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7 Best Carrier Oils, Benefits and Healthy DIY Recipes

What is a carrier oil?

The reason these oils are referred to as 'carriers' is that they carry the scent and properties of essential oils and herbs that are mixed with them. Carrier oils are derived from plants, usually the seed, nut or kernel. For the most part, they're mildly scented. For your homemade recipes, you'll want to find carrier oils that are 100 percent pure with no added chemicals or preservatives. Look for oils that are processed without heat, also called 'cold-pressed', since heat can change the properties of the oil.

Many carrier oils are absorbed well by the skin, and they work well as massage oils. Some of them, like coconut oil and sweet almond oil, are even edible. Carrier oils allow you to benefit from the properties of herbs and essential oils by 'carrying' them to the targeted location, whether it's your skin, hair or nails. They're a base for health and beauty treatments that include pure essential oils since undiluted essential oil is too strong to use alone. Sometimes, carrier oils are used as salves to alleviate skin conditions or scrapes.

Top 7 Recommended Carrier Oils

Coconut Oil

Unrefined, or virgin, coconut oil is good for your body inside and out, and it makes a great carrier oil. It contains fatty acids and antioxidants, and it has antibacterial properties. It's an absorbent, semi-solid oil that melts easily against warm skin. Coconut oil is also a stable oil with a long shelf life. The best form to use is unrefined coconut oil, which has a slight coconut taste and smell.

Here are five ways to use coconut oil as a carrier oil:

  • Massage oil
  • Dry skin moisturizer
  • Acne treatment
  • Damaged hair treatment
  • Dandruff remedy

These essential oils are a good fit for coconut oil:

  • Citronella
  • Frankincense
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Tea tree

coconut carrier oil

Sweet Almond Oil

Like coconut oil, this edible oil is good for your skin and overall health. Sweet almond oil has a slightly nutty taste and smell. It's lightweight and easily absorbed, making it useful as a moisturizer, massage oil and bath oil. It's rich in vitamins A, B and E, and almond oil has been used to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis for hundreds of years.

Here are five ways to use almond oil as a carrier oil:

  • Massage oil
  • Dry skin moisturizer
  • Bath oil
  • Shave cream
  • Aromatherapy

These essential oils are a good fit for almond oil:

  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Rose
  • Tea tree

RECIPE: Homemade Eczema Cream

  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 cup raw shea butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw, local honey
Essential oils:
  • 20 drops lavender
  • 5 drops tea tree
  • 4 drops geranium or myrrh
1. Combine the almond oil and shea butter and melt them over a low heat.
2. Add the honey and stir until smoothly blended.
3. Remove from the heat and blend in the essential oils.
4. Use a handheld mixer to whip it into a lotion.
5. Leave a small amount out for daily use and refrigerate the rest.

Avocado Oil

A deeply moisturizing carrier oil that's high in essential fatty acids, avocado oil is excellent for dry skin. It's thick and clinging, making it a good choice for a hydrating face mask. It's also vitamin-rich and helps with collagen production.

Here are five ways to use avocado oil as a carrier oil:

  • Dry skin moisturizer
  • Foot softener
  • Chapped skin relief
  • Damaged hair treatment
  • Eczema relief

These essential oils are a good fit for avocado oil:

  • Calendula
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Patchouli
  • Palmarosa

avocado carrier oil

Jojoba Oil

Actually, Jojoba oil is a wax that contains vitamins A and E, and it helps retain moisture in hair. It's non-comedogenic, which means it doesn't clog pores, and it can even inhibit excess oil production in the skin. Derived from the jojoba bean, it's been used for centuries by native Americans. It mimics our own facial oil, which is called sebum. Jojoba oil is unscented and has a long shelf life.

Here are five ways to use jojoba oil as a carrier oil:

  • Oil balance restoration
  • Acne treatment
  • Body wash
  • Hair conditioner
  • Sunburn relief

These essential oils are a good fit for jojoba oil:

  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Jasmine
  • Palmarosa
  • Rose
  • Tangerine
  • Ylang ylang

Grapeseed Oil

Also lightweight, grapeseed oil is a byproduct of grapes used to make wine. This unscented oil is absorbed easily by the skin, making it a good carrier for essential oils. Like jojoba oil, it's non-comedogenic, so it's fine for acne sufferers. It works well as a replacement oil after cleansing the face.

Here are five ways to use grapeseed oil as a carrier oil:

  • Oil balance restoration
  • Dry skin moisturizer
  • Makeup base
  • Skin tightener
  • Acne treatment

These essential oils are a good fit for grapeseed oil:

  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Tea Tree

Argan Oil

Only found in the kernels of fruit from argan trees in Morocco, argan is another edible oil with a nutty scent. It contains vitamins A and E, along with antioxidants and fatty acids that make it good for the skin.

