Every Batman has his Inspector Gordon: the reliable, dependable, a-bit-less-sexy support act standing in the background. And hidden amongst a whole expanded universe of heroic aromatherapy recipes there’s always a trusty carrier oil pulling more than its weight, letting those attention-hungry essential oils do their thing in the olfactory spotlight. Carrier oils are not only important delivery vehicles for the star aroma – they also have therapeutic properties of their own, and each one is suited for different purposes: as massage carrier oils, in balms and serums, in home made aromatherapy stick diffusers, in hair treatments… Wherever there’s an essential oil, there’s a carrier oil making it look good! And – say it quietly – sometimes carrier oils don’t even need essential oils in order to do their own special thing.
So it’s time we gave five of these unsung heroes some love. Carrier oils – Gotham is yours!
Technically a wax, due to its concentrations of fatty acids and alcohols, jojoba oil is produced in the seed of the desert-dwelling jojoba shrub. Rich in vitamins A and E, and omega-6 fatty acids, jojoba oil is extremely beneficial for skin tone and health, making it hugely popular as a massage oil. Blessed with natural anti-inflammatory properties, and absorbed well into the skin, it is also understood to help with acne and other skin conditions. It has one of the longest shelf lives of all carrier oils when kept refrigerated or in a cool, dark place, and can remain usable for up to five years. Pure jojoba oil is completely odorless, so rancidity is easy to detect; unrefined jojoba oil has a faint, nutty aroma.
In addition to being highly moisturizing, unrefined coconut oil contains caprylic acid, which is believed to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s a go-to oil for making your own skincare products. Refined (fractionated) coconut oil is not recommended as a massage oil, as it contains bleaching and deodorizing agents to remove the color and coconut scent. But if coconut oil is your preference for use in a home-made diffuser with aromatherapy sticks, be sure to use the fractionated variety, which has greater liquidity. Keep unrefined oil in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate if you need to firm it up for use in creating your own skin or lip balms.
Slick and moisturizing, olive oil is an excellent choice for skin care preparations and massage oils. However, its distinctive aroma can mask those of essential oils, so try experimenting with a drop of essential oil in a teaspoon of olive oil before mixing up a full batch of your preparation. It’s perfect for use as a hair conditioner, make-up remover or cleansing oil, and can even be mixed with sea salt to make a gently exfoliating scrub. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which is understood to limit damage to your skin from free-radicals, the damaging unstable atoms present in the atmosphere.
Black Seed Oil
Rich in unsaturated and saturated fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory properties of black seed oil make it an effective skin treatment for dry skin, psoriasis and eczema. The ‘black seeds’ themselves come from the Nigella sativa plant, and are also known as kalonji, black caraway, black cumin, black onion seeds, or simply ‘nigella’ (not that one). They produce a nutty, earthy-smelling oil which may or not be your cup of tea for a massage or diffuser sticks – use the teaspoon test and find out!
Native to Morocco, argan oil is pressed from the fruit of the argan tree, and is also rich in vitamin E and omega-6. Prized for its skin-hydrating and elasticizing properties, argan oil can be used as an anti-aging face serum or a carrier oil for massage. Argan oil has a unique aroma which can be a bit of an acquired taste – like popcorn with a hint of lemon – but if you want to smell delicious after your massage, this is the carrier oil for you! Argan oil has also been used for hundreds of years as a natural skin conditioner, and just a few drops can be applied to the hair to give it a natural, healthy shine.
There are plenty of other heroes in the carrier-oil-o-sphere too, including sweet almond, grape seed, apricot kernel, avocado and rosehip. See what works for you – you may find combining carrier oil and essential oil aromas as satisfying as the essential oil experiments you’ve already tried. Be bold - let carrier oils carry the day!
Essential Oils and Massage
Are you also interested in finding out more about using essential oils for massage ? You can learn more here.