to dilute essential oils before they are applied topically. These oils get their name because they “carry” the essential oil onto the skin. Diluting with a carrier oil doesn’t limit the effectiveness of your essential oils. It allows you to extend the life of your EO’s, preventing waste.

Carrier oils do not contain a concentrated aroma, although they may have a mild distinctive smell. Cold-pressed, natural and unadulterated carrier oils should be used whenever possible to keep consistent with holistic aromatherapy. Vegetable shortening, baby oil, butter, mineral oil or any other petroleum derivative should be avoided as a carrier oils. They can prevent the skin from breathing properly, cause the essential oils not to absorb, keep your body from releasing toxins and clog pores.

High quality oils found in your pantry (olive oil and grapeseed oil) are great for carrier oils and very economical. Keeping your carrier oils in a cool, dark place is important in preserving their freshness. Anytime a carrier oil turns rancid, it should be discarded. Certain oils can be refrigerated to keep them fresh. They may appear cloudy or solid when removed from cold. They will return to their original state once they come to room temperature. Each carrier oil has various therapeutic properties and viscosity (thickness). Grapeseed is thin while olive oil is considerably thicker. You can blend carrier oils to reach your preferred viscosity, lubrication, absorption and aroma.

Nut-derived and pure peanut oil don’t typically contain the proteinaceous part of the plant. Oil purity cannot be guaranteed, so it’s best to use carrier oils that are hypoallergenic.

Below are lists of carrier oils and their comedogenic rating.  Unsure how to dilute your carrier oil with your essential oils? Look for dilution ratios on Young Living essential oil bottle labels.

Ratings: 0 = Will not clog, 1 = Low, 2 = Medium Low, 3 = Moderate, 4 = Fairly High, 5 = High

Carrier Oils
Apricot Oil – 2
Avocado Oil – 2
Castor Oil – 1
Cocoa Butter – 4
Corn Oil – 3
Cotton Seed Oil -3
Evening Primrose Oil – 2
Grape Seed Oil – 2
Hemp Seed Oil – 0
Jojoba Oil (technically a wax) – 2
Olive Oil – 2
Safflower Oil – 0
Sesame Oil – 2
Soybean Oil – 3
Sunflower Oil – 0
Wheat Germ Oil – 5

Nut Carrier Oils
Coconut Butter – 4
Coconut Oil – 4
Hazelnut Oil – 2
Peanut Oil – 2
Shea Butter – 0
Sweet Almond Oil – 2