What are carrier oils? Carrier oils are vegetable oils that come from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or nuts. Conversely, essential oils are usually derived from the aromatic portion of plants like the leaves, bark, or roots. Essential oils have many therapeutic benefits, but are very concentrated and are typically diluted with carrier oils before they are applied directly to the skin. Indeed the name “carrier oil” comes from the fact that these oils are used to dilute essential oils before applying the essential oils on the skin carrier oils carry the essential oil into the skin.
Carrier oils do not have to be blended with essential oils in order to be beneficial. Carrier oils contain fat soluble vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that replenish and nourish the skin. Some contain Essential Fatty Acids, fatty acids we must get from sources outside our bodies because our bodies cannot make them on their own. Others have antioxidants which are substances that are capable of lessening the damaging effects of the biological process of oxidation in human tissue.
The quality of the carrier oil is partially derived from the method in which it was processed. If the carrier oil is considered “cold-pressed,” it means the oil has been pressed from the plant without the use of added heat. The temperature during the processing has to be below 120°F to be considered cold-pressed. Conversely, when oils are processed without cool conditions, the high temperature of the processing method can harm the fragile nutrients in the oil. Why would a processor choose to use heat in the extraction process? It is because it speeds up the process and produces a higher yield of oil. It is basically faster and cheaper.
Carrier oils are an indispensable part of massage therapy. They are effective on their own, in a blend, or as a way to dilute essential oils. The best way to figure out which work for you is to try them all. Feel them, smell them, and even taste them! Soon you will find your favorite.
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