Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to Use Carrier Oils

OMG! Everyone wants to know about carrier oils!! One of the most popular questions I get is "Which carrier oil should I use?" Oh, Lordy! That's a heavy question. {sigh} The answers really range from "Anyone you want!!!" to "You probably should use coconut oil for that". There are so many factors, but I've dedicated my WEEK to writing this post to answer your most pressing questions. Lucky you!! YAY!

In my mind, there are really two completely different rules to using carrier oils when it comes to beauty {aka your face} vs simple dilution for essential oils, so we're going to talk about both today!

Carrier oil 101-- learn about the basics of what is a carrier oil and how to use them with essential oils for #DIYbeauty and #bodycare

What is a Carrier Oil?
The term is half misleading. It's doesn't even have to be an oil, but it does carrier extra ingredients to a larger surface area.

Example: One drop of lavender essential oils doesn't cover much of your skin, but 1 drop of lavender and 1 drop of almond oil will cover at least double the surface area.

A carrier oil has two purposes (in my mind anyways): you use to either dilute an essential oil or something that you use to get a specific use or consistency from (example: coconut oil makes great salves).

So many things can be used as a carrier oils. I'll try to list them for you {clears throat}.... Almond oil, jojoba oil, mango butter, beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera, rosewater, castile soap, grapeseed oil, hemp seed oil, hazelnut oil, rosehips oil, argan oil, aloe vera gel, salt, V6, sugar.... omg. I'm tried. There is more, but I give up.

P.S. Mineral oil is NOT a carrier oil. Gross. It's derived from petroleum! Yuck.

Carrier Oils for Beauty
When you are looking for a carrier oil to use for beauty you may be looking for something to dilute your essential oils with or you might be looking for something more specific like the Oil Cleansing Method or to help support aging (::cough cough:: use ROSEHIPS).

There are a lot of options! Annnnnd... that's probably why it's so confusing, right?

Carrier oils for skin type

First, you have to identify your skin type (take this quiz if you aren't sure). Once you figure out your skin type, then it's a lot easier to narrow down your selection for oils.
  • Normal Skin: Any light carrier oil such as Hempseed, Coconut oil, Grapeseed, Sunflower, Sweet Almond
  • Oily Skin: Grapeseed, Sweet Almond, Apricot Oil, Jojoba, Sunflower, Hempseed, Tung oil
  • Dry Skin: Avocado Oil, Sweet Almond, Olive Oil, Rosehips
  • Sensitive Skin: Jojoba Oil, Sesame seed, Sweet Almond, Apricot, 
  • Mature Skin: Jojoba, Avocado, Apricot, Sesame seed, Rosehips
*Note that if you have a food allergy or sensitivity to a the food product listed in the oil, then do not use that oil on your body or face

It's important to note that being on this list doesn't promise that it will work for your skin type. Our skin will decide which oil it likes the most and remember that skin takes two weeks to turn over so anything that pops up between week 1-2 was probably already going to happen.

You'll know which carrier works for your skin type because your skin will readily absorb the oil and you shouldn't feel oily or sticky afterwards AND you don't get any comedogenic acne. (Pssst. don't worry-- we will talk about that!)

Some of my favorite skin care recipes using these carrier oils are....
Blending Carrier Oils
Some people chose to use two or three carrier oils at a time to maximize the benefits. Feel free to mix one or more of these oils together, but be careful not to over do it because if you have a reaction to one-- then it will be harder to narrow down which one cause a problem!

You can read more about how to blend oils on my post Troubleshooting the Oil Cleansing Method.

Comedogenic acne rankings for carrier oils

Comedogenic Rating
One of the biggest problems with using carrier oils for skin care is comedogenic issues. This is NOT regular pimples! These are teeny hard white bumps that pop up usually around 2 weeks from when you start using carrier oils on your skin.

The most popular areas for comedogenic blemishes seem to be on the chin and forehead, but they can show up just about anywhere.

Each carrier oil has a Comedogenic Rating. My friend Kara from LifeSanity was kind enough to make this amazing graphic to demonstrate the comedogenic rating of several popular carrier oils.

Just because something has a high Comedogenic rating doesn't mean you shouldn't use it! A lot of people use oils like Coconut oil with a lot of success, but it does mean that if you have a reaction then you may want to remove the oil with the highest comedogenic rating first.

Carrier Oils for the Body
The body isn't nearly as sensitive as the human face! THANK GOD! So we don't have to worry as much about the comedogenic ratings even with people who have super sensitive skin (like me!).

There are a TON of carrier oils for the body including all the ones listed above for skin care, plus you can use shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, aloe vera, rose water, mango butter, castile soap... etc, but for the sake of this article we are going to focus on those that actually have OIL.

Here are some of my favorite body recipes:
How To Pick A Carrier Oil for Body Care
When we are applying carrier oils to the body, I think it's more important to realize we need to pick an oil based on what we want.
  1. Do we need to achieve a purpose (wrinkles, blemishes, dry skin, etc)
  2. Are we looking to achieve a consistency (salve, body butter, balm, serum)
  3. What about scent? 
  4. Do we just want to dilute an essential oil?
If we are looking to achieve a purpose, then we can definitely use the chart above to find a carrier oil for our skin type. You may also want to add essential oils to your carrier oils to amplify it's purpose. I found that once I started adding quality essential oils to my carrier oils my results were seen quicker and more pronounced than before. I recommend this brand.

