Essential oils must be diluted in a carrier or base oil before they are applied to the skin as some neat oils may cause irritation. The base oils have therapeutic qualities of their own, which mean that they enhance the qualities of the oils they are blended with and therapists can take the properties of the carrier into consideration when making the blend. When choosing carrier oils, it is important to take into consideration the part of the body being worked on, as some oils are lighter and more easily absorbed than others.
Sweet Almond Oil
One of the most common oils and very popular with therapists, sweet almond oil is derived from the kernels of the almond tree. It has a very light, slightly nutty aroma and is virtually colourless. It has a reasonable shelf life of around a year and is considered to be an all purpose oil. It is relatively inexpensive and is easily absorbed. Its skin-conditioning qualities make it ideal for use on the face.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is rich in vitamin A and has a very light consistencym which makes it a popular choice for facial treatments. It has a slight aroma that will not interfere with the essential oils being used. It has a shelf life of up to 18 months and is considered ideal for an overnight facial treatment.
Rosehip oil is another favoured oil for facial blends due to its positive effects on fine lines and scarring. In its pure form, it is approximately three quarters essential fatty acids and has a high concentration of vitamin E. It can often be found blended with other oils, as frequent crop failures can make it scarce and a little more expensive than other carriers.
Another popular oil with therapists, grapeseed oil is virtually odourless, very light and easily absorbed. It is suitable for use in facial blends as it has mild astringent properties which can help oily skin conditions, though it is suitable for use on all skin types. Stored in a cool dark place it has a shelf life of around six months. Grapeseed oil is not available as a cold-pressed oil, as this process only produces a grey sludge. Heat treatment is essential for the production of this base oil.
Carrier oils should be stored in dark bottles, preferably glass, and kept in a cool dark place in order to maximise the shelf life.