Five reasons why your carrier oil has turned rancid

I know a number of you have been using oils in your skin care routine. So today, I want to address an issue that I myself have faced with regards to using them and that is, why are my carrier oils going rancid so quickly? I remember a bottle of my grapeseed oil turning rancid after less than three months of purchase. In another case, one of my custom blended oils also turned rancid less than five months after opening. Carrier oils do have a shelf life but it seems that they can be extremely difficult to predict with any certainty because there are so many variables. So exactly what are these and how can knowing some of these variables prevent you from future heartaches?

1. Types of carrier oils
While it is said that most cold pressed carrier oils typically have a shelf life of between 9 and 15 months, much depend on the particular oil in question and how well it is stored. Some oils have more natural antioxidants and can be good for longer if properly stored in unopened containers. Other oils may turn rancid very quickly even if stored well. But as a whole, because carrier oils contain Essential Fatty Acids, they are more fragile and prone to quicker rancidity. In addition, carrier oils vary in their ratio and specific EFAs that they contain; I found out much later that the reason why my bottle of grapeseed oil turned rancid so quickly was because this oil has one of the shortest shelf lives at around 6 to 9 months. Others like borage, carrot, sunflower and evening primrose oil close behind at around 10 to 12 months. And these oils are very susceptible to damage caused by temperature changes.

2. Source of carrier oils
I had suspected that the grapeseed oil that I’ve purchased was already not fresh when it was sent to me because the source I purchased from definitely got hers from an overseas supplier. While we all hope that the carrier oils we purchase are fresh but the truth is, many oils can originate on the other side of the world and may have already taken a few months to reach a distributor. And who knows how many hands of traders have these oils passed through before finally arriving at the distributor? And somewhere along the supply chain, the oil may also have been poorly stored and hence triggering the slow, but inexorable process of deterioration.

3. Combination of blends
Going by what I’ve mentioned in reason 1, blending an oil high in antioxidants with a more bland oil can greatly extend its shelf life as auto-oxidation proceeds slowly until all antioxidants are used up at which time the free radicals attack the fatty acids and the oil quickly becomes rancid. So for my custom blend, I suspected that one of the oils may not have been fresh and hence, it contributed to the degradation. In some cases, I understand that usage of nut oils can contribute to a quicker rate of rancidity too.

4. Insufficient preservatives
When I was looking through the list of the custom blended oil, I also noticed there was a lack of natural preservatives. Most custom blend relies on using vitamin E, often listed as tocopherols, as a natural preservative. In other blends, a combination of essential oils are used to preserve the quality. However, I understand that citrus essential oils will have a scant life span as they tend to oxidize quicker than most others so if only citrus essential oils are used in the blend without other preservatives, then the blend can also degrade quicker.

5. Improper storage
Carrier oils do not like extreme, or repeated changes in temperature. This is why most of these oils come in dark colored glass bottles and we are recommended to store them in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat. A slow process of deterioration will begin once they are exposed to heat and even air.

Ways to prevent having your oils turn rancid quickly
While we all love to have our carrier oils or custom blends last longer, the reality is they can’t due to a variety of factors. So to prevent your oils from going rancid quickly, always purchase from a reliable source. I prefer to get them direct from US. Additionally, buy in smaller quantities as you can never tell how fresh the source is and so I’ll advocate playing it safe here. I know oils can be stored in the fridge but apart from emu oil, I haven’t stored any of my other oils as I don’t quite like the idea. Also, mark the date of purchase so that you can always keep track in case you forget. And finally, if you’re trying to blend your own oils, mix in small batches.


  1. xin says:

    i had a grapeseed oil that turned rancid after 6 months of purchase =/ i think it is safer to buy a 3-months stock so you can always replenish when it’s finished and no problems of storing them as well

  2. nami says:

    i also prefer to buy in small quantity but the high international shipping rates are a really downside.i was looking for some carrier oil suppliers on web and their shipping rates just came equal to the price of their oils:(

  3. aibicon says:

    what are some natural preservatives we should take note that is in the ingredients?

  4. fwy says:

    Even the color of a bottle of Rosehip Oil I was using a few months back turned cloudy after about 4 months when I was told the product is good for 6 months after opening. I stopped using it on my face & used it as a cuticle oil instead and finished it after another month of usage.

  5. sesame says:

    Yah, the smaller the quantity, the better. But the one I bought was already the smallest…and it was out by 3 months!

  6. sesame says:

    I know…that’s why I go for sprees instead. There’s some sharing on the shipping cost.

  7. sesame says:

    Huh? Rosehip oil too? What a shame! But good idea on using it as a cuticle oil. At least there’s no wastage there.

  8. sesame says:

    I wrote about them here:
    – Grapefruit seed extract, vitamin E, essential oils are common ones.

