Dear Love Natural Sunshine: What are Carrier Oils?

If you have purchased an essential oil before, you may have been instructed to use it with a carrier oil. “Carrier” oil is a term frequently used but rarely explained. Carrier oils are derived from “vegetables, nuts, or seeds.” Carrier oils are used in combination with a few drops of an essential oil  in order to avoid irritation and to make the essential oil easier to spread.

Carrier oils that have been cold pressed or expeller pressed have not be processed by the use of chemicals. Cold pressed carrier oils retain their “aroma and nutritional value.” The process of
“taking” carrier oils from their original source (vegetables, nuts, or seeds) is called extraction.

Definitions of carrier oil extraction methods
  • Cold pressed: oils obtained by “pressing and grinding” seeds, etc.
  • Expeller pressed: oils obtained by “high pressure to squeeze” seeds, etc

Characteristics of carrier oils
  • Oily or lightly-oily
  • Light or strong aromas
  • Little to no color

What does this mean for your natural hair?
Carrier oils can be used to treat dandruff, sooth an irritated scalp, condition your hair, and to seal in moisture. There is a large variety of carrier oils to choose from, each benefiting your hair in different ways. Depending on the type of oil, some carrier oils can be more expensive than others.

Types of carrier oils
  • Olive oil - $
  • Coconut oil - $
  • Grape seed oil -$
  • Avocado oil - $$
  • Sweet Almond oil -$
  • Apricot Kernel oil - $
  • Rosehip Seed oil - $$$
$ (cost around $4 in U.S.)

$$ (cost more than $4 in U.S.)

$$$ (cost more than $8 in U.S.)

Carrier oils can become rancid over time; always check for the expiration date before use.

Ways to use carrier oils for your natural hair
Sources: Whfoods &

If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in reading: Dear Love Natural Sunshine: What are Essential Oils anyways?

Help resource: Plant Therapy: Why do I need a carrier oil?

"Dear Love Natural Sunshine" is Love Natural Sunshine’s Q&A column that answers basic natural hair questions. Have a basic natural hair question? Ask me at

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