Black Cumin Seed Oil

What is it? Black cumin seed oil is a carrier oil pressed from the seeds of Nigella Sativa. It is comprised mostly of linoleic acid (~50%) and oleic acid (~20%).
INCI Nigella Sativa Seed Oil
Appearance Dark yellowy-orange liquid
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Smooth, velvetty oil
Scent Distinctly peppery
Absorbency Speed Average
Approximate Melting Point -5°C (23°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Black cumin seed oil is popular for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties—it’s very popular for irritated skin and has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of eczema and acne.
Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? I’d recommend unrefined.
Strengths Excellent anti-inflammatory properties—it’s a great choice for products for irritated skin.
Weaknesses You might not be a big fan of the scent.
Alternatives & Substitutions According to Modern Cosmetics black cumin seed oil is very unique; they state there is “no suitable substitute”. I would probably choose something like evening primrose oil if a substitution was required.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your recipes; it can be hot or cold processed, but if you can avoid heating it that’s probably best.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, black cumin seed oil should last at least one to two years. I recommend storing it in the fridge.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Black cumin seed oil contains two fatty acids we rarely see—arachidic acid and behenic acid, both at about 1%.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3 fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier.

Some Recipes that Use Black Cumin Seed Oil

Borage Oil

What is it? A carrier oil pressed from the seeds of the borage flower. It is primarily comprised of linoleic and γ–linolenic acid.
INCI Borago Officinalis Seed Oil
Appearance Pale yellow liquid oil
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture A thick, heavy oil
Scent It smells very distinctly oily/fishy; I recommend blending it with other carrier oils and perhaps some essential oils to dilute/mask the scent.
Absorbency Speed Slow
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Borage oil is recommended for acne-prone, mature, dry, and/or sensitive skin.
Do you need it? No, but it is useful to have one of either Evening Primrose, Black Currant Seed, or Borage oil. They all have a similar fatty acid profile so there’s no real need to have more than one of them.
Refined or unrefined? I have tried the unrefined stuff and it’s fine, but if you are quite scent sensitive you might prefer to source the refined variety.
Strengths It’s amazing for battling acne and tacking problematic skin. It’s also recommended for aging skin.
Weaknesses It’s pretty heavy and doesn’t smell amazing.
Alternatives & Substitutions Evening primrose and black currant seed oils have a similar fatty acid profile. They are also similarly heavy and oily-smelling.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your recipes; avoid extended exposure to heat where possible. I typically aim to dilute it with a lighter oil or in an emulsion.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, borage oil should last up to two years. I recommend storing it in the fridge.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Try blending it with a faster absorbing oil, like argan or pomegranate seed, to help it sink into the skin faster.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz) or less
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Borage Oil

Black Currant Seed Oil

What is it? A carrier oil pressed from the seeds of the black currant. It is mainly comprised of linoleic acid and also contains a small amount of the rare omega-3 fatty acid stearidonic acid.
INCI Ribes Nigrum Seed Oil
Appearance Yellow to green liquid oil
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture A thick, heavy oil
Scent It smells very distinctly oily/fishy; I recommend blending it with other carrier oils and perhaps some essential oils to dilute/mask the scent.
Absorbency Speed Slow.
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Black Currant Seed Oil is recommended for acne-prone, mature, dry, and/or sensitive skin.
Do you need it? No, but it is useful to have one of either Evening Primrose, Black Currant Seed, or Borage oil. They all have a similar fatty acid profile so there’s no real need to have more than one of them.
Refined or unrefined? I have tried the unrefined stuff and it’s fine, but if you are quite scent sensitive you might prefer to source the refined variety.
Strengths It’s amazing for battling acne and tacking problematic skin. It’s also recommended for aging skin.
Weaknesses It’s pretty heavy and doesn’t smell amazing.
Alternatives & Substitutions Evening primrose and borage oils have similar fatty acid profiles. They are also similarly heavy and oily-smelling.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your recipes; avoid extended exposure to heat where possible. I typically aim to dilute it with a lighter oil or in an emulsion.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, black currant seed oil should last up to two years. I recommend storing it in the fridge.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Try blending it with a faster absorbing oil, like argan or pomegranate seed, to help it sink into the skin faster.
Recommended starter amount 100mL (3.3fl oz) or less
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Black Currant Seed Oil

Prickly Pear Seed Oil

What is it? Prickly pear seed oil is the oil pressed from the seeds of the prickly pear cactus. It is a premium (aka expensive) carrier oil. It is comprised of mostly linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. It can also be known as Indian fig oil, cactus pear oil, and barbary fig oil.
INCI Opuntia ficus indica seed oil
Appearance Yellow to green liquid oil
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Smooth, rich
Scent Typical of oils
Absorbency Speed Average
Approximate Melting Point I didn’t find a melting point specific to prickly pear seed oil, but it is approximately 60–70% linoleic acid and the melting point for linoleic acid is -5°C (23°F). I store my bottle in the fridge and it does not solidify.
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Because Prickly Pear Seed Oil is so expensive it is typically limited to products where it can really be appreciated—usually serums or facial lotions (the idea of putting it in soap or a cleansing oil makes my heart hurt!).

