Best Carrier Oils for Sensitive Skin: 10 Oils To Soothe Dryness, Acne, Cracked Skin & More

best carrier oils for sensitive skin - sea buckthorn oil

Whether it’s acne-prone, dry, cracked, mature or inflamed, sensitive skin comes in forms. Like all skin types, delicate skin can benefit from the anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties that carrier oils have to offer. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best carrier oils for sensitive skin.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it covers the most common and easy-to-find carrier oils that you can add into your skincare routine.

Throughout the article I’ll be highlighting the oils that I consider to be particularly helpful for specific sensitive skin types. The information I’m sharing with you is based on my research on these articles and what other experts, including scientists, have to say.

Nonetheless, remember that everyone’s skin is absolutely unique. So, evaluate this information and chuck what doesn’t seem relevant for you. And of course, consult with your doctor if you have any doubts about which oils you should ultimately use and how.

Note: this post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase. Also, many of the skincare benefits covered throughout this article come from this scientific paper.

10 CARRIER OILS THAT ARE GOOD FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

1. Jojoba Oil – Best Overall Moisturizer for Dry, Sensitive Skin

carrier oils that are good for delicate skin - jojoba

Jojoba oil – which is actually a liquid wax, rather than a true oil – is most famous for having a chemical structure that is similar to sebum. This makes it great for balancing sensitive skin that is struggling with too much or too little sebum production. 

In addition, jojoba contains:

  • Vitamins A and D.
  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E.
  • Fatty acids such as oleic and erucic acid.

Thanks to its varied chemical composition, research shows that jojoba oil is (source):

  • A natural humectant that draws moisture to dehydrated skin.
  • Helpful for repairing the skin barrier (which is often compromised in sensitive skin).
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Beneficial for wound healing
  • Good for slowing down the signs of aging.
  • Rich in antioxidants that restore a natural glow to the skin.
  • Antibacterial.
  • Non-comedogenic.

Consistency and feel: medium weight but non-greasy; absorbs quickly.

Shelf life: can last 2 – 3 years without refrigeration.

Where to get it: my favorite jojoba oil is this one from Cliganic (available via Amazon).

2. Grapeseed Oil – Best for Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin

Grapeseed oil is a very lightweight, odorless and emollient oil that is soothing to inflamed skin. 

It’s a rich source of fatty acids, most notably linoleic acid, which it has in high amounts. 

This makes grapeseed oil one of the best choices for acne-prone skin since this type of skin has been found to produce sebum that is low in linoleic acid (source)

Other benefits of grapeseed oil include (source):

  • Improves hyperpigmentation.
  • Rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols.
  • Helpful for wound healing.
  • Beneficial for reducing redness and overall inflammation.
  • Great for moisturizing the skin (thanks to its vitamin E content).
  • Good at supporting collagen production.

Consistency and feel: very lightweight and absorbs easily.

Shelf life: up to 2 years. Refrigeration helps to keep it fresh.

Where to get it: this organic grapeseed oil from Now is one of my go-tos.

3. Rosehip Oil – Best for Dry, Mature Skin

Rosehip oil is a natural source of vitamin E, fatty acids and vitamin A (mainly beta-carotene, which the body converts to retinol and small amounts of retinoic acid). The vitamin E helps to moisturize the skin as well as protect it from free radical damage, while the vitamin A stands out for its ability to promote cell turnover.

As for its fatty acid content, rosehip oil is rich in linoleic acid, which we need to maintain a healthy skin barrier. It is also a natural source of beta-sitosterol, an anti-inflammatory compound that shows promise when it comes to improving eczema (source).

Overall, rosehip oil is a great choice for:

  • Very dry skin that needs to be revitalized.
  • Supporting collagen and elastin production.
  • Scars.
  • Burns.
  • Acne.
  • Stretch marks.

NOTE: make sure to buy a rosehip oil that was extracted from the (it contains most of the fatty acids) and the skin of the fruit (it contains most of the vitamin A). If you buy a rosehip oil that was extracted from only one part, such as the seed, you’ll get plenty of fatty acids but no vitamin A.

Consistency and feel: lightweight; leaves a slight greasy feel.

Shelf life: about 6 – 9 months. Best to refrigerate once opened.

Where to get it: Kosmea’s rosehip oil (available here on Amazon or from Kosmea’s website) is one of the best because it contains both vitamin A and essential fatty acids.

4. Meadowfoam Seed Oil – Best for Cracked, Itchy Skin

The main thing that stands out about meadowfoam seed oil is that it contains about 95 – 98% long chain fatty acids (1, 2). Of that 95 – 98%, most of it is made of eicosenoic acid, a fatty acid that is said to balance sebum production (source). This makes meadowfoam helpful for balancing very dry, very oily or combination skin.

In addition, meadowfoam oil is rich in vitamin E, which has both emollient and humectant properties. This means that it can draw moisture to the skin, while also soothing, softening and protecting the skin from damage (source). These properties are helpful for all skin types, but in particular, for dry, itchy or cracked skin! 

Last not least, research indicates that meadowfoam oil may also be able to protect the skin from damage caused by overexposure to the sun (source). 

Consistency and feel: thick yet velvety smooth; non-greasy and absorbs quickly.

Shelf life: up to 2 years, even without refrigeration.

Where to get it: this pure meadowfoam oil from Plant Therapy.

