Thursday, June 22, 2006

Base Oil for Aromatherapy


Base oil is oil used to further dilute pure essential oil(s) for the purpose of massage or application.

Usually, carrier oil is plant-based rather than mineral or animal based. This is due to the fact that both animal and mineral oil are too heavy to be comfortable. Avoid paraffin or refined petrolatum as they are not good emollients. They are not absorbed and most of the time, they are laden with parabens.

There is a lot of oil you can use in the market as carrier oil. The list just keeps growing day by day. However, despite the fact that there is a multitude of weird-named oil in the market, choosing base oil is a very individualistic task and depends mostly upon purpose at hand or preferences.

Usage of Carrier Oil

Why use carrier oil? Simple, as pure essential oils will burn our skin in no time if applied neat. Definitely not a perfect picture and you might be wondering maybe an aromatherapy massage is just more harmful than helpful to you skin. Fortunately, this problem can be solved by diluting the essential oil in base oils.

Anyhow, aromatherapy is not only confined to vaporisers or oil burners. Aromatherapy is a wide field which comprises massage, bath, inhalation, and essential oil as oral medication. Though the latter is rather risky and should not be tried unless prescribed by a skilled herbalist and aroma therapist, its inclusion into aromatherapy has been doubtful, as aroma therapist only uses the scent of plants, never the oil as medication. In my opinion, the usage of essential oil as oral medication is supposedly only applicable to an herbalist. However, usually an aroma therapist is also an herbalist and vice versa. This is because one can’t fully understand the working of nature if one only dwells in a specific field of phytotherapy.

The Oils

Without much babbling, here are the oils I have been talking about:

Almond Oil
Almond oil is inexpensive, bland and quite safe to be used on a majority of people without causing severe allergic reaction. It has not much smell but some sensitive individuals felt it has quite a strong smell. However, do remember that those who are sensitive to nuts should not use this oil (or any other nuts oil). After extraction of oil from the nut, the leftovers are usually used to produce cake for the consumption of diabetics.

Apricot Kernel Oil
It is light and expensive but the most suitable diluter of essential oil if you only prefer the smell of your essential oil(s). It has virtually no smell at all, and if it has, can be easily clouded by the strong smell of essential oil(s).

Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is rich in nutrient and mainly vitamin E. It stores well and since it contains a high amount of Vitamin E, it helps to preserve essential oil it contains as well. Tocopherols, or more commonly known as Vitamin E is a good antioxidant. It preserves by preventing the oxidation of itself and the essential oils it contains. Subsequently, the blend with this viscous oil will have longer shelf-life. However, as it is quite thick, aroma therapists prefer to mix it with lighter base oil (such as apricot kernel oil or peach kernel oil) in the proportion of 1:10 (i.e. 1 drop of avocado oil with ten drops of lighter base oil). Avocado oil is well suited for dry skin and it moisturises well. However, it is not advisable to be used on acne-prone or oily skin. As it is rich in Vitamin E, it will prevent aging as well.

Coconut Oil
Fellow Malaysians, do you know that the Indian aunties all use coconut oil as a part of their hair and scalp care regime? However, its usage is not only confined to hair and scalp alone. It is just as useful to dry and barren skin as well. Do remember that; if it is overuse, it will cause your hair too be very greasy. If you wanted to use coconut oil, opt for cold-press. Most coconut oil is solid in room temperature but hey, if you live in Malaysia, Butter also becomes oil la…

Grape seed Oil
This oil is virtually odourless (then again…) and light. It is good as a main base or as a diluter of heavier base oil (i.e. Avocado Oil and Jojoba Oil to name a few). I have heard about grape seeds having a lot of rejuvenation properties, however, I do not know for sure if the properties are also imbued in their oil. There is currently a type of ‘Miracle Water’ that is made out of grape seed extract.

Jojoba Oil
It is solid and waxy in room temperature and absorb readily by our skin. It is anti-inflammatory and very soothing to hot and irritated skin. As with any heavy base oil, the 1:10 rules apply if preferred.

Olive Oil
Yup, our favourite Mediterranean oil can also be used as base oil too. It is also excellent in treating dry scalp and hair condition. As with coconut oil, it is quite useful for dry skin as well. However, my dear friends, you and I know about the smell and heaviness of this lovely and healthy oil. Perhaps it is better off for it to remain in the kitchen? Just kidding! As with all heavier oil, why not dilute this one too with lighter base oil? If you use this one for base oil, try getting cold-pressed one, it benefits your skin even more. In fact, try to get cold-press oil whenever you can, whether it is for cooking or not. Oil that has been subjected to heating will breakdown when it is being extract. Some lighter cooking oil (such as olive oil and canola) is not that heat stable and will break during the process of extraction. This is definitely not pretty. If you can’t find cold-pressed oil, why not opt for palm oil and coconut oil instead? They are more heat stable than other vegetable oil.

Peach Kernel Oil
It is the near equivalent of Apricot Kernel Oil, in term of its pricing and quality.

Sunflower Oil
It contains a number of vitamins, including vitamin A, B, D, and E. it is a common variety of base oil as it is cheaper. If cold-pressed option is unavailable, choose those that are high in quality.

Wheatgerm Oil
Wheatgerm oil is superbly thick, very heavy and golden. It is very rich in Vitamin E (even richer then Avocado Oil. It has quite similar properties to avocado oil. As heavier base oil, it is diluted with lighter base oil in 1:10 proportion. Those who are sensitive to wheat should not use this oil.

Dilution Scale for Massage Oil

3:1 of essential oil to base oil – 1% dilution
6:2 of essential oil to base oil – 2% dilution
9:3 of essential oil to base oil – 3% dilution

Do not apply NEAT essential oil on skin at all times!


Amie said...

Nice overview of carrier oils, I learned some things I didn't know! :-)

Anonymous said...

Do you think avian flu is going to be a problem ?

I heard it would hit USA & Canada this fall.

Is there anything to the avian flu panic ?

Anonymous said...

Can you please advice some oils that can be useful for dry skin care?

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