We use prickly pear seed oil as an emollient, and it can be especially beneficial for sensitive and/or dry skin due to the high linoleic acid content.

Do you need it? No
Refined or unrefined? Unrefined is preferable
Strengths Prickly pear seed oil is a lovely emollient.
Weaknesses It is hella expensive.
Alternatives & Substitutions Look for oils rich in linoleic acid and oleic acid as those two oils can comprise up to 80% of prickly pear seed oil. In terms of oils with similar fatty acid composition, wheat germ oil, baobab seed oil, passionfruit oil, amaranth oil, cotton oil, and quinoa oil can be a good alternatives.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your recipes, avoiding heat if possible.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, prickly pear seed oil should last up to two years. I recommend refrigerating it due to the high price.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks It takes approximately 1 ton of fruit to produce 1L of prickly pear seed oil.

The Opuntia cactus features in the Mexican Coat of Arms.

Recommended starter amount 30mL (1fl oz) or less
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Prickly Pear Seed Oil

Medium chain triglycerides

What is it? Medium chain triglyceries (MCT) is a blend of isolated caprylic and capric triglycerides. It is usually isolated from coconut oil. MCT functions as a carrier oil in our products.
INCI Caprylic/capric triglycerides
Appearance Clear, thin liquid
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Smooth, thin liquid
Scent None
Absorbency Speed Fast
Approximate Melting Point -5°C (23°F)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Medium chain triglycerides are inexpensive and lightweight with little to no scent. I like MCT in products like cleansing oils and balms, which are wash-off products. It can also be a good base for massage products, and works well as a simple base for blends of more expensive oils in facial serums.
Do you need it? No, but I really like it—it is versatile and inexpensive.
Refined or unrefined? MCT only exists as a refined product
Strengths Inexpensive, lightweight.
Weaknesses Possibly not considered totally “natural”.
Alternatives & Substitutions Other lightweight, inexpensive oils like fractionated coconut oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, or sunflower oil would be good choices.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your products; if can be hot or cold processed, as needed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, MCT should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Fractionated coconut oil and MCT (medium chain triglycerides) are not the same thing. Medium chain triglycerides are just the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil (caprylic/capric triglyceride while fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil without the long chain triglycerides, but still containing short and medium chain triglycerides. This distinction is rarely important, though it is very important to anyone who suffers from fungal acne.

Despite the “not-the-same-thing” thing, you will very often find them sold as if they are. This usually takes the form of MCT being sold as fractionated coconut oil (they’re often both listed on the label as if they are synonyms). Check the INCI to see what you’re getting—MCT will be Caprylic/capric triglyceride, fractionated coconut oil will be Cocos Nucifera Oil.

If you can only find one or the other it doesn’t really matter (unless you’re formulating for fungal acne). Purchase whatever you can get and use them interchangeably.

Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Medium Chain Triglycerides

Fractionated coconut oil

What is it? Fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil that has had the long chain triglycerides removed, leaving the short and medium chain triglycerides, to create a lightweight liquid oil.
INCI Cocos Nucifera Oil
Appearance Clear, thin liquid
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Smooth, thin liquid
Scent None
Absorbency Speed Fast
Approximate Melting Point 0–10°C
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? Fractionated coconut oil is inexpensive and lightweight with little to no scent. I like it in products like cleansing oils and balms, which are wash-off products. It can also be a good base for massage products, and works well as a simple base for blends of more expensive oils in facial serums.
Do you need it? No, but I really like it—it is versatile and inexpensive.
Refined or unrefined? Fractionated coconut oil only exists as a refined product
Strengths Inexpensive, lightweight.
Weaknesses Possibly not considered totally “natural”.
Alternatives & Substitutions Other lightweight, inexpensive oils like MCT, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, or sunflower oil would be good choices.
How to Work with It Include it in the oil phase of your products; if can be hot or cold processed, as needed.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, fractionated coconut oil should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Fractionated coconut oil and MCT (medium chain triglycerides) are not the same thing. Medium chain triglycerides are just the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil (caprylic/capric triglyceride while fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil without the long chain triglycerides, but still containing short and medium chain triglycerides. This distinction is rarely important, though it is very important to anyone who suffers from fungal acne.

Despite the “not-the-same-thing” thing, you will very often find them sold as if they are. This usually takes the form of MCT being sold as fractionated coconut oil (they’re often listed on the label as if they are synonyms). Check the INCI to see what you’re getting—MCT will be Caprylic/capric triglyceride.

If you can only find one or the other it doesn’t really matter (unless you’re formulating for fungal acne). Purchase whatever you can get and use them interchangeably.

Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Fractionated Coconut Oil

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