In the world of essential oils you are going to hear the term ‘carrier oil’ from time to time. A carrier oil is a vegetable (coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, etc) and is used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied topically. Diluting essentials oils with a carrier oil does not dilute their effectiveness. It does however, slow down their absorption and disipation rates. by slowing the absorption, the essential oil will last longer on the skin, allowing a few drops to make a lasting effect and also makes them safer on sensitive skin and systems. Essential oils are volatile oils, which means they evaporate fairly quickly once applied. A carrier oil keeps the essential oil from evaporating, thus extending their life on your skin.
Another reason a carrier is beneficial is, for lack of better of a better word, spread-ability. Essential oils aren’t fatty oils so they evaporate quite quickly. If you would like to massage an essential oil into your skin, it reaches a lot more surface area when combined with a carrier oil. To do this without a carrier wouldn’t be possible without over using (wasting) your precious oils!
Carrier oils are not created equally. When choosing a carrier oil, its best to choose organic (this oil absorbs into your skin as well) and its also important to consider the oils properties. Grapeseed oil is a very thin oil, excellent for the face but wont be the best oil to use in a full body massage. Olive and avocado oils are very thick, great for babies and very dry skin. And oils such as coconut, sweet almond and sunflower oil are in between are easier for multipurpose use.
Petroleum derivatives (petroleum jelly, mineral oil, baby oil), butter, margarine, lard and vegetable shortening should never be used as a carrier oil.