Complete Guide to Carrier Oils+FREE Printable Guide!

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Are you are looking to start using essential oils for their healing properties and you don’t know where to begin? This is a god place. This complete guide to carrier oils will introduce you to the basics of carrier oils and explain how they can help improve the effectiveness of your essential oil usage.

Many essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin and that’s when carrier oils step into play! Understanding carrier oils and how they work is super important if you’re interested in applying essential oils to the skin!

By understanding the benefits of each carrier oil, you can create targeted blends that address your specific needs. And you’ll be able to apply essential oils to your skin, irritation free!

Whether you’re looking for a natural way to boost your immune system or improve your skin health, using carrier oils with essential oils is a great way to achieve optimal results!

What Are Carrier Oils?

Carrier oils are natural plant oils that are used to dilute essential oils before topical application. They come from a variety of plants, such as nuts, seeds, and fruits. Carrier oils have many health benefits of their own and are often used in skin care products. They are also effective at carrying essential oils to the skin, which allows for better absorption.

While essential oils are characterized by being aromatic and are consider volatile and unstable (evaporate quickly), carrier oils are fixed in nature and have little to no aroma.

There are many types and kinds of carrier oils you can use and like essential oils, they each have their own unique properties!

Why Use Carrier Oils?

Carrier oils are plant compounds and contain many constituents that can help enhance the essential oils being used! Not only do they help dilute the essential oil for topical use, they contain many beneficial vitamins and nutrients.

Let’s take a look at some of the constituents now!


  • Vitamin A is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for vision, reproduction, immunity, cell growth and differentiation.
  • Vitamin B Complex is a group of 8 water-soluble vitamins that play a role of converting food into energy and supports metabolism.
  • Vitamin C is important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous from food. It’s also important for healthy bones and teeth.
  • Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It also helps keep blood vessels healthy and plays a role in in the immune system. It can also help reduce and prevent appearance of wrinkles and repairs damaged skin tissue.


  • Build strong bones
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Help body create energy
  • Helps balance production of oil in skin
  • Keeps skin moisturized and hydrated
  • Tightens skin, making it look firm and smooth

Gamma-Linolenic Acid

Gamma-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid (an omega 6) that the body cannot produce on its own. It has a range of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, promoting cardiovascular health, overall skin health, and helping to regulate hormones.

Gamma-linolenic acid is found in many plant-based oils that we are going to look at below!


Antioxidants are important in the body as they help to protect cells from damage. This damage can lead to diseases such as cancer, and antioxidants work to prevent this damage from happening. They do this by neutralizing harmful chemicals called free radicals, which can damage cells.


Lecithin is a type of phospholipid molecule that is found in many foods, including soybeans, eggs, and wheat germ. It is also produced in the body, where it plays a vital role in cell function. Lecithin is important for maintaining the health of cell membranes, and it helps to shuttle nutrients into and out of cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to protect cells from damage.

What to Look for in a Carrier Oil


Organic carrier oils are those that have been extracted from plants that have been grown without the use of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides or other harmful chemicals. This makes them a better choice than conventional oils, which may be exposed to toxins and other pollutants.

Cold Pressed

Carrier oils are vegetable oils that are extracted from seeds, nuts, or other plant parts using a mechanical process. The most common type of carrier oil is cold-pressed oil, which is extracted from the plant using pressure, without heat.

The nutrients in carrier oils are sensitive to heat and can be destroyed when the oil is heated. This is why cold-pressed oils are considered to be more nutritious than heat-pressed oils.

17 Cold Pressed Carrier Oils

Let’s take a look at 17 of the most common cold pressed carrier oils you can use. Each one has specific benefits!

Sweet Almond

Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: dulcis

Sweet almond oil is a light, nutty oil pressed from the kernels of sweet almonds. It is high in:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc

It has been shown to be beneficial for a variety of skin conditions, particularly treating chapped, dry, and irritated skin. It can also soothe and relive soreness, itchiness, and inflammation! It’s effectiveness stems from being easily absorbed into the skin!

It is also twice as effective as olive oil in reducing cholesterol!

It can be useful as a massage oil, a moisturizer for face and body, or added to bath water for a nice soak.

Skin Types: Chapped, Dry, Irritated

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: armeniaca

Apricot oil is cold pressed from the kernels of apricots and is similar to sweet almond oil, because it’s equally easily absorbed in the skin.

While suitable to use for all skin types, those who have aged, mature or especially dry skin may find the most benefit! It is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E, helping to protect the skin from free radicals. The high levels of linoleic and oleic acids can even be used to soothe skin after a sunburn.

Skin Types: Mature, Dry, Sensitive

Shelf Life: 2 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Persea
Species: americana

Avocado oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruit of the avocado tree. The oil is pale green in color and has a nutty taste. It is high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, and contains several important antioxidants, lecithin, potassium, proteins, and fatty acids.

Avocado oil has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin and tissues!

