What Is A Carrier Oil? List Of 20 Best Mixing Oils

If you are growing your knowledge about essential oils.

Then…

This article is going to help you immensely to get a fuller picture of how carrier oils work and why they are effective in building recipes.

What Is A Carrier Oil?

Carrier oils are oils that come from natural sources like nuts and seeds. They are used as a base to mix other oils and ingredients into. Carrier oils come with their own health benefits and are used to make moisturizers, toners, cleansers, deodorants, soaps, and more!

Carrier oils usually have a neutral smell and color. You can choose one or mix several different kinds together to create your own personalized formula.

Many essential oils must be diluted before they can be used. Essential oils such as tea tree can be toxic when used at full strength. Carrier oils are used to dilute these essential oils and allow them to be absorbed before they evaporate.

How Do I Choose A Carrier Oil?

There are many carrier oils to choose from, and one type is not going to be best for everyone. Which oil you choose will depend on your skin type and what you’re using it for.

If you have acne prone skin, look for oils with a comedogenic rating as close to 0 as possible. The higher the comedogenic rating, the more likely it is to clog your pores and lead to a breakout.

It can be difficult to know where to begin when choosing your first carrier oil. If you don’t know where to start, pick an oil with a comedogenic rating of 0 or 1. Then determine whether you need an oil for dry or oily skin. After that, you can choose based on smell, appearance, or specific health benefits.

You may need to go through a few different oils before you find the one that works best for you. This is not uncommon! When first trying an oil, buy the smallest bottle you can and make sure to go with a high quality, cold-pressed oil.

The list below will help you choose your first carrier oil or discover one you’ve never used before. Continue reading to learn about the 20 best carrier oils and how to use them.

20 Best Carrier Oils For Mixing

1. Hemp Seed Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 0
  • Appearance: light green; thick liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: light, nutty aroma
  • Good For: all skin types

Hemp seed oil comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, but this oil contains no THC. Hemp seed oil is an excellent carrier oil that can balance oil production in both dry and oily skin.

This carrier oil is great for damaged and aging skin because it contains plenty of antioxidants. It is also a winner for irritated, acne prone skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties. For the same reason, hemp seed oil is great for people with difficult skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Hemp seed oil has the ability to produce natural pain killers. This makes it a great choice for people with joint or muscle pain. Try using it as a massage oil on tender areas – you can mix in some eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil for an even greater analgesic effect.

2. Argan Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 0
  • Appearance: pale, cloudy yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: mild, nutty aroma
  • Good For: all skin types

Argan oil is a favorite for hair care, and for good reason! This silky-smooth oil will leave hair (and skin) soft, supple, and easy to work with. It is quickly and easily absorbed without leaving any greasy residue behind.

Argan oil is high in Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that is a great for skin prone to breakouts. It can even reduce the appearance of acne scars!

This oil is tends to be on the more expensive side, but the cost is worth it for many people. Argan oil can be cut with other oils like grapeseed or sweet almond to make it last longer and provide added benefits.

3. Sunflower Seed Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 0-2
  • Appearance: yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: oily aroma
  • Good For: all skin types

Sunflower seed oil is a great starter oil because it’s good for all types of skin. It is high in Vitamin E, making it great for acne prone skin.

This oil is a good choice for aging and mature skin. It absorbs easily into the skin and leaves it feeling soft while reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

When buying sunflower seed oil, make sure to choose cold-pressed products. Avoid high-oleic sunflower seed oil, as this kind can cause you to breakout.

4. Hazelnut Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 1
  • Appearance: pale yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: light, nutty smell
  • Good For: all skin types

Hazelnut oil is another great carrier oil for acne prone skin. This is because it has antibacterial properties that destroy infections in the skin. Hazelnut oil is especially good for blackheads and whiteheads, which can be difficult to get rid of.

Hazelnut oil has the unique ability to reduce the appearance of the pores on your face. When applied, this oil has a tightening and smoothing effect.

Because of this, hazelnut oil can make your skin feel itchy or tight when first applied. If this bothers you, try mixing it with other oils to reduce these sensations.

5. Rosehip Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 1
  • Appearance: reddish gold; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: natural, oily scent
  • Good For: oily skin

Rosehip oil is a lovely carrier oil for sensitive, acne prone, and aging skin. It acts as an antioxidant to reduce the effects of harmful free radicals that can cause damage to the skin.

People who experience redness and irritation will benefit from using rosehip oil. It can improve the appearance of stretch marks, dark spots, and scars, including those from acne.

Sun damaged skin will also love rosehip oil. It is best mixed with other oils like grapeseed or sunflower seed in order to prevent drying.

6. Neem Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 1-2
  • Appearance: dark yellow; soft and waxy at room temperature
  • Scent: strong pungent odor similar to boiled peanuts
  • Good For: dry skin

Neem oil is a jewel for people who can handle its unique scent. This waxy oil is great for red, irritated skin that is prone to acne. Neem oil can also be used as an insect repellent.

It is best to mix this oil with other carrier oils. When used on its own, Neem oil can leave a greasy, oily residue on your skin.

Plan on using this oil right before bed. Its strong odor can be overwhelming – other people may not want to be around you when you have this oil on your face!

Don’t let the strong smell of neem prevent you from trying this oil. It’s a wonderful regenerative oil that is great for acne-prone as well as aging skin.

7. Grapeseed Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 1
  • Appearance: light yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: all skin types

Grapeseed oil is my personal favorite among the carrier oils. It is great for combination skin that is prone to breakouts and redness. It’s also good to use as a makeup remover as it is a very mild oil that won’t cause eye irritation.

Grapeseed oil is high in Vitamin E, which gives it its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

This oil is quickly and easily absorbed and leaves no oily residue. Skin moisturized with grapeseed oil will be left buttery soft and smooth.

8. Castor Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 1
  • Appearance: clear; thick liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: oily skin

Although it may sound like an oxymoron, castor oil is known as a drying oil. It is often used for the oil cleansing method but isn’t a great choice for moisturizing.

Castor oil causes deep breakouts to rise to the surface so they can heal. Because of this it is a great oil for acne-prone, oily skin.

Castor oil should always be mixed with other oils to prevent dry skin. If your skin is prone to dryness or irritation, start by adding a very small amount of castor oil to your cleansing mixture. You only need a little bit to reap the benefits of this oil.

9. Emu Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 1
  • Appearance: bright yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: oily odor
  • Good For: all skin types

Emu oil is a powerhouse carrier oil. It’s good for pain relief, wound healing, skin protection, and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Emu oil comes from the flightless Emu bird. Because of this, it is not a good choice for vegans. If you’re concerned about animal welfare, The American Emu Association certifies oils that are pure and humanely obtained.

Emu oil is a good choice for people with arthritis or muscle pain because of its pain-relieving abilities. It is very easily absorbed due to its nearly identical structure to the oil produced by human skin.

Because emu oil is so easily absorbed, it can be added to other oils to increase their absorbability. This will also make it easier on your wallet, as Emu oil is one of the most expensive carrier oils out there. 

10. Fractionated Coconut Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2-3
  • Appearance: clear; watery at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: oily skin

This oil is a good choice if you like to use coconut oil but live in a cold environment. This is because, while regular coconut oil is solid at room temperature, fractionated oil has been made to stay liquid.

Fractionated coconut oil stays liquid at colder temperatures because it has had its long-chain triglycerides removed. This process also makes it less likely to cause breakouts than regular coconut oil.

This carrier oil is a good choice for massage oils or for diluting essential oils because it has absolutely no scent.

If you react to regular coconut oil, chances are you’ll react to fractionated coconut oil as well. Stay away from this oil if you are acne-prone or have issues with regular coconut oil.

11. Evening Primrose Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2-3
  • Appearance: yellow; thick liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: oily, slightly nutty fragrance
  • Good For: oily skin

Evening primrose oil comes from the seeds of the wild evening primrose flower. Many women claim that it can help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome like cramps and water retention.

This carrier oil is a good one for mature skin that is acne prone. It can reduce signs of aging while getting rid of breakouts because of its ability to reduce inflammation.

This oil is not the best choice for dry skin. This is because it does not lock in as much moisture as some other carrier oils.

12. Sweet Almond Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2
  • Appearance: pale yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: oily smell
  • Good For: oily skin

This lovely oil has the ability to make your skin silky soft. It can improve damaged skin and is hydrating without being oily or greasy.

Sweet almond oil is gentle on sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts. It’s anti-inflammatory and high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that can reduce acne and irritation.

This carrier oil is also a good choice for aging, sun damaged skin because of its high antioxidant content.

Note that sweet almond oil is different from bitter almond oil – while sweet almond oil has almost no scent, bitter almond oil smells strongly of almonds. Bitter almond oil is also known as an essential oil rather than a carrier oil.

13. Apricot Seed Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2
  • Appearance: yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: combination skin

Apricot seed oil is similar to grapeseed oil in that it is high in Vitamin E and works for many different skin types. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.

Apricot seed oil’s bacteria fighting abilities makes it perfect for acne prone skin. It is quickly and easily absorbed, making it an option for both dry and oily skin.

This carrier oil is another great choice for aging, mature skin. This is because the antioxidants found in Vitamin E can fight free radicals. Free radicals are thought to contribute to signs of aging and cause harm to the skin.

If you like grapeseed oil, give apricot seed oil a try! You can even mix the two together to create your own personalized blend.

14. Olive Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2
  • Appearance: dark yellow/green; thick liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: pungent, grassy smell
  • Good For: dry skin

You’re probably used to using olive oil in the kitchen, but this oil can be a good first-time carrier oil because it is so easy to find.

Olive oil is easily absorbed is a good choice for mature skin. It is also able to calm red, blotchy skin. That being said, olive oil can irritate some people with more sensitive or acne prone skin.

Some people find the smell of olive oil overpowering, while others feel that it blends nicely with the scent of many essential oils. Extra-virgin oils will usually have a milder scent if you have trouble with olive oil’s odor.

