Carrier oil. It’s the great misnomer in aromatherapy. It relegates these amazing vegetable oils to the status of passive bystander. How far from the truth this is!
What are carrier oils?
Ok. Carrier oils are also known as base oils or vegetable oils. While essential oils are always volatile and mostly produced from the process of distillation, carrier oils are non-volatile and are generally cold-pressed from the nut or seed of a plant. The reason that they get the name ‘carrier oil’ is because, in what has become known as the ‘British School of Aromatherapy’, essential oils are combined with vegetable oils and this blend is used in massage.
Examples of carrier oils
Sweet almond, sesame, olive, coconut, apricot, evening primrose, avocado, jojoba, grapeseed, wheatgerm … the list goes on. Oshadhi supplies about 70 different carrier oils. What you notice about these oils is that many are used in cooking, salads, etc, and this is no surprise because they tend to be full of omegas (essential fatty acids) which must be ingested as they cannot be manufactured by the body. There is evidence that these are excellent also for skin care.
Choosing a carrier oil
Choosing the correct carrier oil (or carrier oil blend) has a significant effect on a treatment. A massage with a good blend of vegetable oils constitutes a treatment in its own right, even without the use of essential oils. If you want to convince yourself about this, why not try a self massage with warm sesame oil every morning for a few days, and see what you notice? Many people find that this is has an integrating effect, and is a wonderful start to the day, especially if you suffer from cold hands and feet. (Sesame oil is great for improving circulation.)
Blending Carrier Oils
Carrier oils can be blended in much the same way as essential oils, in order to tailor the treatment to the individual. In order to help you choose, to remind you about the value of different carrier oils, and perhaps to introduce you to some new oils that you may not yet be familiar with, we’ve produced a leaflet on carrier oils which you can download.