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Carrier Oils

Goals for this class:

Define a carrier oil. Discuss the types of constituents found in carrier oils. Discuss therapeutic actions/uses of carrier oils. Discuss several common carrier oils used in aromatherapy. Discuss how to make infused oils. Examine example formulas for infused oils.


What types of Constituents are Found in Carrier Oils?

  • Carrier oils contain several types of hydrocarbon constituents.
  • Fatty acids
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Triglycerides
  • Phytosterols
  • Fat soluble vitamins
  • Phospholipids

Types of Fatty Acids

  • Saturated
  • Monounsaturated
  • Polyunsaturated
  • Short Chain – less than 5 C chain
  • Medium Chain – 6-12 C chain
  • Long Chain – 13-21 C chain
  • Very Long Chain – 22 or more C chain

Types of Constituents Found In Carrier Oils Fat Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A
  • Carotenoids
  • Vitamin E
  • Tocopherols
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin F


What are oils?

  • Lipids are another name for fats or oils.
  • Composed of non-polar, hydrocarbon compounds.
  • They will dissolve in alcohol but not in water.
  • Lipids can come from a variety of sources including animal fats, vegetable sources, and petroleum.

What Are Carrier Oils?

  • In Aromatherapy you will see the term carrier oil used to describe oils extracted from plants, nuts, seeds, fruits.
  • These are also called base oils, fixed oils, or vegetable oils.
  • These are different than the essential oils of a plant species.

What Functions Do Carrier Oils Have?

  • Cooking
  • Nutrition, important source of energy.
  • Skin care, cosmetics
  • Therapeutic actions with internal use.
  • Therapeutic actions with topical applications.

How are Carrier Oils Used in Aromatherapy?

  • Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils.
  • They are used to “carry” the essential oils to the skin or other application sites.
  • Essential oils can be added directly to the carrier oil(s).
  • Carrier Oils also bring their own therapeutic actions to the blend. Anti-inflammatory Emollient Nutritive Anti-oxidant Protectant Antipruritic Wound healing Astringent
  • Also, macerated or infused oils can be made and used.

Some Carrier Oils Commonly Used in Aromatherapy

  • Sweet Almond Prunus amygdalis var. Dulcis Oil
  • Apricot Prunus armeniaca Kernel Oil
  • Avocado Persea americana Oil
  • Olive Olea europaea Oil
  • Coconut Cocos nucifera Oil
  • Jojoba Simmondsia chinensis Oil (wax)
  • Sunflower Helianthus annus Oil
  • Borage Borago officinalis Seed Oil
  • Hazelnut Corylus avellana Oil
  • Grapeseed Vitis vinifera Oil
  • Camellia Camellia japonica Oil
  • Sesame Sesamum indicum Oil
  • Rose Hip Rosa rubiginosa Seed Oil
  • Wheat Germ Triticum sativum Oil

Carrier Oils Can Be Organized by Source Type

Nut Oils Sweet Almond oil Walnut oil Peanut oil

Seed and Kernel Oils Sunflower seed oil Pumpkin seed oil Apricot kernel oil Mango seed oil (Butter)

Fruit Oils Olive oil Avocado oil Palm oil Coconut oil (drupe)

Cereal Germ Wheat germ oil Rice bran oil

Carrier Oils Can Be Organized by Type of Fats

Predominance of Saturated Fatty Acids Coconut oil, Palm oil, Mango Seed butter, Shea butter Predominance of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Olive oil, Macadamia nut oil, Avocado oil

Predominance of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Evening primrose oil, Borage seed oil, Rosehip seed oil

Helianthus annus

Sunflower Oil

  • Light to medium body oil
  • Good content of Omega-6 essential fatty acid linoleic acid.
  • Vitamins E and K
  • Can provide a light barrier for the skin to help retain moisture or for protection.
  • Wonderful for infused oils.
  • Can be blended with more expensive carrier oils

Olea europaea

Olive Oil

  • Heavier oil with olive aroma
  • High in monounsaturated fatty acid Oleic acid. Also, Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.
  • Vitamins E and K.
  • Emollient and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Useful in combinations with other oils for chapped skin, or irritated as in dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis.
  • Also, useful in carrier oil blends for mild injuries such as sprains or bruises.

Prunus amygdalis var. Dulcis

Sweet Almond Oil

  • Very commonly used in aromatherapy.
  • Light oil, absorbs easily
  • Emollient
  • Monounsaturated (Oleic) fatty acids, and Omega-6 (Linoleic) fatty acids
  • Vitamin E content

Prunus armeniaca

Apricot Kernel Oil

  • A light oil with minimal odor (refined).
  • Can be used alone or in combination with other oils.
  • Absorbs easily, but, still wonderful for dry skin or even irritated situations such as eczema.
  • Appropriate for sensitive skin.
  • Predominance of monounsaturated (oleic) and polyunsaturated (linoleic) fatty acids.
  • Vitamin A precursor.

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Infused Oils