Carrier or base oils are used to dilute the very concentrated essential or volatile oils for use on the skin. Carrier oils are properly described as ‘fixed oils’ because they are not volatile and do not evaporate. This means that they will stain clothing if spilled. Different carrier oils may be used for varying therapeutic effects which enhance the action of essential oils.
Technically a liquid wax, it spreads easily on the skin and enhances elasticity. Used extensively in natural skin care, especially for very dry or aging skin. It can be used as a soak for dry or cracked cuticles, as an eye make-up remover and warmed as a deep penetrating hair conditioner. Does not require refrigeration and almost never turns rancid.
Sweet Almond oil
An all purpose oil, cheap and easily available with generally good keeping properties. It is smooth and silky on the skin, and quickly absorbed, making it the preferred oil for massage and as an after-bath body oil. It has very little natural scent so is ideal for mixing with essential oils.
Very rich in vitamins A and D as well as beta carotene and lecithin, this oil is extremely nourishing to the skin and especially useful for dry, aging or weathered skin. It has quite a strong odour and colour and these are not always readily disguised in natural cosmetics. It does not keep well and goes rancid quickly. Should be stored in the fridge.
A very light oil that spreads well onto the skin and is readily absorbed, making it ideal for massage. It can also be used as a make-up remover and moisturizer.
A fairly heavy oil that never the less spreads easily onto the skin and is well absorbed. It provides a slight sun screen action, making it particularly well suited as a pre-sun oil. Very rich in vitamins, including A, D and E. It is richly nourishing to the skin. A very stable oil, resistant to rancidity.
Apricot kernel oil
A light, easily spread oil, especially nourishing to dry and aging skin. Does not have good keeping properties and should be stored in the fridge.
A colourless and barely scented oil, tending to be a bit heavy on the skin. Sets hard at room temperature so useful to thicken lotions.
Relatively stable oil that penetrates well. It has a warming action and is especially useful in sports massage or for friction rubs.
Other oils that may be used on the skin include safflower, sunflower and olive oils. These all tend to be heavier and have a stronger scent than may be desirable for cosmetic purposes.