The UMA Oil Files: Carrier Oils 101

What are carrier oils

The increasing popularity of skincare oils means a marketplace that’s saturated with options, all allegedly providing incredible benefits for skin and body. So, what’s the difference between carrier oils and essential oils, and how do you choose the one that’s right for you? With a little help from us, of course!

To begin with, carrier oils are usually cold pressed from fruits and nuts, and have strong penetrative abilities that allow them to carry botanically derived essential oils into the skin. The "carrier" portion of the name also talks to its ability to "carry" essential oils into the skin due to their absorbent capabilities. (Essential oils are highly volatile and concentrated. If applied without being diluted in a carrier, a majority will sensitize skin, and evaporate with little penetration, defeating the therapeutic purposes of their application).

Here, we go over the vital characteristics of some major players in the carrier oil game! These nutrient-rich oils have unique benefits for the skin, with or without the addition of essential oils. 

Coconut Oil

Classic coconut oil was one of the first beauty oils to go mainstream – and for good reason. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, which not only keep skin smooth, but also prevent it from losing moisture. It’s also rich in capric, caprylic, and lauric acids – three fatty acids that have natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Not to mention, coconut oil is one of the most cost effective options on this list, and can be used to make a variety of homemade toiletries, including deodorant and eye cream!

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba Carrier Oil

Jojoba oil, distilled from the seeds of the jojoba tree (native to the Southwestern United States and Mexico) has a consistency (and molecular structure) that is very similar to the oil your skin produces. Mimicking the structure of your skin allows this oil to rapidly penetrate the skin and deliver nutrients sub-dermally. This also means it may be able to “convince” your skin that it has already produced enough oil – thereby preventing excess oil production and the resultant greasy skin! It has a longer shelf life than many of its counterparts – meaning if you store it in a cool, dry place, it will retain its nourishing properties for a long period of time!

Rose Hip Seed Oil

Rose hip seed oil is celebrated for its scar healing abilities – meaning it is the perfect way to fade the pesky reminders of acne and irritation that are visible on your skin. It’s also packed with vitamin C and vitamin A, a natural retinol, which means it protects your skin from environmental damage even as it promotes increased cell turnover!

Grape Seed Oil

Grapeseed Carrier Oil

This oil is a wonderful – if slightly counterintuitive – choice for those of us with oily and/or acne-prone skin, as it actually controls skin’s natural oil producing functions and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in phenolic antioxidants and vitamin E, and is an especially effective way to minimize dark circles under the eyes, when applied daily for a few weeks.

Olive Oil  

This kitchen staple is for much more than just drizzling over your salad – it’s rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, as well as a unique phytonutrient that mimics the anti-inflammatory effect of ibuprofen!

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