A Beginner's Guide to Sourcing Plant-Based Carrier Oils, Fixed Oils, and Raw Butters for Body & Skin Care

(+A FREE Guide to Download and Use When Researching and Shopping for Oils and Butters)

Formulating your own herbal preparations and body care products using plant-based carrier oils, fixed oils, and raw butters can be a fulfilling and empowering odyssey into the world of natural skin care.

But where do you begin when it comes to sourcing these magical ingredients?

Whether you prefer the convenience of online shopping or the in-person experience of purchasing locally, here is a comprehensive guide to help you navigate buying oils and butters for your DIY skincare creations.

Formulating your natural skincare products is a rewarding endeavor that I encourage anyone, male or female, to try at least once.

Identifying and Decoding Your Skin's Needs for Oils and Butters

The benefits of employing plant-based oils and butters in your skincare regimens are abundant. One of the greatest benefits is that an oil and/or butter is available to meet any person's needs at any moment.

Before diving into sourcing and purchasing oils and butters for body care, it's crucial to understand your needs, preferences, and requirements. Different oils and butters offer a variety of properties and advantages.

Identify your needs and desired results then curate a selection of oils and butters that align with your goals.

Pinpointing the results you desire when searching for oils and raw butters is key to tailoring your regimen.

Determine your skin's needs: Are you targeting dryness? Aiming for anti-aging effects, or seeking to address specific skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, or inflammation?

Identifying these objectives will serve as a compass, guiding you through the vast array of carrier oils and butters available.

  • You will lay the foundation for a tailored approach to formulating your body care products, ensuring that the carrier oils and butters you choose will align seamlessly with your unique needs, resulting in products that cater to the specific requirements of your skin.

Assess and define the specific benefits you are aiming to achieve with plant-based oils and butters.

After you've identified and determined your skincare needs, consider the desired textures and absorption rates, as well as any potential therapeutic benefits associated with various oils and butters.

For instance, oils rich in fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 may offer intense moisturizing properties, while antioxidants in certain butters can contribute to anti-aging effects.

  • By carefully assessing textures and the level of absorption of oils and butters, you can craft formulations that not only meet the unique demands of your skin, but they will also provide a luxurious and effective skincare experience.

Different oils and butters cater to various skin types, and understanding your skin type and sensitivities is pivotal in choosing supportive fats and lipids for skin care.

A thorough understanding of your skin's needs and potential sensitivities enables you to choose carrier oils and butters, even create your own herbal oils, that not only cater to your skin type but also promote a healthy and balanced complexion.

  • Sensitive Skin

  • Prone to irritation and redness
  • Certain skincare products may cause stinging or tingling
  • May exhibit swelling or puffiness when exposed to irritants
  • Certain products or environmental factors may cause a burning sensation
  • Oils and butters should be hypoallergenic and free from irritants
  • Suggested Oils: calendula herbal oil (infusion of calendula petals and an all-purpose oil like olive), sweet almond, jojoba
  • Suggested Butters: shea, mango, cupuaça nut

  • Oily/Blemish-Prone Skin

  • Susceptible to enlarged and clogged pores
  • Texture may be uneven with raised bumps or rough patches
  • Produces excessive sebum, the skin's natural oil, and appears shiny in the face's T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin area)
  • Oils should be lightweight and butters, non-comedogenic
  • Suggested Oils: borage seed, evening primrose, camellia
  • Suggested Butters: murumuru seed, tucuma, kokum

  • Dry/Mature Skin

  • Prone to flakiness and tightness
  • Appearance will look dull and lackluster
  • Discomfort in extreme cold and windy weather
  • Susceptible to fine lines, crackles, and wrinkles
  • Oils and butters can be richer and more nourishing
  • Suggested Oils: argan, rose hips seed, avocado
  • Suggested Butters: olive, cocoa, bacuri

  • Normal/Combination Skin

  • Prone to occasional breakouts, particularly in the T-zone
  • Certain areas of combination skin may be more sensitive than others
  • Skincare regimen may need adjustments based on seasonal variations and environmental factors
  • Requires balanced moisture; T-zone may be oily, whereas cheek and eye areas may require additional hydration
  • A variety of oils and butters will work well, but balance is key. Choose oils that are not overly heavy in tandem with smooth, creamy butters.
  • Suggested Oils: babassu, (virgin) coconut, grapeseed
  • Suggested Butters: almond, hemp seed, sal

The climate of the region we live in plays a pivotal role in determining our unique skincare needs.

