- Carrier Oils: Their Types, Advantages, Uses and More!
- What Are Carrier Oils?
- What Are Carrier Oils Comprised Of?
- How are Carrier Oils Extracted?
- Carrier Oil Contraindications
- What Determines the Quality of Carrier Oils
- Storing Carrier Oils
- Types of Carrier Oils
- Carrier Oil Prices
- Uses & Benefits of Carrier Oils
- Deeper Insight into Carrier Oils
- Nut Oils
- Seed Oils
- Fruit Oils
- Essential Fatty Acid Oils
- Carrier Oil Absorption Rates
- Carrier Oil Diffusers
- Where to Buy Carrier Oils
What Are Carrier Oils?
Carrier oils are base oils which are derived from vegetables, seeds, nuts or kernels. They are known as “fixed oils” as they stay on the skin and do not evaporate quickly.
Carrier oils are used in aromatherapy, skincare, hair products, and cosmetics. They can be added to essential oils, to control the strength of aroma, without compromising with any of the therapeutic properties.
Carrier oils have been in use since the introduction of aromatic oils and bath products in ancient Greece and Rome. Later in the 1950s, Marguerite Maury combined essential oils with carrier oils and used the resulting products in Tibetan back massages.
In recent times, carrier oils are used in products like lip balms, moisturizers, bath and body oils. They can effectively cure skin irritations, redness, premature aging and improve the conditions of both hair and skin.
What Are Carrier Oils Comprised Of?
Every carrier oil has a different composition. The components present in a carrier oil give it very specific characteristics. It is because of the difference in their components in terms of viscosity, color, or penetration speed. Their effects and therapeutic benefits also depend on their composition.
Most carrier oils contain fat-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients that are really beneficial for skin and hair. Some of these soothe irritations, hydrate your skin or add make hair soft and healthy.
The most common components of carrier oils are minerals, vitamins, sterolins, oleic acid, linoleic acid, vitamin E, lecithin, phytosterols, essential fatty acids, selenium, medium chain triglycerides, and palmitoleic acid. The benefits of each of these components are given below.
- Improves skin conditions, especially dull skin.
- Protects against pollution and environment stressors.
- Balances the oil production in the skin without being harsh on sensitive skin.
- Encourage exfoliation from time to time.
- Tightens skin, making it appear firm and smooth.
- Keeps skin hydrated and maintains moisture.
- Repairs vital skin tissue and keeps it healthy.
- Controls acne and breakouts.
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and smoothens lines.
- Hydrates skin to keep it healthy and glowing.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Evens out the skin tone.
- Lessens age spots.
- Repairs skin tissue damaged due to overexposure to sunlight.
- Reduces the appearance of scars.
- Keeps skin moisturized.
- Softens rough hair
- Softens hair and provides shine to it.
- Maintains the softness and radiance of the skin.
- Makes hair thick, long and strong.
- Reduces age spots, wrinkles, and fine lines.
- Prevents dandruff and allows hair to grow healthy.
- Betters the immunity.
- Has antioxidant properties.
- Reduces possibilities of joint inflammation and stiffness, while soothing pain.
- Keeps hair moisturized and makes it grow faster.
- Heals wounds quickly.
- Is a very good emulsifier and can be used to make soaps or oils that fry fast.
- Consists of anti-inflammatory properties.
- Soothes acne and reduces the possibility of further breakouts.
- Allows skin and hair to retain moisture and thus stay healthy.
- Makes oils thinner than usual which is good for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
- Has antioxidant properties.
- Prevents the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
- Repairs damaged skin tissue.
- Softens and smoothens both skin and hair.
- Hydrates dry skin and brittle hair.
- Maintains moisture and shine of hair.
- Promotes blood circulation and makes skin and hair look healthy.
- Promotes the production of collagen.
- Repairs sun-damaged skin.
- Allows the growth of skin that is firm and smooth.
- Boosts immunity.
- Reduces scars and blemishes.
