Base Oils and Carrier Ingredients

Base and carrier ingredients are used in naturally based products, including bar soaps, massage & carrier oils, lotion and facial care, hair care, and other body care and cosmetic items. Some of the oils are used in aromatherapy as an essential oil carrier, especially Jojoba, Sweet Almond and Apricot Kernel Oils. Glycerin rich, cold pressed bar soaps generally derive their main ingredients from this list. In addition, these oils are often referred to as fixed or natural vegetable oils.


Base and Carrier




Obtained from the small tree, Prunus amygdalus, contains protein and is rich in minerals and vitamins. Ability to soften skin and especially beneficial for eczema. Excellent penetrating properties and good for all skin types. Relieves itching, dryness, and inflammation. Conditions and provides stable lather to natural soaps. Anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and anti-irritant. May be used as 100% base oil.



A gel compound expressed from the leaf of the aloe plant, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe peryi. Contains enzymes, proteins, minerals and vitamins that activate the skin’s self-healing power. Tightens, stimulates and rejuvenates skin and is especially beneficial for burns or sunburned skin. Refreshing moisturizer with sunscreen properties. Used medicinally for more than three thousand years. Reputed to regenerate damaged tissue and contains the 22 amino acids essential for protein production. Anti-inflammatory. Use alone or as a carrier for other base or essential oils.



Golden colored oil is extracted from apricot kernels of Prunus armeniaca, and contains minerals and vitamins. Skin-softening properties useful for all skin types, especially prematurely aged, inflamed, sensitive or dry skin. Conditions and provides stable lather to natural soaps. May be used as 100% base oil.



Derived from the pulpy green fruit of the avocado, genus Persea, and contains protein, amino acids, lecithin and vitamins A, D, and E. The restorative and nourishing properties are good for all skin types, helping to soften body tissue and heal scaly skin and scalp. Rich in unsaponifiables, makes an enriching soap for sensitive skin. Use in addition to base oil.



Obtained from the honeycomb of the honeybee, Apis mellifera, and other Apis species. Both yellow and white beeswax is used as a thickener or emulsifier for oil and water.



From the seed of the castor bean plant, Ricinus communis. Thick and medicinal in nature. Moisturizing quality acts as humectant by attracting and retaining skin moisture. Adds conditioning and stable lather to soap. Has stronger smell than other vegetable oils. Use detoxified castor oil as raw castor oil contains a poisonous protein. Use in addition to base oil.



Solid fat expressed from the seed of the cocoa plant, Theobroma cocao, native to Mexico and Theobroma leiocarpum, native to Brazil. Moisturizing emollient not easily absorbed by the skin and provides a protective layer that melts at body temperature. Good quality cocoa butter has the distinctive odor of cocoa. Hard bar soap with stable lather.




White, semi-solid fat is expressed from the coconut meat kernels of the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera. Lays down a protective layer. Its saturated nature resists rancidity and creates hard bar soaps with creamy, fluffy cleansing lather. Popular ingredient of natural bar soaps. Too much tends to be drying so usually blended with other oils.



Derived from the seeds of the Oenothera biennis, which has a high content of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. This beneficial oil is used for inflammatory conditions. Useful for acne, arthritis, dermatitis, infantile eczema, premenstrual tension and psoriasis. Reputedly lowers cholesterol, high blood pressure and nervousness. Also removes tangles and repairs damaged hair while providing a non-greasy luster.



Sweet, syrupy, colorless liquid naturally derived from vegetable oils or is a by-product of commercial soap making. (Cold pressed soaps retain natural glycerin.) Soothing skin emollient, lubricant, and humectant which helps skin retain moisture. One of the 22 essential amino acids, and restores the skin's pH balance.




Pale green in color, expressed from the seeds of grapes, Vitis vinifera. Light and odorless, contains vitamins, minerals, and protein. Ultra-fine oil absorbs easily through the skin and makes a good massage oil ingredient. Protects skin cells, tightens and tones. Anti-oxidant. May be used as 100% base oil.



Derived from various hazelnut trees, genus Corylus avellana. This moisturizing oil has minerals, vitamins and protein, and is slightly astringent with a mild nutty fragrance. Good for damaged skin, provides a stable lather and is highly unsaturated. May be used as 100% base oil.



Extracted from the beanlike seed of the desert shrub, Simondsia chinensis and widely used by native Americans. One of the best all-around natural oils that is a liquid wax ester. Mixes naturally with our skin’s fluids because it contains large quantities of an ester almost identical human sebum, the skin’s natural restorative fluid. Contains anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins, including vitamin E. Helps make skin soft and silky, and is excellent for inflamed skin, acne, dandruff, eczema and psoriasis. Excellent for hair care and reputed to be a natural wrinkle remover. Acts as an emollient and humectant. It retains skin moisture and does not block the skin’s natural functions while performing is own. Good for massage, jojoba by itself will not stain linens. It does not turn rancid and extends the shelf life of blended oils. In its pure form, jojoba makes a natural suntan lotion with a sun protection factor of 4. Provides a stable conditioning lather to bar soaps. Use in aromatherapy as a carrier for essential oils. Use as 100% base oil or blend with other oils.



Cold pressed from the nut of the Kukui tree, Aleurites moluccana, the official state tree of Hawaii and used for hundreds of years by the Hawaiian people. Stabilized with antioxidants – vitamins A, C and E. Easily absorbed, has excellent penetrating and smoothing powers and soothes dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema, sunburns and skin irritations. Outstanding greaseless emollient high in essential fatty acids. Helps skin maintain its natural water loss barrier and has an uplifting fragrance. A luxury for the soapmaker, adds richness to bar soaps. Use alone or mix with other ingredients.