Understanding the climate's impact on skin hydration levels and overall health is essential for customizing skincare formulations to meet the specific challenges posed by environmental conditions.

For example, people living in dry, arid environments may benefit from using thicker and more emollient oils and butters. These ingredients provide intense hydration helping to lock in moisture, which combats the effects of parched skin. Conversely, people living in humid climates may prefer lighter oils and butters that absorb quickly without leaving a heavy residue.

  • By considering the impact of climate on the skin, skincare products can be formulated to address individual concerns and adapt to different regions.

Each oil and butter has its own unique set of properties, such as fatty acid composition, vitamins, antioxidants, and texture, which can greatly influence the final product's performance.

Understanding these properties is essential for adjusting skincare formulations to specific skin needs. Oils like jojoba and argan are known for their moisturizing properties, while shea butter offers excellent nourishment and promotes skin elasticity.

Moreover, the fatty acid profile of oils plays a pivotal role in addressing various skin concerns like acne or dryness.

  • Therefore, comprehensive knowledge of carrier oils and butters empowers handcraft formulators and enthusiasts to develop products that cater to individual skin types and concerns, ensuring optimal results and a personalized skincare experience.

The art of crafting effective and luxurious products lies in the thoughtful selection and blending of carrier oils and butters.

The synergy created by blending various oils and butters can result in a product that not only nourishes the skin but also addresses specific concerns such as dryness, irritation, or aging.

  • The possibilities are abundant, and by embracing experimentation, formulators will reveal the potential of diverse combinations, creating products that are not only effective but also uniquely tailored to individual preferences and skin types.

Want a handy guide at your fingertips to refer to when sourcing and researching oils and butters for body care?

Of course you do!

Click the link below to download this helpful resource. Keep it with your body care supplier notes. 


The oils we use to infuse herbs, flowers, and other botanicals, as well as dilute essential oils, are carrier oils.

They are the vehicle that topically delivers or carries the beneficial properties of the botanicals and essential oils in our products and preparations, to where they are needed on our skin and bodies.

To help make that delivery effective, herbs are best infused with oils that deeply penetrate the skin.

Carrier oils should be organic or wildcrafted, unrefined, and cold-pressed or expeller-pressed.

  • Common carrier oils that will help you get the most out of your skincare remedies and products are:

  • Sweet almond (Prunus dulcis)
  • Apricot kernel (Prunus armeniaca)
  • Grape seed (Vitis vinifera)
  • Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • Olive (Olea europaea)

Fixed oils are supplemental oils that add balance and stability to skincare products and herbal preparations.

To partisan carrier oils from fixed oils is to illustrate that your infused oil doesn't have to be the only oil in a skincare product. An exquisite oil with intense beneficial value is a formidable counterpart to an infused oil, to give the product or preparation balance and an additional mode of transportation for the nutrients to get to the area to be addressed.

Fixed oils are generally richer in texture and more expensive than carrier oils.

  • Common fixed oils that will help you achieve a balanced formulation are:

  • Argan (Argania spinosa)
  • Borage seed (Borago officinalis)
  • Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)
  • Marula (Sclerocarya birrea)
  • Rosehip seed (Rosa mosqueta or spp.)

Just as with carrier and fixed oils, raw butters should be unrefined, cold-pressed, and organic whenever possible.

Raw butters add richness, smooth texture, and a curative component to your handcrafted skincare products that are uniquely different than oils. They are much higher in saturated fats and will more slowly penetrate the epidermis, leaving a protective layer or seal on the skin.

  • Common butters that will help add healing richness and texture to your formulations are:

  • Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
  • Kokum (Garcinia indica)
  • Mango (Mangifera indica)
  • Murumuru  (Prunus armeniaca)
  • Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa)

The method of extraction used to derive plant-based carrier/fixed oils and butters is critical in preserving the inherent qualities and benefits of these botanical extracts.

