Aromatherapy Carrier Oils

Externally, aromatherapy carrier oils affect a number of skin problems and for these, the most beneficial carrier oil can be selected. 

The more severe the problem, the higher the percentage of special oil in your mix should be.

The stability of a vegetable oil depends on its fatty acid content; those high in saturated fatty acids (SFAS) are more stable than those high in unsaturated fatty acids (UFAS). 

Stability also depends on vitamin E content Vegetable oils containing both SFAS and vitamin E having a longer shelf life.

A good deal of Aromatherapy Carrier Oils such as avocado, sesame, sunflower and wheatgerm contain a variety of minerals, which may be impoverished with the use of pesticides and fertilizers during their growing period.  Furthermore, molecules from some of these chemicals may permeate into the finished cold pressed product.

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Almond Oil, Sweet
(Prunus amygdalis var. dulcis)

Sweet Almond on the tree

The sweet almond tree yields fixed Aromatherapy Carrier Oils obtained by cold pressing. 

There exists an essential oil from bitter almonds, but it is never used in aromatherapy, because of the risk of prussic acid forming during distillation.

Properties and Effects:

  • Sweet almond oil contains vitamins A, Bl, B2 and B6
  • It has a high percentage of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids 
  • It protects and nourishes the skin 
  • It calms irritation caused by eczema

Because it has a small amount of vitamin E, it keeps reasonably well.

Apricot Kernel Oil
(Prunus armenica)

Apricot Kernel carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Apricot, peach and sweet almond yield almost the same Aromatherapy Carrier Oils chemically (therefore, having similar effects). 

Apricot and peach are usually more expensive as they are not produced in such great quantity. 

Occasionally, almond oil is sold as apricot or peach, so be sure your supplier knows the source of his oil.

Avocado Oil
(Persea americanti)

Avocado carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Avocado oil is pressed from the dried and sliced flesh from fruits, which are not good enough for marketing as fresh produce. 

Being quite a difficult oil to press, it sometimes has a cloudy appearance - even a bit sludgy at the bottom. 

This should be regarded as a good sign and not a fault, as it indicates that the oil has not been refined.

Refined avocado oil is always pale yellow and lacks the rich green colour of the cold pressed oil.

Avocado Aromatherapy Carrier Oils have excellent keeping qualities because of an inbuilt antioxidant system, but if chilled (or during the winter), some components are precipitated, causing it to be cloudy.  This can be rectified by placing the bottle in a warm emplacement, when the oil soon returns unharmed to normal.

Properties and Effects

Avocados contain both saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamins (A, B and D) and is rich in lecithin. 

It is thought that despite its viscosity, avocado can penetrate the upper layers of the skin.

Avocado aromatherapy carrier oil is valuable to the Aromatherapist because of its beneficial effect on dry skin and wrinkles, and it can form up to 25 per cent of the total mix. 

It is sometimes used in sun preparations due to its emollient properties.

Calendula Oil Macerated Oil
(Calendula officinalis) 

Calendula Flower carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Although sold as a fixed oil, the Calendula grown in Europe for medicinal purposes, does not produce any fixed oil itself.

The flower heads contain too little essential oil to make distillation commercially viable, so all active therapeutic properties are usually extracted by maceration (see Essential Oil Extraction).

Properties and Effects

Calendula oil has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, choleric (increasing bile production) and vulnerary (helps heal wounds) properties, rendering it effective on bed sores, broken veins, bruises, gum inflammations (and tooth extraction cavities), persistent ulcers, stubborn wounds and varicose veins. 

It is an extremely effective Aromatherapy Carrier Oils on skin problems; rashes, and in particular, chapped and cracked skin, which makes it an excellent base oil to use when treating dry eczema. 

Carrot Macerated Oil
(Daucus carota)

Carrots carrier oil for Aromatherapy

True fixed Aromatherapy Carrier Oils of carrot is extracted by maceration (see Essential Oil Extraction) of the finely chopped traditional orange carrot root in a vegetable oil and is rich in beta-carotene. 

I said 'true' fixed oil of carrot because there is an oil used extensively in the cosmetic industry called carrot oil, that has never seen a carrot! 

The African marigold (tagetes) is also rich in beta-carotene and this 'carrot' oil is made by adding the beta-carotene extracted from tagetes to a base oil such as Soya or sunflower. 

It has similar properties to true carrot, but this aromatherapy carrier oils are extremely concentrated, with a deeper colour and is unsuitable for aromatherapy treatments.