Essential Fatty Acids
- Creates and maintains the natural oil barrier of the skin.
- Hydrates dry skin to make it soft and supple.
- Nourishes the cells and gets rid of toxins in the body.
- Creates an antimicrobial barrier to protect the skin against pollution and other harsh conditions.
- Moisturizes skin and prevents premature aging of the skin.
- Prevents the loss of water from the surface of the skin.
- Makes hair soft and smooth.
- Has antioxidant properties.
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
- Allows burns and wounds to heal fast and takes care of other skin conditions.
Medium Chain Triglycerides
- Prevents growth of bacteria, viruses or fungi.
- Has moisturising properties.
- Prevents dandruff and keeps hair healthy.
- Boosts the growth of hair.
- Reduces the appearance of age spots and wrinkles.
- Moisturizes skin and keeps it firm.
- Boosts hair growth.
- Makes hair appear healthy and shiny.
- Makes nails healthy and strong.
- Prevents premature aging of the skin by taking care of its elasticity.
How are Carrier Oils Extracted?
Most carrier oils are extracted from nuts or seeds. However, there are exceptions. Coconut oil is extracted from the “copra” which is the white flesh found inside it, while jojoba oil is extracted from the leathery leaves of the shrub and is actually more of liquid wax, rather than an oil.
Extraction of oil, whether from nuts, seeds or any other substance, can be done by various processes. Details of the three most common extraction processes are discussed in the following.
Cold Pressing is a process that does not involve any chemicals. Nuts or seeds from which the oil needs to be extracted are pressed under a horizontal pressing device, known as the expeller”.
A screw moves the nuts or the seeds through a hollow which is shaped like a barrel. This movement compresses the nuts or the seed and squeezes the oil out. The oil seeps out from the openings at the side of the barrel while the debris or the “meal” is left behind inside the barrel. The oil that is squeezed out is filtered and then packaged for sale and use.
Now, during this process, there is a fair amount of heat that is produced. The temperature depends on how hard the nuts or seeds are and how much pressure had to be applied to them. The harder the nuts or seeds, the higher the pressure applied and therefore, the higher the heat. But this heat does not harm the oil.
In cold pressing, there is no residue and oil produces is much cleaner. The oil also has a much higher concentration of natural color and aroma.
Expeller pressing is a mechanical method that is applied for the extraction of carrier oils. Like cold processing, this process too does not involve the use of any chemicals. In expeller pressing, a hydraulic press is used to extract oil and the process produces heat.
However, unlike in cold-pressed oils, oils that have been extracted using expeller pressing do not have very low temperatures. Their temperatures usually rise above 120 degrees Celsius. Due to such high temperature, the oils need to be treated and processed properly, so that their nutrients are not damaged by the heat.
Therefore, expeller pressed oils are refined, deodorized and bleached (RDB).
The process of refining gets rid of impurities, enhances the color and texture of the oils and allows it to maintain a stable shelf-life. During the process, the oil which is to be refined is introduced to a weak base solution.
This converts the fatty acids present in the oil into soap. It then undergoes centrifugation and is rinsed with water, till just the pure oil is left. Bleaching too enhances the color of the oil. It also provides clarity as it involves filtering the oil through a layer of earth or clay.
When the oil is finally deodorized, the volatile aromatic components of the oil are vacuumed and any unpleasant odors are gotten rid of.
There is another process which expeller pressed oils often undergo. This is the winterization process. During this, the carrier oil is cooled and filtered so that any solid, crystalline elements are removed and the oil appears clearer and lighter.
Expeller pressed oils are great for use in cosmetic bases.
When a carrier oil has to be extracted from botanical substances that do not have much oil, to begin with, this method of oil maceration is used. Macerated oils are usually vegetable oils (olive oil and sunflower oil are the most common ones) and can be very easily used as solvents or bases.
These oils can also be used to extract other fat soluble properties of the botanical substances. These properties can then be infused with the therapeutic properties. It is due to this reason that macerated oils are often known as infused oils.
