Can I use an essential oil or fragrance oil instead of a carrier oil?


Essential oils and fragrance oils are very, very different from carrier (or fixed) oils. Making this swap will ruin your product and possibly damage your skin.

Essential oils and fragrance oils are highly concentrated aromatic compounds that are generally used at 1% or less as higher concentrations can cause negative skin reactions. Though they are oil-soluble they do not contain any oil/fat, similar to how sugar is water-soluble but does not contain any water.

Carrier (or fixed) oils are liquid fats—things like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, safflower oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, etc. They can be used on the skin at up to 100%.

Swapping a carrier oil for an essential oil or fragrance oil would be like swapping broth in a soup recipe for straight hot sauce. Please don’t!

Note: Tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil are sometimes referred to without the “essential” part, i.e. tea tree oil. They are still essential oils and still should not be used as alternatives to carrier oils or applied directly to the skin.

Posted in: Substitutions