If you’ve read up on essential oils, you’ve probably run into the term carrier oil and wondered what it is, why it’s necessary, and how it’s different from essential oil. This article will explain it all!

Essential oils are highly concentrated oils made from the leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits of plants. They’re often made by pressing or solvent expressing the oils into their concentrated form and storing them in dark glass bottles for longevity. Many essential oils are not safe to ingest or use topically without being diluted in some way. Here’s a list of the most common essential oils:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Clary sage
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Chamomile
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Rosemary
  • Frankincense
  • Lemongrass
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Tea Tree
  • Patchouli
  • Sandalwood
  • Teakwood
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme
  • Rose

While a few of these essential oils won’t harm you if applied directly to your skin, many of them will cause irritation, damage, or even severe skin reactions due to the concentration levels. They can also alter your hormone production and affect your ability to breathe. That means you need to take these warnings very seriously. Remember that cinnamon challenge that landed hundreds of teenagers in the ER a few years ago? Yes, it’s exactly like that! Dangerous!

Carrier oils, on the other hand, are considered base oils and dilute essential oils until they’re safe for topical use. Think vegetable oil, for instance. You could bathe in vegetable oil, and the only side effect is going to be a whole lot of “what was I thinking?” as you try to rinse it off. Unlike essential oils, which are made from the green parts of the plant, carrier oils are made from the nuts and seeds of plants. Some common examples of carrier oils include:

  • Sweet Almond
  • Grapeseed
  • Jojoba
  • Coconut
  • Olive
  • Argan
  • Rosehip
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower

Not only are these oils safe to apply to your skin (barring any allergies), but many of them are ones we cook with daily!

Now that you know the difference, you’re probably wondering about ratios. Honestly, it depends on which essential oils you’re trying to dilute and the intended result. For instance, Argan oil makes an excellent massage oil (though rather pricey) with proven benefits from the abundant amount of vitamins A and E. If you want to mix it with essential oil, you’ll use four drops per teaspoon. For even better results, though, you’ll want to mix equal parts Argan and Rosehip, and then add three drops of your chosen essential oil per teaspoon!

So long as you don’t overdo the essential oil amount, feel free to mix and match your oils until you find a scent that makes you smile. Tea Tree does wonders for your skin but doesn’t smell the best on its own. Add a little mint in, however, and the tea tree scent is masked while still giving you all the benefits. Personally, I’m a massive fan of mixing lavender, tonka, and vanilla. It relaxes me and reminds me of fuzzy slippers for my mind and soul.