A Guide to Carrier Oils

guide to carrier oilsWanting a guide to carrier oils? If you’ve recently been introduced to the amazing world of essential oils, you may not have heard of a carrier oil. They get to be pretty important once you start making essential oil blends! Especially if you plan on using them on the kiddos. Continue reading for my guide on how to use carrier oils.


What is a Carrier Oil?

How do we define a carrier oil? This term refers to a neutral plant oil that you mix with highly concentrated essential oils to dilute them. This dilution makes them safer for topical use. These carrier oils form the ‘base’ of the blend. So the majority of the product is carrier oil, with just a small amount of actual essential oil.

There are many different kinds of carriers that vary in thickness, color and aroma. They are nourishing and go deep into the skin. By going down several layers, they enhance the penetration of the essential oils into muscles, tendons and ligaments. Thus, making them more effective.

Types of Carrier Oils

Listed below are several examples of carriers categorized by their consistency as thin, medium or thick to give you options of what to use in your blends.


These carriers are slightly thicker than water. They absorb into the skin with minimal pressure. Thin carriers are great as the majority of the base in roll on blends. Also, they make a great base for massage oils. They have skin-nourishing properties and will help restore moisture to dry skin. Examples of these are: Jojoba wax, Grapeseed oil, Aloe Vera Gel.

**Note: Aloe Vera Gel is water-based so it nourishes the skin, but it also draws moisture out. This is a key ingredient in treating skin rashes that are too moist or irritated. Situations that come to mind include sunburns, fungal and viral rashes.


Carrier oils that I consider to be medium are the consistency of a thicker oil. They require more massaging to get fully absorbed into the skin. These are great as the base in blends for the face, injuries and skin issues. They too can be awesome choices for massage blends! They provide moisture to very dry skin and some even possess antibacterial and antifungal properties to prevent infection. Examples of these are: Avocado oil, Sweet Almond oil, Trauma oil, Unscented lotion, Coconut oil, Olive oil.


Thick carrier oils are usually not the only ones in a blend. They are usually too thick to be rubbed into the skin. So they need to be melted down and mixed with other thin or medium carriers. These are usually very skin nourishing for the worst of skin situations. Great for stubborn dry patches! Their forte is in helping essential oils get absorbed into the muscles  for pain and tightness. Examples of these are: Cocoa butter, Shea butter, Kombo butter, Palm Kernel oil, Tamanu oil.

How Will You Know What Carrier to Use?

There are several things you need to think about here. First, how deep do you need to go? What I mean by that is, are you treating a skin issue? Or are you wanting to go deeper into a muscle or tendon? Sometimes you may even be treating both the skin and muscles. Your choice of carrier oil will vary depending on your desired effect.

All About The Skin

As a general rule of thumb for skin rashes, “if it’s wet, dry it out, if it’s dry make it wet”. For healthy skin, we want it to be neutral. Not too dry, and not too moist. There is a delicate balance here. Too dry and the skin is cracking and peeling. Too wet and this invites bacteria and fungus. Which can cause redness and irritation.

When it comes to carriers, the thicker the carrier, the more moisture it holds in the skin. For a rash that gets worse with moisture, a carrier that draws water out of the skin will be a better option.

For instance, if you’re treating a diaper rash, which is generally Candida fungus, Aloe Vera Gel would be an ideal choice. This thin carrier would dilute any essential oil, and also draw moisture out to prevent further fungal growth.

Moreover, for a rash that is dry and depleted of moisture, you want to restore it. Medium to thick carriers like cocoa butter, palm kernel oil and avocado oil make great bases for dry skin issues. They help keep moisture in to make skin soft again.

Focus on the Muscles

What kind of carriers are should you use for the muscles? When treating injuries, the thicker butters are best for calming swollen joints and muscles. These are best for getting the essential oil deep into the muscle. Some carriers even contain certain natural components that aid in deep tissue healing due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

For example, for severe muscle pain or cramps a salve is a perfect choice to help with pain. A good base for a salve contains medium carriers, such as coconut oil and trauma oil. It is then mixed with thick carriers like cocoa butter and shea butter. Salve has the consistency of an ointment and can help get the essential oils absorbed more fully. Then you can finally ease the pain and discomfort! Sweet relief!

Overall, remember this…

It’s important to consider the therapeutic properties of carriers before making blends to make sure they will be the most beneficial for the ailment you are treating. Keep this guide handy whenever you start trying new recipes. It’s a great reference sheet to help you remember the basics. Good luck and happy blending!

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