Perfumery Terms

What is a Carrier In Perfumery?

A carrier is a base ingredient used to enhance the evaporation or diffusion of a fragrance material or the fragrance blend. Alcohol is the carrier of choice for fine fragrances, but natural oils (olive oil, jojoba oil, and many others) can be used as carriers for essential oils.

A carrier is fundamental when preparing any perfume. If referencing alcohol as a carrier in fine fragrance blends the ratio to fragrance can be anywhere from 10:90% to 40:60% depending on format, application and the fragrance oil attributes.

Carrier oils are readily absorbed by the skin and do not evaporate quickly. This gives them strong staying power, which makes them good base materials for many applications. Oils have actually been employed as bases for perfumes for hundreds of years.

Essential oils are potent and are known to irritate so utilizing alcohol or carrier oils dilute essential oils and make them more appropriate for use on the skin.  The recommended carrier can vary depending on the product format.  Carrier oils such as coconut, jojoba or grapeseed are rich in fatty acids which have a similar structure to the natural oils found on the skin. A preferred carrier for an aromatic body oil may be jojoba oil as it absorbs quickly and aids in moisturizing the skin without leaving any greasy effect.

Synthetic materials can also be utilized as carriers in perfume development, but they tend to be chosen for their slight aromatic qualities at varying strengths. They provide the benefit of having an immediate and strong initial impression, as well as a controlled release of volatile ingredients over an extended period of time. 

There are numerous fragrance carrier options both odorless and slightly aromatic but the ultimate decision in choosing one, comes down to format, performance and application.  

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