How to Choose the Right Carrier Oil for Homemade Skin Care Products

With the myriad of carrier oils and base oils available today, how do you know how to choose the right carrier oil for homemade skin care products?

This handy guide will help you select the carrier oil that's right for your skin type and well-suited to the specific skincare product you are making (whether it be body scrubs, facial serums, body butters, lotions, creams, or anything else).

selection of glass bottles of carrier oils for homemade skincare

But first, what are carrier oils?

Carrier oils are botanical oils derived from vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and kernels.

Often used to dilute essential oils for topical application, carrier oils are also a large part of many homemade skin care products.

Carrier oils are also referred to as base oils. Each oil has its own unique properties and benefits.

How to Choose the Right Carrier Oil for Your Homemade Products

In order to choose the right carrier oil for your homemade skincare products, you need to answer the following questions:

  • Which oil is right for your skin type?
  • What is the shelf life of carrier oil?
  • What is the cost?
  • What is the purpose of your skincare product?

Let's break these questions down:

Which oil is right for your skin type?

It's important to select an oil that's right for your skin type in order for the product to work effectively. With so many oils on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for your skin type.

Some companies, such as Mountain Rose Herbs, include skin type information in their listings. So, you can look up each oil you wish to use and review the information to see if it's right for your skin type. But, that can be tedious!

To make it easier, find your skin type below and review the list of oils which are best suited for it.

Then consider the intended purpose of your product, cost, and shelf life.

Wondering why you'd want to use oil on your skin? See: Why Oil is Good for Your Skin 

What is the shelf life of the carrier oil?

The shelf life of a carrier oil greatly impacts the shelf life of your end product greatly. You can determine the shelf life of homemade skincare products by considering the shortest shelf life of the oils you used to make it.

Please note: I am referring to oil-based products, such as lip balms, salves, body butter, facial serums and so on. The shelf life of water-based products, such as lotions and creams, is determined differently.

How to prolong the shelf life of oil-based products?

To slow down the oxidation of oils (which causes rancidity) add rosemary extract or vitamin E to your homemade skincare products (or directly to the oils after purchase).

Rosemary extract's recommended usage rate is 1-2% percent of the total oil weight.

Vitamin E‘s recommended usage rate is 0.5-1.5% of the total oil weight.

What is the cost of the carrier oil?

Cost plays an important role in choosing the right carrier oil for your homemade skincare products. Some carrier oils simply don't fit within your budget or are too expensive for their intended use.

For example, if you are making a body scrub, much of the oil will be washed down the drain. This is not the time to use a luxurious and expensive oil!

Save those types of oils for products that have targeted use and stay on the skin for longer periods of time, such as facial serums and eye creams.

If using a more expensive oil, consider how much of it will be in your homemade product. Use as a small part of a facial serum or moisturizer instead of the main base oil to make it more affordable. 

glass bottle with various carrier oils for homemade skincare

What is the purpose of your skincare product?

The purpose of your skincare product should be considered carefully when choosing a carrier oil.

Besides the cost factor, how the oil works is important to note. For example, do you need the product to absorb quickly into the skin (such as a facial serum for day use)? Or, does it need to stay on the skin longer (such as a massage oil).

The absorption rate of carrier oil is important when choosing which oil to use. The speed at which an oil absorbs into the skin has an impact on the effectiveness of the product.

If you are making a massage oil, you'll likely want a carrier oil with a slow absorption rate. If you are making a hand cream you'll want a faster absorption rate.

See the absorption rate chart below for information on absorption rates:

Absorption Rates of Carrier Oils

Slow to absorb:

  • Avocado oil
  • Borage seed oil
  • Castor oil
  • Tamanu oil

Medium/Average to absorb:

  • Argan oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Sea Buckthorn oil
  • Sweet Almond oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Olive oil

Fast to absorb:

Which carrier oil should You use?

To help you answer these questions, I have compiled a list of carrier oils and organized them by skin type. I've also included information about the cost, color, and shelf life so you can choose the right carrier oil for your homemade product.

Choosing the right carrier oil can seem a little overwhelming (and even confusing), but once you've figured out the best oil for you, your homemade skincare products will be much more effective!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Best Carrier Oils for All Skin Types

Argan Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types. Argan oil absorbs well into the skin and is a lovely addition to facial serums and hair products. It is considered a luxurious oil and is quite expensive. Argan oil has a strong aroma. 

Buy Argan Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon

Borage Seed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types, but often used for irritated and sensitive skin. Absorbs fairly quickly but leaves a slightly oily feeling on skin. 

Buy Borgae oil at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon

Jojoba Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types. Jojoba is actually a wax, but is used as an oil. It absorbs quickly into the skin and has little to no scent. It's perfect for use in products for the face and body. 

