What is Carrier Oil – Essential Oil Safety Guide
What is a carrier oil? – Essential Oil Safety Guide
Contrary to popular belief, carrier oils do NOT actually dilute the efficacy of an essential oil, they slow down the absorption rate of the oil, but they don’t lessen the strength. This is important to understand, if applying oils to a child.. we’ll get to that in a moment.
What kind of oils are carrier oils?
Carrier oils are fatty oils or vegetable oils, that help “carry” an essential oil, in order to reduce discomfort, or allow for proper coverage of an essential oil, without using more than 1 or 2 drops of essential oil.
Carrier oils ensure that essential oils applied topically, are comfortable to the skin. When you dilute with a carrier, it changes the heat or sensation of the oil on your skin, but does not dilute the potency or effect of the oil.
Using a carrier oil can help prevent waste due to excessive application. If you feel like you need an oil to cover a larger area of skin and 1 drop of EO isn’t enough for adequate coverage, a carrier oil would be really beneficial for helping to spread the oil, and still use the appropriate dose (1-2 drops). Essential oils are absorbed into our skin, and get into the blood stream. It is important not to use too much for safety as well as cost.
Using Carrier Oils
Children & Babies
When applying oils topically to children or babies, it is best to put about 10-20 drops of carrier oil (an organic vegetable oil like fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil) to the palm of your hand, then add 1-2 drops of essential oil. Combine in your hands, then apply to the child.
Smaller children and babies require more dilution, a 20 to 1 ratio is the ideal starting place.
Rubbing the oils in your hands will help prevent applying too much, as you will absorb some of the oils, and your hands will act as a sort of diffuser. Some Young Living products come pre-diluted with carrier oil, as indicated on product labels, and are intended for direct application on children. (Contact me directly for more information about Kids’ oils.)
Applying oils “Neat”
If you apply an oil “neat” to yourself (no carrier oil) and the oil doesn’t bother you at first, but in a moment it begins to feel hot, simply cover the area with a small amount of carrier oil. This will help temper the hot feeling. Never use water! That will make the burning sensation worse. Always apply a carrier oil.
“Hot oils” are oils that can cause a hot or warming sensation when applied to the skin. Examples of hot oils and blends include Cinnamon, Clove, Lemongrass, Oregano, Thyme, Exodus II™, and Thieves®. For some people, Peppermint’s cooling sensation can be too intense.
I like to use peppermint oil, or certain pain oil blends, like Deep Relief® for headaches, stiff neck, etc. These oils don’t bother me if I apply them neat to the back of my neck. But if I apply it to my temples to cool headache pain, I need to follow up with carrier oil. The carrier oil will “encapsulate” the peppermint or menthol type blend of essential oil, which keeps the fumes from bothering my sensitive eyes.
For adults, many essential oils can be applied neat (no carrier) but some oils to watch out for are Cinnamon, Clove, lemongrass, oregano, thyme, Thieves blend, and Exodus II. For many people peppermint is also considered a “hot” oil.
Hot oils are oils that can cause a hot or warming sensation when applied to the skin. Peppermint has more of a cooling sensation, but it can be intense.
Use a patch test procedure first, to test your sensitivity. This procedure can be used for any new oil. Apply 1-2 drops of oil to a small patch on your forearm. Watch that area for an hour or two to monitor for any reaction (usually in the first 5-10 minutes, but keep an eye on it for at least an hour). If you experience discomfort, apply carrier oil as often as needed.
If a rash occurs, that is usually a sign of your body eliminating the oil (detoxing). Drink water to help encourage the release and removal of toxins in your body. Toxins present in petrochemical-based soaps and skin care products, detergents, and perfumes may trigger some of the detoxification reactions. Consider discontinuing these agents if a reaction occurs.
I have seen some documentation that states to dilute or wash oils with water if they cause irritation. DO NOT DO THIS. Water actually drives oil into the skin and eyes!
Other ways to use Carrier Oils
How often can essential oils be applied? How much do I use?
Real, pure Essential oils are very powerful, so start low and go slow. Excessive use of essential oils may increase the risk for adverse reactions. In most cases, 1–2 drops are adequate, and using more may waste product. Depending on the essential oil, you can gradually build up to 3–4 uses per day, if desired.
Rebecca is a work at home Mom, focused on healthy, toxin free living, since 2011.
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