  9. Diane says:

    Since I love oils, I keep on wanting to buy and mix different oils!!! So I just keep it in the Fridge…definitely not ideal as some of the oils solidify – like avocado. I guess the price to pay for buying too much & ensuring reaches full shelf life.

  10. sesame says:

    And some of the oils aren’t cheap!

  11. Audris says:

    I was at Vom Fass the other day, where they sell cognacs, vinegars and oils, among other interesting culinary stuff. There’s also argan oil in ceramic jars. Got myself some truffle oil.

    In the midst of looking around the shop, I happened to ask the SA about the shelf life of the oils, since there were no markings on the jars themselves. She couldn’t answer me, nor tell me when exactly were the oils decanted into the jars. I did tell her that you know, oils can turn rancid, so it might be good to label the date of manufacture, decant, etc. *shrug*

    I just find it strange that an established franchise like Vom Fass, that sells culinary and beauty oils, would omit such vital information.

  12. Nika says:

    I store my carrier oils in a fridge. Maybe it is not ideal because some of them become solid, but it is the best storage place in my home. My husband is not that happy because it is less space for food.
    Usually, I buy oils from local stores and I haven’t any complains on them. Only problem is that they don’t have every kind of oil I want to try (and I am a little bit crazy about experimenting lately).

  13. Destiny says:

    Gardenofwisdom is a popular site for oils in the U.S. If you look under carrier oils you will see expiration dates for each oil type. I was surprised to see them recommend freezing oils if you have bought a large quantity.

  14. sesame says:

    I got my emu oil from them and yes, I put them in the fridge but I didn’t freeze them. I put them in small bottles and once I removed them from the fridge, I don’t put them back in.

  15. sesame says:

    Good that you can purchase from local stores…we have a lack of cosmetic oils here.

  16. sesame says:

    They sell beauty oils? Must go check them out! But I am not surprised that the SA knows nothing. A lot of these SAs know nothing about ingredients…the companies just assume consumers don’t care. The ones who know are those selling natural/organic brands.

  17. Chelsea says:

    Most of my oils are in smaller containers, except for the ones I go through quickly. Jojoba is probably my favorite do-all oil, so I bought a 32 ounce container about 2 1/2 months ago, but I don’t even think that I’ve used a third of it yet. Hope this is one of the oils with a longer shelf life!

  18. Swati says:

    I have this groundnut oil which turned rancid 5 months after its expiry and its an cold pressed edible oil so I was using it for skin and hair after its expiry…I have never bought carrier oils apart from culinary purposes but keeping them in refrigerator is a good idea but somehow I am also not comfortable with that!!! I think 5-6 months is a good time span to finish off one bottle of oil. but, yup, date of manufacture is very important!!!

  19. Audris says:

    They sell mostly oils for cooking. There’re several like organic cold pressed almond oil, organic argan oil etc. that the SA recommended for skincare usage as well ? You might also check out some of their oils like pear oil etc. that can be used for salmon for a different flavour!

  20. Brownies says:

    I ordered my oils from Mountain rose herb and so far so good. at least my argan,meadowfeam oil is still working fine for the past 3 months. Store the main stock in the fridge and use bit by bit with other essential oils.

  21. sesame says:

    I think Mountain should be good cos they’re closer to the direct source. How much is shipping for you? I was told it’s expensive and hence, I’ve never ordered from them.

  22. sesame says:

    Sounds really interesting! Will check them out…one day! ?

  23. sesame says:

    Oh just 5 months. I read that nut oil turns rancid quicker…wonder if it’s due to that.

  24. sesame says:

    Yes, Jojoba oil has a long life span so you can put your mind at ease. ?

  25. Swati says:

    no no….it turned rancid after 5 months of its expiry which was around a year so you can say that the oil lasted for 1 yr and 3 months safely and that was in a tropical climate…it would have probably lasted more in colder climates!!!

  26. sesame says:

    Oops…I misunderstood your initial message.

  27. Cassie says:


    I am new to oils and had recently bought some oils fm vom fass which apparently they only have cooking oils and not cosmetic oils. Is it still safe to use it on our face? I’ve learnt that oils are natural ingredients but I have very sensitive skin so worried if I used them on my face l’ll get breakouts. Thanks.

  28. Sesame says:

    Yes, should be okay because another reader mentioned she used grapeseed oil bought from the same place and it worked very well for her. Perhaps you try it on a patch first?

  29. Cassie says:

    Oh great… Thanks so much… BTW, are there any places here in singapore where we can buy carrier oils? I read that apricot kernel oils are extremely good for sensitive skin… Also, thanks so much for sharing all these beauty regime with us… Urs a website I loved to come back every day… ?