Don’t skimp on the quality of your olive oil – this carrier oil is one that is frequently counterfeit.  It is not uncommon to find a bottle labeled as olive oil that actually contains safflower or soybean oil.

15. Jojoba Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2
  • Appearance: yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: oily skin

Many people with acne are huge fans of jojoba oil. Pronounced “huh-ho-bah”, this carrier oil is actually not an oil at all, but a wax. This makes it very similar to the sebum produced by human skin.

Jojoba oil is very easily absorbed and can bring deep breakouts to the surface so they can heal. This carrier oil also has antifungal properties, making it a good choice for athlete’s foot and fungal infections of the nails.

This oil is a joy to work with and leaves your skin feeling baby-soft. Be aware, though, that it may make red or irritated skin worse. After using it for a few weeks, I had to give away my jojoba oil because my super-sensitive skin couldn’t handle it.

Don’t let this dissuade you from trying jojoba – many people swear by this carrier oil and have great success with it.

16. Macadamia Nut Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2-3
  • Appearance: clear yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: strong, nutty smell
  • Good For: dry skin

Macadamia nut oil is a great oil for mixing. It contains many antioxidants that fight free radicals. This is great for aging and irritated skin.

Macadamia nut oil absorbs quickly and is good for dry and combination skin. I’ve had great success adding this oil to my daily face moisturizer and love the way that it melts into my skin.

This oil does have a strong smell that can be overwhelming, but don’t worry! It quickly disappears once the oil has absorbed.

17. Papaya Seed Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 2-3
  • Appearance: yellow; liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: dry skin

Papaya seed oil is a unique choice that is great for many different conditions. It can even out your skin tone, fill in lines and wrinkles, and strengthen skin.

This carrier oil has a regenerating effect on skin that is helpful for people with acne and early signs of aging. It is very soothing and gentle, so people with irritated skin will love papaya seed oil.

Papaya seed oil has been growing in popularity in recent years because of the papain enzyme it contains. This enzyme works as a gentle exfoliant and can unclog pores. Try combining this oil with sunflower or argan oil for an acne-friendly mixture.

18. Avocado Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 3
  • Appearance: yellow; thick liquid at room temperature
  • Scent: buttery aroma
  • Good For: dry skin

This is another oil that is commonly used in the kitchen and has a delicious, buttery smell and taste. It is a great choice for people with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

This carrier oil is a good one for aging skin that has lost some of its natural elasticity. Avocado oil can increase collagen production which is responsible for creating strong, flexible skin.

Avocado oil is extremely hydrating but can leave your skin feeling greasy. It can also cause irritation or breakouts for people with sensitive skin.

19. Coconut Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: 4
  • Appearance: white; solid at room temperature
  • Scent: Refined – odorless; Unrefined – buttery, coconut smell
  • Good For: very dry skin

Coconut oil is one of the most widely used carrier oils available. It is available refined and unrefined – the main difference is the smell, but refined coconut oil will also contain slightly fewer nutrients than unrefined.

This special oil is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. While it sounds like coconut oil would be a great choice for everybody, it is highly comedogenic. A high percentage of people experience breakouts when using coconut oil.

If you have very dry skin that isn’t acne prone, coconut oil can be a great option for you. Many people still enjoy using it and include it in their oil cleansing mixtures.

20. Magnesium Oil

  • Comedogenic rating: n/a
  • Appearance: clear; watery at room temperature
  • Scent: none
  • Good For: insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramps

Magnesium oil is unlike the other carrier oils on this list in that it is actually a salt, not an oil. Magnesium oil is a great choice if you are looking to raise your magnesium levels, have trouble falling asleep, or have issues with anxiety.

Before bedtime, try rubbing magnesium oil mixed with lavender into your feet (make sure to wear socks afterwards!). The feet are able to quickly and efficiently absorb magnetism oil. I experience almost instant sleepiness and muscle relaxation after using magnesium oil!

If you have sensitive skin or are deficient in magnesium, this oil may cause itching or tingling. These sensations will go away over time as your magnesium levels rise and your skin gets used to the oil.

You’ll notice that as magnesium oil dries, salt will be left on your skin. Feel free to wipe this salty residue off with a warm, wet cloth after about 20 minutes.

Takeaway Notes

  • Carrier oils are oils that are used as a base for other ingredients such as essential oils. They can be used to make moisturizers, cleansers, soaps, and deodorants.
  • Dry Skin: coconut, avocado, papaya seed, macadamia, olive, neem
  • Oily skin: jojoba, sweet almond, evening primrose, fractionated coconut, castor, rosehip
  • Acne Prone Skin: hemp, argan, sunflower, hazelnut, rosehip, neem, grapeseed, evening primrose, sweet almond, papaya seed
  • Aging Skin: hemp, sunflower, neem, evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot seed, macadamia, papaya seed, avocado
Kelli Yates
Kelli Yates
Kelli Yates is a health and nutrition writer, dietetics student, and co-host and creator of The Nutrition Nerds Podcast. In her spare time she teaches the free class Well-Fed Survival: Eating Healthy After A Disaster, which helps people build nutritious emergency food supplies and prepare for natural disasters.
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