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Liliana Morosini

How to Choose the Best Oil for Infused Oils

What’s the best oil for an infused oil? And what key qualities should you consider? Infused oils, also known as macerated oils, are a wonderful way to capture the therapeutic properties of herbs and botanicals in a carrier oil. These oils can be used in a variety of DIY cosmetic formulas, providing the benefits of both the carrier oil and the infused plant. Selecting the right oil for your infusion is crucial to maximize the benefits of your final product and to increase the shelf life.

In this comprehensive guide I’ll help you to choose the perfect oil for your infused oil.

Understanding Infused Oils

What Are Infused Oils?

Infused oils are created by soaking plant material, such as herbs, flowers, or roots, in a carrier oil. Over time, the oil absorbs the beneficial liposoluble compounds from the plant material, resulting in a potent, multi-use product.

Benefits of Infused Oils 

  • Enhanced Properties: Combines the benefits of the carrier oil and the infused plant. Click here to see my oil properties chart.
  • Versatility:  Can be used alone or in any DIY skincare formula such as salves, balms, soothing cosmetics, after-shave products, emulsions, makeup removers…
  • Customizability: Allows you to tailor the oil to your specific needs and preferences.
  • Easy to make: Extremely simple to make. You'll just need to soak the plant in the vegetable oil for a certain amount of time, strain and store. I'll share the entire process in one of my future articles. Converting your infused oil into a balm is also straightforward; you'll only need to add 10-20% beeswax. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Carrier Oil

Selecting the ideal carrier oil for infused oils is crucial to ensure the effectiveness and versatility of your DIY cosmetic formulations.
When choosing a carrier oil, opt for one that is heat and oxidation resistant, odorless, non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types.
Additionally, select an oil that complements the properties of the plant you’re infusing, such as soothing qualities.

Here are some key factors to keep in mind in order to create effective and versatile infused oils: 

  1. Heat and Oxidation Resistance: Choose an oil that is stable and resistant to heat and oxidation. This ensures that the infused oil has a longer shelf life and maintains its beneficial properties even when stored for a long time and heated in cosmetic formulas that require it.
    Oils that are stable and resistant to rancidity, such as jojoba oil and fractionated coconut oil, are excellent choices for oil infusions. High oleic sunflower oil and rice bran oil are good as well, although they are a little less resistant than the ones mentioned above.
    I don’t recommend using oils like almond and rosehip oil in this kind of preparation because they can become rancid more easily, developing an unpleasant smell. You can use them if you wish, but make sure to use your products within 1-3 months. Additionally, always remember to add 0.5% tocopherol to help reduce the oil's rancidity even further.
    Please note that it's best practice to avoid heating infused oils. Instead, add them during the cool-down phase of your formulation. However, if heating is necessary, such as when making a balm, minimize the heating time. For example, melt the wax first and then add the infused oil to reduce its exposure to heat.

  2. Odorless: Choose an oil with a neutral or light scent to avoid overpowering the aroma of the herbs you plan to infuse and to ensure it doesn't bother you when incorporated into your handmade cosmetic formulas. While olive oil is popular for its excellent properties, stability, accessibility and affordability, it does have a strong smell. I would advise against using it in DIY cosmetics unless you don't mind smelling like a salad.

    how to choose carrier oil infused

  3. Non-Comedogenic: Select an oil with a low comedogenic rating to avoid clogging pores. This makes the infused oil suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. Oils with a low comedogenic rating (0-2) are less likely to cause breakouts, making them suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin.
    The carrier oil should be suitable for any skin type to maximize its versatility in various DIY cosmetic formulations. Also, selecting a non comedogenic oil ensure you can use it for both face and body products. As you know, we should try to avoid using comedogenic ingredients in face formulas.

  4. Complementary Characteristics: Ideally, the carrier oil should possess properties that enhance the benefits of the infused plant. For example, if you are infusing calming herbs, choose an oil with soothing properties to enhance the overall effect, like rice bran oil.

Always check the fatty acid composition of oils: 

  • Linoleic Acid: Perfect for acne-prone skin due to its seboregulating, soothing, and regenerating properties. You can find it in grapeseed, hazelnut, and sunflower oils.

  • Linolenic Acid: Soothing, anti-inflammatory, regenerating, and relieving, making it ideal for sensitive skin. Raspberry oil contains a good amount of it.

  • Oleic Acid: Regenerating and moisturizing, ideal for dry and mature skin. Find it in macadamia and hazelnut oils.

  • Lauric Acid: Known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties (though it can be comedogenic). Coconut oil is a primary source of lauric acid.

  • Caprylic Acid: Found in fractionated coconut oil, it is antimicrobial (though less effective than lauric acid) but non-comedogenic, making it preferable for acne-prone skin.

  1. Texture and feeling: Depending on the intended use, you might prefer an oil that absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue, such as grapeseed or fractionated coconut oil. The latter has an incredibly pleasant, conditioning feel.
    Castor oil is heat and oxidation-resistant and very good for acne-prone skin, but I don’t recommend using it in infused oils because it has a heavy and unpleasant feel, especially when added in significant quantities to formulas (infused oils are usually used at 5-10%).

  2. Costs:  When making an infused oil, you’ll need a significant quantity of it, which can increase the costs. Therefore, when choosing an oil for your infusion, make sure it’s not too expensive. You can also mix different oils to reduce costs. 

So, what’s the perfect oil for infused oil preparations?

Fractionated coconut oil is undoubtedly my winner, as it has all the necessary qualities for such use: it's stable, resistant to rancidity, odorless, non comedogenic and absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue.
I love rice bran oil as well for its anti-inflammatory properties. Great together with marigold and chamomile.
Jojoba oil follows closely behind, offering excellent stability and a composition that closely mimics the skin's natural sebum.
These oils are versatile and enhance the properties of the infused botanicals.

Find my top 5 below:

1. Fractionated Coconut Oil (Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides)

Fractionated coconut oil has all the virtues you need: very heat-resistant and stable to oxidation, odorless, non-comedogenic, suitable for all skin types and antibacterial. It has mild soothing properties as well as a wonderful light and conditioning feel. You can use it in any formula. It's also not expensive.

2. Rice Bran Oil

Rich in oleic, linoleic and ferulic acids, rice bran oil has regenerating, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It's perfect for sensitive skin and pairs well with soothing and anti-inflammatory plants. It doesn’t sting the eyes and can be used in eye makeup remover products as well. It's non-comedogenic, can be heated, has a neutral smell and is economical.

3. Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is similar to the skin’s natural sebum, non-comedogenic, with a neutral smell. It can be heated and is very stable. Suitable for all skin types, especially oily and acne-prone skin, it is also great for mature and sensitive skin, and for dermatitis. It helps balance oil production and provides long-lasting moisture. However, it’s a bit expensive and could slightly reduce the gliding texture feeling, especially when used in emulsions.

4. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is very cheap and can be heated. It has a neutral smell and a light texture. Rich in oleic and linoleic acids, it has regenerating, sebum-balancing, and moisturizing properties. It's an antioxidant and rich in ceramides, which restore the skin barrier. It's also non-comedogenic.

5. A Mix of the Above!

You can mix the oils mentioned above to add more properties or to reduce costs. Experimenting with different oil combinations can create unique formulations tailored to your specific needs. Just be mindful of the properties and characteristics of each oil to achieve the desired results. You can also add small quantities of other interesting but expensive oils. In any case, always keep in mind their characteristics, such as comedogenicity and stability. Some oils cannot be heated or could get rancid soon.

Other oils that are not in my top 5 but you might want to investigate and use in your infused oils include grapeseed and macadamia oils.

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