Related: Jojoba Oil: What it is and How to Use it

Olive Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types. Olive oil often has a strong scent that can overpower other scents in your homemade products. It is slow to absorb into the skin. 

Olive oil is often used in herbal infusions and homemade salves

Safflower Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types. Absorbs into the skin quickly. Has little to no scent. Is fairly inexpensive.

A great option for body scrubs. Because it is so inexperience, it's a great choice when first learning how to make lotions and creams. 

Pumpkin Seed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types. Is high in vitamin A and C, which makes it perfect for targeting free radicals. It's a great “anti-aging” oil and thought to help boost collagen production and cell turnover. 

Tamanu oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for all skin types, but usually used for skin that is irritated. Is often found in scar creams.  Can be helpful for eczema. Tamanu oil is a very rich, thick oil and has a strong scent. Is dark green in color.

I use tamanu oil in my homemade tallow balm and it's a great match for dry, worn out skin. 

Best Carrier Oils for Dry Skin

avocado oil in glass jar for homemade skincare

Apricot Kernel Oil (Shelf life: 1 year)
Suitable for normal to dry skin. Is thought to be anti-aging. Often used in eye creams and facial serums. 

Avocado Oil (Shelf life: 1 year)
Suitable for dry skin or skin that is in need of repair. Works well in facial serums, body scrubs, and butters. 

Rosehip Seed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Especially well-loved for aging/mature skin, rosehip seed oil is also suitable for dry skin. Is considered a “dry oil” which means it absorbs very quickly into the skin. It is high in vitamin A and C. Is often used in eye creams and facial serums. 

Pomegranate Seed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for dry and mature skin. Is often used in anti-aging blends and formulas targeted at reducing inflammation (is high in antioxidants). Absorbs slowly into the skin. Great for facial serums. 

Buy Pomegranate Seed Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon

Wheatgerm Oil (Shelf life: 6 months-1 year)
Suitable for very dry skin. Has a fairly short shelf life and goes rancid quickly. Keep in the fridge for optimal shelf life. 

Wheatgerm oil has a fairly strong smell, so take that into consideration when adding to products. Do not use if you have wheat or gluten allergies. 

Buy wheatgerm oil at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon

Also, see oils in “All skin types” section – pumpkin seed oil is great for dry skin too.

Best Carrier Oils for Oily Skin

hemp seed oil in glass bottle for homemade skincare

Hemp Seed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for oily skin. Is often used for irritated and sensitive skin. You will find Hemp oil in many formulations for eczema and psoriasis.

Buy hemp seed oil at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Grapeseed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for oily and acne-prone skin. Grapeseed is light and absorbs quickly. It's great in homemade body scrubs, lotions, creams, facial serums, and body butters. Because it absorbs quickly, it helps cut down on any greasiness that may be left after use of homemade body butters or body scrubs. 

Grapeseed oil has a very light aroma, so it does not overpower other scents in your homemade skincare. 

Buy Grapeseed oil at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon

Best Carrier Oils for Normal Skin

Almond Oil, Sweet (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for normal to dry skin. Is a fairly inexpensive oil with little to no scent. Do not use if you are allergic to tree nuts. 

Buy Sweet Almond Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs or Amazon

Apricot Kernel Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for normal to dry skin. Is thought to be anti-aging. Often used in eye creams and facial serums. 

Pomegranate Seed Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for dry and mature skin. Is often used in anti-aging blends and formulas targeted at reducing inflammation (is high in antioxidants). Absorbs slowly into the skin.

Best CarrIer oils for Mature Skin

Apricot Kernel Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
Suitable for normal to dry skin. Is thought to be anti-aging. Often used in eye creams.

Seabuckthorn Oil (Shelf life: 2 years)
High in antioxidants, sea buckthorn oil is a wonderful addition to anti-aging products. It has a beautiful red color and is often included in face serums.

tip for success when using carrier oils in homemade skincare

If I could give you one word of advice when making your own skincare products, it would be to start simple.

It's always best to start with just a few oils so you can get to know how they work for you.

If you include too many carrier oils in one recipe, and there is a problem (such as a skin reaction), it will be difficult to determine which oil is the issue. 

Start simple and make changes one oil at a time. 

More posts about using oil in homemade skincare products:

Want to learn more?

If you'd like to learn more about making your own natural body care products, check out the Natural Body Care Club. We have monthly classes, an awesome 20% off discount for Mountain Rose Herbs, and lots of lessons for you to take at your convenience. 

Stacy Karen

Stacy is a DIY obsessed, healthy living advocate. A preacher's wife and mom of three, she loves to encourage others to live a natural lifestyle.
Share:

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *