Choosing the Right Carrier Oils for Essential Oils

choosing the right carrier oils for essential oils

Essential oils are packed with powerful properties that provide a range of health benefits, but when applied, many must be diluted with carrier oils for safe application to the skin.

There is a wide range of different carrier oils, each of which offers specific qualities that make them suitable for different purposes or for use with different essential oils.

carrier oil

Why Use a Carrier Oil?

There are several reasons why blending an essential oil with a carrier oil can be beneficial:

  • Essential oils are often too concentrated and can burn the skin or trigger an allergic reaction. Lavender, chamomile, and calendula are among the few that can be applied directly to skin without a carrier oil.
  • Essential oils can evaporate too quickly when applied to the skin. Fatty acids in carrier oils help essential oils better-penetrate the skin.
  • Carrier oils help make essential oils easier to massage onto the skin while covering a wider area.1

Choosing the right carrier oil for a given essential oil can increase the efficacy of both oils. Some carrier oils pair well with essential oils designed to relieve pain and inflammation, while others are best-suited for oils that improve the appearance of skin.

Carrier Oils for Massagesmassage

Massaging essential oils onto the skin can help reduce pain and discomfort including back and joint pain, as well as pain from overexertion.

Coconut Oil

Because coconut oil has a thicker consistency, it is ideal for use as a massage oil. It also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, making it a perfect partner for essential oils that help address pain and inflammation.2

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is also an excellent massage oil because it doesn’t soak into the skin too quickly, so it pairs well with essential oils that are used to help treat pain and discomfort.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Properties in apricot kernel oil help ease the pain associated with inflammation, so it works in synergy with essential oils that target inflammatory issues.

Flaxseed Oil

With high levels of alpha-linolenic acid, flaxseed is a beneficial carrier oil to reduce pain triggered by inflammation.

Avocado Oil

The fatty acids in avocado oil help reduce inflammation, especially inflammation associated with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

Borage Seed Oil

Borage seed oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid, a fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation when massaged onto the skin.

Some of the most effective essential oils to use with massage carrier oils to target pain related to inflammation or muscle aches include:

Allspice Essential Oil

Allspice essential oil contains eugenol, a compound that helps naturally relieve pain.

Blue Chamomile Essential Oil

Blue chamomile essential oil has been shown in studies to be as effective at relieving inflammation as over-the-counter NSAIDs due to high levels of chamazulene.3

Douglas Fir Essential Oil

Douglas fir essential oil contains bornyl acetate, which acts as a pain reliever.

Myrrh Essential Oil

According to research, the sesquiterpenes in myrrh are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, interacting with regions of the brain that can control pain.

A 2014 study by Egyptian researchers found that myrrh also successfully controlled inflammation. A German study revealed similar results.4

Cacao Essential Oil

Cacao essential oil contains sulfur, which helps flush out toxins and relieve pain.

Wild Orange Essential Oil

Studies have suggested that the anti-inflammatory effects of orange essential oil may make it useful for controlling pain, especially pain associated with headaches and sore muscles.

Wild orange essential oil has also been shown to effective in relieving joint pain and inflammation because the antioxidants in orange oil interrupt the inflammatory response that causes pain.5

Lavender Essential Oil

According to studies, lavender—one of the most beneficial of all essential oils—helps relieve pain when used in aromatherapy.6

Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense essential oil helps relieve joint pain.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil contains properties that help relieve general headache pain.

Bergamot Essential Oil

The compounds in bergamot essential oil, pressed from the peel of Italian citrus fruit, have been shown to help relieve the pain associated with neuropathy, based on research from Italian scientists.7

Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary sage essential oil offers properties that help soothe muscle aches and pains, especially those related to overexertion.8

Juniper Essential Oil

Juniper essential oil helps relieve the pain associated with inflammation.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

The compounds in eucalyptus essential oil act as an analgesic when applied topically.

Yarrow Essential Oil

The salicylic acid in yarrow essential oil is the source of aspirin and gives the oil pain-relieving properties.