While infusing the properties, dried herbs are used. This allows an antimicrobial barrier to be created and prevents the risk of infection from wet herbs. To do this, the botanicals are bruised and kept in a base oil for a period of time. Often a certain amount of heat is provided to the base oil to promote better infusion.
The substance is then filtered to get rid of any plant matter. The resulting oil, therefore, will contain just the properties of the base oil and the botanicals used. The remaining base oil can be used for infusion a few more times.
The oils extracted through this process retain their natural aroma and can be incorporated into skincare products. They can also be used in natural cosmetics.
In this method, a particular plant matter is soaked in either ethanol, methanol, petroleum ether or hexane. The solvent used to break the cell membranes of the plant and synthesize its natural oils. Once this is done, the solvent is filtered out, leaving behind the oil. The oil can then be bottled for use.
Oils obtained through solvent extraction are not completely pure. Since they are synthesized within a chemical solvent, traces of that solvent remains even when it is filtered.
Carrier Oil Contraindications
Many carrier oils are extracted from peanuts and several people are allergic to nuts. Now, you might think that since peanuts are actually legumes, they might not cause allergies like other nuts. However, this is a common misconception.
Peanuts, like any other nuts, do have the potential to trigger allergic reactions. Therefore carrier oils, while not containing the proteinaceous part (this is the part that causes the allergic reactions), should be avoided by those who are sensitive to nuts.
This is also because the purity of the oil is not always a hundred percent and even a very small percentage of the proteinaceous matter from the nuts can become quite harmful. So, it is better to use hypoallergenic oils if you are sensitive to nuts.
What Determines the Quality of Carrier Oils
Carrier oils of the best quality are completely pure, unadulterated and as natural as they can be. Most of the high-quality carrier oils are cold-pressed as this method of extraction retains most of their original properties, constituents, and aroma.
If the quality of carrier oils are not that good, they will go rancid. Organic, cold-pressed carrier oils are usually found to be of the best quality. For all carrier oils, the quality can be understood by taking into consideration their aroma, the way they have been extracted, their consistency and how fast they are absorbed into the skin, the amount of natural fatty acids and tocopherols present as well as their shelf lives. These factors are further discussed in the following points.
Carrier oils which are of good quality do not contain any odor. They might have a faint aroma of the nut or seed from which they have been extracted. This aroma should be sweet and quite gentle.
- Method of extraction
The high-quality carrier oils which are used in different products are either cold-pressed, organic, unrefined or extra virgin. If during extraction, the carrier oil has been heated to more than 45 degrees Celsius, then its quality is bound to get compromised. This happens often in the expeller extraction process.
The high temperature damages the nutrients and the oil is not completely pure. Unrefined carrier oils, on the other hand, when refined to get rid of dust particles, solids or any other unwanted substances, retain all of their properties, and nutrients like vitamins and fatty acids.
They are the purest and are usually of top grade. This is the same for cold-pressed carrier oils, which have the correct temperature and are not damaged by the additional heat that is produced. Extra virgin carrier oils too retain their nutrients in their most original state and they are only pressed twice and not any more than that.
- Consistency and rate of absorption
Carrier oils have different consistencies. Some are thin while some are thicker. The consistency or viscosity will depend on the nature of your skin. If you have very dry skin, a thicker carrier oil will be good for your skin. It might take some time to get absorbed, but it is of high quality for your type of skin as it will provide intense moisturization along with deep hydration.
For oily skin, a good quality carrier oil should be of a thin consistency and should not take too much time to get absorbed. The oil will not make your skin feel greasy and instead will leave behind a silky, smooth finish. The same holds true for hair.
Carrier oils of good quality should be thick and moisturizing for damaged, dry hair but quite light and non-greasy for hair that is already oily.
- Natural fatty acids and tocopherols
High-quality carrier oils should have restorative properties and these are provided by fatty acids. Tocopherols work as preservatives and add to the nutrient content of the oil. These make the carrier oils nourishing, moisturizing and regenerative.
