Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils for use in aromatherapy massage and to make beauty preparations. Containing
vitamins, proteins and minerals, they are highly effective moisturisers and provide many
of the nutrients that the skin needs to keep it smooth and supple. Cold-pressed carrier
oils are usually of a higher quality than heat- or solvent-extracted oils.
ALL-PURPOSE CARRIER OILS
These viscous carrier oils can be used alone, or enriched with
special oils to dilute essential oils for use in aromatherapy massage, cosmetics or in a
Apricot kernel oil, extracted from the apricot kernel, is rich in minerals and
vitamins. A natural moisturiser, it has a light texture and high penetrative qualities.
Sunflower oil is a lovely fine oil which I use in most of my blends for body
massage. It contains vitamin E.
Soya oil, extracted from the soya bean plant, is light, nourishing and easily
absorbed. It is especially suited to oily skin.
Sweet almond oil is extracted from the almond kernel and has soothing, softening
properties. Always use the sweet, not bitter, variety. It has been popular throughout
history and is suitable for babies.
Grapeseed oil, extracted from the seeds of muscat raisins by heat, is good for oily
SPECIAL CARRIER OILS
These special oils can be added to the all-purpose oils to improve
penetration of the skin, nourish dry, dehydrated skin, or extend the life of an oil blend.
Carrot oil is rich in vitamins, especially A. Add only 10% to other carrier oils,
otherwise its bright orange colour can temporarily stain the skin.
Sesame oil, extracted from the raw sesame seed, has a slightly nutty aroma and
contains 85% unsaturated and 15% saturated fatty acids. It can be added to other oils to
enrich them. Do not use the heavy-scented brown oil from the cooked seed.
Avocado oil is extracted from the flesh of the avocado. It is rich in vitamins A
and B, and in lecithin, proteins and fatty acids. An excellent skin softener, it is easily
Jojoba is a natural liquid wax from the kernels of an evergreen desert plant and it
has a chemical composition resembling the skin's sebum. Its waxy structure and
anti-bacterial properties give it a long shelf life. Readily absorbed by the skin, it has
a non-greasy softening effect and is especially suitable for the face. It is also good for
Wheatgerm oil is rich and viscous, but its rather strong smell can be difficult to
mask. Add 10-20% of wheatgerm oil to other carrier oils to guard against rancidity and
prolong the life of a blend.
CHOOSING ESSENTIAL OILS
An oil blend is made by mixing a few drops of essential oil with one
of the carrier oils. We all like different scents, and it is essential that the aroma of a
blend appeals to you, or to your friend if you are blending oils before giving a massage.
Create an individual prescription. First decide what effect you are hoping to achieve: do
you want the aroma to sedate or revive, to energise or to calm? Do you want to use oils
for their therapeutic properties or simply to pamper?
Make a list of essential oils suited to your requirements. Select two or three from your
list - good blends usually combine all three notes: top (gives the initial scent), middle
(rounds out the blend) and base (released last, this acts as a fixative). The general rule
is that little is best: a weak blend of oils often smells better, and is therefore more
effective, than a stronger blend. Follow the guide below to achieve the safest dilution of
essential oils for a balanced fragrance and maximum therapeutic benefit.
Normal dilution of 2½%:
ml carrier oil ÷ 2 = total drops essential oil
(eg 20 ml carrier oil ÷ 2 = 10 drops essential oil)
SAMPLE 2½% BLEND
5 drops sandalwood
3 drops lavender
2 drops orange
20 ml apricot kernel
TOTAL: 10 drops essential oil per 20 ml carrier oil
Low dilution of 1 % for sensitive skin
and for use during pregnancy:
ml carrier oil ÷ 4 = total drops essential oil
(eg 20 ml carrier oil ÷ 4 = 5 drops essential oil)
SAMPLE 1 % BLEND
3 drops rosemary
1 drop each of lemon-grass and juniper
20 ml sunflower oil
TOTAL: 5 drops essential oil per 20 ml carrier oil
Extremely low dilution for very
sensitive skin, children & babies:
Use just 1 drop essential oil per 10 ml carrier oil, or use sweet
almond oil by itself.
Oil blends are usually divided into normal and low dilutions.
Aromartherapists refer to these dilutions as percentages, based on the amount of essential
oil in carrier oil, and there is a simple way to work them out. To calculate how many
drops of essential oil are needed to make a normal dilution of 2½%, divide the number of
millilitres of carrier oil by 2; for a low dilution of 1%, divide by 4. Most essential oil
bottles come with a dropper for easy measuring. For a full body massage, 20 ml of oil is
needed; for the face, 10 ml is enough. You can make larger quantities and store them.