A carrier oil, also known as a base or vegetable oil, is the oil extracted by pressing the fatty parts of plants, like seeds, kernels and nuts. They are packed full of wonderful nutrients like essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Carrier oils don’t typically have strong aromas like essential oils, they usually have a subtle oil-like scent or sometimes they have a mild sweet nutty smell.
The most common method of extracting carrier oil is cold pressing which is mechanical crushing of the plant without added heat, which is said to destroy the nutrients in the oils. Cold pressing ensures the oils is as natural and unadulterated as possible, nothing is added and the temperature is controlled to avoid any heat in the process. Sometimes, oils are filtered and refined, which can reduce the odour of an oil, or remove any sediment or impurities.
They are most commonly used in massage and other therapeutic practices to ‘carry’ essential oils to the skin, hence the name carrier oil. Natural beauty products are increasing in popularity and you will find many carrier oils in the ingredient lists of your favourite natural beauty products. Many people are taking to making their own natural skin, hair and well being products such as serums, face and body oils, creams, balms and so much more. Carrier oils are an excellent ingredient to use thanks to all the wonderful therapeutic properties they contain.You can also use many carrier oils in your cooking, some oils are best suited to garnishes or dressings to add flavour or richness, and some you can actually cook with. If you want to use carrier oils in the kitchen, make sure they are food grade… like ours!
Properties of carrier oils
Carrier oils are across the board extremely moisturising and nourishing to skin. They contain varying amounts of essential fatty acids, which the skin needs, but cannot produce, to stay hydrated, healthy and supple. Carrier oils can help create an occlusive barrier on the skin to lock in moisture and can be used to deliver vital nutrients to the skin.
One of the major factors in choosing a carrier oil is the feel of the oil and how fast it is absorbed by the skin and this is related to the viscosity of the oil. Typically, thicker more viscous oils are slow absorbers and lighter, thinner oils are the speedier ones.. We’ve created a quick guide to absorption rates; it’s by no means finite and oils can absorb differently depending on our skin. When choosing an oil, you need to trust your skin.
Oils for my skin type
Finding the right oil for your skin type can be a little tricky and there is no hard and fast rules as obviously everyone’s skin is different but here’s a general guide for you to begin with.
How to store carrier oils
The shelf life of a carrier oil depends on the fatty acid composition. Oils very rich in fatty acids can have a shorter shelf life. To keep your oils from going rancid, keep them in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight. You can add 0.5% of High Strength Vitamin E to prevent oxidisation and prolong the life of the oil.