Properties and Effects

True carrot oil is rich in beta-carotene, vitamins' B, C, D and E, and essential fatty acids.

Useful on burns, carrot oil is anti-inflammatory. 

This Aromatherapy Carrier Oils is known to be an effective rejuvenator, delaying the ageing process with repeated use.  It is therefore a viable ingredient in skin creams or oils which are used every day.


There are no contra-indications to the use of carrot oil, but excessive ingestion of carrots themselves, or juice, can cause hypervitaminosis.

Symptoms of this can be noticed when the palms of the hands and soles of the feet turn orange and the skin becomes dry and flaky. 

If these symptoms are ignored, the whole system becomes toxic, causing death in very extreme cases.

Coconut Oil
(Cocos niicifera)


Coconut oil does not occur naturally. The white flesh, when pressed yields an odorous solid  which contains therapeutic properties. 

To obtain coconut aromatherapy carrier oils, the fat is subjected to heat and the top, liquid fraction removed. 

This is usually deodorized for use in both the food and cosmetic industries, as some find its natural odour overpowering even with the addition of essential oils.

Being a fractionated oil, its use in aromatherapy, where we insist on everything being complete and whole, must be questioned.

Properties and Effects

Coconut Aromatherapy Carrier Oils aids tanning and is reputed to help filter the sun's rays.

It is emollient (moisturizes) on hair and skin; however, on some people, it can cause a rash - perhaps because it is not a complete product.

Unless you travel to the tropics and purchase coconut oil from a local, this oil is produced exclusively by hot extraction (the corn germ containing very little oil). It is therefore, not one of the preferred oils for aromatherapy.

Evening Primrose Oil
(Oenothera biennis)

Evening Primrose

Rich in linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid) and containing a small percentage of gamma linoleic acid (GLA - said to reduce blood cholesterol)

Evening primrose oil is extremely useful for the prevention of heart disease. 

These essential fatty acids are vital for cell and body function that cannot be made by the body itself.

Properties and Effects

Taken internally, evening primrose oil is said to be invaluable for:

  • reducing blood pressure
  • controlling arthritis
  • relieving eczema
  • helping schizophrenia
  • helping PMS
  • decreasing hyperactivity in children 

However, doses usually prescribed are probably too low to have a noticeable and lasting effect.

Used externally, the oil is helpful for eczema, dry, scaly skin and dandruff, and accelerates wound healing.

Grapeseed Oil
(Vitis vinifera)

Grapes and Seeds

Like corn oil, Grapeseed oil is produced by hot extraction.

There is only about 12 per cent of oil in the seeds.

Properties and Effects

Grapeseed oil contains a high percentage of linoleic acid and some vitamin E.

It is one of the few oils which is cholesterol free and easily digested.

It is a gentle emollient, leaving the skin with a satin finish without feeling greasy.

Hazelnut Oil
(Corylus avellana)


Both male and female flowers are present on each hazelnut tree, the nuts yielding an amber yellow oil with a pleasant aroma and a slight flavour of marzipan.

Properties and Effects

Oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) is the principal constituent, with a small proportion of linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid) also being present.

Hazelnut Aromatherapy Carrier Oils is said to penetrate the top layer of the skin slightly, being beneficial for oily or combination skins and effective on acne. 

It is stimulating to the circulation and also has astringent properties. 

It may be more economic, if required for regular use, to mix it with a less expensive base oil.  However, when applying it to benefit skin disorders, it should be used alone as the base, with added essential oils.

Jojoba Oil
(Simmondsia chirensis)


Jojoba (pronounced 'hohoba') is not an oil but a liquid wax, which replaced sperm whale oil in the cosmetics industry when the whale became an endangered species. 

It covers around 40,000 acres in the United States.  It can be used instead of beeswax as an emulsifier in creams.

Jojoba is very stable, having superb keeping qualities - it is a pity that it is one of the more expensive oils.

Properties and Effects

The chemical structure of Jojoba not only resembles sebum, but the latter can dissolve in it, which makes it a useful oil in cases of acne. 

The fact that it is also indicated for dry scalp and skin, psoriasis and eczema, shows it to be a very balancing oil.

Jojoba contains an acid (myristic acid) which has anti-inflammatory properties, helpful when mixing a blend for rheumatism and arthritis.

Olive Oil
(Olea europaea)


Traditionally used for centuries, in cooking and healing, virgin pressed Aromatherapy Carrier Oils has been popular because of its monounsaturated fatty acid content.

