Base Oil Essentials
Essential oils in the pure state are often too highly concentrated to be used directly on the skin. For this reason, they are usually diluted in a carrier oil (also called a base oil) so that they can be massaged or rubbed onto the skin in the correct dosage.
Base oils, or carrier oils are also sometimes used because one drop of an essential oil may be all you need. One small drop will not go very far, but when it is diluted in a base oil it can cover quite a large area.
What Are Base Oils?
Base oils are vegetable, nut, or seed oils, many of which themselves have therapeutic properties. Vegetable oils are obtained from the seeds of plants that grow all over the world. There are several hundred different plants known to have oil-bearing seeds, but only a few are produced commercially.
Vegetable oils are in the main produced for food, and are a good source of nutrients and energy. They enable the body to produce heat and are a good source of protein, as well as providing lubricants and cooking materials for industry and home use. The vegetable oils used in aromatherapy should be cold pressed, as the oils on your supermarket shelves may have been processed with a chemical agent.
Guidelines For Dilution:
Use the following measurements as a guideline when diluting the essential oils in a vegetable base oil.
- 0 to 1 drop essential oil … 1/5 teaspoon base oil
- 2 to 5 drops essential oil … 1 teaspoon base oil
- 4 to 10 drops essential oil … 2 teaspoons base oil
- 6 to 15 drops essential oil … 3 teaspoons base oil (or 1 tablespoon)
- 8 to 20 drops essential oil … 4 teaspoons base oil
- 10 to 25 drops essential oil … 5 teaspoons base oil
- 12 to 30 drops essential oil … 6 teaspoons base oil (or 2 tablespoons)
When buying essential oils, it is useful to know how much you are actually getting. Use this chart to convert between common measurements used to measure essential oils.
Note: The below measurements are approximations. For measurements regarding drops, the number of actual drops can vary greatly and is especially dependent on the viscosity (thickness) of the oil and the dropper or orifice reducer used.
- 20 drops essential oil = 1/5 teaspoon = 1 ml
- 40 drops essential oil = 2/5 teaspoon = 2 ml
- 60 drops essential oil = 3/5 teaspoon = 3 ml
- 75 drops = 1 teaspoon = 1 dram
- 600 drops = 1 ounce
Common Carrier Oils:
- Sweet Almond Oil ~ Good for all skin types. Helps relieve itching, soreness, dryness, and inflammation. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Apricot Kernel Oil ~ Good for all skin types, especially prematurely aged, sensitive, inflamed, and dry. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Argan Oil ~ Lightweight, supremely moisturizing, nourishing and nutrient-rich oil that is easily absorbed by the skin and hair. All skin types benefit from argan oil, especially mature, combination, and skin that is prone to break-outs. All hair types benefit as well.
- Avocado Pear Oil ~ Good for dry and dehydrated skin, and eczema. Can be used for all skin types. Use as an addition to a base oil, 10%.
- Borage Seed Oil ~ Good for regenerating and stimulating the skin, also for PMT, multiple sclerosis, menopausal problems, heart disease, psoriasis and eczema, prematurely aged skin. Can be used for all skin types. Use as an addition to a base oil, 10%.
- Carrot Oil ~ An essential oil in its own right, but often used in base oils. Good for premature aging, itching, dryness, psoriasis and eczema. Rejuvenating. Reduces scarring. Use a 10% dilution with a base oil. Do not use undiluted on skin.
- Corn Oil ~ Soothing on all skin types as a base oil. Can be used 100%.
- Evening Primrose Oil ~ Excellent in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema. Helps to prevent premature aging of the skin. Good for PMT, multiple sclerosis, menopausal problems, heart disease. Use as an addition to a base oil 10% dilution.
- Grapeseed Oil ~ For all skin types. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Hazelnut Oil ~ Has a slight astringent action, good for all skin types. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Jojoba Oil ~ Highly penetrative. Good for inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema, acne, hair care, and all skin types. Use as an addition to a base oil, 10%.
- Olive Oil ~ Used for rheumatic conditions, hair care, cosmetics. Soothing. Use as an addition to a base oil, 10%.
- Peanut Oil ~ For all skin types. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Safflower Oil ~ For all skin types. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Sesame Oil ~ For all skin types. Good for psoriasis, eczema, rheumatism, arthritis. Use as an addition to a base oil, 10%.
- Soy Bean Oil ~ For all skin types. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Sunflower Oil ~ For all skin types. Can be used as a base oil, 100%.
- Wheatgerm Oil ~ Good for eczema, psoriasis, prematurely aged skin, all skin types. Use as an addition to a base oil, 10%.
Source: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
Almost anyone can enjoy the benefits of an aromatherapy oil, but certain individuals, such as pregnant women, persons with allergies, and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma should only use essential oils for aromatherapy under the guidance of a trained professional.
Keep in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated botanical extracts and should never be ingested or applied to skin at full strength. Consult a professional aromatherapist or an accredited reference on aromatherapy for advice on these uses.