A carrier oil is a base oil, usually vegetable or fruit, which you can blend together to make a custom oil, and to which you can add essential oils – which should not be used on the skin undiluted. These blends can be used as massage oils, skin oils (applying a little oil to the skin after a bath is arguably the most effective moisturizer there is, and if you choose the right oils, leaves no residue), hair treatments, and a multitude of other uses.

One thing to keep in mind when shopping for carrier oils; unrefined is almost always better than refined, as the refining can strip the oil of many nutrients. For similar reasons, cold pressed oils are much preferable to hot pressed. And finally, organic oils are generally also higher in nutrients and less likely to have undesirable compounds.

Almond oil, Sweet

This oil is relatively inexpensive, and can be used alone on the skin. The cold-pressed version is extremely high in skin nutrients. Those with nut allergies should be careful, however.

Apricot Kernel oil

A very light oil, making it very good for oily skin, or the skin of the face, especially because it absorbs very well and doesn’t leave any oily residue. On the down side, it is relatively expensive.

Avocado oil

This oil is readily absorbed into the skin and even into the deep tissue, making it particularly good for penetrating massage, such as for sore muscles, or for treating mature or very dry skin.

Borage oil

This is a very rich source of GLA (an essential fatty acid of the omega-6 family, very important for healthy skin.) It is a good choice for skin irritations like eczema and psoriasis.

Carrot oil

A good source of beta carotene. It has nutrients to help heal scar tissue, as well as soothing irritations and acne. It should be diluted with another carrier oil, however.

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Coconut oil

This thick, rich oil is exceptionally good for the hair, giving it a lovely sheen. It is also both soothing and nourishing for dry skin. Because it is so thick (basically solid at cooler room temperatures), for most applications it will need to have other oils added to it.

Evening Primrose oil

This oil contains a great number of important skin nutrients. It is also a rich source of GLA. It is helpful with skin irritations, such as eczema and psoriasis, and is also wonderful for dry skin. It is even gentle enough to use on the sensitive skin of the face. Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive for an oil, and also rather sticky, so it should be mixed with other oils.

Grapeseed oil

This lovely oil is nongreasy, and perfect for all skin types. It absorbs very well, and can easily be used alone, however, it does mix very well with Almond oil to combine complimentary nutrients. It is very similar to the skin’s natural oil, making it very hypoallergenic, and good for even the most sensitive skin.

Hazelnut oil

Because of its mild astringent properties, this oil is very useful for oily or combination skin types, including acne-prone skin. It also contains a high concentration of essential fatty acids. It can be used alone, or combined with other oils.

Jojoba oil

Like Grapeseed oil, this oil is very close to the skin’s natural oils, although in fact it isn’t an oil at all, but a waxy substance that is liquid at room temperature. It penetrates the skin and tissues more readily and fully than other oils. It is rich in vitamin E, and good for treating psoriasis, eczema, and other skin irritation or inflammation. Because it has antibacterial properties, it is also excellent for use with acne. It can be used on any skin type, including even sensitive or oily complexions. In addition, it is particularly good for the hair.

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Olive oil

Although too thick and sticky to be well suited for massage by itself, this oil can add body to a blend with other oils. It is excellent for use with mature or dry skin, and has a pleasant, fairly sweet scent.

Peach Kernel oil

This oil is very similar to Apricot Kernel oil, and is particularly good for use on the face.

Peanut oil

The unrefined version of this oil is very nutritious for the skin, and while the refined version is not so nutritious, both are still very good for use in massage. It can be used alone, but be careful for those with nut allergies.

Safflower oil

This is a fairly light oil that penetrates the skin well. It is best used as a blend with other oils.

Sesame oil

Many skin conditions benefit from the application of this oil, and it can even be used as a mild natural sunscreen. It is one of the better moisturizing oils.

Sunflower oil

While very rich in nutrients, such as vitamins A, B, D, and E, this oil is fairly light and relatively cheap, making it an excellent choice to blend with more expensive oils, although it can be used alone as well. As with most oils, the cold pressed oil contains vastly more nutrients than the hot pressed.

Walnut oil

This oil contains small amounts of GLA. It is usually used in a blend with other oils.

Wheat Germ oil

Because this oil is so rich in vitamin E, it is very useful in treating not only mature and very dry skin types, but also stretch marks, scar tissue, chapped skin, and burns. The vitamin E content also acts as a preservative. As it is rather sticky, it should generally be used in a blend with lighter oils. Be careful for those with a wheat allergy.