It is very important to dilute essential oils in some type of carrier before applying them to the skin. There are many different types of carriers that you can use for essential oils, in addition to the common types of carrier oils used in massage products. Here’s a quick look at the many different types of carriers suitable for diluting essential oils for skin care use

Types of Carriers for Essential Oils: Photo Credit, ISP
Types of Carriers for Essential Oils: Photo Credit, ISP


Carrier Oils and Essential Oils

Carrier oils – also known as vegetable oils, base oils, and even by the general term of “massage oils” – come in many varieties. Carrier oils are extracted from plants in a number of ways – resulting in various types of carrier oils; cold pressed, hot pressed, macerated, organic and refined are just some of the terms you will come across to describe carrier oils.

Do not use hot pressed or refined carrier oils for therapeutic aromatherapy practice; these types of carrier oils have been chemically altered in some way, or have been extracted with high heat, thus removing many of the therapeutic properties of the oil.

Some examples of carrier oils include:

  • grapeseed

  • olive

  • sweet almond

  • apricot

  • sunflower.

Butters and Essential Oils

Butters, such as shea butter and cocoa butter, are popular carriers for essential oils in use with skincare products in the United States. You will usually find that one or more butters are combined with essential oils and carrier oils in skin care products. Use unrefined butters that have been extracted from plants for therapeutic aromatherapy practice.

Some examples of butters include:

  • cocoa butter

  • shea butter

  • mango butter

  • avocado butter.

Skincare Bases and Essential Oils

There are a wide range of skincare bases that you can use to dilute essential oils in; these include:

  • bath salts

  • sugars

  • lotions

  • creams

  • bubble bath

  • shampoo

  • aloe vera gel

  • honey

  • milk

  • water.

Some of these bases are combined to make other products; for example, sugar is used to make sugar scrubs. Other bases can be made from several ingredients or purchased from suppliers in a pre-made base; for example, lotions and creams.

How to Dilute Essential Oils in Carriers

Understanding the correct dilution rate for both the carrier and the person the product is intended for is very important. There are a wide range of bases to choose from, and a wide range of possibilities; for example, the dilution rate should always be reduced for babies and children, in pregnancy, the elderly and those with certain illnesses.

Purchase a book on aromatherapy – such as Authentic Aromatherapy – to get started, consult a certified aromatherapist, or take a certified course in aromatherapy to learn more.

If you are serious about understanding essential oils and the many different ways in which you can use them, take a look at the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy course. All of these bases, and more, are covered in this comprehensive course!


  • Price, Len, 1999, Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy and Massage UK: Riverhead

  • Author is a UK certified aromatherapist.

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