Carrier Oils vs. Essential Oils - What is the Difference?

Carrier Oils vs. Essential Oils 

While both are non-polar, aka unable to dissolve in water, and both are naturally derived, carrier oils are vastly different from essential oils. The Oil expert at Oil Divine breaks it down. 

Essential oils are aromatic extracts from various parts of plants; they are generally non-greasy in terms of texture and feel and likely to evaporate rather quickly, whereas carrier oils are the lipids extracted from the seeds, nuts, or kernels of plants and will sit on the skin's surface longer. In terms of application, carrier oils can be applied directly to the skin, while essential oils, essentially planting essence, are too potent and evaporates too quickly to be applied directly to the skin and must be diluted with carrier oils or cream first.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are extracted from various parts of aromatic plants, from flowers to trees - seeds, roots, flowers, leaves, fruit peels, wood, tree needles, cones, and resin. Essential oils have long been associated with aromatherapy given that they are aromatic - lavender, rosemary, rose, etc. To capture the aroma, the process used is known as steam distillation; this process draws out the smell from the plant parts as a visible liquid extract. 

High-quality essential oil is composed of only the unique and special molecules that are produced during the distillation process. Nothing has been added or taken away. Therefore, the resulting essential oil is 100% genuine and authentic. 

At Oil Divine, we use only the highest quality essential oils which come from wild plants or organic farming. No GMO plans, pesticides, or other harsh chemicals are used to grow plants or to oil the distillation process. 

What are Carrier Oils?

Carrier oils, also called vegetable oils, are expeller pressed (using a type of pressing machine that extracts the oil and not steam distilled like essential oils) from seeds, nuts, and whole fruits. 

They are called “carrier” oils because we use them to dilute and blend our essential oils into a wide assortment of skin care products that carry the potent molecules of essential oils through our skin for maximum benefits and impact. 

Without carrier oils, the essential oil will quickly evaporate off the surface of our skin and not have the ability to get properly absorbed, where it can ultimately offer amazing physiological therapeutic benefits.

On their own, carrier oils have incredible therapeutic benefits that support the skin’s health and vitality. They share similar chemistry to our own skin, which is also made up of fatty molecules. Carrier oils contain a rich array of fat-soluble vitamins, fatty acids, and essential fatty acids that not only help nourish the skin but also protect the skin’s barrier function, protect and repair the skin from damage (be it from the sun or free radicals), and prevent transepidermal water loss, which is often the culprit for dry, damaged and aging skin. It’s because of their unique chemistry and how it resonates with the chemistry of our skin that carrier oils can also support the tone, elasticity, shape, and resiliency of the skin. 

Since carrier oils on their own have a rich array of therapeutic properties, we can get really creative when choosing which oil is for specific skin and body care products and remedies.  

Unlike essential oils, however, carrier oils go through additional processing steps before they are bottled and ready to sell - in order to make sure they stay stable and don’t smell too strong or unusual. That’s why you will often see words like "filtered," "deodorized," "refined," "bleached," and "virgin" listed on their labels.

At Oil Divine, we only use "virgin" or unprocessed carrier oils, which allows them to be most potent and pure.  

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