carrier oils by skin type - sea buckthorn

Although there are some carrier oils that considered “universal” – like jojoba and grapeseed – there might be times when you need an oil that is specifically for your skin type. For example, if your skin is dry and inflamed, a rich and soothing oil – like borage oil – would be a better option than an astringent oil like grapeseed.

So, to help you get the best results, article is going to walk you through some things to consider when choosing carrier oils by skin type.

Do keep in mind that many oils have similar properties and therefore, can often be used by multiple skin types. So, don’t be surprised when you see the same oils popping up in different categories.

Now, let’s get to it!

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.


The following oils are generally considered suitable for all skin types:

  • jojoba.
  • grapeseed.
  • rosehip.
  • meadowfoam.
  • fractionated coconut oil.
  • sunflower.
  • safflower.
  • apricot kernel.
  • camellia seed.

For an overview of the properties of each oil, please see the chart at the end of this article.


grapeseed oil for different skin types

1. Anti-Inflammatory Oils for Acne-Prone Skin

In general, acne-prone skin does well with non-comedogenic, anti-inflammatory and lightweight/fast-absorbing oils.

Also, choosing oils that are richer in linoleic acid can help to repair the skin barrier, while oils with high amounts of eicosenoic acid can be helpful for balancing sebum production.

With the above criteria in mind, here are some oils that are usually excellent for acne-prone skin:

  • Grapeseed oil.
  • Prickly pear oil
  • Evening primrose oil.
  • Rosehip oil.
  • Jojoba oil.

Another bonus will all of these oils is that they can be used as a moisture-locking face oil or as part of a double cleansing routine (which is often very helpful for acne).

To dive deeper into these oils, you can read this article on the 10 best oils for acne prone skin. Not only will you learn discover other oils that are suitable for acne, but you’ll also get tips on how to add them to your routine.

2. Dry (and Mature) Skin

Dry skin often involves a compromised skin barrier, which then leads to moisture loss. Subsequently, skin not only looks and feels dry, but it can also become inflamed and age faster.

Oils that have a nice mix of linoleic and oleic acid can prove helpful. Also oils that have humectant properties (i.e. they pull moisture to the skin) may also help. Lastly, some people also find that heavier oils or oils with medium to slow absorption can feel quite soothing.

Here are some oils to consider using on dry skin:

  • Borage seed oil.
  • Sea buckthorn oil.
  • Avocado oil.
  • Jojoba oil.
  • Rosehip oil.
  • Castor oil (has humectant properties).
  • Almond oil.

3. Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin can mean a lot of different things. For example, sensitive skin can be:

  • inflamed and showing signs of rosacea, eczema, acne and other skin conditions.
  • skin that doesn’t have any visible imbalances, but reacts negatively very quickly when exposed to the wrong ingredients.

Some oils that can be soothing to sensitive skin are:

  • Oat oil.
  • Sea buckthorn oil.
  • Jojoba.
  • Meadowfoam.
  • Rosehip oil.

For a closer look at each of these oils and their benefits, check out this guide on 10 carrier oils for sensitive skin.

4. Lightweight Oils for Oily Skin

Some lightweight oils that are usually suitable for oily skin include:

  • Grapeseed oil.
  • Safflower oil.
  • Rosehip oil.
  • Jojoba oil.

To learn more about these oils and others that are ideal for oily skin, be to read this guide on non-greasy carrier oils for skin.


The main thing that defines a carrier oil is its fatty acid composition. And when it comes to skincare, the focus is usually on essential fatty acids and non-essential fatty acids.

So what the difference between these two categories?

Well, essential fatty acids:

  • must be obtained from external sources because the body doesn’t make them.
  • are divided into two broad types: omega 3s and omega 6s. Of these two, linolenic acid (an omega 3) and linoleic acid (an omega 6) get the most focus in skin care.
  • are important for supporting the skin’s look and feel. For example, linoleic acid acid is known for playing an essential role in skin barrier function (source). In addition, it is also a main component of ceramides, which protect the skin from the environment, while also maintaining moisture and suppleness.
  • can be soothing to inflamed skin. This is based on research showing that people with inflammatory skin conditions tend to produces sebum that is low in linoleic acid.