These methods range from traditional techniques like cold-pressing to modern processes such as solvent extraction.

Each method imparts distinct characteristics to the extracted oils and butters, influencing their aroma, color, and therapeutic properties.

  • Cold-Pressing
  • Involves mechanically pressing or crushing the oil from seeds, fruits, and nuts without using heat.
  • Maintains the oil's natural flavor, color, and nutritional properties.
  • Commonly used for oils like olive, coconut, sunflower, and a variety of butters.

  • Expeller-Pressing
  • Similar to cold-pressing but may involve some heat generated during the process.
  • Uses an expeller press to extract oil from seeds or nuts.
  • Retains some of the natural characteristics of the oil.

  • Solvent Extraction
  • Uses chemical solvents like hexane to dissolve the oil from the plant material.
  • After extraction, the solvent is evaporated, leaving behind the oil.
  • Often used for oils like soybean and canola.

  • Milling/Grinding
  • Involves grinding the seeds, fruit, or nuts to create a paste, which is then pressed to extract the butter.
  • Commonly used for shea butter.

  • Boiling
  • Some butters are extracted by boiling the plant material in water, and then the separated butter is collected.
  • Used for some traditional butter extraction processes.

The fatty acid profiles of oils and butters are important considerations when formulating products for skincare, particularly handcrafted cold-process soap.

Here are the main oil/butter fatty acid categories and their characteristics:

  • Saturated Fatty Acids
  • Stearic acid, Lauric acid, Myristic acid
  • Solid at room temperature
  • Give structure and stability to formulations
  • Have moisturizing properties
  • High melting points
  • Contributes hardness to soap bars, with delicate lather

  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
  • Oleic acid
  • Liquid at room temperature
  • Nourishing and skin softening
  • Good penetrating ability
  • Enhance the spreadability of formulations
  • Increase mildness in soap bars

  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
  • Linoleic acid, Linolenic acid
  • Liquid at room temperature
  • Essential fatty acids that the body cannot product
  • Support skin barrier function and overall skin health
  • Superfat oils in soap making
  • Easily oxidizes

Proper packaging, storage, and understanding shelf life are equally vital to maintaining the integrity of your ingredients.

  • Packaging

  • Oils and butters prone to rancidity may be sold in opaque glass or PET plastic bottles and jars to prevent degradation. Oils and butters are sold in various types of packaging by different suppliers.
  • Raw ingredients should be sold in containers with air-tight seals to prevent oxidation.
  • Purchase ingredients in quantities that match your production needs. Smaller quantities reduce the chances of exposure to air and light, preserving the quality of your ingredients.

  • Storage Requirements

  • Oils and butters should be stored in a cool, dark place to minimize temperature fluctuations. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, heat, or extreme cold which can impact their stability.
  • Certain oils, like those rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, benefit from refrigeration to extend their shelf life. Check the specific recommendations for each oil and butter to determine if refrigeration is necessary.

  • Shelf Life
  • Most oils have a shelf life of 6 months to 2 years, but this can vary. Always check for expiration dates and use oils within their recommended timeframe.
  • Practice a first-in, first-out (FIFO) approach. Use older oils and butters first to ensure that your formulations contain the freshest ingredients possible.
  • Keep a record of purchase dates, batch numbers, and expiration dates for each oil and butter. Proper labeling helps you stay organized and ensures you use your ingredients before they expire.

Purchasing Oils and Butters for Natural Body Care

Intentional research and scrutiny of suppliers play a pivotal role in sourcing plant-based oils and butters for skin and body care products.

Ensuring the quality, purity, and ethical sourcing of these ingredients is crucial for maintaining product integrity and meeting environmentally conscious expectations.

Researching suppliers and their raw ingredients involves assessing factors such as cultivation methods, extraction processes, and adherence to ethical labor practices.

Reliable suppliers should also provide comprehensive documentation, including certificates of analysis, product specification data, and sustainability credentials to help you make informed decisions.

