Have you recently started making your own beauty and skincare products with essential oils? You’ll need carrier oils to make those serums, lotions and creams. This guide covers the best carrier oils for beauty and skincare. I’ll also explain what carrier oils are, how to use them, safety tips, and more.
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Carrier oils and essential oils are the cornerstone of DIY beauty and skincare. You’ll need them to create pretty much everything in your skincare regime, including DIY Lip Balm, Facial Serum, Moisturizer, Shave Gel, and other DIY skincare products. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is a Carrier Oil?
Carrier oils are naturally derived vegetable oils, usually created from seeds, kernels, or nuts. Each offers its own unique properties and benefits, with examples including coconut oil, argan oil, and olive oil.
They are common in skincare, body care and beauty care products. In fact, you’ve probably bought a bath or body product from the store that contains a carrier oil. In addition, carrier oils help to match the consistency of our favorite skincare products, such as serums, lotions, creams, etc when we’re making them at home.
Carrier oils are often paired with essential oils, but there is a distinction between the two.
Essential Oils vs. Carrier Oils
Essential oils are the highly concentrated, aromatic essences of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, resins, and flowers. They are the oil of the plant from which they were extracted.
They are rapidly absorbed by the skin, which is not surprising considering the skin is the largest organ of the body. In fact, one of the best places to apply essential oils is the bottom of the feet – which have over 2,000 pores and some of the largest pores on your body.
Essential oils are also used in skincare, body care, and beauty care products for their various properties (from reducing redness to moisturizing skin to providing a natural scent). They are used best with carrier oils to help the body absorb essential oils through the skin. Check out this beginner’s guide to essential oils and the 12 best essential oils for beauty and skincare.
Carrier oils are made from fatty or nutty oils like coconut, almond, sesame, jojoba, avocado, or even olive oil. They help to carry essential oils to the skin hence the name. Carrier oils also help to dilute essential oils, which can be potent or irritating to the skin if used at full strength.
Diluting essential oils with carrier oils doesn’t dilute the effectiveness of essential oils. It’s actually quite the opposite. Essential oils absorb better into the skin when paired with carrier oils.
It’s possible to use carrier oils without essential oils to create DIY skincare and body care products. But in most cases, you likely won’t be using essential oils without carrier oils.
What Carrier Oils to Use
Opt for nut- or seed-based oils, such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, coconut, olive, jojoba, sesame, and avocado oils. Look for organic and cold-pressed as it means the carrier oil goes through less processing, meaning it will be richer in omega, mineral and vitamins. Go for higher quality as you’ll be using this directly on your skin.
What Carrier Oils to Avoid
Stay away from mineral oils, which are petroleum-based, such as petroleum jelly, and refined or highly processed oils, such as canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, and margarine. These highly refined and processed vegetable oils are known to cause inflammation to the skin.
This is because every oil and butter has a comedogenic rating. This rating essentially means how likely the oil is to clog your pores based on the oil’s fat content and how those fatty acids react with your skin. Below, our list of the best carrier oils for skincare and beauty will help you decipher which are the best to include as part of your routine.
Carrier Oil Safety Tips
As with anything, test a carrier oil on the skin to be sure it’s a good fit. I haven’t personally come across an organic, cold-pressed carrier made from nut or seed oils that have been problematic for my skin, but it’s always best to do a test.
When you pair carrier oils with essential oils, start with fewer drops of essential oils. A good rule of thumb is about 1 drop of essential per 1-2 ml (about 1/4 tsp) of carrier oil. So if you make a roller bottle that is 10 ml, you would use about 10 drops of essential oils.
That may vary depending on the essential oil or your recipe. Ten drops of essential oil in a 10 ml roller bottle with a carrier oil is a 5% dilution. This ratio is ideal for everyday needs. You could go up to 20 drops of essential oil in a 10 ml roller bottle with a carrier oil for a 10% dilution for short-term needs like muscle relief, chest rub, etc.
You’ll want to dilute them, even more, when it comes to essential oils for kids. I suggest about one drop of essential oil in a 10 ml roller bottle of carrier oils.
Best Carrier Oils for Beauty and Skin Care
These are my top 12 favorite carrier oils for DIY beauty and skincare. They provide great coverage and can be used to create many different skincare products.
1. Sweet almond
Sweet almond is my go-to carrier oil as it’s so versatile. It has a light consistency that absorbs quickly into the skin. It’s inexpensive and great for all skin types, particularly dehydrated skin. I use it in my DIY carrier oil stick tutorial as it can be used for the face or body and has no odor.
2. Apricot Kernel
Similar to sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil is a versatile carrier oil. Made using apricot seeds (kernels) it can be used for the face or body. It also has no odor, a light consistency, and quickly absorbs into the skin.
It’s inexpensive, contains vitamins A and E, and is excellent for sensitive and mature skin. It is also one of the best carrier oils for beauty and skincare as it helps to calm itchy skin making it ideal for massage oil or bath products.
Argan is one of my favorites for homemade hair products like DIY hair serum. Its also one of the best carrier oils for beauty and skincare as it helps with fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks.
It’s rich in vitamin E, and can help to improve skin texture and tone. It has a light consistency and absorbs quickly into the skin making it an ideal carrier oil for this DIY facial oil moisturizer.
Avocado oil is derived from the avocado fruit, so it has a nutty aroma and slight green color. It is high in oleic acid; a fatty acid believed to help dry, damaged skin. This makes it one of my favorite home remedies for cracked heels as well as a great carrier oil.
It is lightweight and rich in vitamins A,B,D and E, so it is ideal for mature skin and is one of the best carrier oils for skincare products such as body creams.
Note, avocado oil may encourage sebum production so avoid using if you are acne-prone.
There are so many uses for coconut oil, one of which includes using as a carrier oil. Coconut oil can come in refined and unrefined varieties. Unrefined coconut oil is derived from fresh coconut meat, so it is not processed with chemicals. As a tip, unrefined coconut oil is great for oil pulling.
Refined coconut oil however, comes from dried coconut meat (also known as copra). This version is bleached and deodorized, so it is not recommended as a carrier oil. Both refined and unrefined is solid up to 76 degrees, then becomes a liquid; fractionated is always found in liquid form.
Coconut oil can be greasy so is not always ideal for the use on the face as it can clog pores. It contains nourishing fatty acids however that are ideal for body products such as a DIY salt scrub, lotion bars or even DIY diaper balm.
6. Hemp Seed
Hemp seed oil is of lightweight consistency but rich in omega fatty and amino acids. This means its great for dry, mature and acne-prone skin. It is one of the best carrier oils for skincare as it locks in hydration and reduces inflammation.
Jojoba oil is derived from the jojoba plant and is renowned for it’s moisturizing properties. It is slightly thicker in consistency and is said to be the most similar to the skin’s natural oils (known as sebum.)
It is a perfect carrier oil for beauty and skincare as it’s rich in vitamin E and is easily absorbed by the skin. It’s also been known to boost collagen and relieve dry skin making it a great carrier oil for body wash, facial moisturizers and massage oil.
If using olive oil as a carrier oil, it’s best to opt for extra-virgin olive oil with the cold-pressed or organic variety best for skin care. It has quite a fruity aroma which can overpower the scent of some essential oils however it shouldn’t be overlooked as a great carrier oil for beauty and skincare.
This is because it’s packed with fatty acids and is ideal for cleansing and nourishing dry skin. Olive oil offers a similar consistency to avocado oil which is often considered too heavy for use on the face. It is however ideal for facial cleansers, hair care and homemade soaps.
9. Pomegranate Seed
Pomegranate seed oil is a little more expensive than most carrier oils on this list so save your money and use it for the face only. It’s clear in color and offers a very lightweight consistency.
