A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.
If applied to the skin undiluted, essential oils, absolutes, CO2s and other concentrated aromatics can cause severe irritation or reactions in some individuals. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential and other oils prior to application. They carry the essential oil onto the skin.
Each carrier oil offers a different combination of therapeutic properties and characteristics. The choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought.
Natural lotions, creams, body oils, bath oils, lip balms and other moisturizing skin care products are also made using vegetable (carrier) oils. From a simple essential oil/carrier oil blend to a more complex natural lotion, your choice of carrier oil can make a difference in the therapeutic properties, color, overall aroma and shelf life of your final product.
Essential vs. Carrier Oils
Essential oils are distilled from the leaves, bark, roots and other aromatic portions of a botanical. Essential oils evaporate and have a concentrated aroma. Carrier oils, on the other hand, are pressed from the fatty portions (seeds, nuts, kernels) and do not evaporate or impart their aroma as strongly as essential oils. Carrier oils can go rancid over time, but essential oils do not. Instead, essential oils "oxidize" and lose their therapeutic benefits, but they don't go rancid
Examples of vegetable oils that are used as a carrier in hair care:
Jojoba Oil - Great for all hair types. Jojoba has an ability to inhibit excess activity of the sebaceous glands making it the perfect choice for people with oily scalps that still need conditioning. Can be used for dry hair as it helps to moisturize your hair properly.
Olive Oil - strengthens your hair and nourishes. Olive oil adds loads of shine and smoothes the cuticles. Great for fizzy hair! Just a note: You might want to use a conditioner after an hot olive oil hair treatment as I have found hair is still tangle.
Coconut Oil - is one of the oil which helps in the lubrication of the hair. It softens the hair and conditions the scalp. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is very useful for damaged hair due to its ability to strengthen it. Also said to be a wonderful oil for Dandruff.
Rosemary Herbal Oil - is very useful for the unwanted and flaky dandruff problems. Rosemary oil helps in stimulating follicles, as a result of which, hair grow longer and stronger.
Castor oil - Rich in ricinoleic acid (triglyceride of fatty acid), castor oil can be used to treat skin conditions such as fungal infections. It nourish hair and prevent the scalp from drying by retaining moisture Castor oil added to hair care products helps to seal moisture, soften, and thicken hair.
Vitamin E oil - Vitamin E is a well known antioxidant and when added to homemade products, helps extend their shelf life. Vitamin E acts as a rejuvenator and protection for scalp and skin.
Avocado Oil- Perfect for Dry Hair. Avocado oil is full of vitamins your hair needs like vitamins A, E, D and potassium. This added to other carrier oils makes a perfect deep treatment.
Hemp Seed Oil - Brings gloss and manageability to hair as well as relief from dry scalp or hair damage caused by blow-dryer heat, chemical perms, coloring or sunlight. Loaded with moisturizing and replenishing Essential Fatty Acids