To directly answer this question, yes, coconut oil is indeed a carrier oil and not an essential oil. Carrier oils act as a catalyst or support system to aid essential oils in delivering optimal results. Coconut oil can also be used as a plant oil that is independent of an essential oil. However, there is more to coconut oil that entails cosmetic ambiguities that most of us probably do not know.
As mentioned in our previous blog articles, it is highly recommended that essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil before using or applying to the skin. This saves the skin from the harmful effects of raw, concentrated essential oils. Many of us have sensitive, dry, oily, a combination of dry and oily, and normal skin. And direct use of essential oils to the skin may have different adverse effects on different skin types.
Why bother when you know you can prevent it from happening?
This is where carrier oils come in. Carrier oils are thicker and are less concentrated than essential oils which is why they are ideal to mix with essential oils and carry the minerals and antioxidants to the skin.
One of the greatest and most versatile carrier oils is coconut oil.
Extracted from the so-called Tree of Life or simply Coconut Tree, coconut oil is a great carrier oil that is rich in fatty acids. These fatty acids are smaller molecules and are generally comprised of powerful substances including lauric acid, myristic acid, and palmitic acid. Lauric and Palmitic Acid are both potent substances that help moisturise and reduce the visibility of acne scars. Myristic Acid, too, has the ability to wash away oils and keep the skin looking radiant. Combined all together, this makes coconut oil, a powerful carrier oil.
Usually extracted through boiling, coconut oil has three varieties namely refined, unrefined, and fractionated coconut oil.
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat or better known as copra. The meat has been bleached, deodorised, treated, and processed through a high heat process to extract its natural aroma. The oil has to undergo this process to better filter the impurities whilst making it more stable. To prolong the shelf life of your refined coconut oil, it is suggested to keep it fully sealed and store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Considered to be the best version of coconut oil, unrefined “virgin” coconut oil is made by pressing the coconut meat and has not undergone any bleaching, deodorisation, and/or heating process which makes it completely untouched. Because it retains the coconut’s chemical composition, unrefined coconut oil has a more unique aroma and longer shelf life. This makes the unrefined coconut oil ideal for skincare.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
This variety of coconut oil is made from the fractionation process that is used to separate fatty acids that have high liquefaction points. The main reason for this is to keep the coconut oil in liquid form. That being said, fractionated coconut oil can be viewed as a regular coconut oil except that it has low amounts of fatty acids. However, this does not mean that fractionated coconut oil has little to zero cosmetic benefits. In fact, there are lots of cosmetic benefits in using fractionated coconut oil. One good thing about this kind of coconut oil is that it is less viscous and can be easily mixed with other essential oils for various applications.