As for non essential fatty acids:

  • the body makes them, so we don’t have to get them from external sources (though it doesn’t always hurt if we do!)
  • exist in the form of omega 7s and 9s. Of these two, omega 9s are most common (oleic acid and eicosenoic acid). As for omega 7s, they are more scarce (with the highest amounts found in sea buckthorn oil).
  • oleic acid (omega-9) tends to make oils heavier and is generally regarded as more suitable for dry skin. However, this is not an absolute rule since dryness can also occur because of a compromised skin barrier (which is often remedied with linoleic-rich oils).
  • Eicosenoic acid (omega 9) is naturally present in our sebum (at about 25%). This fatty acid is structurally similar to sebum and is thought to help regulate the skin’s production of sebum. It can be particularly beneficial for oily skin.

Now, aside from fatty acid composition, absorption rate also affects which oils you end up choosing.

In general, a fast-absorbing oil leaves little to no greasy residue, while oils with a medium or slow absorption rate will leave more of a residue. Your personal preference (and the environment you live in) will dictate which choice you make.

Almond oil 1All skin types, particularly dry, mature and combination.62% oleic acid; 14% linoleic acid.
Medium weight; medium absorption rate.
Apricot kernel 2 All skin types.62 – 70% oleic acid; 20 – 27% linoleic acid.
Lightweight, fast absorption, smooth feel.
Argan 3All skin types.46 – 48% oleic acid; 31-35% linoleic acid.
Lightweight; medium absorption rate.
Avocado 4 Dry, parched skin.47% oleic; 24% palmitic; 13% linoleic acid.
Medium weight; medium absorption rate.
Baobab 5Dry skin.24 – 29% oleic; 21 – 25% linoleic; 12 – 27% linolenic.
Thick consistency; slow absorption.
Borage 6Dry, inflamed, sensitive skin.35 – 38% linoleic; 26 – 38% linolenic; 16 – 20% oleic.
Medium weight; slow absorption.
Camellia seed 7All skin types.75 – 81% oleic; 4 – 10% linoleic.
Astringent; lightweight; fast absorption.
Castor 8Dry, brittle, cracked skin.Up to 90% ricinoleic acid; 4% linoleic; 3% oleic.
Very viscous; very slow absorption.
Coconut (unrefined) 9Dry and combination skin.38% lauric; 20% myristic; 16% oleic.
Can be comedogenic.
Solid (below 76°F); slow absorption.
Evening primrose 10Acne-prone, sensitive, inflamed, mature or dry skin.70 – 74% linoleic; 8 – 10% linolenic.
Heavy and slow to absorb.
Grapeseed oil 11All skin types.66 – 75% linoleic; 15% oleic.
Astringent; very lightweight; very quick absorption.
Hazelnut 12Dry skin.76% oleic; 17% linoleic.
Astringent; medium weight; fast absorption.
Hemp seed 13Dry, mature or inflamed skin.55 – 57% linoleic acid.
17 – 20% linolenic; 11 – 16% oleic.
Heavy feel; average absorption rate.
Jojoba 14All skin types.73% eicosenoic; 14% erucic; 8% oleic.
Medium weight and rapid absorption.
Macadamia nut 15Dry, mature and irritated skin.57 – 67% oleic; 14 – 24% palmitic.
Heavy feel; slow absorption.
Marula 16Dry skin67% oleic; 6% linoleic.
Medium weight; average absorption rate.
Meadowfoam seed 17All skin types, particularly dry and sensitive.63% eicosenoic acid.
Slightly viscous; fast absorption; silky feel.
Moringa 18All skin types.74% oleic acid; trace amounts of linoleic and linolenic.
Medium weight; fast absorption.
Neem 19Inflamed, irritated or sensitive skin.35% linoleic; 20% oleic.
Very strong garlicky odor; medium weight; slow absorption.
Oat 20Inflamed, irritated or sensitive skin.40% linoleic acid
35% oleic; 20% palmitic.
Subtle oat scent; medium weight; slow absorption.
Olive 21Dry skin.55 – 83% oleic; 3.1 – 21% linoleic; 0 – 1.5% linolenic.
Medium weight; slow absorption.
Pomegranate seed 22All skin types, particularly dry, mature and irritated skin.Up to 80% punicic acid (omega 5).
Small amounts of linoleic, linolenic, oleic and others.
Heavy but not greasy. Medium absorption.
Prickly pear 23, 24All skin types.Up to 70 linoleic; 26% oleic acid.
Medium weight; fast absorption.
Pumpkin seed 25Dry, parched skin.41% oleic: 37% linoleic.
Viscous consistency; medium absorption rate.
Raspberry seed 26All skin types, particularly mature.54% linoleic; 32% linolenic.
Medium weight; medium absorption rate.
Rosehip 27All skin types, particularly dry, mature, sensitive and inflamed.54% linoleic; 19% linolenic,
Lightweight; fast absorption.
Safflower 28All skin types, especially dry and acne-prone.76% linoleic; 14% oleic.
Lightweight; fast absorption.
Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil 29Mature, sensitive, inflamed and irritated skin.33 – 36% linoleic; 30–36% linolenic.
Medium to heavy feel. Slow absorption.
Sea Buckthorn Pulp (Berry) OilMature, sensitive, inflamed and irritated skin.32 – 42% palmitoleic acid.
For all other fatty acids, fairly similar amounts as the seed oil.
Consistency and absorption are similar to the seed oil.
Sesame 30Ideal for dry, parched skin.36 – 42% oleic ; 42 – 48% linoleic.
Heavy/viscous and slow absorption.
Strawberry seed 31All skin types.45% linoleic ; 29% linolenic.
Medium weight ; fast absorption.
Sunflower 32All skin types.14 – 43% oleic ; 44 – 75% linoleic.
Medium weight ;medium absorption rate.
Tamanu 33All skin types, particularly acne prone or dry.35 – 49% oleic ; 21 – 40% linoleic.
Very viscous; medium absorption.
Walnut 34All skin types.49 – 63% linoleic ; 8 – 16% linolenic.
Medium weight ; medium absorption rate.
Wheat germ 35All skin types.65% linoleic ; 13% oleic.
Medium weight ; slow absorption.
This table lists carrier oils by skin type and their main characteristics.

