Derived from the fatty portion of plants, carrier oils are vegetable oils. The fatty part of a plant can refer to nuts, kernels, or seeds. The reason for using carrier oils is that the application of pure essential oils can irritate the skin of many individuals. Combining essential oils with carrier oils allows for easier application without the worry of skin irritation. In essence, to dilute your essential oils. Depending on what type of therapeutic benefit you’re looking for, the characteristics, therapeutic properties, aroma, color of carrier oils, and the combination of those may differ.
Buying Carrier Oils
One of the biggest influences on carrier oils is the manner in which they are processed. When purchasing carrier oils, one should always make sure that they are processed using cold rather than heat. Specifically – ‘cold expeller pressed’ or ‘cold pressed’. If an oil simply says ‘expeller pressed’, nothing has been done to keep the heat down during the process.
Some of the nutrients contained in carrier oils are extremely fragile and heat just serves to break them down, compromising the value of the oil itself. Nutrients, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins are contained in these oils. Also, naturally contained vitamin E not only helps to extend the life of the oil but offers benefits which are particularly good for the skin.
Characteristics of Carrier Oils
When discussing the ‘feel’ or ‘absorption’ of a carrier oil, this basically refers to how quickly the oil is absorbed into your skin and whether or not it leaves behind an oily feel. This differs with certain skin types and can also be a matter of individual taste. The aroma of a carrier oil should be minimal, so as not to interfere with the aroma of the essential oil. It would be counterproductive to have the scent of the carrier oil interfere with the aroma of the essential oil.
The resistance of a liquid to flow and movement is referred to as viscosity. In order to simplify a description, people sometimes say that the oil has a thick, medium, or thin viscosity. And where color is concerned, unless someone is using it in a recipe that calls for a certain color to their end product, it usually doesn’t come into play. Note: oils higher in beta-carotene can naturally appear dark orange.
Carrier Oils – What to Avoid or Watch Out for
One of the biggest things to watch for with carrier oils is whether or not they have gone rancid. Essential oils may lose their fragrance and strength after time, but they never go rancid. If left open, they can also evaporate over time. This is not the case with carrier oils. They do not evaporate but they can and do go rancid over time. Since carrier oils do not characteristically have a strong scent, if you detect a strong smell or pungent odor coming from your carrier oil, it has likely gone rancid.
Additionally, one should never use petroleum-based products or mineral oil as a carrier oil. Both of these tend to block pores. They are not natural and can actually be detrimental if you attempt to use them with your essential oils.