What is a Carrier Oil? – Benefits and Uses

As more people become interested in using natural remedies for health and wellness, carrier oils have grown in popularity. They are the unsung heroes of the beauty and wellness world, often working behind the scenes to enhance our skincare and aromatherapy experiences. But what is a carrier oil? 

In this exploration, we delve into the world of carrier oils, uncovering their origins, uses, and the multitude of advantages they bring to our daily self-care rituals. 

What are Carrier Oils?

Carrier oils are plant-based oils that are used to dilute essential oils and other concentrated ingredients. They are called “carrier” oils because they help “carry” these potent substances onto the skin or into the body. Carrier oils are typically derived from nuts, seeds, or vegetables, and they are often cold-pressed to retain their natural properties.

There are many different types of carrier oils, each with its own unique properties and benefits. Some common carrier oils include:

  • Sweet almond oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Argan oil
  • Rosehip oil


There are numerous benefits to using carrier oils, both on their own and in combination with other natural remedies. Here are just a few of the ways that carrier oils can be helpful:

Moisturizing and Nourishing the Skin

“Carrier oils are a great way to add moisture and nutrients to the skin,” says Dr. Mona Gohara, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. In fact, many carrier oils are rich in fatty acids and other nutrients that can deeply moisturize the skin. For example, jojoba oil is similar in composition to the natural oils produced by our skin, making it an excellent moisturizer. Similarly, avocado oil is high in vitamin E and other antioxidants that can help protect and repair the skin.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Some carrier oils, such as jojoba and grapeseed oil, have anti-inflammatory properties. A research review published in the journal “Dermatology and Therapy” in 2020 concluded that carrier oils can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Healing and Scar Reduction

Certain carrier oils, like rosehip seed oil and tamanu oil, are known for their skin-healing properties. They can help reduce the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and blemishes.

Sun Protection

Some carrier oils, like red raspberry seed oil, contain natural sun-protective properties. While they are not a replacement for sunscreen, they can provide an additional layer of protection against UV damage.

 6 ways to use carrier oils

Diluting Essential Oils

Carrier oils serve as dilution agents for essential oils, ensuring their safe application on the skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause skin irritation or sensitization when applied directly. Carrier oils help disperse and “carry” essential oils onto the skin, reducing the risk of adverse reactions while still allowing the therapeutic benefits of the essential oils to be absorbed.

Massage Therapy

In massage therapy, carrier oils are fundamental. They are applied to the skin to facilitate the smooth movement of the therapist’s hands and reduce friction, making the massage more comfortable and effective. Additionally, carrier oils can enhance the massage experience by moisturizing the skin and creating a soothing, relaxing atmosphere.


Carrier oils play a pivotal role in aromatherapy by serving as a medium for essential oil diffusion. When essential oils are mixed with carrier oils, they can be used in diffusers, oil burners, or as massage oils to disperse their aromatic molecules into the air. Aromatherapy with carrier oils can promote relaxation, alleviate stress, and create a pleasing ambiance.

Hair Care

They are applied to the hair and scalp to provide deep conditioning and hydration. Carrier oils such as coconut oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil help prevent hair breakage, tame frizz, and add a healthy shine. These oils can be used in hair masks, leave-in conditioners, or as pre-shampoo treatments.

Nail Care

When applied to the nails and cuticles, these oils moisturize and soften the skin, preventing dryness and the formation of painful hangnails. Regular use of carrier oils can contribute to stronger, more resilient nails.

Skin Care

They are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that nourish and protect the skin. By applying carrier oils directly to the skin, you can moisturize and maintain its suppleness, which is particularly helpful for dry or sensitive skin. Carrier oils also create a barrier that helps shield the skin from environmental damage, such as harsh weather conditions or pollutants

comparisons of different types of carrier oils

Sweet Almond Oil vs. Jojoba Oil

Both sweet almond oil and jojoba oil are popular choices for skincare, but they have some key differences. Sweet almond oil is lighter and absorbs more quickly, making it ideal for use on the face or other delicate areas. Jojoba oil is more similar to our skin’s natural oils, so it can be helpful for balancing oil production and reducing breakouts.

Coconut Oil vs. Grapeseed Oil

Coconut oil and grapeseed oil are both versatile carrier oils that can be used for a variety of purposes. However, coconut oil has a stronger scent and may feel heavier on the skin, while grapeseed oil is lighter and absorbs more easily. Coconut oil is also a good choice for cooking, while grapeseed oil is better for high-heat applications.

Argan Oil vs. Olive Oil

Argan oil and olive oil are both rich in antioxidants, but they have different textures and uses. Argan oil is a dry oil that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue, making it a popular choice for hair care and facial serums. Olive oil, on the other hand, is heavier and better suited for cooking and salad dressings.

How to choose the right Carrier Oil for you

Consider Your Skin Type

Different carrier oils have different properties that make them better suited for certain skin types. For example, coconut oil can be comedogenic (clog pores) for some people, so it may not be the best choice for those with acne-prone skin. Similarly, olive oil may be too heavy for oily skin types.

Check the Extraction Method

The way that a carrier oil is extracted can affect its quality and properties. Cold-pressed oils are generally considered to be the highest quality, as they retain more of their natural nutrients. Oils that are refined or processed may not be as beneficial for the skin or body.

Dilute Essential Oils Properly

When using carrier oils as a base for essential oils, it’s important to dilute them properly to avoid skin irritation or other adverse effects. A common dilution ratio is 2-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil, but this can vary depending on the type of oil and the intended use.


  1. What is the best carrier oil for acne-prone skin? Jojoba oil is a good choice for acne-prone skin, as it is similar in composition to our skin’s natural oils and won’t clog pores.
  2. Can I use any type of oil as a carrier oil? While many types of oil can technically be used as a carrier oil, not all are created equal. It’s important to choose an oil that is lightweight, non-greasy, and won’t clog pores.
  3. Can carrier oils go bad? Yes, carrier oils can go rancid over time. It’s important to store them properly (in a cool, dark place) and use them within their expiration date.
  4. Are carrier oils safe for internal use? Some carrier oils, such as coconut oil and olive oil, are safe for cooking and internal use. However, others may not be suitable for ingestion and should only be used topically.
  5. Can I mix different carrier oils together? Yes, many people mix different carrier oils together to create custom blends with unique properties and benefits. Just be sure to choose oils that complement each other and dilute any essential oils properly.

Final Takeaway

Carrier oils are a versatile and natural way to enhance your health and wellness routine. Whether you’re looking to moisturize your skin, enhance the benefits of essential oils, or support your overall health, there’s a carrier oil out there that’s right for you. By choosing high-quality oils and using them safely and effectively, you can experience all the benefits of these plant-based powerhouses in your daily life.