Aromatherapy and Carrier Oils
Carrier oils are an important part of aromatherapy. Carrier oils are mainly used to dilute essential oils. Dilution is especially important when the essential oils are being massaged into the skin. If you know anything about essential oils, you know that they are highly concentrated and some can be pricy. Besides the fact that you’d consume a considerable amount if you used an essential oil for massage without first diluting it, essential oils are usually too much for the body to tolerate in an undiluted form.
Use of carrier oils during a massage session also makes the essential oils easier to handle. Carrier oils act as lubricants, helping the hands to move freely about the body, which produces a more soothing and comfortable result. Without carrier oils, the hands would tend to stick to the skin and drag along the top rather than glide.
Carrier oils serve another very important purpose. They improve an essential oil’s ability to absorb deep into the skin and underlying blood stream. Essential oils also absorb faster when diluted with carrier oils.
Vegetable and nut oils make the most effective carrier oils. In fact, these types of carrier oils can even be used without mixing them with essential oils. But before you open your kitchen cupboard and grab the bottle of vegetable oil you use for cooking, there are a few things you should know.
First of all, put that bottle back into your cupboard and use it only for cooking. Why? Because oils used for cooking go through a different manufacturing process than the vegetable-based carrier oils that are used in aromatherapy. These processes are harsh and they actually strip out much of the vegetable oil’s useful vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids.
When shopping for carrier oils to use in aromatherapy, look for vegetable-based oils that have been cold-pressed. This type of process is natural. It does not involve chemicals or heat which ensures that the beneficial fatty acids and other nutrients are retained within the oil.
And finally, be sure to select carrier oils that have little or no odor. This is especially important if you will be using the carrier oil to dilute an essential oil. Also look for carrier oils that are light and that don’t have a sticky feel. These qualities ensure the oils will penetrate easily and more efficiently.
There are many different types of carrier oils suitable for aromatherapy. Sunflower oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, macadamia oil and wheat germ oil are all acceptable choices. Since each will have different qualities such as aroma, texture and color selecting the ‘right’ one is more a matter of personal preference. Carrier oils will also interact differently depending on the essential oil with which it’s mixed. Other qualities of carrier oils to consider include shelf-life and cost.
The bottom line – do your research before you purchase carrier oils and you’ll be guaranteed better results.