Carrier Oil Glossary: your essential guide to carrier oils
Posted by : Ashley Southard /
Carrier Oil Glossary
Your search for plant oils for skincare may have led you here, or you may simply be searching for the best carrier oils to use for your essential oils. As is the case with essential oils, each carrier oil affords its own benefits – and which you use will depend on what you’re seeking from the oil. Always feel free to mix them, too!
Apricot kernel oil: good for dry, sensitive skin, this oil contains vitamin A (the vitamin behind all those fancy retinoid creams) & vitamin E, which moisturizes and slows aging, in addition to gamma linolenic acid (omega-6), an essential fatty acid proven to tone and firm the skin in addition to treating inflammation, acne, and psoriasis.
Argan oil: argan oil is the perfect “middle ground” oil; it balances sebum levels for those with oily skin, while still providing moisture and quick absorption for dry skin. It’s chock-full of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, helping your skin fight free radicals, while also containing high levels of vitamin A & vitamin E for moisture.
Avocado oil: excellent for dry, mature, wrinkled, and/or stretch-marked skin, this oil is an extremely rich one that is not recommend for use on oily skin, but it is recommended for inflammation, scar treatment, wound care, and dry spots – like heels, knees, and elbows.
Borage seed oil: one of the plant oils with the highest amount of GLA (gamma linoleic acid), borage seed oil is beneficial for psoriasis, eczema, chapped, mature, prematurely-aged, and stretch-marked skin – it’s especially beneficial (and safe!) in treating infants with “cradle cap.”
Broccoli seed oil: yes – it’s a thing; it comes from pressing the seeds of broccoli sprouts, and it’s full of omega-6, omega-9, and vitamin A, providing relief to damaged and/or inflamed skin cells without clogging pores. Because of its very high (over 60%) omega-9 content, BSO behaves a lot like silicones in skincare and haircare, sealing in moisture – without sealing in the bad stuff that silicone does (like sweat, dirt, and bacteria). BSO also contains sulfurophane, involved in the cellular defense mechanism against UV damage.
Calendula oil: alleviates discomfort of psoriasis, eczema, chapped skin, and even rashes such as diaper rash and poison ivy, burns, wounds, sores, and varicose veins in addition to having antispasmodic properties, making it a great natural treatment for muscular pain and nerve pain.
Castor oil: aids in reducing general inflammation, is antimicrobial and antifungal, and is excellent as a scalp treatment or lash/brow treatment, as it optimizes hair growth. In addition, because of its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, it’s an excellent oil for use on oily skin.
Coconut oil: like avocado oil, this oil is extremely rich, making it excellent for dry, chapped skin and all-over moisture (especially places like your knees, elbows, and feet), but avoid using it on oily areas of skin.
Evening primrose oil: another oil high in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), this oil helps with psoriasis and eczema and also aids in the repair process for dry, mature, prematurely-aged, wrinkled, stretch-marked skin.
Flaxseed oil: full of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-3, flaxseed oil plumps the skin and helps in repairing skin cells while improving firmness, tone, and texture. Additionally, it’s proven to relieve eczema and psoriasis.
Grapeseed oil: an all-purpose oil that’s great for normal, oily, and sensitive skin (in fact, like castor oil, it’s antimicrobial, so it’s a wonderful topical solution for oily and acne-prone skin) thanks to its high vitamin E and omega-6 content.
Hazelnut oil: high in oleic acid (omega-9), hazelnut oil also acts as a mild astringent, making it ideal for acne-prone skin. It’s proven, additionally, to benefit stretch-marked and inflamed skin, and contains antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals.
Hemp seed oil: great for oily, normal, and dry skin, this oil will moisturize without clogging pores, helping your skin regulate its sebum production. Hemp seed oil is high in both omega-6 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it a powerhouse for your skin: it acts as an anti-inflammatory, stimulates cell regeneration (improves skin tone and reduces wrinkles), and relieves irritation, itchiness, and discomfort associated with eczema.
Jojoba oil: another all-purpose oil similar to grapeseed, but better for normal to dry skin instead of oily; it’s great for sensitive skin, wrinkles, and stretch marks. Jojoba oil increases hair growth the way castor oil does, making it a viable option for scalp treatment and lash/brow growth (no need for expensive lash serums – just combine jojoba and castor oil!).
Macadamia oil: a lustrous oil that helps dry, wrinkled skin re-gain and retain moisture due to its omega-6, omega-7, and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-7 is an antimicrobial, while omega-6 and -9 fight free radicals, enhance skin’s collagen production, and fight free radicals.
Neem oil: best known for its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties, neem oil is also high in vitamin C, carotenoids, and both omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids. The vitamin C and carotenoids are helpful, additionally, in protecting the skin from UV rays and sun damage in addition to free radicals and environmental toxins. It helps reduce inflammation and redness in skin, regulate sebum production, and moisturize.
Olive oil: chock-full of antioxidants and squalene, olive oil isn’t just for your salad; it’s a wonderful moisturizer for both skin and hair due to its high vitamin E content. It helps moisturize and regenerate skin cells, especially after exposure to the sun.
Rosehip seed oil: though not recommended for very oily skin, rosehip oil is nearly a miracle worker for normal to dry skin, containing anti-inflammatory acids and vitamins A and C, it moisturizes the skin while aiding in wrinkle prevention and evening skin tone. Rosehip seed oil improves overall appearance due to its astringent properties that tighten pores and brighten skin; it also fades scars and hyperpigmentation, evening skin tone. Because of its skin-evening and cell regenerative properties, rosehip oil is also wonderful for treating burns, wounds, and sores while healing to speed up recovery time and reduce scarring.
Sesame oil: like neem oil, sesame oil is an antibacterial and antifungal (making it great for acne-prone skin), in addition to being anti-inflammatory, which helps relieve psoriasis, eczema, and irritated skin. Additionally, it’s high in zinc, which stimulates your skin’s collagen production – repairing damage, improving elasticity, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Sunflower oil: high in linoleic acid (omega-6), sunflower oil helps maintain the skin’s barrier, retaining moisture by reducing water loss. It’s also rich in vitamin E (an antioxidant and protectant from sun damage and UV rays), beta-carotene (improves skin’s appearance), and vitamins A, C, and D. The omega-6 and vitamin E also act to soothe red, inflamed, or irritated skin, so it’s perfect for psoriasis and eczema as well as general dryness.
Sweet almond oil: an oxidative-stress combater, almond oil is full of antioxidants (vitamin E and A, along with potassium and zinc) that fight free radicals. Almond oil is beneficial for all skin types – normal, dry, and oily, along with sensitive, young, and mature – and is even great as a treatment for bitter, breaking nails and for restoring luster to hair.
Quick reference guide to Carrier Oils:
Carrier oils good for dry skin: apricot, argan, avocado, coconut, evening primrose, jojoba, macadamia, rosehip
Carrier oils good for oily skin: argan, castor, grapeseed, hazelnut, hemp, neem
Carrier oils good for scars/wound healing: avocado, calendula, coconut, grapeseed, olive, rosehip
Carrier oils good for wrinkles: avocado, evening primrose, hemp, macadamia, jojoba, rosehip
Carrier oils good for firming/toning skin: apricot, flaxseed, hemp, rosehip
Antifungal/antibacterial carrier oils: castor, coconut, grapeseed, macadamia, neem, sesame
Anti-inflammatory carrier oils: apricot, avocado, castor, hemp, neem, olive rosehip, sesame, sunflower