Continuing from the previous post the topic being Carriers [Have You Heard the Term “Carrier Oil”?], also known as Lipid Oils, let’s look at:

What Carriers do

  • Dilutes an essential oil (e.o.) making it safer for topical application
  • Spreads the e.o. across a larger area of the skin
  • Affects the absorption rate
  • Enhances the therapeutic properties of essential oils
  • Keeps the essential oils on the skin longer

What you want                                                             What you do NOT want

  • Raw                                                                   > Bleached
  • Unrefined                                                         > Processed
  • Cold pressed                                                    > Refined
  • Organic                                                             > Deodorized


  • Avoid most cooking oils, like canola and soy. Olive oil can be ok in a pinch. It does have a strong aroma that could overpower certain essential oils, especially at low dilutions.
  • Carriers generally have a shorter shelf life than essential oils. Highly recommended to make small batch(es).
  • Toss any oil that appears cloudy or has a foul odor or goes rancid.
  • When you purchase a carrier (as well as essential oils), write down in a notebook all expiration dates. This is so very important for your outcome.
  • Always store in a cool, dark place to extend the shelf life.

Oil evaporates more slowly than water, trapping the essential oil(s) on the skin. This allows for essential oils to absorb more slowly in to the skin. While the relief may take a little time, the effect will continue longer. The plus is the therapeutic effects of the essential oils work for a longer time.

Unscented Lotion, as a carrier assists/holds/carries the essential oils and absorbs more quickly in to the skin due to higher water content. The now-hydrated skin increases the absorption and permeability. Fast absorption, as for acute pain works well with a water-based lotion.

Aloe works well as an option where oil may aggravate the issue. Burns benefit as does nail function where the skin needs to breathe.

Witch Hazel Have itchy skin? Acne-prone skin? Use witch hazel for its astringent properties.

Butters are thick, providing the longest staying power, as well as holding the essential oils from evaporating quickly. Butters are sold and work well as an added ingredient when making a salve or body butter. The most recognized butters include Shea, Cocoa, and Mango.

Obviously, bees wax is a wax not a butter as sometimes thrown in to the mix.

REMEMBER WATER AND OIL DO NOT MIX! Not in the bathtub; not mixed with essential oils! The oils will float on the surface causing IRRITATION and redness to the skin.

Do I dare mention that the rare exception would be for a throat spray or linen spray. However, this entails shake, shake, shake! And then shake some more!

Use your own judgement with the information provided.  While we provide education and vetted research, we do not ask you to substitute your own knowledge for ours. Only if it fits.

With thanks to UEOS

Niki Klein, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist