Carrier oils guide

Vegetable oils, also known as plant oils and carrier oils, are a key ingredient in basically every type of DIY skincare product—from facial serums and creams to lip balms and body butters. They can also be used all on their own, in pure and concentrated form. Each vegetable oil has a unique set of properties depending on each oil specific composition. And, with so many to choose from it’s not surprising that even the most experienced DIYers get overwhelmed sometimes.

That’s why we created this guide. Here, you can easily refer to the benefits, recommended uses and characteristics of 25 of the most popular oils. You can compare vegetable oils side by side and quickly gather an idea of which ones might be the best fit for your next skincare formulation.

In this guide you will find:

  • Overall benefits of vegetable oils in natural skincare
  • The characteristics, such as absorption rate, finish on skin, colour and scent, as well as recommended uses of 25 vegetable oils
  • A note on the shelf life of vegetable oils 

The benefits of vegetable oils in natural skincare

Vegetable oils are powerful emollients and can be used to moisture, nourish, clean, strength and protect the skin. They are packed with fatty acids, phytosterols, vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients and natural actives that feed the skin with all kinds of boosting, nourishing and revitalising benefits.

Although the properties of vegetable oils are dependent on the specific type of oil, there are some benefits most vegetable oils have in common:

  • Emollient, helping to soften the skin
  • High in nourishing nutrients that help reinforce the skin barrier
  • High in omega fatty acids that support healthy skin cell function and regeneration           
  • Rich in antioxidants with anti-ageing benefits
  • Help attract and maintain moisture
  • Can be used to deeply cleanse the skin without drying effects
  • Have soothing effects on sensitive or damaged skin

Characteristics and recommended uses 

Note that vegetable oils properties and characteristics are impacted by the way the oil is produced, refined, handled and stored. The information below refers to Skincare Crafter's own organic & cold pressed vegetable oils and is based on our careful in-house tests as well as the certification of analysis of our batches.

Almond oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A nutritious, moisturising and emollient oil rich with essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Almond oil relieves irritation and softens, revitalises and nourishes rough and dry skin. Commonly used by massage therapists for its lubricative properties. A versatile base for blending other vegetable oils and essential oils. Suitable for baby and infant products.

Skin type

All, Dry

Absorption rate MEDIUM Finish on skin Leaves skin feeling moisturised, not greasy, with a silky smooth finish.
Colour Light yellow Scent Mild nutty scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 68,41 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 22,53 %
  • Unsaturated – 90,94 %
  • Saturated – 9,06 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 22,53 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,00 %

 

Apricot kernel oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A lightweight and fast-absorbing oil, rich with essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Apricot kernel oil is a compatible ingredient for many different skincare products. One of the best oils for soothing sensitive and irritated skin. Can also be used to improve the condition of dry or damaged hair. Suitable for baby and infant products.

Skin type

All, Dry, Mature, Oily, Sensitive

Absorption rate VERY FAST Finish on skin Disappears quickly into the skin, leaving no traces or greasiness on the surface. Skin feels smooth.
Colour Light yellow Scent Very mild, almost scentless
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 66,77 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 26,28 %
  • Unsaturated – 93,05 %
  • Saturated – 6,95 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 26,18 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,10 %

 

Argan oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A nourishing strengthening oil high in unsaturated fatty acids and rich with vitamin E, polyphenols, sterols and squalene. Argan oil has anti-inflammatory, sebum regulating, anti-aging, and restructuring properties. Promotes tighter skin and improved elasticity, and reduces the appearance of stretch marks and scar tissue. Great for hair and nails.

Skin type

All, Dry, Inflamed, Mature, Oily

Absorption rate MEDIUM Finish on skin Skin feels silky and moisturised. Not oily.
Colour Light yellow Scent Mild to medium seed scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 47,26 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 33,25 %
  • Unsaturated – 80,52 %
  • Saturated – 19,48 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 33,13 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,12 %

 

Avocado oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A deeply moisturising, nourishing and regenerative oil rich with omega 9 and omega 6 fatty acids, palmitoleic acid, vitamin E, phytosterols and squalene. Avocado oil helps stimulate collagen production. It’s also great for rehydrating and nourishing skin damaged by the sun or weather. Its thick consistency also makes it ideal for massage blends.

Skin type

Dry, Mature

Absorption rate SLOW Finish on skin Skin feels very moisturised and slightly oily.
Colour Golden-greenish Scent Medium characteristic scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 73,04 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 8,93 %
  • Unsaturated – 81,97 %
  • Saturated – 18,03 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 8,23 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,56 %

 

Baobab oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A protective, strengthening and smoothing oil high in palmitic, oleic and Linoleic fatty acids. Baobab oil protects the skin from water loss by strengthening the skin’s barrier function. Recommended in skincare products for dry and barrier-damaged skin. Also beneficial for hair. Can substitute plant derived butters in moisture-binding formulas.

Skin type

Damaged, Dry

Absorption rate SLOW Finish on skin Skin feels very moisturised and slightly oily.
Colour Golden yellow Scent Medium to strong, sweet and nutty scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 36,13 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 34,60 %
  • Unsaturated – 70,73 %
  • Saturated – 29,27 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 34,29 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,31 %

 

Borage seed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

An anti-inflammatory, softening, and regenerating oil rich with linoleic and oleic acids, vitamin E, and the highest percentage of GLA of all plant-derived oils. Borage seed oil helps to soften fine lines and wrinkles on the face. Excellent addition to anti-aging skincare blends. Also helps treat  skin conditions eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.

Skin type

Inflamed, Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate VERY SLOW Finish on skin Leaves skin feeling oily.
Colour Light yellow Scent Strong characteristic scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 26,94 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 57,26 %
  • Unsaturated – 84,21 %
  • Saturated – 15,79 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 39,06 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,43 %

 

Broccoli seed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A smoothing oil with high levels of Omega 9, in addition to oleic, linoleic and gondoic fatty acids. Due to significant film forming properties, Broccoli seed oil is a great natural alternative to silicone and adds a silky feel to products for both skin and hair. Gives skin a natural and soft glow. Smooths the hair cuticles of hair and leaves it shiny.

Skin type

All, Sensitive

Absorption rate SLOW to VERY SLOW Finish on skin Skin feels very moisturised and slightly oily.
Colour Golden yellow Scent Mild to medium seed scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 73,46 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 22,29 %
  • Unsaturated – 95,75 %
  • Saturated – 4,25 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 15,50 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 6,79 %

 

Castor oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A multi-functional, viscous and highly lubricative oil. Castor oil attracts and locks in moisture, and protects skin from environmental damage. Naturally antiseptic, anti-fungal and antiviral properties make it an excellent addition to cleansing products. It also helps to improve the condition of hair follicles and stimulate healthy hair growth.

Skin type

Acne-prone, Damaged, Dry

Absorption rate VERY SLOW Finish on skin Skin feeling oily and slightly sticky. Perfect for wash-off products and scrubs.
Colour Very light yellow Scent Almost scentless
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 92,35 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 5,14 %
  • Unsaturated – 97,48 %
  • Saturated – 2,52 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 4,73 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,40 %

 

Chia seed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

An anti-inflammatory and restorative oil rich with Omega 3 and Omega 6, as well as antioxidants, phytosterols, vitamin B3 and zinc. Chia oil helps relieve itchy and irritated skin, increase moisture,  repair skin’s protective barrier, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In hair products, it has a softening and anti-static effect.

Skin type

Acne-prone, Dry, Inflamed, Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate MEDIUM Finish on skin Spreads easily on skin, leaving it feeling silky and smooth.
Colour Light yellow Scent Medium to strong scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 6,56 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 84,06 %
  • Unsaturated – 90,62 %
  • Saturated – 9,38 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 20,18 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 63,87 %

 

Coconut (virgin) oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A versatile, nourishing and softening oil rich with lauric acid, as well as vitamin E, and mystric, caprylic, and capris acids. Naturally anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. Coconut oil has beneficial uses for both skin and hair. Refills the lipids in the skin and locks in moisture. Softens hair and prevents breakage.

Skin type

Dry, Inflamed

Absorption rate VERY SLOW Finish on skin Solid at room temperature, the oil melts upon contact with skin  and leaves behind a thick, oily and moisturising finish.
Colour White/ Transparent white Scent Mild to medium coconut scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 4,90 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 0,70 %
  • Unsaturated – 5,60 %
  • Saturated – 94,4 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 0,70 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,00 %

 

Hempseed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A healing, anti-inflammatory and cell-renewing oil rich in omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, as well as phytosterols, vitamin E, and GLA. Hempseed oil is highly nutritious for the skin and prevents transepidermal water loss. Moisturises, soothes and softens without clogging pores. Helps to repair and protect skin from free radical damage.

Skin type

All, Sensitive

Absorption rate MEDIUM Finish on skin Leaves skin feeling silky and smooth, with a slightly shiny finish.
Colour Dark green Scent Strong and fresh green leaf scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 18,27 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 72,44 %
  • Unsaturated – 90,71 %
  • Saturated – 9,29 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 55,85 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 15,87 %

 

Grapeseed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A lightweight, moisturising and fast-absorbing oil rich in oleic and linoleic acids. Grapeseed oil is an excellent addition to face products, leaving skin feeling soft, toned, and balanced. Helps fortify the skin barrier and undo free radical damage. Naturally astringent and non-comedogenic properties make it suitable for oily or acne prone skin.

Skin type

Acne prone, All, Oily

Absorption rate FAST Finish on skin Skin feels smooth. The oil leaves no traces or greasiness on the surface.
Colour Golden green Scent Very mild scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 18,79 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 67,76 %
  • Unsaturated – 86,55 %
  • Saturated – 13,45 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 67,43 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,33 %

 

Hazelnut oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A softening and skin-tightening oil rich in vitamin E and omega 9 fatty acids. Hazelnut oil leaves skin feeling soft and silky, and minimises the appearance of pores. It also helps to treat varicose veins due to its skin tightening and vasoconstrictive effects. A mild nutty scent makes it the perfect base for earthy, woody and spicy essential oils.

Skin type

All

Absorption rate MEDIUM to FAST Finish on skin The skin feels moisturised and smooth, not shiny or oily.
Colour Light yellow Scent Mild hazelnut scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 81,91 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 9,69 %
  • Unsaturated – 91,60 %
  • Saturated – 8,40 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 9,53 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,16 %

 

Jojoba oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A healing and quick absorbing oil that mimics the properties of skin’s natural sebum. Contains many vitamins including vitamin E, vitamin B complex, copper and zinc. Jojoba oil is non-comedogenic and emulsifying, making it a good choice for facial cleansers, shampoos, and liquid soaps. Leaves skin feeling refreshed and healthy. Nourishing for hair.

Skin type

Acne-prone, Damaged, Oily

Absorption rate VERY FAST Finish on skin Considered a “dry” oil, it spreads easily leaving no traces or greasiness behind. Skin feels slightly smooth.
Colour Medium yellow Scent Mild to medium scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 99,70 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 0,00 %
  • Unsaturated – 99,70 %
  • Saturated- 0,30 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 0,00 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,00 %

 

Macadamia oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A moisturising, softening and quick absorbing oil rich in Omega 7 which is found naturally in the skin. Macadamia oil penetrates deeply and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Well suited for facial products. Benefits enhance when combined with oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Sacha Inchi, Walnut, Chia and Borage.

Skin type

Dry, Mature

Absorption rate FAST Finish on skin Skin feels smooth. The oil leaves no traces or greasiness on the surface.
Colour

Very light

Scent Mild nutty scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 80,30 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 2,46 %
  • Unsaturated – 82,76 %
  • Saturated – 17,24 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 2,21 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,26 %

 

Pomegranate oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A moisturising and protective oil with an abundance of the rare punicic fatty acid, plus phytohormones, anthocyanin and phytosterols. Pomegranate oil helps preserve elasticity and firmness, making it an excellent addition to formulations for mature skin. It’s also an effective ingredient for soothing and treating eczema and other skin irritations.

Skin type

Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate VERY SLOW Finish on skin The oil has higher viscosity and leaves the skin feeling oily and slightly sticky. For face oil formulations we recommend blending it with fast-absorbing oils.
Colour Medium yellow Scent Strong scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 4,82 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 90,66 %
  • Unsaturated – 95,48 %
  • Saturated – 4,52 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 3,92 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,00 %

 

Rosehip seed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A regenerative and smoothing oil rich with vitamin A, Omega 3 and Omega 6. Rosehip oil improves the texture of skin, and calms redness and inflammation. It is well suited as a treatment for sun damaged or hyper-pigmented and prematurely aging skin. Also excellent for mminimisingthe appearance of stretch marks, and scars from surgery, burns and acne.

Skin type

Damaged, Mature

Absorption rate FAST Finish on skin Skin feels smooth. The oil leaves no traces or greasiness on the surface.
Colour Orange  Scent Medium scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 14,54 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 79,83 %
  • Unsaturated – 94,36 %
  • Saturated – 5,64 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 44,40 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 35,43 %

 

Sacha Inchi seed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A regenerative and antioxidant rich oil with a very high percentage of fatty acids Omega 3, 6 and 9. Sacha inch oil regenerates the structure of skin and reduces trans epidermal water loss. A valuable addition to anti-aging skincare products and products for sensitive skin. Helps smooth out scars and stretch marks. Also excellent for damaged hair.

Skin type

Damaged, Dry, Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate FAST Finish on skin Skin feels smooth. The oil leaves no traces or greasiness on the surface.
Colour Very light yellow Scent Medium fresh scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 10,72 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 82,16 %
  • Unsaturated – 92,89 %
  • Saturated – 7,11 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 35,87 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 46,29 %

 

Sea Buckthorn oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A nutritious, anti-oxidant rich and regenerative oil with Omega 3 and 6, vitamin E and an abundance of carotenoids. Sea Buckthorn oil firms the skin, prevents wrinkles, smooths out mild scars and burns, and strengthens the skin’s defences and ability to regenerate. Can also promote improved elasticity. An ideal addition to anti-aging skincare products.

Skin type

Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate MEDIUM Finish on skin Moisturising and smooth feeling, with no oily or shiny look.
Colour Light yellow Scent Mild nutty scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 19,23 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 69,99 %
  • Unsaturated – 89,22 %
  • Saturated – 10,78 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 36,05 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 33,94 %

 

Tea seed oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A moisturising, anti-inflammatory and revitalising oil abundant with oleic acid and antioxidants. Tea seed oil rehydrates and regenerates dry, ageing, sun damaged or sensitive skin. It’s gentle enough for application to the under eye area, as well as for use in baby products. The oil is also a highly beneficial in hair conditioners and treatments.

Skin type

Dry, Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate MEDIUM Finish on skin Spreads well and leaves skin feeling moisturised and slightly oily.
Colour Almost colourless Scent Almost scentless
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 80,91 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 8,53 %
  • Unsaturated –  89,44 %
  • Saturated – 10,56 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 8,53 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential  Omega 3) – 0,00 %

 

Walnut oil

Benefits & Recommended uses

A regenerative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antiseptic oil particularly high in Omega 6, as well Omega 3 and 9, minerals, oxidants, and phytonutrients. Walnut oil regenerates the skin, improves blood circulation minimises the appearance of wrinkles. It is also ideal for fighting fungal infections and alleviating psoriasis and eczema.

Skin type

Acne-prone, Mature, Sensitive

Absorption rate FAST Finish on skin Skin feels smooth. The oil leaves no traces or greasiness on the surface.
Colour Light yellow Scent Mild nutty scent
Fatty acid composition
  • Monounsaturated – 17,75 %
  • Polyunsaturated – 72,82 %
  • Unsaturated – 90,57 %
  • Saturated – 9,43 %
  • Linoleic acid (Essential Omega 6) – 61,58 %
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (Essential Omega 3) – 11,23 %

 

The shelf life of vegetable oils 

Since vegetable oils don’t contain water they can’t grow bacteria or other microorganisms. However, over time vegetable oils do grow old and rancid. Rancidification is caused by an oil’s exposure to oxygen, heat and light. You’ll probably know when it’s happened because it causes oil to have an unpleasant smell.

Different oils have different shelf lives

One trick to gauging the shelf life of the oil you’re considering for your next DIY skincare formulation is checking its fatty acid composition. The diversity of fatty acid composition from one oil to the next means that some oils will have shorter shelf life than others, even if they are stored in the same conditions. Unsaturated fatty acids will go rancid faster than saturated ones, and polyunsaturated fatty acids will go rancid the fastest. To learn the fatty acid composition of each of our oils, you can check the reference guide above or visit the product pages for each oil for a more detailed breakdown.

How do I make my oils last longer?  

To make your vegetable oils last longer, there are three main things you can do. First of all, it’s important to always keep them tightly sealed in a container. Preferably one made of darkly coloured material. The next helpful measure you can take is storing your oils away from heat, moisture and light. Finally, beware of storing oil in a half-empty bottle—the extra air inside the bottle can cause it to expire long before the normal expiration date.