Carrier oils in dermatology

Arch Dermatol Res. 2019 Nov;311(9):653-672. doi: 10.1007/s00403-019-01951-8. Epub 2019 Jul 18.


Wounds are a common medical infliction. With the increase in microbial resistance and a shift of interest towards complementary medicines, essential oils have been shown to be beneficial in suppressing microbial growth. However, in practice, essential oils are more often diluted into a base due to the risk of topical adverse effects, such as dermatitis. There is a lack of collated evidence-based information on toxicity and efficacy of carrier oils. The current information on the subject matter is restricted to generic, aroma-therapeutic books and pamphlets, based on anecdotal evidence rather than an experimental approach. Therefore, this review aimed at identifying the recommended carrier oils used in dermatology and thereafter collating the scientific evidence to support the use of carrier oils together with essential oils recommended for dermatological use. Aloe vera gel had multiple studies demonstrating the ability to enhance wound healing; however, several other carrier oils have been largely neglected. It was observed that the extracts for certain plant species had been used to justify the use of the carrier oils of the same plant species. This is an inaccurate cross assumption due to the difference in chemical composition and biological activities. Lastly, despite these carrier oils being recommended as a base for essential oils, very little data was found on the interactive profile of the carrier oil with the essential oil. This review provides a platform for further studies, especially if essential oils are to receive credence in the scientific field.

Keywords: Aromatherapy; Essential oils; Fixed oils; Healing; Infection; Skin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Aloe / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage*
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects
  • Ointments
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles / adverse effects
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles / chemistry*
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Ointments
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Plant Oils