What is a Carrier Oil?

A carrier oil is simply a nourishing oil used for diluting essential oils or as the base of various personal care products. While many of these oils can be used interchangeably for the beginner, understanding each oil’s strengths and weaknesses is helpful for those wanting to delve deeper.

Carrier Oil Varieties

Apricot Kernel Oil

A light oil, high in vitamin E, apricot kernel oil works well in a moisturizing capacity as well as for tissue repair.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is a medium-weight oil high in vitamins A, E, and B. Works well in hair care products as well as for skin protection.

Shelf Life: Approximately 1 year.

Castor Oil

A very thick oil, castor oil is generally used for its skin penetration properties rather than as a carrier oil. This is the only oil known to contain an alcohol-soluble fatty acid which contributes anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Shelf Life: Approximately 1 year

Coconut Oil

A solid at room temperature, coconut oil is rich in moisturizing saturated fats. Its conditioning and moisturizing properties lend a richness to lotions and moisturizers. The longer shelf life of coconut oil – up to four years – can also aid in extending the shelf life of a product.

Shelf Life: Up to 4 years

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is a light to medium oil high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids. It lends anti-aging properties to skincare properties and also absorbs into the skin well, making it especially suitable for facial care products.

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is a medium oil rich in B vitamins and protein. Its nutrient profile makes hemp oil good for hair products and skincare products. Its fatty acid profile gives hemp oil a shorter shelf life so it is best used in conjunction with a longer-shelf life oil or stored in the refrigerator.

Jojoba Oil

A thick oil containing vitamins E and B, jojoba oil has many nourishing and conditioning properties and is anti-inflammatory and good in skincare products used to treat a variety of surface conditions. Jojoba oil has a shelf life of up to 5 years, so can be used to extend the shelf life of other carrier oils.

Shelf Life: Up to 5 years

Olive Oil

Olive Oil Pomace is a heavier oil made from the final pressing of olives. Olive oil is ubiquitous in most kitchens and can also be used with good results in personal care products. Rich in vitamin E and protein, olive oil is soothing and therefore excellent for many hair and skincare products.

Shelf Life: Approximately 2 years.

Red Palm Oil

A hard, red oil at room temperature, red palm oil is rich in carotenoids. These carotenoids make red palm oil an excellent carrier oil for soothing skin-relief products. Note that the red pigment of this oil can stain clothing.

Sesame Oil

As a high-viscosity oil, sesame oil is rich in vitamins A, B, and E. Its soothing and protective properties make it a wonderful carrier oil in skincare products.

Shelf Life: Approximately 6 months to 1 year.