If applied to the skin directly, essential oils can cause reactions, such as severe irritation, redness or burning.
Carrier oils are vegetable oils with little-to-no scent that are used to dilute essential oils. They are not volatile like essential oils, and are shelf-stable. In carrying essential oils into your skin, carrier oils do dilute the potency of the oil. However, this does not mean that the oil is any less effective. Rather, it means that essential oils better absorb into your skin because it does not evaporate as quickly.
Dilution is also necessary for certain “hot” essential oils, and always a good idea when using any oils with children or for those with sensitive skin. When in doubt, always dilute.
To be used in aromatherapy, it is recommended that the carrier oil is obtained through cold pressing. In this process, the oil is extracted by crushing the plants. Users claim that the fragile nutrients in the oil can be damaged if they are extracted with heat.
While some are odorless, most carrier oils have a faint smell that is sweet and nutty. Unlike essential oils, they do not evaporate.