If you are new to essential oils, you may have heard the term “carrier oil” and wondered what this is.  Well, I’m here to give you the low-down on carrier oils.

What is a carrier oil?  A carrier oil is just that.  It is an oil that “carries” other oils.  It is used to dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin.

Why use a carrier oil?  Carrier oils are used for several reasons.  You might use a carrier oil in order to help you cover a large part of the body.  For instance, if you are massaging the  back,  you could add a few drops of  essential oil to the carrier oil in order to apply to the entire area.  Carrier oils are also used as a safety precaution.  Essential oils are very powerful.  When using EOs on someone with skin sensitivity or an infant or child, it is very important to dilute.  Carrier oils also help the oils absorb more rapidly into the skin.

What are good carrier oils?  Nearly any vegetable oil can be used as a carrier oil though some are more preferable.

  • Fractionated coconut oil is very light.  If you aren’t familiar with fractionated coconut oil, it is coconut oil with some of the fatty acids removed.   Unlike raw, cold-pressed coconut oil, it stays liquid.
  • Sweet almond oil is another preference of mine.  It has a pleasant scent and is also very light.  It is frequently used by massage therapists.
  • Raw, cold-pressed coconut oil is a good carrier oil if you are making a salve or want the added health benefits of coconut oil (great for skin conditions).  The downside is that it has a melting point of 76 degrees.  Below 76 degrees, it will remain solid.
  • Olive oil, unscented body lotion, etc.  These will also work.  Olive oil is heavy and not my preference.  But, I will admit, I’ve been known to grab my bottle and use it in a pinch (or, admittedly, when I’m feeling uber lazy and it’s close in proximity).  doTERRA makes a fabulous unscented body lotion. I keep a bottle of Wild Orange in my bathroom and mix it in with my body lotion after showers.  Love this!

How much carrier oil do I need to use?  That depends on your purpose.  I’ve read considerable research that indicates that an essential oil maintains its therapeutic benefits even when diluted down to 2%, 5%, or 10%. A popular guide to essential oils has a handy dandy chart that shows dilution ratios.  Infants are not listed on the chart but it is recommended that one drop of essential per Tablespoon of carrier be used.  These are VERY light dilutions.  Remember, it’s o.k. to dilute at a much heavier ratio.  In fact, it can be safer and more effective.  I say….dilute!


What happens if I burn myself or get an EO in my eye?  Use your carrier oil.  If you apply an oil and it starts to tingle, just add on a bit of carrier oil.  You will find that it immediately takes away the tingle.   If an oil gets in the eye, you can also use your carrier oil around the eye area.   I speak from experience, it helps.   Trust me, PastTense in the eye is not fun.   Diluting or trying to wash off an oil with water will not work.   Water will only drive it in further as oil and water do not mix.  I think we learned this in third grade, didn’t we?

So, there you have it.  Everything you wanted to know about carrier oils but were afraid to ask.  Do you use a carrier oil?  If so, what is your favorite?