5. Hemp Seed Oil

carrier oils that are good for sensitive skin - hemp seed

Hemp is a powerhouse of nutrients, so it’s not surprising that the seed oil contains (source):

  • Vitamin A and B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6).
  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E, phytosterols and phenols.

In addition, one of the most significant components of hemp seed oil are linoleic and linolenic acid, which are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids respectively. 

Linoleic, acid in particular, is critical for maintaining a strong skin barrier (source). This is just one of the many reasons why hemp oil shows promise for improving inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis (source).

Consistency and feel: lightweight; leaves a slight greasy feel on the skin.

Shelf life: up to 2 years.

Where to get it: this hemp seed carrier oil from Eden’s Garden.

6. Sea Buckthorn Oil

With 190 biologically active ingredients, sea buckthorn oil has just about everything sensitive skin craves, including:

  • 14 vitamins (such as A, D and K).
  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E, flavonoids and phenols.
  • Minerals like iron and zinc (a must-have for acne).
  • Omega-3, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids.

Of all the ingredients listed above, the one that is most talked about when it comes to sea buckthorn oil is the omega-7. This fatty acid isn’t very common and its presence in sea buckthorn gives this oil an extra boost of anti-inflammatory powers.

Overall, experts state that sea buckthorn oil is helpful for (3, 4):

  • hydrating the skin while also preventing water loss from the skin.
  • fighting off free radical damage.
  • rebuilding skin cells.
  • supporting wound healing.
  • improving eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and acne.
  • reducing scars and discoloration.
  • protecting the skin from sunburns.

NOTE: sea buckthorn oil tends to stain if used in high amounts. So, it’s usually used in combination with other carrier oils at a rate of about 10%.

Consistency and feel: medium weight; absorbs at a medium rate and leaves a slight greasy feel. 

Shelf life: up to 2 years.

Where to get it: this Nova Lucia sea buckthorn oil is cold-pressed and available from Amazon.

7. Oat Oil

Oats are one of the most common home remedies for sensitive skin. So, it’s not surprising that oat oil also provides incredible benefits for delicate skin.

One of the most noteworthy things about oat oil is that it contains ceramides, which are fats that reside mainly in the top layer of the skin. These ceramides form a protective layer that prevents moisture loss, and protects the skin from environmental damage.

In addition, oat oil is a natural source of linoleic acid, which is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid in the epidermis, and a must for skin barrier function.

Furthermore, oat oil is rich in antioxidants and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.

Consistency and feel: feels silky and has a medium consistency (not too heavy, not too light); absorbs slowly.

Shelf life: up to 2 years.

Where to get it: try this oat oil from Au Natural Organics.

8. Argan Oil

Rich in vitamin E as well as fatty acids (primarily oleic and linoleic acid) argan oil is a nourishing oil that is:

  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols.
  • A natural source of vitamins A and E.
  • Beneficial for smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.

In general, argan oil is unlikely to clog pores and therefore, it can be used on acne-prone skin.

Consistency and feel: light and non-greasy. Absorbs easily into the skin.

Shelf life: up to 2 years.

Where to get it: try this cold-pressed argan oil from Cliganic.

9. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is most often used in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) where it’s referred to as the “king of oils.”

Sesame oil is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and loaded with antioxidants. Its anti-inflammatory properties, which come mainly from fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acid, can be helpful for conditions like acne.

However, since sesame oil contains more oleic acid than linoleic acid, it’s generally better for those with dry and acne-prone skin.

It’s also worth noting that sesame oil is a good source of a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, which stops the production of the free radicals that drive inflammation after a sunburn or an infection.

Consistency and feel: heavy oil; absorbs fairly slowly, which means it will leave more of a greasy feel on the skin.

Shelf life: up to 2 years.

Where to get it: Banyan Botanicals is one of the best brands for Ayurvedic products and you can get their sesame oil here.

10. Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is a lightweight and very gentle oil that contains:

  • Fatty acids (mainly oleic, followed by linoleic and palmitic acid).
  • Vitamins A and K.
  • Antioxidants like Vitamin E and polyphenols.
  • Zinc.

Research shows that almond oil is beneficial for aging skin (which usually tends to be more sensitive) and it may also be beneficial for supporting skin barrier function.

In addition, almond oil can help with:

  • Improving acne.
  • Fading dark spots.
  • Moisturizing the skin.
  • Soothing inflamed skin.

Consistency and feel: medium weight and absorbs at a medium rate, which means it will leave a bit of residue on the skin.

Shelf life: up to 2 years.

Where to get it: this sweet almond oil from Now is a long-time favorite and great quality.

CARRIER OILS TO AVOID ON SENSITIVE SKIN

Even though coconut oil can improve the skin barrier, fight inflammation and bacteria, and even speed up wound healing, it’s not for everyone. 

In particular, if you have acne or are prone to getting it, coconut oil may make things worse because it may clog pores.

So, this is one carrier oil to approach carefully depending on your skin.

Personally, I’ve been using it for 6 years now and I have sensitive, combination skin. Have had absolutely no issues with it. But of course, there are always exceptions to every general rule!

CONCLUSION

Every carrier oil has a unique nutritional profile that gives it the ability to support the health of sensitive skin.

Just remember that as with all things related to skincare, there are no perfect rules. There’s only what works for your skin and what doesn’t 🙂

Hopefully this article has helped you get a better understanding of what each oil does and what specific components, like fatty acids, do for the skin.

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