Getting to Know Your Carrier Oils

28 August 28, 2015 - How to Use Essential Oils, Massage Therapy, Young Living Resources

Carrier oils are usually overlooked because they don’t contain the therapeutic constituents of other essential oils, but they can play an indispensable companion of topically applied oils. Let’s take a closer look at these carriers and why they deserve a place on the shelf of anyone who uses and loves essential oils.


What are carrier oils?

Carrier oils are naturally derived from vegetarian sources and have a neutral smell. They aren’t volatile like essential oils, which makes them an excellent medium for dilution and application.


What aren’t carrier oils?

Vegetable shortening, butter, and margarine are best left in the kitchen—they’re not intended for topical use. Mineral oil and other petroleum derivatives like petroleum jelly should also not be used as carrier oils.


How are carrier oils used?

Essential oils are volatile, which means they evaporate rapidly and contain the natural smell and characteristics of the plant. This can make them too strong to apply undiluted. Carrier oils do not evaporate or have a strong aroma, making them the perfect pair for diluting especially strong essential oils—reducing the concentration of the essential oil without altering its therapeutic qualities. When you dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil, you can also control its concentration before applying.

Like other substances that are high in fat, carrier oils have a limited shelf life, meaning that eventually they can go bad. Depending on the type, oils with a short shelf life should typically be used within six months, while oils with a longer shelf life may stay good for up to a year. It’s important to store oils in their original air-tight containers in a cool, dark place, such as the pantry, to maximize shelf life.

Carrier oils can vary widely in their consistency, absorption, aroma, shelf life, and other characteristics. Carrier oils can be blended to change or combine their properties, so you can mix and match until you find the blend that’s just right for you!


Get to know some of the more popular carrier oils!

Grapeseed Oil
  • Light and thin consistency
  • Well suited for massages; leaves a light glossy film over the skin
  • Moisturizing
  • High in linoleic acid
  • Relatively short shelf life
Sweet Almond Oil*
  • Slightly sweet, nutty aroma
  • Medium consistency
  • Absorbs relatively quickly; leaves a slight hint of oil on the skin
  • Rich in vitamin E and oleic acid
  • Moisturizing
  • Good all-purpose carrier oil

*Caution: May cause a reaction to those with nut allergies.

V-6 Carrier Oil - Young Living Essential OilsV-6**
  • A proprietary Young Living formula combining fractionated coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, wheat germ oil (contains a lot of vitamin E and acts as a natural preservative), sunflower oil, and olive oil
  • Moisturizes and nourishes the skin
  • An excellent carrier oil for all your best essential oils and applications

**Caution: May cause a reaction to those with nut allergies.

Jojoba Oil
  • Slightly nutty aroma
  • Medium consistency
  • Superior, non-greasy absorption, similar to the skin’s natural oils
  • Moisturizing for skin and hair
  • Long shelf life
Olive Oil
  • Popular, easy-to-find oil used in both topical and culinary applications
  • Thicker consistency; leaves an oily feel on the skin
  • Stronger aroma
  • Good source of oleic acid (omega fatty acid)
  • Relatively short shelf life
Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • Unlike coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil is liquid at room temperature
  • No noticeable aroma
  • Absorbs well; leaves skin feeling silky and moisturized; non-greasy
  • High in essential fatty acids
  • Long shelf life
Coconut Oil
  • Solid at room temperature
  • Distinct coconut aroma
  • Solid white color
  • Leaves a moisturizing, oily feeling layer on top of the skin
  • Long shelf life
Cocoa Butter
  • Solid and difficult to work with at room temperature
  • Best used when melted and blended with other carrier oils
  • Sweet, chocolate aroma
Shea Butter
  • Solid at room temperature
  • Nutty aroma
  • Cream colored
  • Moisturizing to skin and hair; leaves behind a moisturizing, waxy-feeling layer

Which carrier oils do you keep on hand? Share your go-tos in the comments!

