Carrier Oils: What Are They and How Can You Use Them?

The benefits of aromatherapy are well-known considering how many cultures have relied on it as the source of remedy for the body and soul throughout the centuries. Unlike in the past, there are all sorts of options nowadays in terms of essential oils, yet not all of them are equal benefits-wise which is why it’s important to be aware of their components before buying.

To be on the safe side, it’s necessary to look for pure organic oils that have natural ingredients instead of those that are chemically based and could, in fact, pose a threat to one’s well-being.

Carrier Oils to the Rescue

Still, even with pure oils, it’s crucial to know how to use them properly as to reap the benefits and avoid side effects such as skin irritation, redness and burning because of how potent they are.

To be able to safely use them when applying them topically on the skin, you’re going to need the help of carrier oils for essential oils which are required to dilute the pure oils. Given the way they are used, you might also find them under the name of base oils, fixed oils as well as vegetable oils, since they’re derived from plants’ seeds, kernels or nuts, i.e. the fatty parts.

Some examples of common carrier oils are jojoba, coconut (fractionated and virgin), sweet almond, avocado, argan, sunflower, and rosehip oil – each with its own specific benefits.

  • Jojoba Oil – Similar to human sebum, it can improve skin suppleness and elasticity.
  • Coconut Oil – Great for moisturising, it can make the skin smooth as it contains healthy fats and polyphenolic antioxidants.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – Great for dry and irritated skin, it can act as barrier against elements as it’s rich in vitamin E.
  • Avocado Oil – Great for nourishing the skin, it can help dry, mature and sun-damaged skin as it’s rich in vitamins A, B, D, E.
  • Argan Oil – Great for anti-ageing, it can restore skin elasticity and diminish fine lines as it’s rich in fatty acids.
  • Sunflower Oil – Great for all skin types, it can work as a skin softener due to richness in minerals, and vitamins A, B, D, and E.
  • Rosehip Oil – Great for dry and scarred skin, it can assist cell regeneration as it’s rich in fatty acids, like linoleic acid, and vitamin A.

Different from Essential Oils

Not to be confused with essential oils, carrier oils for essential oils can be used directly on the skin without worrying they’d cause any unwanted reaction and this itself is enough to show they are different. Another difference is in the plant parts they are extracted from, e.g. the fatty parts, whereas various plant and tree parts are used for the essential oils, from roots and leaves to flowers, wood, resin, fruits, seeds and bark.

They don’t offer as potent aromas as essential oils do, but that doesn’t mean they are less effective, and moreover, they even make a good investment in the long run since they are fixed oils, meaning they don’t evaporate that quickly like the essential (volatile) ones.


When you use them in a combination, the properties of the fixed oils help slow down the quick evaporation of the volatile oils which is how they allow for better skin absorption, and depending on the type of oil you choose as carrier, it can also strengthen the effects of the essential oil.

How to Dilute

When you find the carrier oils for essential oils you like, it’s important to know how you can use them in a combination with your choice of essential oils.

Depending on what it is you need it for, whether it’s for facial application or body massage, there are different dilution rates to follow, so first and foremost determine what the purpose is, then consider your age (or that of the person you intend to use it on). For example, what’s allowed for adults won’t work with kids regarding safety.


1% Dilution – Measure one drop of essential oil for every teaspoon of carrier oil. This ratio is ideal for kids over the age of two and pregnant women after the second trimester, however to be on the safe side consult a doctor prior to the use and look for oils that aren’t harmful for pregnancy. Some examples of recommended oils are chamomile, lavender and ylang ylang, diluted with coconut or almond oil.

2% Dilution – The ratio with this one is two tablespoons, i.e. 10 ml of vegetable oil, and six drops of the essential oil. It’s a nice option for daily use in bath and whole body products, and you can even use it for treating some issues like spots or acne with kids.

3% Dilution – For every two tablespoons of fixed oil (that is 10 ml), use up to nine drops of essential oil. This ratio is ideal for treating body discomfort, and if you want to make it even more concentrated, for instance 5% dilution, use two tablespoons of carrier oil and 15 drops of essential oil. For 10% dilution use two tablespoons of carrier oil with 30 drops volatile oil – remember they are meant for short term use, i.e. not more than two weeks’ time.