Clove Essential Oil

Clove essential oil is especially beneficial for dental pain.

Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil

The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon leaf essential oil acts as a natural pain reliever.

Carrier Oils for Skincare

Many carrier oils are rich in nutrients that help nourish dry skin, improve the appearance of skin, and speed up skin healing. When paired with vitamin-dense essential oils, certain carrier oils boost these effects, especially when it comes to reducing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

Apricot Kernel

Apricot kernel oil absorbs quickly into the skin, so it is well suited to help skincare-related essential oils penetrate the skin’s surface. It also contains high levels of linoleic acid, which can help strengthen the membranes that make up the skin’s structural layer, and oleic acid, which helps moisturize skin.

Argan Oil

Because argan oil is packed with Vitamin A, which speeds cell turnover, it is an excellent carrier oil for use with anti-aging essential oils.9

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil offers high levels of palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid found in adipose tissue, allowing for its fast absorption into the body.

Similarly to apricot kernel oil, it helps essential oils penetrate the surface layers of skin to the structural layer where healing can begin. Avocado oil is especially well-suited for mature skin because it helps to moisturize thinner skin that is usually slower to heal.

Coconut Oil

The antioxidants in coconut oil make it an effective carrier for essential oils that help regenerate skin cells and speed up cell turnover. Coconut oil also offers rich moisturizing effects. However, it is important to note that coconut oil may not be the best choice for acne-prone skin.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is packed with the antioxidants found in grapes, making it a beneficial carrier oil when used with essential oils to improve the appearance of the skin.

Babassu Oil

In addition to being packed with antioxidants, babassu oil absorbs better than coconut oil, making it a skin-friendly carrier oil.

Jojoba Oil

The vitamin E found in jojoba makes it a skin-friendly carrier oil that pairs well with essential oils that offer anti-aging benefits. The texture of jojoba oil is also a close match to the skin’s sebum, so it moisturizes the skin without clogging the pores.10

Borage Seed Oil

Borage seed oil is an effective moisturizer that offers plenty of anti-aging benefits, so it pairs well with essential oils that help improve the appearance of skin.

Sesame Oil

This carrier oil is rich in vitamin E, making it suitable for use with essential oils that benefit the skin. Sesame has a strong aroma, however, so it is more appealing when paired with other carrier oils.

Some key essential oils suited to help target the signs of aging and improve the overall appearance of the skin include:

Rosehip Essential Oil

In addition to fatty acids, rosehip essential oil contains vitamin C, which helps brighten the skin’s complexion, as well as compounds that can reduce the signs of aging.

Furthermore, antioxidants found in rosehip oil fight free radical damage.11

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil boosts circulation at the skin’s surface, helping speed cell turnover so healthier cells are revealed more quickly. It also relieves inflammation, reducing redness and controlling breakouts.

Lemon Balm Essential Oil

The lemon balm essential oil contains linalool, which encourages the production of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is especially skin-friendly.

Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense not only helps improve skin tone but also helps reduce the appearance of scars.

Star Anise Essential Oil

Star anise contains limonene, which fights free radical damage that can target the skin proteins collagen and elastin, which make up the skin’s structural layer.

Such damage can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and dark spots.

Wild Orange Essential Oil

Wild orange essential oil is rich in vitamin C, an excellent antioxidant for skin health. It helps lighten dark spots and protects the skin proteins collagen and elastin from damage caused by free radicals.

Clary Sage Essential Oil

One of the esters found in clary sage essential oil helps to control the skin’s production of oil, reducing the risk of blemishes caused by clogged pores.

Douglas Fir Essential Oil

Douglas fir essential oil is packed with antioxidants that can fight free radicals, especially those that target collagen and elastin. Additionally, this essential oil helps clear away toxins that can clog pores, reducing the risk of acne.

Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli essential oil is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect skin protein cells and encourages the production of collagen, which makes up the skin’s structural layer. It also helps boost circulation at the skin’s surface.