  • Thorough raw ingredient product descriptions will include details like:

  • Botanical name: the specific plant source from which the oil or butter was extracted
  • Country of origin: where the raw materials are sourced and where the oil or butter is produced
  • Extraction method: cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, etc.
  • Processing type: whether the oil or butter is refined, unrefined, virgin, or organic. Organic unrefined and virgin are often preferred for retaining more natural and healing properties.
  • Color of the oil or butter
  • Aroma of the oil or butter. Some oils and butters are odorless, while others have a faint scent.
  • Consistency in texture and thickness: liquid, semi-solid, solid at room temperature
  • Absorption rate: how quickly the skin absorbs the oil or butter
  • Shelf life: varies by the oil or butter
  • Fatty acid composition: the types and percentages of the fatty acids present in the oil or butter
  • Vitamins and nutrients present in the oil or butter and other beneficial compounds should be highlighted
  • Common uses: suggestions for various applications of the product, such as skincare, haircare, and massage
  • Packaging type and materials
  • Certifications: whether the product is certified organic, non-GMO, or adheres to specific quality standards
  • Caution and storage instructions: any precautions or specific storage recommendations
  • Customer reviews/ratings: insights from other customers who have purchased and used the product

Selecting reputable online retailers for skincare oils and butters involves thorough research and scrutiny.

Look for websites that specialize in organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Retailers with a history of providing high-quality, organic products and transparent sourcing information are preferred. Examine reviews and ratings to gauge reliability and customer satisfaction. Look for certifications like USDA organic, Fair Trade, or other recognized standards at supplier websites to ensure their products' authenticity and ethical sourcing.

  • Reliable retailers prioritize ethical practices and often offer detailed descriptions of their products, including information on the source, scientific nomenclature, cultivation methods, and properties of the oils and butters, ensuring the integrity of the products for your skincare needs.

Exploring your local community is an option for discovering quality oils and butters from local markets and stores.

Grocery stores and natural markets will carry carrier and fixed oils. Raw butters, such as shea and cocoa, can be found at retail prices. Online wholesalers offer a wider variety with competitive pricing.

Sourcing oils and butters directly from manufacturers is a compelling option for handcrafted skincare formulators.

By establishing a direct connection with these prime sources, formulators gain access to a plethora of benefits that can significantly enhance their skincare preparations.

Direct sourcing ensures a higher level of quality control, as it eliminates the uncertainties associated with intermediaries in the supply chain. This ensures a transparent understanding of the sourcing process, allowing DIY skincare creators to make informed decisions about the origin, extraction methods, and overall quality of the carrier oils and butters they incorporate into their formulations.

  • Moreover, direct purchasing often enables bulk buying, potentially reducing costs and ensuring a stable supply for ongoing skincare projects. Overall, opting for direct engagement with manufacturers empowers DIY skincare enthusiasts with the knowledge and assurance needed to create products that align with their specific preferences and values.

Prioritize quality over price; investing in high-quality oils and butters ensures their efficacy and safety for your skin.

High-quality carrier oils and butters, derived from reputable sources, ensure that the final product is rich in beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, all crucial elements for promoting skin health.

  • Superior carrier oils and butters not only contribute to the product's texture and absorption but also deliver a spectrum of skin-nourishing benefits.

Learn more about using oils and butters in aromatherapy and natural body care:

Purchase carrier oils, fixed oils, and raw butters:

Blend A Fragrant Life with Essential Oils Email Course

As you continue to become acquainted with carrier oils, fixed oil, raw butters, and the benefits they provide, take your formulating education up a notch and learn how to incorporate these ingredients to make unique, nature-based products that will enhance your life through fragrance!

Over the course of five days, the Blend a Fragrant Life with Essential Oils email course will teach you the fundamentals of how to choose, blend, and produce a variety of scented products for your home and body using natural, wholesome ingredients, including carrier oils and butters for solid perfumes. 

Go here, right now, to read more about the course and to enroll.

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Medical Advice Disclaimer:

The information in this blog article has not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or conditions. This article provides the reader with practical information regarding handcrafted soap making, based on basic soap-making science and ancient anecdotal practices of health and beauty. In no way should the contents of this article be regarded as medical advice. It is recommended that the reader perform a patch test before using any formula described. The author and all invested parties will not be held responsible for any allergic or adverse reactions, contraindications, or ill effects from manufacturing or using any products described in this article.

©Michelle Morgan, The Anointed Bar, LLC


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