Skin types: Dry, Eczema, Sunburned, Dehydrated, Sensitive

Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years unrefrigerated (it can destroy beneficial components)
Blend: 5 to 50% (it’s quite thick in consistency)


Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Borago
Species: officinalis

Borage is derived from the seeds of the borage plant and is one of the richest sources of gamma linolenic acid compared to other oils.

It is especially beneficial in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Skin Types: Mature, Aging, Irritated, Inflamed

Shelf Life: 6 to 12 months if stored in the refrigerator
Blend: 5 to 25% (it’s quite thick in consistency)


Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Cocos
Species: nucifera

Probably one of the most well-known and most used carrier oils, coconut oil hosts a number of benefits for the skin and body!

  • Excellent moisturizer and can be used to treat dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Helpful in treating acne by reducing inflammation and killing bacteria.
  • Has anti-aging properties and can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Rich in lauric acid, giving it anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties

Coconut is effective at treating a multitude of skin conditions, to include eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and acne! It will leave your skin feeling soft and supple, but not greasy!

Skin Types: All

Shelf Life: 2 to 3 years if stored under 76 degrees Fahrenheit
Blend: 100%

Evening Primrose

Family: Onagraceae
Genus: Oenothera
Species: biennis

One of the more expensive oils, evening primrose is derived from the seeds of the plant.

The oil is high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that is beneficial for skin health. Evening primrose oil can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. The oil is also effective at reducing inflammation and improving skin elasticity. Evening primrose oil is an excellent choice for dry, sensitive, and mature skin types.

This oil can easily go rancid, so if you use this, buy in small amounts!

Skin Types: Mature, Aging, Dry

Shelf Life: 6 months if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5 to 25%


Family: Vitaceae
Genus: Vitis
Species: vinifera

Grapeseed oil, not to be confused with the essential oil, is pressed from the seeds of grapes! True 100% cold pressed grapeseed oil is hard to come by. You’ll almost always find refined and non-organic versions of this.

It works as a very basic carrier oil and boasts several antioxidants and Vitamin E. It’s a very effective anti-inflammatory. It is often used in products for people who have nut allergies.

Skin Types: All, Suitable for Oily

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Corylus
Species: avellana

Hazelnut oil is a light-weight oil that is extracted from the hazelnut. It is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and has a mild, sweet nutty flavor. Hazelnut oil is light yellow in color and has a thin consistency. It is a popular carrier oil for aromatherapy because it absorbs quickly into the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

It’s also very moisturizing and nourishing and mixes well with other carrier oils.

Skin Type: All

Shelf Life: 3 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Buxaceae
Genus: Simmondsia
Species: chinensis

Jojoba is not an oil but a wax that is extracted from the bean of an evergreen plant. It works similarly to human sebum.

Jojoba is a very popular choice because it’s nongreasy and can deeply penetrate the skin for super moisturizing effects.

It can help unclog pores in oily skin and restore the skin natural pH balance.

Skin Type: All

Shelf Life: 25 years if stored in a cool dark place
Blend: 100%


Family: Protoceae
Genus: Macadamia
Species: integrifolia and tetraphylla

Macadamia nut oil is a luxurious, light oil derived from the nuts of the macadamia nut tree. It’s high in monounsaturated fatty acids and palmitoleic acid, an antioxidant not commonly found in other oils. It’s said to slow down the aging process and makes an excellent massage oil due to its deep penetrating nature.

Skin Types: All, but especially helpful in mature aging skin

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5 to 25%

Olive Oil

Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Olea
Species: europaea

Olive oil is rich in fatty acids and an excellent source of antioxidants.

It shouldn’t be your first choice as a massage oil, but mixed in small blends with other oils, it can be beneficial for itchy skin from insect bites, for sprains, strains, and bruises.

Skin Types: Dry, normal skin. Too much for oily skin.

Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5 to 25%


Family: Rosaceae
Genus: rosa
Species: rubiginosa and mosqueta

Rosehip oil is derived from the “hip,” or fruit of the rose bush. It is powerful when it comes too rejuvenating the skin, making it ideal for wounds and burns. Like many others, it quickly absorbs into the skin and can be beneficial in tissue regeneration for facial wrinkles and premature aging.

Very high in gamma-linolenic acid and fatty acids!

Skin Types: Aging, Mature

Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: up to 10%


Family: Compositae
Genus: Carthamus
Species: tinctorius

Depending on whether safflower oil is obtained from flowers in the wild or cultivated flowers, the oil will either be higher in linoleic or oleic acid. But it is usually one of the least expensive oils out there.

Safflower is best used for soothing rough, dry skin. The high level of unsaturated fats make it a great choice for aiding circulatory problems, painful joints, muscle spasms, and bruises!

It will go rancid if not stored properly in the refrigerator.

