Essential Oils, Carrier Oils and Butters, What is the difference?

Natural Skin Care places a lot of focus on essential oils.  While these powerful little droplets are the most potent, how they are presented matters to you skin health.

Essential Oils: “ Quintessential oil or the spirit of the plant”

Ancient cultures believed that the oils distilled or macerated from a plant where it’s life force and displayed healing qualities. Today, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in their Vocabulary of Natural Materials (ISO/D1S9235.2) defines an essential oil as a product made by distillation with either water or steam or by mechanical processing of citrus rinds or by dry distillation of natural plant materials.  Many essential oils pass through the skin and into the blood, while some even pass through the blood/brain barrier.  Currently in alternative healing these oils are beginning to be extensively studied for medical purposes. 

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Carrier Oils:  Vegetable based oils derived from fatty portions of the plant, normally seeds, nuts and kernels.

Many of these plant oils are similar to the  human body's own production of sebum which is the skin’s moisturizer. Carrier oils are fixed or base oils that often have anti-ageing properties that are boosted by the addition of essential oils .  A carrier oil can penetrate 2-3 layers of skin creating a protective barrier from transdermal water lose. 

Butters:  Fats are extracted from the seeds, kernels, nuts of a plant much like cream is removed from milk.  

The butters are extracted by pressure, heat or hydrogenation.  Butters are heavier than oils and typically sit on the surface of the skin to provide a barrier against the elements.
Choosing which oils to pair with butters and how much essential oil to use depends on many factors such as climate, desired effect, and issues being treated.  Care should be used with essential oils as they may have undesired effects or cause strong reactions if over used.  For the most part  carrier oils and butters if raw or unrefined retain a portion of the plants healing properties but are unlikely to cause harm unless a the user is allergic.

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