Carrier Oil vs. Essential Oil

In the past, I wrote about my summer and winter body oils in which I mention carrier and essential oils. Today, I thought it would be helpful to establish the difference between carrier oils and essential oils and the benefits of each one.

Carrier Oil

Carrier oils come from the oils of seeds, nuts, and kernels. They are rich in two main groups of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. In skin care, these acids are known for their abilities to nourish the skin.


While there are a few different ways to extract carrier oils from seeds, nuts, and kernels, cold-pressed is the best method for extraction.  Cold-Pressed extracts oils from seeds, nuts, and kernels through the use of hydraulic press machines. These specialized machines crush the seeds, nuts, and kernels; thus, releasing the oils.

What it Does for Your Skin:

Carrier oils dilute and carry essential oils to the skin for absorption. Each carrier oil offers different beneficial properties such as the promotion of cell regeneration, calming inflammation, providing vitamins and minerals, and moisturizing the skin. Depending on the mixture, textures of these oils can be luxuriously rich or charmingly light.

Essential Oil

Naturally occurring aromas come from plants containing special oils known as essences. Certain cells and glands of these plants produce these essences to protect themselves against bacteria, fungi, and herbivores. After distillation humans can use these concentrated substances for similar purposes: to protect against disease and affect our skin and nervous system.

Glass dropper with amber bottle
Glass dropper with amber bottle

Distillation Processes:

The two most common distillation processes to extract essential oils from plants are steam distillation and solvent extraction.  At Jessica’s Apothecary, we only source steam distilled essential oils.  (In a couple instances a CO2 method of distillation comes into play but let’s keep things simple here).

Steam distillation uses only heat and water to transform essences into essential oils. Plants are placed inside a still (a container) with pressurized steam. This steam circulates through plant material to open up the cells and glands to release essences. When the essences release from the plants they follow the steam to the condensation chamber to cool down. During cool down, the oil and water (from the steam) condense and separate themselves from each other.

Solvent Extraction involves pouring a solvent compound (a chemical called Hexane) over the buds and petals of delicate flowers. The essences then dissolve themselves into the solvent.  Many essential oils on the market use this type of process.  Again, we don’t advocate the use of chemically extracted oils.

Quality of Essential Oils:

It is common to hear that an oil is “Therapeutic Grade” in a manufacturer’s attempt to express that their oils are more “pure” than another companies, but there are no established regulations on defining a “grade” of essential oil.  The purity of an essential oil is based on how they are grown, distilled, and packaged.  Jessica’s Apothecary only sources Certified Organic and Wildcrafted essential oils.  The plants will have the highest level of therapeutic effect when they are carefully handled.  We make sure that we only source oils that have been tested with Gas Chromatography (GC).  This quantifiable process tests for purity and identifies the constituents that make up an essential oil.  The oils then need to be protected against extreme heat and light as to not damage its therapeutic benefits.

We are proud to offer the highest standard: Certified Organic, Cold-processed Carrier Oils and Certified Organic and Wildcrafted, Steam-distilled Essential Oils that have all been GC tested and packaged in amber glass bottles.  To see the blends we make visit our products page.


Natural Medicine Suite 101. The Extraction of Carrier Oils <>
Describes the extraction methods used for carrier oils.

Aroma Web. <>
Contains information about fatty acids found in carrier oils.

Aroma Web. <>
Defines carrier oils and how they can be used.

Aroma Web. <>
Describes essential oils.

Aromahead. Free Introduction to Essential Oils,
Defines essential oils and how they are distilled.

Tisserand, Robert. Essential Oils
Why plants produce essential oils.

Young Living Essential Oils. Young Living Therapeutic Grade (YLTG). <>
Describes the importance of therapeutic grade oils.

Amrita Aromatheraphy. Essential Oils.
Description of therapeutic oils.

Aroma Web.
Describes the gas chromatography process.

Jessica’s Scrubs, Hydrosols, & Specialty Body Oils

We have been busy!  There are 5 new products to introduce to you!

ginger-lemon-salt-scrub4First off, I have created beautiful body scrubs from (mineral rich) Pink Himalayan Salt and Organic Sunflower Oil.  Directions for use:  Use once per week in the shower on body after cleansing.  Scrub in circular motion and rinse well.  For best results, follow with one of my body oils after bathing. The results are silky smooth skin like you have never experienced before!

The Ginger Lemon is inspired by my favorite tea from back when I worked at Sweetwaters Cafe.  The Ginger stimulates the circulation in the skin while Lemon naturally exfoliates.

The Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub is the same blend of Salt and Sunflower oil.  It has no essential oils added to it so we can customize it for you!   Consider a Lavender Rosemary blend, Orange Lime, or Eucalyptus.

Next, we have HYDROSOLS!

lemon-verbena-hydrosol1What is a hydrosol?  From Andrea Butje, owner of Aromahead Institute, a hydrosol is created when a plant goes through a steam distillation process.  Steam breaks open the structure of the plant that contains its essential oils and its fluids.  The oil and water are separated as the steam cools, leaving us with a hydrosol.

One of the ways I recommend using my hydrosols is simply in place of a toner (after cleansing and before applying a moisturizer).  For other uses see the guest article I wrote for the Aromatics International blog.

Lastly, but the 1st in my Specialty Body Oil line, is the Dancing Without Inhibition Body Oil.  Probably the most sublime product I have made yet, this body oil uses Certified Organic Neroli to lift the spirits and hydrate the skin.

dancing-without-inhibition-body-oil-small3Visit our newly updated Products Page for details on all the products we make!