Here are five ways to use argan oil as a carrier oil:

  • Oil balance restoration
  • Dry skin moisturizer
  • Night cream
  • Stretch mark minimizer
  • Acne treatment

These essential oils are a good fit for argan oil:

  • Basil
  • Cedarwood
  • Juniper
  • Melaleuca
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood

argan oil skin benefits

RECIPE: Anti-Aging Night Cream

Argan oil is light enough to penetrate your skin and it's packed with nourishment for it. Using this oil as a night cream allows the vitamin E, omega fatty acids and linoleic acids to sink in throughout the night. It's also a great way to give yourself an 8-hour treatment for acne and dry patches.
  • 2 tablespoons argon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSM powder
  • 2 drops vitamin E oil
1. Pull your hair back from your face with a headband.
2. Mix the ingredients with a small whisk until they are light and fluffy.
3. With your fingertips, spread the mixture all over your face and neck.
4. Rub it in with circular motions until it's absorbed.
5. Pat your face and neck with a soft, dry cloth to remove any excess oil.

Castor Oil

Castor oil comes from the seeds of the castor bean plant, and it's been used medicinally for centuries. It soothes chapped and inflamed skin and helps relieve pain from sore muscles. It's high in anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

Here are five ways to use castor oil as a carrier oil:

  • Massage oil
  • Circulation enhancer
  • Muscle pain relief
  • Skin healing
  • Sunburn relief

These essential oils are a good fit for castor oil:

  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Rosehip
  • Tea Tree
  • Vitamin E

castor carrier oil

Benefits of Carrier Oils

One of the benefits of carrier oils is that they give you the ability to choose the strength of massage oils and salves. You can add as little or as much of an essential oil as you like to a carrier oil, making it a mild or potent finished product. Essential oils also evaporate quickly, and binding them in a carrier oil keeps the properties available for a longer time.

One terrific characteristic of carrier oils is that they often contain vitamins and nutrients that are good for the body. This adds to the beneficial properties of the herbs or essential oils they're combined with. Depending on the combination of ingredients, a massage oil or moisturizer made with an essential oil as a base can provide muscle relaxation, calm your mood and/or hydrate your skin.

Each carrier oil has its own particular qualities, including how long it stays fresh. That will influence how much you make at one time. You'll also want to pair essential oils with the right carrier oils for the best effect. A quality carrier oil is unadulterated by added scent or other ingredients. It's also a natural oil, which means it's derived from a plant and not from dairy sources (like butter) or petroleum products (like mineral oil).

How to Find High-Quality Carrier Oils

Read the list of ingredients to make sure there are no added ingredients like fragrance or preservatives. Some carrier oils may add vitamins like C or D, and this is okay. Find out how the oil was extracted because cold-pressed carrier oils are the only ones that retain all of their benefits. Some manufacturers use solvents to remove the oil from the seed or kernel, so it's important to know how the oil is produced. The best places to look for quality carrier oils are online and at health food stores since you probably won't find them at the grocery store.

Many of the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in carrier oils will be degraded if the oil is over-processed. It's best to purchase organic carrier oils to ensure that you get the most benefit from the properties of each one. Just remember the words, 'cold-pressed' and 'unrefined', and that will take you a long way in researching the best carrier oils available.

Blending Carrier Oils

Because various carrier oils contain different therapeutic benefits, sometimes combining them makes sense. You can also use carrier oils in rotation, or use different ones for each daily cleansing or beautifying treatment. For example, mixing one part jojoba oil to three parts sweet almond oil creates a nutrient-rich moisturizer that's very similar to the natural oils in your face.

When you combine essential oil and carrier oil, start with a mild concentration of 4 or 5 drops of essential oil for each ounce of carrier oil. Add more as you get comfortable with using the carrier oil blend, up to 10-12 drops of essential oil. It may take some experimenting to find the optimal concentration for your individual enjoyment and benefit.

The amount of essential oil in a mixture will also vary depending on which one you're using. Some are naturally more concentrated than others, and the strength of the scent varies as well. Peppermint oil, tea tree oil and wintergreen oil are especially strong essential oils, for example.

Moisturizing Properties

Carrier oils are nature's moisturizers, and there's one for every type of skin. For example, jojoba oil is lightweight and doesn't block the pores, and that makes it an excellent choice if you have oily skin. On the other hand, if you suffer from dry skin, avocado oil is rich and heavy, and it will penetrate your skin. The best thing about these oils is that they don't contain any harsh chemicals or unnecessary additives that block your pores.

Oil Cleansing for Your Face

Coconut oil is an excellent makeup remover. It penetrates and removes makeup while leaving your skin soft and moist. Although it sounds counter-intuitive to clean your face with oil, coconut oil nourishes your face with fatty acids and it has an antibacterial effect on organisms that cause acne. You can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to coconut carrier oil before cleansing your face, giving yourself an aromatherapy treatment while you're at it.


If you have a peanut allergy, be careful when trying out almond oil since it could trigger your allergy. Also, be cautious when using essential oils for small children. Use a solution that's 25 percent of the regular strength for children ages 1-6 and half as strong for kids ages 6-12.

Carrier Oils and Essential Oils Work Together

These carrier oils make the application of essential oils and herbal treatments more comfortable and effective. They efficiently help deliver the benefits of the active ingredients while supplying their own vitamins and fatty acids. They're used for their therapeutic properties in homemade body care products like deodorants, soaps, body butters and many other recipes. Carrier oils have moisturizing and protective properties of their own, making them not just a base, but an integral part of your health and beauty regimen.

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