The Key Differences Between Essential Oils and Carrier Oils
Oils are very essential in skin, hair, beauty and even healthcare products. In beauty products especially, they are a basic ingredient. Oils are gotten from different sources with each having its own use. Most oils in beauty lingo are categorized into essential oils and carrier oils and though it may be confusing what the difference between both are, we are here to help.
The key thing to note about the difference in the two is that they have different structures and are obtained in different ways as well.
Carrier oils are usually derived from seed, kernel or nuts of a plant or they can even be gotten from an animal (e.g emu oil); they are also known as vegetable oils, base oils or fixed oils, not all carrier oils are vegetable oils though. They have nourishing and moisturizing properties and are often extracted via cold press, maceration, solvent extraction, among others. They are called carrier oils because they are sometimes used as “base” for essential oils in skin and hair care as essential oils are too concentrated to be used directly. They consist of mainly fats and fat soluble vitamins, which is not found in essential oils. They are not potent or concentrated and so can be used directly but overtime, these oils can go rancid. They are usually sold in large quantities as well and are put in plastic bottles as they don’t easily degrade and evaporate.
Examples of these oils include Coconut, Almond, Jojoba, and Olive, Sweet Almond, Castor, Argan and Avocado oils.
Essential oils on the other hand are thinner oils that are gotten the non-fatty part of plants such as the leaves, bark, root, stem or the aromatic parts of the plant. They are also known as volatiles or ethereal oils. Technically, they are not oils but volatile hydrophobic liquids that can evaporate, thus the reason why they are stored in glass jars and should be kept away from direct sunlight. They contain alcohols, esters, ethers, among other constituents. They are obtained only via steal distillation, hydro-distillation or vacuum distillation. They are very concentrated, and a little goes a long way and must be diluted before they are used on the skin, diffused in the air or even burnt as incense. They do not go rancid but can oxidize over time and thus lose their benefits.
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They are usually sold in small 10ml bottles, with the largest size usually 30ml.
Examples of this type of oils include Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Thyme, Lavender, Lime, Lemon, Orange, Rosemary oils.