Carrier or base oils, as they are also known, are a big part of aromatherapy. Because essential oils on their own are highly concentrated, they should never be used directly on the skin. Cold-pressed oils are the most common carrier oils used in massage and beauty treatments, many of which have therapeutic properties of their own.
These therapeutic carrier oils are derived from natural plants, nuts and seeds such as avocado, macadamia nut and borage seed. Carrier oils are greasy and do not evaporate unlike essential oils.
Note that a carrier or base oil should never be mineral based, such as baby oil. Stick to cold-pressed vegetable oils for the best nutritional value to your skin.
Always buy good quality carrier oils and store in opaque glass such as blue, green or amber. When handling these oils, ensure you use clean, dry measuring cups. Make sure you tightly cap your bottles and jars straight away to avoid unnecessary oxidisation and always label your blends correctly.
The list of carrier oils below links to a brief description of each oil:
- Apricot kernal
- Borage seed
- Evening Primrose
- Macadamia nut
- Sweet Almond
Apricot kernal (Prunus armeniaca)
Contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and minerals. Pale yellow in color, this fairly expensive carrier oil can relieve itching, dryness, inflammation, burns and thread veins and is good for eczema. It will keep for 10-12 months and can be used as a base oil 100%.
Avocado (Persea amencana)
Obtained from the fruit, avocado contains vitamins A, B1, B2, D, E, protein, lecithin, saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. It is dark green in color and is a rich and highly penetrative oil. It is good for all skin types, especially dry, dehydrated skin and eczema. It improves the elastin of the skin and is sometimes used in sun preparations due to its emollient properties. Shelf life is 12 months and should be used in addition to another carrier oil, up to 30% dilution.
Borage seed (Borago officinalis)
Borage seed oil, as the name indicates is obtained from the seeds. It contains vitamins A, C, niacin, choline, thiamine and riboflavin. It is best suited to dry, mature and acneous skins. Can be useful for menopause, psoriasis and eczema and is good for regenerating the skin cells. This expensive carrier oil has a shelf life of 9 months.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Contains 8Evening gamma linolenic acid – this is one of the essential fatty acids vital for the maintenance of healthy epidermis cells. It is pale yellow in color and is obtained from its bright yellow seeds. It can help with menopause, heart disease and is excellent for the treatment of dry, flaky, sensitive skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It is excellent for regenerative skin care and anti-aging preparations. The shelf life of evening primrose oil is 12 months and care should be taken to not expose it to high temperatures. It has a blend factor of 10%.
Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera)
Contains vitamin E, minerals, protein and high polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is perfect when starting out with skin care products due to it being odourless as well as being a fine texture and well priced. Grapeseed is often used by aromatherapists as a base oil for massage and can be blended 100%. It has a shelf life of 10 months.
Jojoba (Simmondsia californica)
Yellow in color, jojoba oil is obtained from the bean and contains vitamin E, protein and minerals. It is in fact a wax rather than an oil and it mimics our skins own sebum. It is good for all skin types and very helpful for psoriasis and eczema as well as great for hair care. Due to its liquid wax consistency, it does not spoil. Pure Jojoba has a sun protection of SPF4. Its blend factor is 10-100%.
Macadamia nut (Macadamia integrifolia)
Contains 60% oleic acid and palmitoleic acid which is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid resembling our skin’s sebum. It is a highly emollient carrier oil and is popular in beauty care for its anti-aging properties. Also useful in sun preparations and for helping against sunburn. It will keep for 10 months and can be blended with other carrier oils up to 50%.
Olive (Oleo europaea)
This cold-pressed oil contains protein, minerals, vitamins and mono-unsaturated fatty acid. The green color is due to a small percentage of chlorophyll. It soothes inflamed skin and is good for sprains and bruises, insect bites, acneous skin, rheumatic conditions and hair care. Due to its heaviness it is not suitable as a massage base oil. It has a shelf life of 12 months and should be used in 10% dilution with other carrier oils.
Rosehip (Rosa rubirosa)
This is a beautiful carrier oil for skin care and has a wonderful fine consistency making it perfect for facial creams and oils. It is high in both linoleic and linolenic fatty acids and encourages regeneration and repair of skin tissue including scars and burns. It will keep for 8 months and can be blended 10-100%.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
Safflower oil contains protein, minerals and vitamins. It is pale yellow in color and suitable for most skin types. The shelf life is 12 months and blend factor is 100%.
Sunflower (Helianthus annus)
Very similar to Safflower oil, Sunflower oil contains protein, minerals and vitamins. Also being pale yellow in color and suitable for most skin types. The shelf life is 12 months and blend factor is 100%.
Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalus)
Very pale yellow in color, Sweet Almond oil is obtained from the kernel. It is very rich in protein, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E and has a high percentage of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids and minerals. It’s great for relieving dryness, itchiness, inflammation and is good for burns, eczema and thread veins. It can be used 100% as a base oil and will keep for 12 months.
Wheatgerm (Triticum vulgare)
Wheatgerm oil is yellow/orange in color. It contains protein, minerals, lecithin, vitamin A, C, D and E. It is good for psoriasis and eczema, stretchmarks, prematurely aged skin and it supports the skins natural process of regeneration. It has a blend factor of 10% and a shelf life of 8 months.