If we are looking for consistency, then we want to pay attention to how the oils behave. If we want something that is going to stay a liquid, then we want a liquid carrier oil. Duh, right? But some carrier oils, namely coconut oil, will turn a solid when it gets cool, but it's a liquid when it's warm. If we make a coconut oil serum in the summer, we won't be able to use it very well in the winter! (The exception is fractionated coconut oil-- it's always a liquid). Likewise, that beautiful winter coconut oil salve you made this winter is going to change consistency in the summer. Adding beeswax and butter will help it retain it's shape.

 1/3 coconut oil, 1/3 beeswax, 1/3 butter =  basic lotion, balms, body butters. You can change the consistency buy putting it in the fridge for 30 - 60 minutes then beating it with a blender or hand mixture.

How to pick carrier oils for lotions, creams, salves, and more

Another thing to consider is smell-- do you want it to smell nutty (hazelnut, almond) or fruity (coconut, apricot) or maybe sweet (cocoa butter)? Carrier oils can add to the depth of scent in your DIY recipe, but sometimes they can get in the way. For an unscented carrier oil, I loooooove jojoba oil. 

Using Carrier Oils with Essential Oils
Alright, alright, now let's make this EASY for once, for God's sake! Everyone tries to make this soooooo complicated, but it's not. I PROMISE!!

You can use ANY carrier oil to dilute essential oils! See-- easy.


Oh, no? You want more? Okkkaayyy....

If you happen to use an essential oil brand that actually has dilution instructions on the bottles, then life is easy for you! Follow those instructions! But you can always dilute MORE if you want to stretch the oils (and your cash). If you don't use a high quality brand (store bought brands are NOT high quality FYI) then you may need to contact the company to find out instructions. They are often made with synthetics and need a heavier dilution OR are already heavily diluted with carrier oil. I recommend this brand

I'm cheap so I dilute my essential oil by at least 50% every time, but I'm also a big fan of heavier dilutions too when I make a lot of my DIY products.

I really recommend coconut oil for essential oils because it can be a base to so many of the different DIYs that you can make with it AND it's kind of amazing for skin care. 

You can watch this video for more information on how to safely dilute your essential oils and how to read labels.

Reader Questions:
If you are unsure if an essential oil requires dilution, dilute at least 50% with ANY carrier oil. That means for every 1 drop of essential oil use 1 drop of carrier oil. 

If it has a mild burning sensation, tingles, or just feels a little funny:
Dilute it more heavily or stop using it!

If I held you down and tormented you with chocolate, would you tell me which 3 carrier oils you'd recommend?
Yes, but all you really needed was the chocolate. I do like your level of commitment though.

1. Coconut oil because it's so versatile
2. Jojoba because it's unscented
3. Rosehips oil (or Argan) because I'm obsessed with using it for face care. 

If you're putting essential oil on children:
As a generality ALWAYS dilute essential oils when using them with children, but remember some essential oils are to be used with caution in children so I always recommend educating yourself. I like the Gentle Babies Book as a reference guide.

Essential Oils and Pets:
I recommend seeing a holistic vet in most cases just to be safe as so much depends on the metabolism, size, and health of your pet. Be very careful with cats in particular as they have very sensitive livers and some essential oils can cause damage if improperly used.

Dogs are much more robust and can tolerate many essential oils easily. You can read this article for more ideas on how to use essential oils for your dog6 DIY's for Your Dog

How to dilute essential oils with carrier oil

How about Cleaning?
You can dilute with castile soap, vinegar, alcohol, or any of the regular DIY household products.

What about DIY Wellness recipes?
I always suggest buying a guide book similar to this one so that you can use your essential oils safely and effectively for your goal. Remember to dilute to the instructions on the back of the bottle, but you can dilute more to stretch the essential oil.

Which carrier oils do you use and where do you buy them?
I buy most of mine on Amazon because they have such a wide selection and it's easier to buy organic or non-GMO.

Sweet Almond Oil Organic Pure Cold Pressed

I can't find the right blend or oil for my skin, what should I do?
  1. Be Patient. Skin turns over every 2 weeks so if you see something pop up right away-- it may have been coming anyways. I encourage most people to wait 2-4 weeks before changing their routine.
  2. Look at the chart at the top of this posts and see if you are using the right oils for your skin type. Adjust if you need to.
  3. Next look at the chart that has comedogenic ratings, remove or replace any oil that is high on the comedogenic rating list. 
  4. Be MORE patient. Most people take 2-4 adjustments before they find their right carrier oil for skin care.
What do I do if I need MORE help?
You can join my Natural Living and Essential Oil Facebook Group.

You can also read these for more information about how to use essential oils
Sherri Griffin
Sherri Griffin

Thanks for checking out my blog. I get serious about a few things in life: animals, chemicals, and food. For the rest I can't promise anything so keep the bar low. For more about me check out my "About Me" page! Happy DIYing!


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