Now to wrap up this section, please remember that all carrier oils:

  • have anti-inflammatory properties. The specific compounds that give them these properties – and their amounts – do vary from one oil to another.
  • are a natural source of antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin E and more. But the amount varies from one oil to another.
  • do not contain vitamin C since it’s a water-soluble vitamin.

Ultimately, finding the right oil for your skin involves some trial and error. So, be patient with yourself and when in doubt, start with something like jojoba or grapeseed (they rarely disappoint!).

Lastly, make sure to get your oils from reliable suppliers like Mountain Rose Herbs (visit their store here) or Eden’s Garden, which has an Amazon store here.

Between these two companies you can usually find every oil you can dream of!


Which oils do not clog pores?

Some oils that are considered non-comedogenic include jojoba, grapeseed, rosehip, fractionated coconut oil, squalane, hemp seed, sunflower, sea buckthorn, tamanu and argan oil.

What oil is closest to sebum?

Jojoba oil is considered most similar to sebum because of it contains eicosenoic acid (which is also found in sebum). Another oil that contains eicosenoic acid is meadowfoam oil.

Which oils are comedogenic?

Unrefined coconut oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut, moringa oil, palm oil, sesame, soybean oil and wheat germ oil are just few that can be comedogenic for some people.

What is the fastest absorbing carrier oil?

Carrier oils that are very high in linoleic acid – i.e. 70% or more of linoleic – tend be absorbed rapidly. This includes oils like grapeseed, safflower and apricot kernel.


Now that you have a better understanding of which carrier oils can work for your skin, the next step is knowing how to use them. 

To get started, I suggest using these DIY facial oil recipes to address your particular skin care needs. You can also check out this beginner’s guide to using rosehip oil. Rosehip is one of the most gentle and effective oils that works for a wide variety of skin types.

I hope this article was helpful and that you have fun incorporating oils into your beauty routine!

You Might Also Like:

Best Oils for Under Eyes

Sea Buckthorn Oil vs Rosehip Oil: Benefits, Which is Better and How to Use

The Difference Between Rosehip Oil and Rosehip Seed Oil: Benefits, Which To Use and How to Use

What To Do Before And After Steaming Your Face: A Complete Guide

Rosehip Oil vs Jojoba Oil for Face (And Body): Which is Better and How To Use

Best Oils for Damaged Skin Barrier

11 Revitalizing Carrier Oils for Aging Skin

7 Carrier Oils That Have No Scent (great for skin, hair and other DIYs!)