MINERAL OILS – Derived from petrochemicals – they are bad. They don’t provide any care to the skin, If anything, with time they clog the pores and get in its way of breathing.

ESSENTIAL OILS – the essence of the plant. Can be quite aggressive and strong and so they have to be used carefully and often diluted in carrier/base oils.

CARRIER OILS – Oils which are used to dilute essential oils. They can be used on their own and have powerful properties, vitamins, omegas, and are safe for general use and so widely used in cosmetics.

BASE OILS – a mix of carrier oils to achieve a specific purpose. Also used to dilute essential oils.

BUTTERS – also extracted by cold-pressing and can be used on their own. They penetrate the skin gently and are very often times used either on their own for hydration purposes for example, or in combination with carrier oils to form balms.

HYDROLATES – a water by-product of essential oil distillation. It is water-soluble and contains traces of the essential oil, but the two contain different components and so have different uses and properties. Sometimes the hydrolat and essential oil from the same plant may not even smell the same. The aroma, quality and intensity of hydrolats depend on the distillation process.

ADAPTOGENS – essential oils that trigger the appropriate reaction in the body to achieve balance. This is why the same oil can sometimes be found in both the “relaxant” and “stimulant” lists – e.g. peppermint.

common butters

SHEA (Vitellaria paradoxa)

Qualities: moisturizing, softening, soothing, anti-inflammatory, protective

Helps dryness, irritation, sun damage, rashes.

Skin types: all

Contains vitamins A, E, F and omega 9 fatty acids. Sourced from nuts.

COCOA (Theobroma cacao)

Qualities: emollient, moisturizing, softening, soothing, antioxidant

Helps dryness and itchiness.

Skin types: all

Contains vitamin E, theobromine and omega 6 fatty acids. Comes from cocoa beans or liquor.

common oils


Qualities: nourishing, emollient, protective

Helps irritation, itching, sun damage.

Skin types: dry, dehydrated and maturing skin

Contains lauric acid.


Qualities: restorative, smoothing, antioxidant, restructuring

Helps dehydration, irritation.

Skin types: all including oily and pimple prone skin.

Contains vitamin E, omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. 


Qualities: antioxidant, regenerating, nourishing, balancing, protective

Helps anti-aging, dryness, damaged skin, infected skin and premature aging.

Skin types: all including mature, prematurely aged, acne prone skin.

Contains vitamins A, C and E, omega 9 and 3 fatty acids. 

The information on this page is synthesized from Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments. New World Library, 2016