Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy
This guide to aromatherapy carrier oils (also called base oils) explains the differences between the most popular oils to help you choose the right one when creating a blend for massage or any other use where it will be applied directly to the skin.
There are many carrier oils available with which to dilute your essential oils. They range from the inexpensive, such as grapeseed and sweet almond oils, to the costly, such as apricot kernel and avocado oils.
Some carrier oils have properties in themselves and are used on their own outside aromatherapy. Sweet almond oil is sometimes used as a basic massage oil, for example, and avocado oil is used to treat dry skin.
Although single carrier oils are normally used, sometimes you may wish to mix them, for example, avocado oil works well mixed with one of the lighter oils, which will also help to reduce the cost.
Some of the carrier oils are:
Sweet almond oil, available in many drug stores, though you may have to ask for it at the counter. This is the oil used by many beginning aromatherapy and is a good general purpose carrier oil with a pleasant neutral scent. It’s the best oil to use on young children and babies. Good for relieving itching, soreness, dry, inflamed or wrinkled skin and for nourishing, softening and revitalizing all skin types. Organic sweet almond oil is also available.
Grapeseed oil is cheap and cheerful. My local supermarket sells big bottles of it alongside the other edible oils. Grapeseed oil is fine for general use, but as it has a short shelf life, it’s best to reserve it for blends which are to be used up within a few weeks.
Wheatgerm oil has a strong smell of its own unless you buy the refined variety and should never be used on its own; add a small quantity to a lighter oil to make a blend when treating premature aging of the skin, eczema and psoriasis. Not suitable for children or anyone suffering from Dermatitis herpetiformis, celiac disease, Lyme disease or any auto-immune condition.
Olive oil is another oil which can be used; use the lightest variety to avoid the overpowering aroma of olives in extra virgin and other full strength olive oil. Olive oil is particularly useful for scalp and hair treatments.
Avocado oil is another of the more expensive oils, available in two types: refined and unrefined. The refined oil is odorless and has a longer shelf life than the unrefined. Avocado oil is particularly useful for dry and dehydrated skin.
Finally, apricot kernel oil, and in particular organic apricot kernel oil is used for anti-ageing. It used to be very expensive but has come down in price in recent years. It can be used on all types of skin, especially elderly, inflamed and dry skin. Because it is light and easily absorbed, apricot kernel oil is particularly good for use on the face.
All of these are available in my online store, along with a few more!
There are other oils, but this is a good representative selection.
Having chosen your carrier oil, you should pour a measured quantity into a dark colored bottle and add the right quantity of your chosen essential oil/s.
As a broad rule of thumb the amount of essential oil to be added is calculated by dividing the quantity in ml by two. So if you had 10ml of carrier oil, you could add a total of up to 5 drops of essential oil – using a single oil or more than one to make a blend.
Even if you are using more than one essential oil, the total number of drops added should not be more than you have calculated (1 drop for every 2ml of carrier oil or as specified if you are using a published recipe). Having added your oil, replace the cap and shake to mix the essential oil with the carrier oil before use.