You know about Lavender. You know about Frankincense. But how much do you know about Jojoba oil? Rosehip Seed Oil? Or Sandalwood Seed Oil?
These are what we call carrier oils. Carrier oils are plant oils that have been pressed from the fatty portions of plants (usually the seeds, nuts, or fruit). They are also known as “fixed” or “vegetable” oils. They are used as a means to carry essential oils onto the skin. Carriers should ALWAYS be used with essential oils. Dilution is a must for safety. In aromatherapy, we also use infused oils (e.g. Trauma Oil) and butters (e.g. Shea, Kombo) as carriers. But for the purpose of this post, we will stick with the carrier oils.
How are carrier oils different from essential oils? Carrier oils are not volatile like essential oils. They do not evaporate. They do not have the aromatic qualities of essential oils. While some, like virgin coconut oil, do have a strong aroma, you cannot simply smell them to receive their benefits. Carrier oils are meant for topical use, not inhalation. They do go rancid over time. Proper storage is refrigeration to help slow down rancidity.
Carrier oils supply the skin with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They have their own therapeutic qualities which means they can be useful without an essential oil. This is ideal for children under 5, those with sensitive skin/skin conditions (such as eczema and psoriasis), or the elderly.
Here are a few pointers when looking for carrier oil:
1. Use organic/unrefined carrier oils. Otherwise, they may be stripped of the therapeutic properties.
2. Mineral oil is NOT a carrier oil. It clogs pores and stops fat-soluble nutrients from absorbing on the skin.
3. There are MANY types of carrier oils and each person can respond differently. For example, some people find coconut oil soothing and some people find it drying. Sometimes it’s a matter of trial or error.
Let’s look at two of my favorite carrier oils and their therapeutic values.
Jojoba is actually a liquid wax. It chemically resembles our skin’s own sebum (natural protective coating of our skin) and mimics collagen. It has a very faint, almost non-existent aroma. It is suitable all skin types. It does not go rancid and hardens when it gets cold. It will melt again when warmed up and does not affect its quality.
Jojoba acts like an antioxidant. It has a high content of essential fatty acids, specifically stearic, oleic, and palmitic. The body does not make Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) and you need an outside source to get them. Many carrier oils, like Jojoba, can supply your body with EFA just by applying topically.
Jojoba can balance both dry and oily skin. It supports the skin’s natural pH balance. It can open clogged pores. It moisturizes. It is great for dry scalp. Jojoba is my carrier oil of choice when I make roller bottles for public purchase because it is suitable for almost everyone!
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin Coconut Oil has the fresh, invigorating smell of coconut. It is solid at temperatures below 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that, and it liquefies. It is a highly saturated fat that is cold pressed, pure, natural and unrefined. It is high in lauric acid with a good amount of palmitic, oleic, and myristic acids as well. It has about a two-year shelf life.
Before I begin talking about its benefits, let’s talk about the difference between VIRGIN coconut oil and FRACTIONATED coconut oil (FCO). Fractionated coconut oil is altered and highly refined. It makes the coconut oil lose its aroma and solid state. It stays liquid. If you are looking for an unrefined/unaltered pure carrier oil, I would avoid using FCO. While there is not any research indicating that FCO is harmful, I am a purist at heart and like using only unrefined, organic oils and carriers.
Now, back to Virgin Coconut Oil. It is an excellent emollient. It softens and lubricates the skin. Great for itching and irritation of skin ailments. It is antifungal. It can help prevent dry hair and lips. It can be used on nails and cuticles. Great for those with sensitive skin.
It’s kind of a joke in the natural health world that coconut oil can do just about anything. It does seem to have an enormous list of things it is helpful for. I like to use it as a diaper barrier, conditioner for my hair, face moisturizer, and for just about any skin irritation. I also like to put a spoonful of it in my morning coffee and to cook with it. I like to do oil pulling with it in the morning. It has many purposes and benefits.
Skin Type and Carriers
Generally speaking, the following carrier oils are good for different types of skin.
Dry: Avocado, Macadamia, Almond, Sesame, and Jojoba
Normal: Apricot Kernel, Carrot Seed, Safflower, and Jojoba
Oily: Rosehip Seed, Jojoba
Skin Conditions and Carriers
If you have a skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema or have skin that is sensitive or easily inflamed, I would suggest a private consultation. Skin ailments are rarely just that, there is always more to it. There are many factors to keep in consideration when trying to soothe these ailments. That’s why so many people cannot find relief when suggested to “try this” without a complete holistic review.
Choosing the right carrier can help make a blend more effective. Some carriers have anti-inflammatory qualities that, combined with the correct essential oil blend, can pack a punch to help soothe inflammation. New carrier oils and their benefits are being discovered. Just like you are selective about which essential oil(s) to use, be aware of which carrier you use. It could be the answer you are looking for.