Jessica’s Winter Body Oils

Don’t let this beautiful spring-like day fool you.  It’s only mid-March and our skin still needs love.  During winter, it is important to use richer oils to nourish your skin.  The winter body oils that I created are blends of deeply enriching oils to protect the skin against the dry winter air.  They alleviate dry, cracked skin, and leave the skin supple.  As in my Summer Body Oil Post, body oils should be applied to moist skin, just minutes after drying off from a bath or shower.  This will seal in the moisture and give the skin nutrients that it does not get from lotion.  Lotion can be applied during the day if the skin still needs it, but you may find that you will not have to use as much lotion when you start your day with a body oil.  The body oil will absorb and will not transfer to clothes or sheets.  Avoid applying oil to bone-dry skin.  An additional benefit to using my oil is the luxurious feel it gives to the skin, while giving yourself a mini-massage every morning.

Choosing an oil for your skin type

For Very Dry Skin:  Nourishing Winter Body Oil, Nourishing Winter Body Oil with Enriching Essential Oils (Sandalwood and Frankincense)

For Normal to Dry Skin:  Balancing Winter Body Oil

For Normal to Oily Skin:  Balancing Winter Body Oil with Warming Essential Oils (Rosemary and Lavender)

Certified Organic Carrier Oils

Pumpkin Seed Oil: rich in vitamins A, B, D & E and fatty acids.

Almond Oil: high in Linoleic Acid and Vitamin D.

Sunflower Oil: high in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and lecithin.

Sesame Oil: a warming and grounding oil commonly used in Ayurveda.

Jojoba: highly penetrating, resembles our skin’s natural sebum (oil), moisturizing and anti-inflammatory.

Avocado Oil: strong UV absorption properties, a high degree of epidermal penetration, the ability to promote cellular regeneration, and a high sterol content, which is beneficial in arthritic conditions.

Here’s what people are saying about my body oils:

“Jessica’s organic, made to order body oils are amazing.  She has incredible knowledge of essential oils and how to mix them just right to create something that is unique.  My skin feels great every day!” -Ana, owner of A2 Yoga

“I am so very pleased with the Winter Sandalwood oil.  I had two seborrheic keratoses spots on my face.  These are non-cancerous, dry scaly (and ugly) spots that often appear with age.  Since insurance will not cover the removal (approx $300 per spot), I decided to try your oil on my face, with particular attention to these two spots.  Well, after a few weeks, I noticed the spots were fading. I am happy to say that the spots have completely disappeared.  I can’t thank you enough.  I am so thrilled!” -Judy

Date published: 14 March, 2012
Categories Body Care

Jessica’s Summer Body Oils

My Body Oil Line is launched!  I have been using body oil after every shower for 15 years.  I started with Sweet Almond Oil and then Jojoba.  After a while, Jojoba just didn’t feel rich enough for my dry skin (though great in a blend and for oily skin).  I started learning about different kinds of plant oils and this summer I started mixing them.    Some are fragrance-free and some contain a beautiful blend of essential oils.  The essential oils are added to benefit the skin and not just for their aroma.

Body Oils should be applied to moist skin, just minutes after drying off from a bath or shower.  This will seal in the moisture and give the skin nutrients that it does not get from lotion.  Lotion can be applied during the day if the skin still needs it, but you may find that you will not have to use as much lotion when you start your day with a body oil.  The body oil will absorb and will not transfer to clothes or sheets.  Avoid applying oil to dry skin.

4 Body Oils are now available:

Nourishing Summer Body Oil

Nourishing Summer Body Oil with Cooling Essential Oils

Balancing Summer Body Oil

Balancing Summer Body Oil with Cooling Essential Oils

The carrier oils used in my blends are:

Pumpkin Seed Oil– rich in vitamins A, B, D & E and fatty acids.

Almond oil– high in Linoleic Acid and Vitamin D.

Sunflower oil– high in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and lecithin.

Avocado oil– incredibly beneficial in many ways including strong UV absorption properties, a high degree of epidermal penetration, the ability to promote cellular regeneration, and a high sterol content which is beneficial in arthritic conditions.

Marula oil- a light, nourishing oil that is included in the summer oil because of its ability to heal sunburns. It also relieves Dermatitis, Eczema & Psoriasis.

Jojoba– (really a wax and not an oil) is highly regarded because of its ability to penetrate the skin and its resemblance to our skin’s natural sebum, or oil.  It is very moisturizing and anti-inflammatory.

One more thing… my “Summer” body oils are not just for summer.  They are just lighter versions of what is to come.  Winter blends coming soon…

Date published: 23 September, 2011
Categories Body Care

Calendula- Anti-inflammatory Flower

Last week I was working in the garden with my new garden friend, Kristy.  She has graciously agreed to work in trade for facials!  My garden was in need of some love as 2 children under the age of 3 do not allow me to give it much attention.  We were pulling out the Sumac tree that was taking over a bed and Kristy pointed out some people are sensitive to the plant oils in Sumac.  Minutes later, without washing my hands (an Esthetician “no-no”), I applied sunscreen to Julia’s face and arms.  Shortly after, she broke out in a rash.  My first instinct was to make sure was had Children’s Benadryl in case it started to swell to the point of impeding on her eye sight.  Then I remembered the anti-inflammatory properties of the lovely Calendula, or Marigold, flower.  I use Weleda Calendula products on my children every day without much thought and now was the chance to see what Calendula could really do.  I washed her face with the Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash and then applied the Calendula oil.  The rash was gone in 10 minutes!  I am amazed at how our first instinct  will often be to seek relief first from the drugs that are overly accepted in our culture, with only little thought of the natural remedies that gave birth to modern medicine.  There is a place for both of course but it is my hope that more people make a place for the natural remedies in their lives.