Carrier oils, also known as base oils are vegetable oils, that are used to dilute essential oils for an aromatherapy massage. Most essential oils are too strong to come in direct contact with the skin. Especially for a full body massage it is necessary to dilute the essential oil or the blend. Oils alone are volatile because they begin to dissipate as soon as they are applied. The rate of dispersion will vary based on how light or heavy the carrier oil is. Carrier oils do not contain a concentrated aroma, unlike essential oils, though some, such as olive, have a mild distinctive smell. Neither do they evaporate like essential oils, which are more volatile.
Most of carrier oils are produced from nuts and seeds. They are full of essential fatty acids, vitamins and more. Cold-pressing is the best method of production for carrier oils since there is no heat involved. That way the oil keeps all its nutrition’s untouched.
There is a range of different carrier oils, each one with different characteristics and therapeutic properties. For massage, viscosity is a major consideration; for example, grapeseed oil is typically very thin, while olive oil is much thicker. Carrier oils can be easily blended to combine their properties of viscosity, acceptability, lubrication, absorption, aroma and so forth.
Carrier oils can be used as a base for essential oils or the can be used by their own. A full body massage is the most common use. Although carrier oils are a good choice for skin, hair and nail care. They can become a good moisturiser for face and body as well as a make-up remover. They may help moisturise our hair and scalp, hands and cuticles.
Infused oils are a combination of a carrier oil and plant material. A base oil, often sunflower or olive oil, is placed in an airtight glass container with the appropriate plant material for period of time. Calendula and carrot oils are produced in this way.
All carrier oils should be kept cool, and away from strong light, to retard rancidification. Rancid oils should be avoided. Refrigerating oils helps preserve their freshness but some oils should not be refrigerated (e.g. avocado). Very cold oils may appear cloudy, but regain their clear state on returning to room temperature.
Below you can find a brief description of the most used carrier oils.