Essential Oils and Carrier Oils are not the same. Essential oils are very potent, need to be used in very small amounts and in most cases need to be diluted before applying to the skin. Carrier oils, sometimes call base oils, are generally skin safe and can be applied to the skin in large quantity, such as in massage or as a moisturizer. Carrier Oils are used to dilute Essential Oils.
Essential Oils are pure in nature, steamed or pressed from various parts of the plant. Carrier oils may also be taken from plant life but are fatty oils rather than pure oil. Similarly, your carrier oils taken from plant life should be cold pressed or cold expeller pressed. Avoid oils that have been heated in the process or those that have been solvent extracted. Heated oils loose valued properties and nutritional values; they are often marked as “refined”. With solvent extraction you are exposed to whatever the solvent was that the plant was extracted into.
No need to search high and low, carrier oils can be found in your kitchen. Common kitchen oils such as olive oil and coconut oil are great carrier oils. However, remember to check the extraction method. Refined coconut oil will not give you the same benefit when applied to the skin as unrefined oil/cold pressed. Additionally, sunflower, almond, shea butter, jojoba, apricot, and avocado oil are excellent choices for use as carrier oils.
Oils both essential and carrier have their own characteristics and can be picked and matched to your personal needs. Some carrier oils are better for oily skin types, some are better for dry. Some oils are high in one nutrient while others are high in a different nutrient. For massage, some oils have a nice glide for while others will absorb quickly into the skin or may be hard to spread. You can become knowledgeable about the characteristics of individual oils with a little research. Start your research by knowing what your needs are and in what type of application or recipe you will use the oil. If all this is more than you care to know or invest time in, than just go to your kitchen cupboard and choose from what you have on hand.
Diluting and blending oils can be as simple or advanced as you would like to make it. Simply add a drop or two of essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil in the palm of your hand and apply. Or delve deep into blending and making your own personally targeted massage oils, lotions, creams, and soaps.
To better understand the nature of essential oils and carrier oils do this experiment:
Fold a paper towel into a long strip, drop one drop of several different essential oils and one drop each of several carrier oils onto this paper towel. Watch it over the next several days to see the results. Good quality essential oils should evaporate away while the carrier oils will remain and over time may become sticky.