  • newtoessentials

    Hi, I am new to the essential oil phase of my life. I just know I love them. I am wondering what kind of grape seed oil… what I use for cooking? I buy mine from costco

    • Young Living

      Hello there, Any high quality grape seed oil should work great. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Tyler Klingman

    I am looking to buy a carrier oil to use as a liquid, mixing in capsules, etc. What do you think would be best? I was thinking probably Olive Oil or Grapeseed but I’m relatively new to EO.

    • Young Living

      Hello Tyler, Those both can be used as a carrier oil. A carrier oil is vegetable oil such as coconut oil or grapeseed oil that can be used to dilute essential oils. Young Living V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex is an excellent carrier oil for all applications. Carrier oils ensure that essential oils applied topically are comfortable. Dilution with a carrier oil does not dilute the effect of the essential oil, and prevents waste due to excessive application. Vegetable shortening, butter, margarine or petroleum derivatives (petrolatum jelly) should never be used as carrier oils. Some consumers choose to avoid olive oil as a carrier oil because of its strong aroma and thick viscosity, but it’s personal preference. Thanks for stopping by!

  • miriam

    is avocado oil good as a carrier oil

    • Young Living

      Hello Miriam, Avocado oil would be a good example of a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a vegetable oil such as coconut oil or grapeseed oil that can be used to dilute essential oils. Young Living V-6 Enhanced Vegetable Complex is an excellent carrier oil for all applications. Vegetable shortening, butter, margarine or petroleum derivatives (petrolatum jelly) should never be used as carrier oils.

  • Michaela Scull

    Can you use vegetable glycerin?possibly combine to make a tincture

    • Young Living

      Hi Michaela, As we have not tested vegetable glycerin as a carrier oil we are not able to recommend this. However, Vegetable glycerin is not a mineral oil or other petroleum derivative so we feel it will be ok to use. Let us know how it works!

  • Pam

    Any of these carrier oils safe for my 67 year young face? Usually any face creams containing oil causes breakouts. I have true Tamanu, argan, and want to try galbanum for saggy jowels as recommended on dr Mercolas website. Also need it to help as a sleep aid. So need proper carrier oil. Thank you for your guidance!

    • Young Living

      Hello Pam, As no one person is alike we would not be able to recommend carrier oil specifically for you. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

  • Liza Magbanua

    Hi, I live in a tropical country, is it okay to store grapeseed oil in the fridge? Thanks!

    • Young Living

      Hi Liza, As we do not carry grapeseed oil we are not able to comment. You may want to contact the manufacturer with this question. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Ali

    Can you tell me if Tamanu carrier oil is a good one. It does have a smell to it. So great for acne.

    • Young Living

      Hi Ali, Tamanu carrier oil should be great to use as an alternative. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Carli

    I have squalane oil and I love it because it’s not as greasy as coconut oil, can I use that as a carrier oil? If not what is a good non- greasy liquid option for roller balls?

    • Young Living

      Hello Carli, You are more than welcome to use Squalane oil that is naturally derived from a vegetarian sources.

    • Betty

      Can i use moringa oil to dilute my eo?

  • Allison

    Thoughts on using all natural organic aloe vera gel as a carrier?

    • Young Living

      Hi Allison, Aloe vera can be used as a carrier oil if you would prefer!

  • Deb

    Since I am Gluten-Free, I cannot use the v-6 carrier oil, is that correct?

    I typically use grape seed oil, Argan oil, or mostly use coconut oil…..

    • Young Living

      Hi Deb, Correct the V-6™ oil does contain gluten derived ingredients. We apologize for any inconvenience!

  • Janice Weeks

    What about avocado oil? thanks

    • Young Living

      Hi Janice, You are more than welcome to try using avocado oil if you prefer!

  • Cindy

    How about castor oil?

    • Young Living

      Hi Cindy, Castor oil can be used as a carrier oil as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Shirley slagle

    What’s the best carrier oil to help with muscle and joint pain, and what oil is best for that. Thanks

    • Young Living

      Hi Shirley, We recommend viewing our Joint & Mobility products and discussing the products with your healthcare provider before beginning use!

  • Deb

    Can you dilute too much therefore changing the efficacy?

    • Young Living

      Hi Deb, Diluting an oil will affect the concentration of the oil, however the therapeutic value and benefits will remain. We recommend referring to the individual oil bottle label for dilution instructions.

