What is the difference between carrier oils and essential oils

Difference between carrier oils and essential oils

It is important to know the difference between carrier oil and essential oil. If you haven’t used natural oils in your beauty rituals, there are some facts you must know before that.

Difference between carrier oil and essential oil

The basics

Carrier oils and essential oils are completely different from each other.

Essential oils are volatile liquids, which are highly concentrated. They are extracted from the aromatic part of the plant using steam or hydro distillation. The essential oils have strong scent.

Essential oils
Essential oils

Carrier oils are true oils. They are heavier than the essential oils and have a light scent. They could be liquid (like almond oil) or solid (e.g. coconut oil). Carrier oils derive from the fatty part of a plant generally through the method of cold pressing.

Carrier oils
Carrier oils


The most important difference is that the essential oils can’t be used directly on the skin. They can cause severe skin irritation or allergic reaction. Essential oils must be diluted in carrier oils (base oils) before applying on the skin. That’s where the name of the carrier oils comes from – they carry the essential oils into the skin. There is no need to dilute the carrier oils before using them.

Package and shelf life

As the essential oils are highly concentrated you need only few drops in your beauty product. That’s why these oils are usually sold in small dark glass bottles. The dark bottle protects the oil from the light. Carrier oils are used in much bigger quantities, so you can often find them in large plastic bottles.

The shelf life of the carrier oils is shorter compared to the essential oils. You can use some essential oils years after opening, while this period for the carrier oils is half a year or even few months. Carrier oils can go rancid over time unlike the essential oils. The latter can oxidize, which will lead to a change in the aroma and their therapeutic benefits will diminish.


As you see there are a lot of differences between carrier oils and essential oils. They are totally different in their structure, aroma, usage and how they affect your skin. Don’t forget to read the safety instruction before using any product.

Leave a Reply