Carrier oils of great quality will contain both fatty acids and tocopherols to boost the health of both skin and hair. The presence of these nutrients allow different fatty oils to be mixed to create a desirable formula.
Some oils are so rich in nutrients that they have an overpowering odor. A carrier oil with fewer nutrients can be added as a base and the resulting oil is not only of good quality but also contains the required properties.
- Shelf life
Carrier oils that have a long shelf life are considered to be of better quality. Carrier oils that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids will not last long (maximum 6 months) but carrier oils that have the right amount of nutrients will last up to 2 years.
To maintain the quality of the oil and to make sure that it lasts a long time, you should store the carrier oil in a cool, dark place to prevent oxidation (especially if the oil does not ha antioxidant properties).
Storing Carrier Oils
Carrier oils need to be stored in cool dark places. Sunlight or direct light can damage the constituents of carrier oils. Many people, to keep these oils fresh, store them in the refrigerator. However, some oils cannot be refrigerated.
When an oil like avocado oil is refrigerated, the cold temperature can cause considerable damage to its delicate components. The oil might even solidify or lose clarity and become cloudy.
A few carrier oils like borage, evening primrose, flaxseed, or rosehip oils, can become rancid within a short period of time. Therefore, to improve their shelf lives, you should add 1% of vitamin E (natural) oil and it will act as a preservative. These oils can also be refrigerated and will eventually liquefy at room temperature.
Types of Carrier Oils
The various career oils are categorized on the basis of their state of solidity. Thus, they are divided into hard oils and soft oils.
- Hard oils
These oils solidify at room temperature. If you want to use hard oils, you have to heat them, to bring them to the liquid state. Hard oils are often added to soaps. They make soaps firm, as during formulation soaps are usually soft or sticky. Some of the most common hard oils are palm and coconut.
- Soft oils
Soft oils do not solidify and stay liquid at room temperature. They have nourishing and moisturizing properties. Soft oils, like hard oils, are required for the formulation of soap. Soap with just hard oils would become too brittle and might even crack.
Soft oils bind the soap together and prevent it from becoming too dry. The most common soft oils available are olive, sweet almond, rice bran, and canola.
One hard oil can easily substitute another and the same goes for soft oils. However, before substituting, you should always check whether it has the same characteristics when it comes to firmness, lather, moisture, and other such properties.
Substituting and mixing of oils should always be done by keeping in mind the original recipe and it’s potential. This makes it easy to customize a product during formulation.
Carrier Oil Prices
Carrier oils are can be of different prices depending on a few factors. These factors include:
- The type of plant (whether endemic or exotic)
- The botanical name of the plant matter and its composition
- If the oil has been treated to organic processing,
- Therapeutic values of the oil
- The supplier of the oil
- Quantity of oil purchased
Uses & Benefits of Carrier Oils
Carrier oils are usually used to dilute essential oils. While essential oils have a wide range of benefits, they cannot be applied directly or "neat”. This is where the carrier oils come in. Carrier oils when added to essential oils, prevent the risk of skin irritations and allergies. Essential oils cannot spread across the surface of the skin on their own. They can evaporate quickly if a carrier oil is not mixed. Carrier oils allow the essential oils to penetrate the skin and nourish it from within.
Apart from being the medium for essential oils and enhancing their properties, carrier oils also have therapeutic properties of their own. They contain many essential fatty acids and can provide intense nourishment to skin and hair.
Deeper Insight into Carrier Oils
There are many different carrier oils available in the market. When you go to buy one, you will have to be aware of each of their properties and benefits. This will allow you to make the correct choice.
There are four different carrier oils found and they are nut oils, seed oils, fruit oils, and essential fatty acid oils. The details given in the following points discuss the benefits of these oils and give examples so that you can buy the correct one.
- Very emollient.
- Soothing for dry, sensitive or sore skin.
- Good for acne-prone skin and is therefore used in several face masks.
