Getting to Know Your Carrier Oils

29 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!

V-6V-6 Carrier Oil Vegetable Complex**

  • 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.

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.

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!

  • The best oil I ever used on my skin was olive oil. It leaves me so soft.

  • Hello Just Some Girl! In the whipped shea butter recipe there are additional carrier oils to help the consistency and functionality of the whipped shea butter. You can add essential oils to shea butter without adding other carrier oils! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Tracey

    I love Tea Tree and Frankincense on my face (equal parts). I recently purchased Geranium after reading wonderful things about it. I have yet to incorporate it into my skincare routine.

  • Hi Parvati! As grapeseed oil can be used as a carrier oil, it should be safe to use as it is without any other oils. However, as sensitivity can vary from person to person, we would suggest using it on a small portion of your face first to ensure optimal health. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Hi there! As long as Argan oil is naturally derived from a vegetarian source and has a neutral smell, it can be used as a carrier oil. As far as what oils to use with carrier oils, as long as the usage directions on our oil labels are followed for dilution ratios, and are labeled for external use, it is up to personal preference. Additionally, we do use Argan oil in our Shutran™ Aftershave Lotion. Thanks for stopping by!

  • allison

    what is the best way to use PanAway and a carrier oil. should I mix them together in a bigger bottle, or keep them separate. I and thinking of getting the large bottle and splitting it with someone and was going to mix it with the carrier oil in a 15ml bottle with a roller ball. don’t want to take a chance on the PanAway going bad in the carrier oil.

  • Wendy Culkin

    I found a Menstrual cramp relief recipe blend that calls for Fractionated coconut oil for a carrier oil. Can I use Jojoba oil instead?

  • Dee Ivall

    Hi there,
    Is V-6 a good carrier for internal use of Frankincense?

    • Hello Dee, Frankincense Vitality does not require dilution when taking internally. Just add 1-2 drops in a capsule. If dilution is desired, you may use the carrier oil of your choice. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Arunima Kundu

    Can jojoba oil be blended with ylang ylang and bergamot essential oil for oily skin?

  • Helen martin

    I’m confused about carrier oils. I want to use coconut oil for crepey skin. Do I need to use another oil with it? If so , what are my options? Thanks Helen

    • Hi Helen, Young Living’s products are intended only for the use listed on individual labels—either for topical/aromatic use or as a dietary supplement. Please always refer to the label for usage directions. Because Young Living’s products are not labeled to be used as drugs, they are not intended for use in the treatment or cure of disease or any abnormal function of the body, including ailments or injuries. Therefore, Young Living cannot provide advice or recommendation for products to address any type of disease, ailment, or injury. We advise that you consult with a dermatologist on your specific issue. We apologize for any inconvenience.

  • Deb

    Can you substitute Grapeseed oil with sesame oil?

    • Hi Deb, you are welcome to use grapeseed oil instead of sesame seed oil if that is your preference. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Beth

    I’m looking for a carrier oil that is non comedogenic, but also relatively hypoallergenic. I’m not allergic to nuts, but have a sensitivity to them (e.g., almonds, but not coconut). I was thinking hempseed oil or jojoba. Do you have a recommendation between one of those or another I’m not considering? Thank you!

    • Hi Beth, Either carrier oil will be fine that doesn’t contain nuts. It will be up to your personal preference. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Shawna

      i read grapeseed doesnt clog pores or cause breakouts and is an amazing conditioner

  • shroom

    so… i have 2 choices right now coconut oil (which unfortunately is at my mother in laws house 5 hours away) then i have shea butter on hand. how should i go about using this as a carrier? do i just blend the oil in the butter and use it as a cream? im experimenting mixing a few essential oils i have for a roll-on blend :-S help?

    • Hi Shroom, Shea Butter can be used as a carrier oil, but it is thicker and may not have the “roll-on” affect that fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, or V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex may have. We hope this helps!

  • Meghnasu

    Can castor oil can also be taken as a carrier oil?

  • Alecia

    Hi, is cinnamon essential oil good for the face and can it help to shrink large pores and if yes which carrier oil can i use it with?

    • Hi Alecia, Cinnamon oil is considered a “hot” oil. Due to the sensitivity of facial skin, we would not recommend using it on your face even when diluted. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Linda

    What I have, it says is 100% pure essential oil blend. How do I mix it?

    • Hi Linda, All of our essential oils are 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade oil. The directions on the label will let you know if you should dilute the oil with a drop of carrier oil. Carrier oil is used to dilute oils for sensitive skin or if the oil is a strong oil that would require dilution. You would also use a carrier oil for creating your own massage oil. We hope this helps and appreciate you stopping by!

  • Kelly

    I have what might seem like a stupid question….when mixing an oil with a carrier oil, can you just mix it in the palm of your hand and then apply? If not, what is the best way to mix an oil for topical use, one use at a time? Thank you!

    • Hi Kelly, You are welcome to to mix the oil with a carrier oil in your palm and then apply. It would be personal preference on what works best for you. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Johnthenewby

    I am confused as to what would be a good carrier oil for the use in diffusers.

    • Hi, Carrier oils are not needed when using essential oils in diffusers. Carrier oils are used more for topical application. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Kim Carr

    I’d like to dilute geranium oil with grape seed oil. What proportions should I use? It’s going to be used by my daughter to repel ticks.

    • Hi Kim, Essential oils should be diluted for use on children. We suggest using a patch test procedure prior to ensure the oil is properly diluted for the child. To perform a patch test, apply 1-2 drops of essential oil to a patch of skin such as the forearm. For additional concerns or targeted advice, we suggest consulting a health care provider to determine what is right for your child. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Del

    Hi, I’m new to using essential oils, and was wondering which carrier oil you would recommend if using for young babies/children with sensitive skin (eczema), but no nut allergy? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Del, Most carrier oils are safe to use with children. However, if your child has sensitive skin, we recommend speaking to your child’s health care provider for targeted advice. Thanks for stopping by!

  • 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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