Carrier Oils

How to choose the best carrier oil for your needs and skin type

Introduction to Carrier Oils

Because essential oils are so concentrated, they should be properly diluted before you use them topically (that is, apply them to your skin). Carrier oils, also known as base oils or fixed oils, are fats and are (usually) liquid at room temperature. They provide a medium for safely diluting and dispersing essential oils and help carry the essential oils into the skin. 

Note: even though they are also “oils” they are of a totally different nature than essential oils. Unlike essential oils, carriers do not evaporate at room temperature and have little to no aroma. They will also have a limited shelf life and can go rancid if not stored properly.

Carrier oils can be derived from vegetables, nuts, or seeds, and in an of themselves have their own benefits and properties. Each has its own weight, absorption rate and comedogenic (pore-clogging) rating. It should also be noted that if you are allergic to nuts, avoid oils derived from nuts, and so on. There are so many alternatives for carriers, I have only listed a small sampling, but this will at least help you get started in understanding which oils match your skin’s needs and how to choose a good-quality carrier oil.

Oil Quality

Not all oils are the created equal. Here are some tips on purchasing carrier oils

Choose cold-pressed oils: Adding heat allows producers to extract more oil from the nut/plant/seeds. However this produces lower-quality oils that have lost their aroma and usually have fewer beneficial compounds.

Choose organic: With a total area of about 20 square feet, your skin is your body’s largest organ. Keep it healthy and make sure that no yucky chemicals leach into your body through your skin by using organic oils free of additives, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.

Choose unrefined: Cheaper refined oils have gone through additional processes to remove odor, color, and lengthen shelf-life. This process also removes some of their therapeutic components.

Carrier Oils

Almond Oil

Skin Types:

  • All skin types
  • Oily skin 
  • Baby’s skin
  • Irritated skin
  • Dry skin

  Key Benefits:

  • High in Vitamin E, A, and other minerals
  • Helps soften skin (emollient)
  • Helps retain moisture
  • Relieves inflamed or irritated skin
  • Suitable for babies and children
  • Absorbs slowly, so good as a massage oil
  • Light aroma does not overpower essential oils
  • Makeup remover
  • Does not clog pores

One of my favorite carrier oils. Sweet almond oil is gentle and does not have a heavy or sticky feel to it. It is perfect for combination or oily skin types, so it is perfect if you want to use it in creams or lotions. Because it absorbs slowly, it is also popular for massage oil blends. NOTE: People with nut allergies should avoid using sweet almond oil.

Shelf life: 1 year (refined: 2 years)

Apricot Kernel

Skin Types: 

  • All skin types
  • Sensitive skin
  • Mature skin

Key Benefits:

  • Good for all skin types, especially mature and sensitive skin
  • Helps retain moisture
  • Helps soften skin (emollient)
  • Improves elasticity in mature skin
  • Can help relieve itching caused by eczema
  • Conditions hair. Apply to split ends and to control flyaways.

Excellent for massages because it is light, is easily absorbed by the body, and penetrates deeply into the skin. Additionally, it does not leave a greasy feeling and it is suitable for all skin types, especially mature, sensitive, and dry skin.

Shelf life: up to 2 years

Argan Oil

Skin Types:

  • All skin types
  • Acne-prone skin
  • Irritated/Inflamed skin

Key Benefits:

  • Rich in vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and linoleic acids
  • Helps brighten dull complexions
  • Restores skin elasticity
  • Reduces appearance of scars and stretch marks
  • Hand conditioner: apply a few drops and massage into nails and cuticles
  • Conditions dry or damaged hair
  • Tones and balances oily skin with regular use
  • Reduces inflammation due to acne
  • Does not clog pores

Highly prized in the beauty industry for its anti-aging properties. This oil is good for skin, hair, and even nails. This non greasy oil can be used under makeup during the day or for skin repair at night. If used regularly in can help balance oily skin. It can also ease inflammation and boost cell production.

Shelf life: up to 2 years

Avocado Oil

Skin Types:

  • Mature skin
  • Very dry skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Sunburnt skin

Key Benefits:

  • Rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E
  • Full of antioxidants
  • Conditions and soothes skin and hair cells
  • Helps retain moisture in parched skin and hair
  • Improves hair texture
  • Prevents or minimizes the appearance of stretch marks (with regular use)

An incredibly rich oil that is full of vitamins and nourishing compounds such as oleic acid and essential fatty acids. Avocado oil is deeply nourishing and penetrating. On the heavier side of the oils, you may want to pair it with another lighter carrier oil (You can still get all the benefits of Avocado oil if you use it at a ratio of 5-10% of the total massage or face oil blend).

Note: The lighter the color of avocado oil, the more it has been refined. Look for a darker green unrefined oil to get all of its benefits. I recommend you buy it in smaller quantities. 

Shelf life: 1 to 2 years, depending on how refined it is.

Coconut Oil

Skin Types:

  • All skin types (FCO)*
  • Dry skin

Key Benefits:

  • Long shelf life
  • Quick absorbing*
  • Does not clog pores*
  • Conditions hair and gives it shine
  • Makeup remover, especially good around the eyes and neck
  • Antibacterial/Anti-fungal
  • Heals rough, dry, irritated skin
  • Anti-inflammatory: try on rashes and to soothe razor burn
  • Good for teeth and gums (use in oil pulling)
  • Reduces appearance of cellulite
  • Good moisturizer

Coconut oil is a semisolid saturated fat extracted from the meat of coconuts. It is solid at room temperature, but melts at body temperature. 

* Fractionated coconut oil (FCO) is the processed form of coconut oil. This process allows for long-chain fatty acids to separate and solidify for removal. Once these are removed from the virgin oil you are left with a very good carrier that might actually work better on your skin. It is odorless, absorbs easier, will be less likely to clog pores or cause breakouts, and remains liquid at room temperature. 

Shelf life: 3 years (refined, or FCO: indefinite)

Olive Oil

Skin Types:

  • Dry skin
  • Baby’s skin

Key Benefits:

  • Rich in essential fatty acids
  • Reduces inflamamation
  • Anti-microbial/Astringent/Anti-septic
  • Antioxidant properties help fight signs of aging
  • Skin softening
  • Excellent barrier agains water loss
  • Relieves itchy skin, including bug bites
  • Helpful in healing sprains, strains, and bruises.

An aromatic and nutrient-rich oil with a long history. Popular for culinary as well as cosmetic purposes, Olive oil has a strong scent which may overpower the scent of essential oils used with it. If scent is too strong use with another lighter oil. Olive oil can be used as a makeup remover, but take care that none goes into your eyes, it can sting!

This oil is too rich for oily skin, and has been known to cause allergic reactions on sensitive skin, and may worsen dandruff in dry scalps.

Shelf life: 18 months to 2 years

Rosehip Oil

Skin Types:

  • Dry skin
  • Irritated skin
  • Weathered skin
  • Scarred skin

Key Benefits:

  • Softens and nourishes dry skin (emollient)
  • Soothes irritated skin
  • Essential fatty acids including linoleic and linolenic acid which help cell walls remain strong and retain moisture
  • Has vitamin A and E and is high in vitamin C which helps brighten complexion
  • Improves skin elasticity
  • Increases collagen and elastin levels
  • Reduces appearance of fine lines
  • Protects from and repairs sun damage
  • Helps reduce hyperpigmentation
  • Helps retain moisture

Rosehips is the name given to the fruit of a rose. This oil is perfect for beauty serums. It is slightly thick and bright orange/yellow colored. This oil is rather rich. It is recommended that you use it as a blend with another lighter oil at a 5-10% concentration. This is especially important for oily skin types as it will aggravate make it oilier. Also, this oil can stain linens, so be careful.

Shelf life: 6-9 months. (Keep in refrigerator if possible to extend life, as it is very delicate)

Oil Cleansing Method

Oil dissolves oil. This is the principle behind the oil cleansing method in which you use a nourishing oil or oil blend and warm water and water steam to clean your face from dirt and excess oil.

If this sounds crazy, I encourage you to read up on it, or you can continue to use soaps that can often strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it feeling tight and dry. This usually makes your skin overproduce oil, which makes everything suck. 

How do you do it? There are several methods, but this is my preferred one.


  1. Rub 4-6 drops of your carrier oil or beauty blend of choice into dry hands and apply evenly to your face
  2. Moisten your face and massage evenly for 1 minute
  3. Wet a face towel with hot water
  4. Place warm towel over your face and let it rest there for 30 seconds or a minute
  5. Gently wipe excess steam and oil from the face
  6. Ta-daa!