WHAT ARE CARRIER OILS (CO)?
A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts. They are also known as base oil, vegetable oil, or fixed oils to differentiate them from essential oils. Carrier Oils are pressed from the fatty portions (seeds, nuts, kernels) and do not evaporate or impart their aroma as strongly as essential oils. Carrier oils can go rancid over time, but essential oils do not. Instead, essential oils "oxidize" and lose their therapeutic benefits, but they don't go rancid. If you come across a carrier oil that has a strong, bitter aroma, the carrier oil may have gone rancid. If you can, compare the aroma of the oil that you suspect is rancid with an oil that you know is fresh.
BENEFITS OF CARRIER OILS AND OILS TO AVOID IN HAIR CARE
Carrier oils have great benefits for the skin. as they can act as moisturizers, sebum regulators, fatty dirt cleansers, and vehicles for vital ingredients like vitamins into skin layers. They are used for moisturizing the hair and assist to keep a healthy cuticle. Carrier oils are just as necessary for stimulating hair growth and hair loss treatment. The carrier oils give essential fatty acids to the follicles and scalp. They provide essential nutrients and are therapeutic. They will add shine to dry hair and moisturize the scalp to nourish and help prevent dandruff. When looking for COs avoid Mineral Oils and Petroleum Jelly because they can clog pores, prevent the skin from breathing naturally, prevent essential oil absorption, prevent toxins from leaving the body through the natural process of sweating and can be absorbed into the body and block vitamins from properly being utilized.
HOW TO STORE CARRIER OILS
For carrier oils that you will be keeping for a long duration, store them in dark glass bottles with tight fitting tops, and store them in a cool, dark location. Amber or cobalt round bottles are ideal. If you will be using up an oil well before its lifespan, it really doesn't need to be transferred to dark glass. When you purchase carrier oils, the supplier may have packaged it in a plastic bottle. This doesn't mean that the oil is inferior. Unlike with essential oils which should always be stored in glass (essential oils can dissolve the plastic), carrier oils can be stored in plastic. Most carrier oils can be stored in the refrigerator, and this can help prolong the lifespan of the oils. Oils stored in the refrigerator may turn cloudy and will need time to return to room temperature prior to use.
SHELF LIFE FOR CARRIER OILS
Most cold pressed carrier oils typically have a shelf life of between 9 and 15 months, depending on the particular oil in question and how well it is stored. Grapeseed oil has perhaps one of the shortest shelf lives at around 6 to 9 months, with Borage, Carrot and Evening Primrose oil close behind at around 10 to 12 months. However, Coconut and Jojoba oil will keep for many, many years. But, almond or grapeseed oil only last for a few months. Carrier oils will go rancid eventually. However, this process usually takes up to a year and these products should have been used long before such a long period. This is one very good reason to buy smaller sizes of these products more regularly, rather than the one purchase of a larger size.
SHOPPING FOR CARRIER OILS
Typical vegetable oils sold in grocery stores are not cold-pressed. Instead, the oils are processed using heat. For the most nourishing, freshest carrier oils, strive to shop with retailers and suppliers that specialize in the sale of aromatherapy or natural skin care ingredients. Your local health food/nutrition store may be a source for carrier oils, but the oils can often be pricier. Watch for dust on the bottles when buying oils locally. That can indicate the oil has been sitting around for awhile. Look for oils that are not blends of two or more oils and that have no additives.
· Processing Method: Shop for carrier oils that have been cold pressed or cold expeller pressed. This indicates that the oil has been pressed from the fatty portions of the botanical without the use of added heat. The process can still generate heat due to the friction of the method, but cold expeller pressed oils are processed under conditions that keep the heat to a minimum. Oils that simply say expeller pressed have not been processed to maintain low heat levels. When oils are processed without cool conditions, the high temperature degree and duration of the processing method can harm the nutrients in the oil.
· Price: Carrier oils can vary greatly in price based on several factors: The botanical it's made from, how it was processed, if it's organic, the quantity that you're purchasing, and the source that you're purchasing it from.
· Organic: Organic carrier oils generally cost more than conventional oils. When purchasing organic carrier oils, verify the oil is certified.
LIST OF COMMONLY USED CARRIER OILS (This is not a complete list of all COs)
· Aloe Vera Oil - Comes from the Aloe plant. The oil is odorless, rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and is a powerful moisturizer. It’s recommended for treatment of dandruff and scalp-based eczema. It is said to lead to hair growth as a result of circulation stimulation in the scalp.
· Avocado Oil - this light oil is rich in potassium and vitamins that nourish your hair, such as vitamins D, E, and A. It’s known as a hair growth stimulant too. It is great for chemically treated hair, thin hair, and dry hair. It’s also used to treat psoriasis of the scalp. Please note that it goes rancid fairly fast and is best kept refrigerated.
· Coconut Oil - A very popular conditioner that also gives shine and acts as a detangler. It’s good for treating dandruff. This oil helps increase hair growth. Coconut oil is heavy and is best suited for those with coarse or curly hair.
· Grapeseed Oil - A very light oil that is a good moisturizer for most hair types. It is somewhat of an astringent. It’s great choice for thin or fine hair because it is so light.
· Jojoba Oil - The molecular structure is similar to sebum, which is an oil that naturally occurs in human hair. This makes it a great choice for a moisturizer. Jojoba oil is popular in hot oil treatments. Hair that is very damaged and delicate would benefit from this oil.
· Olive Oil - This oil is heavy, so it is best for curly or thick hair. It’s great for hair that is damaged and dry. Brings back your hair's elasticity and even helps relieve dryness of the scalp.
· Sesame Oil - This light oil is good for conditioning. It has even been known to aid in protecting hair from the effects of the sun
· Sweet Almond Oil – Perfect for those of us with sensitive skin. This oil is commonly used in soap, lotions and hair products. It contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E, as well as essential fatty acids (good fats).
· Castor Oil – Castor oil can be used to treat skin conditions such as fungal infections, softens cuticles and is great as a massage oil. Castor oil added to hair care products helps to seal moisture, soften and thicken hair
· Vitamin E Oil - Vitamin E is a well known antioxidant and when added to homemade products, helps to preserve them. Vitamin E acts as a rejuvenator and protectant for scalp and skin. Good for hot oil treatments.