Let’s talk about aromatherapy. No, I don’t mean the synthetic fragrances typically found in drugstore spa gift sets. (You know the ones I mean–the clearance sets wrapped in a basket, and usually with the false advertisement words “quality” and “aromatherapy” in the brand name.) No; I want to discuss real aromatherapy, which utilizes genuine essential oils derived from quality plants and wood resins.

The use of essential oils is one of the things I learned most thoroughly when I was in school for Ayurvedic skincare. Aromatherapy is not often utilized in Israel, despite Tel Aviv’s post-modern hippie-like atmosphere, yet it can be used to solve a whole host of problems. The secrets lie in the knowledge of the practitioner, as well as in the quality of the herbs and carrier oils themselves.

Quite a bit can be said about aromatherapy, so I plan to write a few separate articles on various components of its implementation. Today, let’s focus on carrier oils–the oils that dilute and help spread the chosen essential oil.

One of the main trains of thought of the school of aromatherapy is that the body absorbs everything you put in it or on it, and this includes the aromatheraputic oils themselves, as well as their carrier oils. This is why it’s so important to choose a carrier oil wisely. The carrier oil doesn’t just feel good during a massage, or make the essential oil in a burner last longer. A carrier oil is absorbed into the skin, where the body utilizes it to its benefit, just like everything else.

There are lots of great carrier oils, and different oils are used in different parts of the world, but a few stand out as some of the best carrier oils, used either with aromatheraputic oils, or alone. These include Jojoba oil (pronounced “ho-ho-bah”), grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil. All of these oils should be used either in their raw, virgin state, or as provided by an established essential oil company.

Jojoba oil–Technically a wax and not an oil, Jojoba is the best carrier oil for problematic, oily, or aging skin. It is the oil that is closest in nature to our own natural oils, and because of this, it both moisturizes the skin and calms acne. For this reason, Jojoba is usually the oil used in facial massage, but it is also a wonderful oil for full-body use. It can be used alone as a moisturizer for the body, as it dissolves almost immediately into the skin, and is found in many natural skincare products.

Grapeseed oil–Grapeseed oil contains a vast array of fatty acids, is typically hypoallergenic, and is light in texture, making it wonderful for most types of skin. (Oily skin should avoid grapeseed oil.) It is also great for body massage, as it leaves a slight film of oil when spread across the skin, yet absorbs quickly enough that it doesn’t need to be washed off after use, which makes it wonderful for post-shower moisturizing.

Sweet almond oil–Sweet almond oil is, quite possibly, the most popular carrier oil in Israel. It can even be found in any SuperPharm and NewPharm! Sweet almond oil is great for many different types of skin, because it contains a variety of minerals, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E. These vitamins and minerals soak deep into the skin to reduce swelling and itchiness. I, personally, even use sweet almond oil as a whole-body moisturizer, to counteract dryness and itching.

Raw virgin coconut oil–While this oil might look strange to some, as it actually comes as a solid white lump, it is a high quality carrier oil with some unique properties. The raw virgin variety of coconut oil has a light aroma of coconut, which can aid in the aromatheraputic process. Additionally, it contains high levels of lauric acid, and is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. It is extremely moisturizing, and good for a wide variety of skin, but this is the best oil to use on dry, cracked, damage skin such as feet, knees, elbows, and chapped lips. As a side note, since raw virgin coconut oil is usually solid at room temperature, it should be held in the hands to warm it before spreading on the skin.

Carrier oils should be chosen carefully, remembering to keep any sensitivities or allergies in mind.  However, once the carrier oil has been selected and put to work, it will surpass itself, both as a massage agent and a skincare product. Sometimes less really is more, so go ahead and try moisturizing with a carrier oil today!

Have you ever moisturized with a pure, natural oil? Which is your favorite, for moisturizing or massage?

Disclaimer: Please use common sense when utilizing any natural oils, including essential oils and carrier oils. Do not ingest carrier oils or essential oils. Consult with your aromatherapist, naturopath, or Ayurvedic practitioner if you have questions or concerns, or if you have no experience or training in essential oil use.