Massage Oil

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What is Massage oil?

Massage Oil.jpg

In a massage session, the massage therapist often uses massage oils to enhance the structured movements of soft tissue. There are many varieties of massage oils, each having special qualities. Massage oils consist of carrier oils, including olive oil and almond oil, and infused oils, such as lavender, which add extra benefits to the oil. Massage oils don't have to be expensive, but you need to buy the right kind of oils. The best massage oils are plant-based and have a nice, light texture for easy glide.

What You Need To Know About Massage Oils

  • Sweet almond oil is an excellent choice. It's a little more costly than other massage oils, but worth the splurge if you're doing home massage on your partner.
  • Grapeseed, sunflower, safflower, peanut, sesame, avocado and coconut all make good massage oils and can be purchased at a supermarket.
  • You can add a few drops of essential oil to customize your own relaxing aromatherapy massage oils. Lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are all excellent choices, but make sure they're high quality.
  • Avoid using petroleum-based oils as massage oils. (This includes baby oil.) Mineral oil has a long shelf life, but many people in the massage profession believe it's not as healthy and prefer plant-based massage oils.
  • Plant-based massage oils can go rancid, so buy relatively small quantities.
  • Transfer massage oils to plastic bottles for easier use during the massage.
  • You don't need to use that much -- just a half-teaspoon into the palm of your hand -- before applying it. Don't squirt massage oils directly from the bottle onto the person you're massaging.

How to Use Massage Oils

Understand the Purpose of Massage Oils

The main purpose of massage oils is to lubricate the skin to reduce friction while performing a massage. This helps give a smooth glide and easy workability to the skin surface. Some of the secondary benefits include nourishing the skin and acting as a "base", or "carrier" oil for aromatherapy essential oils.

Learn About the Best Oils

Learn about the best oils. The different attributes we can compare are how the oil spreads, how easily it is absorbed, its nourishing and moisturizing properties and the smell. Other factors to consider are the cost, the ease of cleaning, and the way it is processed. Generally speaking, the best oil will be extra virgin cold pressed, as this process maintains the highest level of purity while retaining most of the natural nutrients.

The Most Popular type of Massage oil

There are several basic oils that are most popular for massage:

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is one of the most popular massage oils among massage therapists. Extracted from almonds, sweet almond oil is pale yellow in color. It is slightly oily, which allows hands to glide easily over skin. Sweet almond oil is absorbed fairly quickly, but not so quickly that you need to keep reapplying it.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Apricot kernel oil is similar in texture and color to almond oil, but costs slightly more. It is rich in vitamin E, a quality that gives it a longer shelf life than the typical oil. Like almond oil, apricot kernel oil is absorbed into the skin, so it won't leave people feeling greasy afterwards. This property also makes it a good oil to use for aromatherapy massage.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba is actually a wax extracted from the seed of the jojoba plant. Jojoba is a good option for most people prone to back acne because it is thought to have antibacterial properties and contains long chain wax esters that closely resembles skin sebum. It is very well-absorbed, which makes it a favorite carrier oil for aromatherapy. Jojoba is usually not irritating to skin.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

It is called fractionated coconut oil because it contains only a fraction of the whole oil. The long-chain triglycerides have been removed, leaving only the medium-chain triglycerides. Fractionated coconut oil is less pricey than many other oils and like jojoba oil, has a very long shelf life. But perhaps the top feature of fractionated coconut oil is that it tends not to stain sheets, a problem with most massage oils.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a light, non-greasy oil that won't leave skin feeling oily. The oil, extracted from sunflower seeds, is rich in the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, as well as palmitic acid and stearic acid, all components of healthy skin. The amount of linoleic acid in skin declines with age and can be stripped by harsh soaps and cleansers.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is pressed from the avocado fruit. Deep green in color, avocado oil is a heavier oil and is usually mixed with lighter massage oils such as sweet almond oil. Avocado oil is roughly double the cost of sweet almond oil. People who are sensitive to latex may be sensitive to avocado oil.

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is very rich and has a distinct chocolate aroma. It is solid at room temperature and has a heavy texture, so it needs to be blended with other oils or used only for very small areas.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil makes a great massage oil. It has little-to-no odor, and it has a smooth, silky texture without being greasy. However, most grapeseed oil is extracted from grape seeds using a solvent, which some aromatherapists say make it an inferior oil for aromatherapy massage.

Kukui Nut Oil

A light, thin, non-greasy oil. Native to a Hawaii, kukui nut oil is typically used on all skin types, including oily skin and sun-damaged skin.

Olive Oil

Most people are familiar with olive oil as a cooking oil, but it is occasionally used for massage. It is a heavy oil with a greasy or sticky texture and recognizable aroma that many associate with cooking, so it's usually not used on its own for massage. One study compared topical olive oil with sunflower oil and found that olive oil had no effect on epidermal barrier function, whereas topical sunflower oil resulted in significant improvement in the skin barrier.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is prized in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. It is used in a daily Ayurvedic self-massage called abhyanga, as well as shirodhara. Sesame oil is especially useful for nourishing and detoxifying and for ailments associated with the vata type, such as anxiety, poor circulation, constipation, bloating, and excessive dryness.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is a solid at room temperature. Like cocoa butter, shea butter is heavy and can leave an oily feeling on skin, so it is usually not used on its own for massage. It may be blended or used for very small areas.

Wheat Germ Oil

Wheat germ oil is too thick to use on its own as a massage oil, but it can be blended with lighter oils. Wheat germ oil is rich in vitamin E.

The Benefits of Massage Oils

Massage oils date back to many years. Modern massage uses a variety of oils that benefit the massage client. Oils induce relaxation; soothe body tissues, muscles and joints; and facilitate the movement of the hands on the skin. The following are some basic benefits of massage oils.


Essential oils massaged into the skin promote healing and relaxation. Oils used in aromatherapy are believed to have an effect on the part of the brain that stores memory and emotions. This affects mood and enhances calmness. Lavender massage oil has a sedative effect.

Healing Function

Essential massage oils can boost the immune system's ability to fight off infections. Different oils are used to treat different conditions ranging from anxiety to nausea. Some healing massage oils are lavender, ylang ylang and sandalwood. Massage oils could be beneficial in disease states.

Hair Growth

Massage oils can be used as a scalp treatment. Lavender oils combined with other herbs may help hair loss. In general, oils were a safe and effective treatment for hair loss.

Skin Benefits

Massage oil is a common treatment for skin wounds and fungal infections. The antifungal activity of lavender oil stops germ formation, fungal growth and the spread of infection, according to a study by the Department of Public Health in Rome, Italy.

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