Effective in the prevention of high cholesterol and heart disease.

Its green colour is due to a small percentage of chlorophyll in the flesh, from which the oil is taken, and it is an ideal cooking oil for health conscious people living in a hot climate.

Properties and Effects

Externally Aromatherapy Carrier Oils of olive oil are emollient, soothing to inflamed skin and good for sprains and bruises.  It is a little heavy for massage but can be added 50/50 to a less viscous oil.

When ingested, it is not only prophylactic against heart disease, but is a help against hyperacidity and constipation.

Peanut Oil
(Arachis hypogeae)

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is not very stable oil and has quite a noticeable aroma (not unpleasant and not so strong as coconut). 

It is mostly available only in a refined state, although a small quantity is cold pressed in France.

Properties and Effects

A hypoallergenic and emollient oil (excellent for arthritis and sunburn).

Aromatherapy Carrier Oils made with Peanuts is too oily to use on its own for massage, however, it is perfectly acceptable for self-application to specific areas or to blend with another less viscous carrier oil.

This oil was also recommended by Edgar Cayce to help rheumatism and arthritis.

Rose Hip Oil
(Rosa canina, R. mollis)

Rose hip carrier oil

Coming mostly from wild plants, this oil is usually organic and yields a lovely golden red oil, often obtained, unfortunately, by solvent extraction.

Properties and Effects

Research in Chile shows rose hip oil to be a tissue re-generator (perhaps due to its high unsaturated fatty acid content), making it an excellent oil for a mature skin. 

It has been shown to be effective on scars, wounds, burns (including sunburn), eczema and aging, and I am surprised it is not used more.

Safflower Oil
(Carthamus tinctorius)

Safflower carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Safflower, like sunflower, belongs to the Compositae family and has an orange yellow flower. 

Safflower seeds were discovered in 3,000-year-old Egyptian tombs, and both flowers and seeds have been used in the past as a dye.

Properties and Effects

Yet another oil high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, safflower oil helps a number of circulatory problems.

Taken internally, it is said to be helpful for bronchial asthma. 

It is beneficial on painful, inflamed joints, sprains and bruises.

It is one of the less stable oils (except when it is refined and has preservatives added to it).

Sesame Oil
(Sesamum indicum)

Sesame carrier oil for Aromatherapy

The seeds of the sesame plant are contained inside a long nut and give a high yield of clear pale yellow oil when cold pressed.

Properties and Effects

The pressed oil is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Its vitamin E and sesamol content giving the oil excellent stability.

It is beneficial for dry skin, psoriasis and eczema and protects the skin to a certain extent from the harmful rays of the sun.

Sesame seeds are rich in calcium.

Soya Bean Oil
(Glycine soja)

Soya Beans carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Soya bean oil is usually obtained by solvent extraction, as the beans have a low oil content. 

Although containing some vitamin C, it is not as rich a source as sunflower or Wheatgerm oils. 

Prone to oxidation, it can be a sensitizer, so it may be wise not to use it in aromatherapy.

Sunflower Oil
(Helianthus anuus)

Sunflower carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Although most sunflower oil is solvent extracted, we can obtain an oil from organically grown plants that is cold pressed. 

This oil has a lovely light texture and is very pleasant to use, leaving the skin with a satin-smooth, non-greasy feel.

Properties and Effects

Sunflower oil contains vitamins A, B, D and E (the principal one). 

It is high in unsaturated fatty acids, making it helpful against arteriosclerosis. 

It has a prophylactic effect on the skin and is beneficial to leg ulcers, bruises and skin diseases. 

Sunflower oil has diuretic properties, is expectorant and one of its constituents, inulin, is used in the treatment of asthma.

The leaves and flowers have been used in Russia for years against chest problems such as bronchitis.

Wheatgerm Oil
(Tliticum vulgare)

Wheatgerm carrier oil for Aromatherapy

Wheatgerm oil is a rich orange brown colour.

Due to its high vitamin E content, it is widely used to increase the keeping qualities of less stable oils - a minimum of 5-10 per cent should be added to the base oil, up to 20 per cent if the oil has low stability.

Properties and Effect

Wheatgerm is recommended for dry and mature skins, though too heavy to use by itself for massage.

Taken internally, it is said to help prevent varicose veins, eczema and indigestion and to remove cholesterol deposits from the arteries.

As it is from a protein, it could be contra-indicated for anyone prone to allergies. 

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