- Facilitates proper circulation.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Heals wounds quickly.
- Boosts tightness and elasticity of the skin.
Examples: Almond, hazelnut, macadamia, walnut.
- Rejuvenates tired skin and complexion.
- Repairs damaged and dried skin.
- Soothes skin irritations and burns.
- Reduces scars.
Examples: Baobab, black currant, borage, broccoli, carrot.
- Very nourishing and gentle on sensitive skin.
- Quite light but has intense moisturizing properties.
- Reduces premature skin aging.
- Cleanses and softens skin.
- Has antioxidant properties.
Examples: Apricot, avocado, grape seed, peach kernel, olive.
Essential Fatty Acid Oils
- Soothes itching skin.
- Good for inflamed or acne-prone skin.
- Contains antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial as well as antifungal properties.
- Takes care of fatty acid deficiency in the skin.
- Balances the production of oil in the skin.
- Has astringent properties and can heal wounds fast.
Examples: Argan, babassu, calendula.
Carrier Oil Absorption Rates
Finish on skin: These oils have a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats. They are drying and the skin absorbs them very fast. Once applied, they leave no residue and the area does not appear to be greasy.
Carrier oils: Hazelnut (cold-pressed), rosehip (extra virgin, cold-pressed).
Finish on skin: The skin does absorb these oils quickly but they leave behind a silky, smooth finish. However, the area will not feel greasy and instead will be moisturized.
Carrier oils: Apricot kernel (cold-pressed), camellia seed (cold-pressed), grape seed, meadowfoam, safflower, canola, fractionated coconut, prickly pear, broccoli seed.
Finish on skin: These oils are absorbed in a medium rate. Once they have penetrated the skin completely, a silky smooth finish is left behind.
Carrier oils: Hemp seed (unrefined, cold-pressed), jojoba (cold pressed), argan, babassu, raspberry seed, sesame.
Finish on skin: When first applied, these oils will feel rather waxy on the skin. They take some time to warm up and get absorbed properly. However, even after that, an oily residue is left on the skin.
Carrier oils: Carrot (macerated, cold-pressed), pomegranate (refined, cold-pressed), sea buckthorn (cold-pressed), black currant seed, tamanu (macerated, cold-pressed), avocado (refined, cold-pressed), castor, oat, flax seed (cold), sweet almond (sweet virgin, cold-pressed), kuikui nut (cold-pressed), olive (extra virgin, cold-pressed), sunflower (cold-pressed).
Finish on skin: With a high concentration of saturated fats, these have a long shelf life but take a very long time to get absorbed. These oils need to have some heat applied to them before they can be used. They feel quite heavy and thick on the skin but also have deep moisturizing properties.
Carrier oils: Evening primrose (cold-pressed), neem (cold-pressed), palm (refined, cold pressed), borage (unrefined, cold), coconut (refined, cold), macadamia nut (cold-pressed).
Carrier Oil Diffusers
For essential oils, nebulizers and electric diffusers are usually used. When diffused through these devices, essential oils do not need to be mixed with carrier oils. But, carrier oils can be used in reed diffusers. In these diffusers, carrier oils replace the water or alcohol which acts as the base and can temper the intense scent of the essential oils.
Where to Buy Carrier Oils
Carrier oils are readily available and you can find them at your local grocery store or health food stores. There are also many websites online that sell carrier oils and you can purchase your oils from these as well. However, make sure that the brand is an authentic one before buying and that the oil is of good quality.
At VedaOils , you will find a wide range of cruelty-free, vegan carrier oils. We have been in business for more than 20 years and all our products are certified by USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Organic.
We also have ISO (The International Organization of Standardization) certification so you can be sure of our quality. Our oils are sourced ethically from all around the world and we also take special orders for products that we do not sell on a regular basis.
You will find the best of carrier oils with us, produced from the best distilleries and farmers at very affordable rates. Our products are strictly for external use and we advise our customers to use them only after taking into consideration all the details and policies.