  • Marisa

    Is it okay to use V-6 oil to cook with? Sometimes we will use a little grape seed oil to fry an egg so I was wondering since all oils in V-6 are food if you use to cook with.

    • Young Living

      Hi Marisa, Our V-6™ Vegetable Oil Complex is for external use only and labeled for topical application. Thanks for stopping by with your question!

  • Hillary

    What is the shelf life of Young Living’s V-6?

    • Young Living

      Hi Hillary, Based on past testing results, the shelf life of V-6™ is approximately 2 years. However, we are currently running additional stability testing to verify the shelf life of this specific product. Thanks for stopping by with your question!

  • Terry

    I use coconut oil v6 and shea butter. I love all 3.

  • Lynn Young

    Do essential oils work better with a carrier oil? Meaning stay on the skin longer without evaporating.

    • Young Living

      Hi Lynn, Essential oils will retain their therapeutic value whether used neat (no dilution) or with a carrier oil. Carrier oils do not evaporate and can provide the added bonus of moisturizing skin! We recommend following the individual oil bottle label for dilution instructions.

  • Kim

    Is there a dilution chart?

    • Young Living

      Hi Kim, When using essential oils with carrier oils, please refer to the individual bottle label for dilution and usage instructions. Further dilution may be necessary for sensitivity or preference. Thanks for stopping by with your question!

  • Samantha

    Wondering if anyone has tried mustard seed oil as a carrier oil?

  • Frances “Fran” Puckett

    Okay. I’m starting to understand carrier oils. Here’s my biggest question: I have coconut oil. It is a solid. Should I melt it before using it as a carrier pil?

    • Young Living

      Hi Frances, Great question. To get the correct dilution ratios, we would suggest liquifying the coconut oil before using with essential oils. Thanks for stopping by with your question.

  • Nancy Marie

    I have used Shea Butter, mango butter, and coconut oil. Have cocoa butter but haven’t tried it yet. Fractionated coconut oil for roll on.

  • Jerica

    Hi I am new to young living products. Can i use coconut oil (cold processed by centrifugal extraction) as a carrier oil to mix with other essential oils in a roll on?

    • Young Living

      Hi Jerica, Welcome to the Young Living family! Coconut oil is an excellent choice for a carrier oil in a roll on!

  • Rob

    I have used Argan oil with various oils in a roll on. What do you think of Argan oil?

    • Donna

      I love argon oil. I use it in my face serum and hair serum. Non-comedogenic and absorbs well into skin

  • Carrie

    What kind of coconut oil is to be used in rollers? The type I have is solid at room temperature.

    • Fractionated Coconut Oil

  • Pam Bayles

    Does peanut oil make a carrier oil?

    • Young Living

      Hi Pam, Peanut oil can be applied topically. Although, if you have concerns about it’s use, we recommend seeing a dermatologist before trying it. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Jerry

    What would be the best carrier oil to use, to make eucalyptus oil

  • new2eo

    Hi there, I wanted to know if one drop of Frankincense EO could be mixed with a few drops of almond/coconut oil instead of mixing the whole 10-15mls of the EO in with the carrier oil. (Does that make any sense? I hope I could explain my confusion properly hehe!) Thanks for the informative article, have a nice day! 🙂

    • Young Living

      Hi new2eo, You are more than welcome to mix just one drop of Frankincense with a few drops of the carrier oil each time you use it! Please refer to the directions on the label for usage information. Thanks for stopping by with your question!

  • Indrani bose

    Hi I bought some essential oils and want to mix them with carrier oil. But am not able to understand that at what propotion or how much propotion shall i mix them. Please help me out as I am making my own hair oil.
    Here I give you the name of the oils: coconut, olive, almond, castor, jojoba, avacado, amla, Argan and rosemary (oils).

    • Young Living

      Hi Indrani, Great question. Rosemary recommends using a 1:1 ratio by diluting one drop of oil with one drop of carrier oil and applying to the desired area as needed. As each person is unique and may have different sensitivities the ratio can be adjusted to best fit your personal preference. Thanks for stopping by!

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