Cold pressed from the nut of the macadamia tree, Macadamia integrifolia. Outstanding emollient contains a high concentration of palmitoleic fatty acid, also contained in the human sebum that naturally declines with age. This edible oil is gaining popularity as a gourmet salad and cooking oil. May be supplemented with natural vitamin E as an antioxidant. Non-irritating to the eyes. Stable oil with longer shelf life than many other oils. Like kukui nut oil, is a luxury for the soapmaker. Mixes well with other ingredients.



Cream colored semi-solid, bland fat extracted from the seed kernel of the tropical evergreen tree, Mangifera indica. It has good softening effects on the skin and reduces degeneration of the skin cells.



The leaves, bark and seed of the neem tree, Azadriachta indica , are used to treat a variety of skin disorders. Promoting antibacterial and antiviral activity, this oil has antiseptic properties and is good for dandruff, oily skin, and skin diseases such as scabies. It is also an ingredient in mosquito repellants. Contributes a stable, conditioning lather and hardness to bar soaps. Use in addition to base oil.






High quality yellow to pale green oil comes in several grades with corresponding odor strengths and is obtained from ripe olives, Olea europaea. Retains moisture to the skin by forming a breathable layer, and like jojoba oil, shea butter and kukui nut oil it does not block the skin’s natural functions while performing is own. Provides disinfectant, antiwrinkle and wound healing properties. Superior to mineral oils in penetration power. Creates a long lasting, non-drying mild soap with creamy lather, and no other soapmaking oil contributes its unique set of characteristics. Can be used as 100% base oil, although some people may find certain grades unpleasantly strong smelling.



This yellowish-brown, buttery solid oil at room temperature is obtained from the fruit pulp of the oil palm, Elaeis species. Popular natural bar soap ingredient often used with olive and coconut oils. Used as a tallow substitute, shortening and in making soaps and ointments. Moisturizing effect when used in moderation and can be drying when used in excess. Makes a long-lasting lather that cleans well and enhances hardness for a longer lasting bar soap. Tallow substitute for animal rights advocates. Use in addition to base oil.





White to yellowish fat from the fruit kernel of oil palm trees, Elaeis species, especially African palms and has a sweet, nutty flavor. Resembles coconut oil more than palm oil. Rich in vitamin A. Used as an emulsifier and texturizer. Also used as a bar soap ingredient often with olive and coconut oils. Moisturizing effect when used in moderation and can be drying when used in excess. Very mild, long-lasting lather cleans well and enhances hardness for a longer lasting bar soap. Use in addition to base oil.




Light to greenish yellow, made by pressing shelled peanuts, Arachis hypogeae. Rich in vitamin E, this non-drying, conditioning oil is readily absorbed by the skin. Highly unsaturated, creates a soft conditioning bar soap with weak lather. Use in addition to base oil.



Trade name for Rosa Mosqueta, from the Rosa species. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose and high in vitamin C and essential fatty acids. Hydrates the skin and makes an excellent skin and hair care treatment. Useful for all skin types. Can be used alone or in addition to base oil.



Derived from the seeds of the plant, Carthamus tinctorius. Provides moisturizing and skin softening properties. Vulnerable to spoilage, so use with other natural preserving ingredients to extend shelf life. Use in addition to base oil.



Yellowish cream colored natural fat expressed from the fruit pits of the karite tree, Butyrosperum parkii. Also known as African karite butter. Softening, nourishing and rich in vitamins. Very mild, rich textured emollient also being used for wrinkle reduction. Research is also being conducted in England to look at its anti-inflammatory potential for rheumatism and nasal congestion. It is rumored that this ingredient could move from an emollient to an "active ingredient" status in the future. Becoming more popular, look for more products that will be containing this ingredient. Can be melted with small amounts of natural oils to create "butters" of various consistencies which are suitable as both hair and body butters. Provides a stable conditioning lather and hardness to bar soaps.



Pale yellow to brownish green oil is extracted from seeds of the soybean plant, Glycerin soja. Primary ingredient in vegetable shortening. Mild, soft bars with stable lather. Use in addition to base oil.




Thin, light pale yellow oil obtained by milling the seeds of large sunflowers, Helianthus annuus. Holds in moisture by laying down a slightly oily protective "skin" after drying. Contains vitamin E, although has a shorter shelf life than some oils so use with other natural preserving ingredients. Provides stable, conditioning lather to bar soaps. Use in addition to base oil.



Extracted from the germ of the wheat kernel, Triticum vulgare, nature’s richest source of vitamin E – a natural preservative. Has antioxidant properties and is high in lecithin and vitamins A, D, and E. Particularly valuable for treating dry and aging skin, stretch marks and scarring. Adds moisture and a luxurious, creamy lather to bar soaps.



Distilled from the small Witch Hazel tree, Hamamelis virginiana. Used widely as a cosmetic ingredient. Skin freshener and mildly astringent. Cleanses skin and closes pores. Anti-inflammatory, cooling, soothing.


~ Some products or ingredients, even natural ones, can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Always try a test patch or discontinue use of any product or ingredient suspected to cause a problem. You should consult your physician or appropriate medical reference for any advice regarding specific health concerns or treatments. The information provided is for informational purposes, does not include all available sources, and is not intended to be a prescriptive or medical guide. Keep all products and ingredients out of eyes and away from children's reach.

Resources: "A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients" by Ruth Winter, M.S.; "The Art of Aromatherapy" by Robert B. Tisserand; The Soapmaker's Companion" by Susan Miller Cavitch; "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils" by Julia Lawless; "Complete Aromatherapy Handbook" by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi.