Flat rate shipping $15. 10% discount on your first order with newsletter sign up!
March 20, 2023
Carrier oils are important ingredients in aromatherapy and body care formulations. Carriers are used for aromatherapy massage, in body lotions and creams, perfumes and many more applications to provide benefit where the product is applied directly to the body. Carriers contain fat soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and so much more. You will want to choose the carrier that you are working with depending on your purpose and desired result. Many carriers have a light scent, however, some have a stronger scent which can be used as part of the scent profile of the overall recipe.
Carrier oils work either on their own, or synergistically with essential oils to provide nourishment to the skin, hair and to our body systems. Carriers allow for the essential oils to be diluted (or “carried) to a safe level of use. Once the essential oil is added to a carrier, you now have a recipe that you can use on the skin. Carrier oils are also referred to as fixed oils because they do not evaporate quickly.
Carrier oils are much less aromatic than essential oils, on average. They usually come to us from nuts, kernels and seeds, and many of them are cold pressed. Most carriers can be used on the skin at 100%, although I find that using them in combination works better. Examples of carrier oils include olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and sesame seed oil. Butters such as cocoa butter, and shea butter, are also consider to be carriers. Carriers have a fatty acid profile, and are made of saturated or unsaturated fatty acids. Their chemical makeup includes components such as palmitic acid, or stearic acid. Some carriers contain vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and can improve mood.
As with essential oils, the chemical structure of carrier oils is based on carbon chains. Saturated fatty acids are made up of straight carbon chains. These straight carbon chains can be found in solid fats like cocoa butter and shea. Unsaturated fats have curved carbon chains and are the liquid oils such as olive oil, avocado oil and sweet almond oil. The main difference between the two is the state at which the oil is in at room temperature, solid or liquid.
The shelf life of a carrier oil can be 2 years on average, but be sure to check with the supplier as each oil will vary. It is recommended that most carriers be stored in a dark bottle and refrigerated after opening. Some carriers should be stored at room temperature as they are affected by lower temperatures (for example avocado oil). Light, temperature and oxygenation will affect the shelf life of your oil.
Avoid using toasted or roasted oils in your aromatherapy recipes. They no longer contain the same beneficial nutrients as the cold pressed oils.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are those that your body cannot produce, therefore, people need to get it in other ways, usually from food. Essential fatty acids include omega 3 and omega 6. The number after the omega refers to the placement in the carbon chain of the first double carbon bond.
What’s in our skin?
Oleic acid is an omega 9 and forms approximately 30% of our skins fatty acid profile. Linoleic is an omega 6 and forms approximately 20% of our skins fatty acid profile, while alpha-linoleic acid forms a much smaller component of our skin at approximately 2%.
The five most common fatty acids found in carrier oils
Palmitic acid, a saturated fatty acid, is found in the upper most layer of our skin. Carrier oils containing palmitic acid can be great emollients, making them a useful ingredient in moisturizers. They can be used as a thickening agent. Carriers containing a high amount of palmitic acid include shea butter, cocoa butter and palm kernel oil.
Stearic acid, also a saturated fatty acid, is an emulsifier and an emollient, which has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory and a wound healer. We can find a high concentration of stearic acid in shea and cocoa butter.
Oleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid (and an omega 9), and helps to maintain the skin barrier function. It protects the skin and help to keep moisture inside skin cells. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated acid, and is an omega 9. Carriers with a high concentration of oleic acid include olive oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and avocado oil.
Linoleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid (and an omega 6), has more than one double carbon bond, and is therefore called a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). Oils high in linoleic acid help to guard the skin against moisture loss. Oils containing high concentrations of linoleic acid are lighter oils that penetrate the skin more readily. Unfortunately, they go rancid more quickly. It is found in many carriers oils in varying concentrations, however, oils high in linoleic acid include grapeseed oil, black seed oil, sesame seed oil and prickly pear seed oil.
Alpha-linoleic acid (also referred to as linolenic acid) is an unsaturated fatty acid (and an omega 3) oils are also lighter oils that penetrate the skin more readily. Also PUFAs, these oils are considered to be anti-inflammatory and have been used for eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Oils with a high concentration of alpha-linoleic acid include chia seed oil, flax seed oil, sacha inchi and hemp oil.
What does RBD mean for carrier oils?
The term RBD or RBDW indicates whether a carrier oil has been refined bleached deodorized and winterized. This is a process which can remove impurities, refine colour and texture, and stabilize the shelf life of the oil.
Refining introduces the oil to a weak solution that turns the free fatty acids into a soap. It is centrifuged, washed and only the oil remains.
Bleaching involves refining the oil’s colour and clarity by passing it through an earth or clay, then filtering the oil.
Deodorizing involves removing an unpleasant odour by vaporizing the oil and removing the unwanted aromatic compounds.
Winterizing refers to cooling an oil and removing any unwanted solid crystalized components to create a clearer oil.
Some common carriers that may be RBD oils include coconut oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, palm oil, walnut oil and soya bean oil.
When working with a carrier oil for the first time, be cautious of skin irritations and allergies. If you are unsure, do a small patch test before use. Be aware that many carriers come from nuts and work with them accordingly. You may choose to not use nut oils at all for safety reasons.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
September 25, 2023
September 18, 2023
What is the best essential oil to use for relaxation?
September 11, 2023