  30. Sesame says:

    Yes…I used to get from Skin Pharmacy sells too but rather ex.

  31. Cassie says:

    Many thanks… Will go check it out! ?

  32. Thelma says:

    I purchase the Emu oil from a company in Nl Canada…they tell me the shelf life is only 3 months but in the refrigerator much longer…I left mind on the shelf for 6 months now I am not sure if it’s ok for my face moisturizer or now….Oh way to win for sure:(

  33. Sesame says:

    If it’s not rancid, it’s ok but usually emu oil is quite fragile and can’t keep for long outside the fridge.

  34. Juniper says:

    Hi Sesame,
    Have you tried the oil cleansing method for face?

  35. Cat says:

    When an oil goes cloudy does that mean it’s going bad? I bought a bottle of sweet almond oil and about a month later I noticed some cloudy spots in the oil. I wasn’t sure that it was actually IN the oil or just a trick of light on the plastic bottle. When I picked up and turned it on it’s side the cloudy spots dispersed and now ALL of the oil is cloudy. Should there be a smell to it if it’s rancid and is it safe to use at all?

  36. Sesame says:

    Yes, there should be a smell. But I’m not sure about the cloudiness…doesn’t sound good to me though. It’s as if it’s not so pure. Could be due to improper handling during the production process.

  37. sunny says:

    can i use the oil which has turned rancid?

  38. Sesame says:

    No, please stop using the oil. It has no more benefits.

  39. Angyee says:

    Nah, it’s fine. Sweet almond oil tends to go cloudy in cold weather. Hope you didn’t throw it out!

    “Note: Many vegetable oils, especially virgin or unrefined oils, will develop a cloudy appearance in cold weather. This is due to some of the oil components beginning to ‘freeze’ and does reverse upon warming.”

  40. Susie frey says:

    How do you get the sticky residue off skin and other surfaces?

  41. Sesame says:

    From the oil? I just use normal wash on my skin and detergent for my sink and other areas.

  42. Jeannette says:

    Hi Sesame,
    Could you advise me on where to buy Pomegranate Seed Oil here in Singapore? I heard that it helps prevent cancer and cardiac diseases. Thanks so much ?

  43. Sesame says:

    Not too sure. Have you checked out Holland and Barrett?

  44. Charissa says:

    Hi! I’m so glad i found your site ! I came here looking about oils and endided up staying and found out about alot of other GREAT tidbits! thanks Sesame! If anyone would like to come to visit my site , I invented an ODOR BLOCKER and Aromatheraputic Disposaguard its called an Odor Angel ! I use Grapeseed oil for my Hypoallergenic formula, and Almond oil for the rest. I do as you suggest, and make my “Angels” Fresh Handmade-to-order. I have many Scents to choose from, and as well they can be ordered with “Feverfew” Bees Hate FEVERFEW! so this blend will keep those little buggers away from you !I look forward to reading more of your site , and thanks for the heads-up on oils! and sweet links for more info !

  45. Louise says:

    Do you think it’s okay to use rancid oils for oil cleansers even if it has no benefits? I mean would it harm the skin? I hate to throw them out because they are so expensive. I figured since the oil would be washed off (I put an emulsifier in the oil cleanser) anyway why waste it?

  46. Sesame says:

    I would not recommend you using them. If you believe they can get absorbed by the skin to some extent, they should not be used.

  47. Debbi meredith says:

    I’ve read in several articles that carrier oils can be stored in the freezer. I bought to much tamanu oil and summer will be coming, which means it will get to 105° on some days. I was thinking I should store some in the freezer. Is it better to keep it in the amber glass bottles or plastic when freezing? Thank you for all of your help

  48. Sesame says:

    Glass bottles are definitely better and less messy.

  49. herbal trust says:

    The fault often lies with the maker pressing the oil too hot,hence hence shortining
    the rancification period, its important that all oils are truly produced under 40degrees at the cage outlett higher than this burns the oil.

  50. herbal trust says:


  51. Niecey says:

    Now THAT’s a good idea! Oils will last a LOT longer that way! I can put very small jars or bottles in the freezer because I don’t use it that quickly … even the smaller bottles I have ended up throwing away.

  52. Mindy says:

    thank you much for that info. I didn’t know why my oils were going rancid!

  53. Lucidity says:

    Hi there,

    Great blog, so much useful information. Thanks for making it. This may seem a bit ignorant on my part but I have a question regarding the negative impacts of oil rancidity. What is wing of I use the is on my skin if they are rancid? Will there be negative consequences to doing this it will there simply be neutral effects ie the benefitial aspects are lost but there are no negative aspects. I’ve got lots of carrier oils and have only ever experienced rancidity maybe twice in over ten years. I don’t think it must happen all that often if stored well, even if for very long durations.

    Warm regards,


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