Written by Amy Scalia


By now you’ve heard about essential oils and all their superpowers — ranging from digestion to skincare, stress relief to cleaners, fragrance to improved sleep and, well, you name it. Health and beauty oils are not all created equal, though. With so many out there, it’s tough to know what, how and when to use them. That’s where UpWest’s ultimate guide to oils can help.


Carrier Oils, Essential Oils and Extracts

There are carrier oils and essential oils and then also extracts. Essentially speaking, a carrier oil is the base to which an essential oil or extract is added.


Carrier oils are naturally derived from the seeds, kernels, or nuts of a plant, typically vegetables. They are also referred to as “fixed oils” because they do not quickly evaporate from the skin’s surface and remain “fixed” on the skin.


Essential oils are the aromatic parts of a plant, in super concentrated form, that are usually collected through a cold press or steam distillation. Extracts, on the other hand, are collected through an infusion process similar to making tea. The plant, flower or fruit steeps in a solution (i.e., water, oil, alcohol) to collect the extract. Because of these different production methods, essential oils are pure, offering more effective results, while an extract is a diluted version.


Different Oils, Different Roles

Entering the world of oils can be a slippery slope (see what we did there?). Here are some important things you should know about using oils before you get started:


  1. They can be applied directly to the skin, inhaled, or taken internally. Here are some great guidelines to follow.
  2. Diffusing is the fastest way to reap the benefits of your essential oils.
  3. For your body, reach for heavier oils, like avocado and almond. For your face, look for argan or jojoba oil (key ingredients of the Sensitive Face Serum) because they’re lighter and won’t clog your pores.
  4. To benefit from a beauty oil, save it for last. Moisturizers, creams and ointments sink deep into skin for intensive, long-lasting hydration. Oils hang out near the surface to seal in that moisture and serve as a protective barrier.
  5. Many oils, like tea tree oil, have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This is where it’s especially important to look for a pure essential oil and not a diluted extract.


Most Common Oils & Benefits

Our friends at Way of Will put together a really helpful Oil Glossary to provide an overview of essential oils and their respective benefits. As for carrier oils, here are some of the most common ones and how they can help.


Marula Oil

Containing four times more vitamin C than an orange, this oil is packed with antioxidants. This helps rid harmful free radicals that cause visible signs of aging, and it strengthens the skin’s natural healing process of sun damage and acne. This is a key ingredient of the Brightening Face Serum.


Rosehip Oil

Also a key ingredient of the Brightening Face Serum, this oil is packed with vitamin C and vitamin A. The latter can have a natural retinol-like effect, which stimulates rapid cell turnover for scar-healing and protecting your skin from environmental damage.


Coconut Oil

This oil is rich in three fatty acids — capric, caprylic, and lauric — that have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. So, it can both cleanse and moisturize even the most parched skin. It is a thicker oil, though, so using it on the body is best while sparingly on the face — think under eyes and chapped lips.


Grape Seed Oil

Grape Seed Oil, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, is especially effective in the fight against acne as this oil helps to soothe and minimize the body’s own oil production. This oil, found in the Brightening Face Serum, also significantly reduces the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.


Jojoba Oil

This oil can be found in many products — like the Brightening Face Serum, Calm Down Roll On, Sleep Tight Roll On, Think Straight Roll On, and Renew Essential Oil Blend — because of its naturally, longer shelf life than most oils. It’s also deeply hydrating and nutritious with lots of Vitamin E and B, as well as minerals such as chromium, copper, and zinc, which all nourish and protect skin.


Argan Oil

Packed with Vitamin E, Argan used as a natural moisturizer across the board for the skin, body, face, hands, nails, scalp and hair. A key ingredient in the Sensitive Face Serum, argan oil is also rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, which provides many anti-aging benefits.