Skin Types: Dry, Rough

Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Pedaliaceae
Genus: Sesamum
Species: indicum

Sesame oil is a light, amber-colored oil derived from the sesame seed. It has a mild flavor and is a popular cooking oil. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, and has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

Sesame oil is high in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and keeps it stable

It is rich in lecithin. It also contains magnesium, calcium, and phophorous. These nutrients are essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It can also be used as a natural laxative!

When using on the skin, it makes an excellent moisturizer that can treat dry skin and improve elasticity.

When using sesame oil, it’s important to use RAW, not roasted, to ensure greatest nutrient content.

Skin type: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%

Shea Butter

Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Vitellaria
Species: paradoxa

Shea butter is a natural fat that comes from the seed of the karite tree. It has been used for centuries as a natural moisturizer and emollient. Shea butter is rich in vitamins A, E, and F, as well as antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

Shea butter works as an anti-inflammatory and enhances cell regeneration.

Skin types: All, but especially useful for dry, aging, or irritated skin.

Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Compositae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: annuus

Sunflower oil is extracted from the sunflower seed. Sunflower oil is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and linoleic acid. When used topically, it’s a powerful moisturizer and helps the skin retain moisture all the way around.

Suitable for all skin types, it’s most beneficial when used for bruises and acne.

Skin Types: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: Juglandaceae
Genus: Juglans
Species: regia

Walnut oil is a type of vegetable oil that is extracted from the nut of the walnut tree. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and it has a host of health benefits, including improving heart health, reducing inflammation, and protecting against cancer. It is also rich in antioxidants and other nutrients, including vitamin E, which makes it beneficial for skin health. Walnut oil can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, sores, herpes, and wounds.

Skin Types: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%

4 Macerated Carrier Oils

Maceration Method

Some plants can’t be steam distilled or go through cold pressing to release their oils. This is used when the plant matter is non-aromatic or steam distillation would be too expensive for the amount of oil produced. In these cases, the process of maceration can be used instead.

The process of maceration involves soaking plant material in a carrier oil (usually jojoba or olive oil) for an extended period of time, usually 4 to 8 weeks. This method is often used for herbs and flowers too delicate for other methods of extraction.

Once the desired amount of time has passed, the plant material is strained out of the oil, leaving behind a highly potent and suitable carrier oil.

4 Macerated Carrier Oils


Family: Compositae
Genus: arnica
Species: montana

Arnica oil is a natural oil derived from the arnica flower. Be careful though…..arnica essential oil should be avoided, as it’s loaded with toxic components. However, arnica carrier oil can make a great addition to your home apothecary!

It’s most commonly used as a topical remedy for bruises, muscle pain, and swelling since it stimulate the peripheral blood supply! It can easily be added to a warm compress. Arnica oil is also said to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Some of the constituents in arnica oil include flavonoids, thymol, and helenalin.

Skin Types: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 100%


Family: asteraceae
Genus: calendula
Species: officinalis

One of the more expensive carrier oils, Calendula is a powerful skin healer all the way around. It can be used to make ointments that aid with cracked skin, bruises, cuts, eczema, inflammation, rashes, rough hands, wounds, and sore nipples. It can also help fade older scars!

To get the most out of this oil, mix it with lemon or cypress essential oils.

Skin Types: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5 to 25%


Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Daucus
Species: carota

Not to be confused with carrot essential oil, the carrier version is extracted from the carrot seed and can be used topically or ingested.

Some of the key constituents in carrot oil include beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E and fatty acids. Carrot oil is most commonly used for its anti-aging properties, but it also has benefits for hair, skin, nails, and teeth.

Skin Type: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5%

St. John’s Wort

Family: Hypericaceae
Genus: hypericum
Species: perforatum

Many people have heard of St. John’s Wort, but do you really know the amazing benefits?!

  • Contains hypericin, which can treat mild depression when used in small amounts.
  • Excellent for relieving pain due to muscle and joint inflammation

Best if not applied before going out into the sun!

Skin Type: All

Shelf Life: 1 year if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5 to 10%

Other Carriers for Essential Oils

Aloe Vera Gel

Family: Liliaceae
Genus: aloe
Species: barbadensis

When you think of using aloe vera, your brain may automatically go to using it for sunburns! And while yes, that’s very effective, there are so many other ways to use it!

Aloe vera is a clear, sticky gel derived from the aloe vera plant. It’s unique lily that has the ability to absorb and retain water. The plant grows in warm climates, and the gel is used to soothe sunburns, insect bites, and other skin irritations. Aloe vera gel is also said to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and some people use it to relieve constipation and other digestion problems.

This plant is so amazing that if it gets injured, it has the ability to heal itself.

Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years if refrigerated after opening
Blend: 5 to 100%

Dead Sea Salt

Dead Sea salt is a type of salt that comes from the Dead Sea, which is located between Israel and Jordan. Used in a bath, it can help increase blood circulation, promote movement in the lymphatic system, and ease sore muscles!

You can make a body scrub by mixing these salts with carrier and essential oils alike!

A note of precaution: Do NOT use on cuts or scrapes.

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