Carrier Oils for Haircareman getting a hair cut

Carrier oils that are suitable for hair help enrich strands with moisture while infusing them with essential oils that boost those benefits, so the carrier and essential oils work in harmony to help add moisture, thickness, and shine to the hair.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is lightweight and rich in nutrients, so it is suitable for improving the condition and appearance of dry, damaged hair.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil provides nutrients essential for healthy hair. Additionally, it penetrates the hair better than other oils, helping improve hair’s texture, strength, and shine. 5

Jojoba Oil

Because it is rich in Vitamin E, jojoba oil helps deeply moisturize the hair. It also helps prevent hair loss and improves the texture and shine of hair.

Moringa Oil

Moringa not only helps moisturize the scalp, reducing dandruff but also conditions hair thanks to a wealth of nutrients that infuse strands with hydration.

Castor Oil

Castor oil has been used for centuries to help improve the appearance of hair.

Some of the most effective essential oils for healthier hair include:

blood pressure readingCarrier Oils for Health Benefits

Many essential oils help relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety, which are linked to causing a wide range of other health problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol.

Avocado Oil

Because it has a thick texture and slow drying time, avocado oil is well-suited for aromatherapy-based essential oils. It is also rich in oleic acid, which has been shown to promote healthy blood circulation.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, making it well-suited for use with essential oils that offer health benefits that address stress, inflammation, and infection.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a heart-friendly carrier oil that helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Pair it with essential oils that are also linked to supporting heart health for added benefits.14

Black Cumin Seed Oil

Rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, black cumin is packed with health benefits, including supporting heart and immune health. It is a natural partner with essential oils that maintain healthy blood glucose levels, such as dill seed, cinnamon, and caraway.

Some essential oils that provide a range of health benefits and would pair well with the carrier oils mentioned above include:

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is one of the most effective oils to relieve stress. Additionally, it contains high levels of the terpene linalool, which has been shown in studies to help protect neurotransmitters from the effects of dementia.

Wild Orange Essential Oil

The wild orange essential oil contains alpha-pinene, which prevents the activation of an enzyme that causes damage to neurotransmitters.

A 2009 study suggested that the aromatherapy benefits of wild orange essential oil could help prevent cognitive damage associated with some forms of dementia.15

Star Anise Essential Oil

Star anise essential oil offers plenty of health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, according to a range of studies.16

Lemon Balm Essential Oil

Lemon balm essential oil has been shown to relieve stress because of its high levels of rosmarinic acid, which boosts levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter whose levels are lower in individuals who suffer from anxiety and depression.

This essential oil also helps improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that both stress, which causes the release of cortisol and blood glucose, and a lack of sleep can increase the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

This means that the positive effects of lemon balm essential oil could be a preventative measure against these conditions.

Neroli Essential Oil

This essential oil has been shown to reduce the pain of headaches, especially those associated with stress.

Frankincense Essential Oil

An essential oil with centuries of history, frankincense helps boost immune system function and relieve stress, according to studies in the United States and England.17

Blue Chamomile Essential Oil

Blue chamomile essential oil contains apigenin, which has been sown to protect the brain from damage associated with dementia by encouraging new neuron production while strengthening the connection between brain cells.18

Lemon Essential Oil

In addition to helping control food cravings, reducing the risk of obesity, lemon essential oil has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels.19

Grapefruit Essential Oil

This essential oil is also a good option to help reduce food cravings. Other citrus oils including lime, bergamot, and sweet orange are also effective.


Because carrier oils work in synergy with essential oils, pairing the right carrier oils with your essential oils of choice can accelerate the health benefits an essential oil provides while expanding the ways in which you can use essential oil.

Photo credits: MaraZe/, AfricaStudio/, bitt24/, AfricaStudio/, 13Smile/, LuisaPuccini/, SakoodterStocker/, AmyLv/, SwapanPhotography/, DUSANZIDAR/

Rachel Donovan

By Rachel Donovan

Rachel is a freelance writer who enjoys writing and researching interesting and new topics. As a California native, she can be found spending her time on the beach with a good book.

Favorite MONQ blend: Ocean

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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