It is said to boost collagen production making it a great choice for aging skin (in particular eyes, mouth and elbows.) It is also said to be an excellent anti-inflammatory carrier oil rich in vitamin E which helps promote skin cell regeneration.
Rosehip oil is another carrier oil that has numerous benefits for aging skin. It is high in both vitamins A and C which can help reverse the effects of sun damage. This is why it is a favorite carrier oil for the face and one I highly recommend using in my DIY facial serum recipe. It is also high in fatty acids which can aid the appearance of stretch marks and scars as well as boost the skin’s elasticity.
11. Sesame Seed
As well a being rich in vitamins E and B, sesame seed oil is high in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Like most carrier oils on this list, it offers a high omega fatty acid content which helps to nourish and soften the skin. It is often used in nailcare, as it’s particularly effective in restoring cuticles and nails. Sesame seed oil also works particularly well as a carrier oil in lip balms and massage oils.
Tamanu oil is extracted from seeds that grow on the tropical tamanu nut tree and has been used for centuries to treat many common skin conditions. It is a thicker carrier oil that is clear in color with a blue-ish hue. Tamanu oil is believed to have many benefits from healthier hair to fighting acne, anti-wrinkle to fading stretch marks. Because of this, it is a little more expensive, so save your money and use only for the face.
Best Storage for Carrier Oils
If you plan to keep your carrier oils for a long time, keep them stored in a dark glass bottle (amber or blue cobalt) in a cool, dark spot in your home. If you plan to use carrier oils within 3-6 months, you’re fine to leave in your medicine cabinet, bathroom, bedroom, etc. Just avoid the sun or heat as much as possible.
Carrier Oils Shelf Life
When making your own beauty products be sure to know when carrier oils expire – some will last 6-12 months while others may last for many years. So you don’t want to make a big batch of facial serum that’ll last a year if the carrier oil you use only has a 6-month shelf life. This is why I generally recommend making smaller batches of DIY products. Throw out any carrier oils that go rancid – e.g. have an off-odor or become cloudy.
Tips on Carrier Oils
It can be overwhelming to figure out what carrier oil to use, so as a guide consider these points:
- Odor – Will the carrier oil overpower the essential oil scent?
- Absorption – Some carrier oils are absorbed better than others by your skin.
- Skin type – Can it be used across all skin types including oily, acne prone and dry? Does the carrier oil target one skin type in particular or will it worsen a current skin condition?
- Shelf life – As mentioned earlier shelf life is important when using the carrier oils for DIY skincare. In particular, if you are investing in the more expensive carrier oils, be sure to check their shelf life. Some last longer than others so to depending on your budget, research shelf life before you purchase.
I recommend you go with 1-2 carrier oils to start – such as coconut oil and avocado or sweet almond. They are readily available in health food stores and online so are easily accessible. They are also all round great for beginners as they can be used on the body and face as well as on sensitive skin and for kids. Once you master 1-2 carrier oils, branch out and try new ones like argan and rosehip oil for the face. Don’t forget to comment below with any questions and let me know how you get on.
Carrier Oil Chart
I’ve also created this handy guide you can print out and have on hand when considering what carrier oils to choose for your needs.
Check out my book Natural Beauty Made Simple. It comes with 45 homemade skincare recipes with a set of printable labels and gift tags. You can download it instantly to your phone, computer or e-reader, so it’s portable and can go with you anywhere!
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- Create beautiful gifts for friends and family with the printable labels and gift tags I’ve included with this book
Take a peek at what’s inside Natural Beauty Made Simple.
More DIY Recipes You Might Like
- DIY Eyelash Growth Serum
- 12 Best Essential Oils for Beauty and Skincare
- 10 Best Essential OIls for Baths
- Ultimate Guide to Detox Baths
Did you try these carrier oils? Don’t forget to rate the recipe and comment below to let me know how it went. You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see what other fun things I’m getting up to.